10.03.22

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Members of the Administrative Council of the EPO Are Asked to Summon a Conference of Ministers of the Contracting States Due to Violations of the Law

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 8:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 51d484f81757cc354ad85161448c5db1
EPO Standards Abolished
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The EPO has turned into a farcical operation that laughs at the law, abuses its own staff, and lies to both staff and “customers” in the official Web site

THE EPO takes pride in adding Montenegro (warning: epo.org link) despite it being irrelevant to the EPO. Anything for some cheap PR (see image/screenshot)?

The video above goes through the latest nonsense in the EPO’s site (hogwash about patent quality and software tools that only work in Microsoft Windows). It’s frustrating to see a complete lack of accountability, but that’s what has been happening in the EPO for over a decade already. Immunity gets exploited for corruption. The impunity is damning.

The noteworthy thing that’s not in the above video is a new letter circulating among staff, calling their attention to recent developments and the need to get politicians involved as soon as possible for the first time in decades. We’ll just reproduce the full message below.

Last Call for Supporting the Petition to the Administrative Council to call for a Conference of Ministers of the Contracting States under Article 4a EPC

Dear Colleagues,

We initiated a *petition to the Members of the Administrative Council of the EPO to call for a Conference of Ministers of the Contracting States under Article 4a EPC some time ago. The petition shall be sent to the Administrative Council soon for its meeting on 13 October 2022.

Already more than 500 colleagues support the petition, for which we would like to express our sincere thanks.

If you have not yet signed the petition, please do so here[1] to help us to send a strong signal to the Administrative Council.

When the petition was launched, compelling reasons had already been published as to why such a Conference of Ministers of the Contracting States is necessary and, in fact, overdue. Since then, more events have occurred that speak for such an external review of the organisation and thus for the support of the petition, which are:

- The production demands for examiners are to be increased – increases of up to 10% are in the air – and this despite the fact that quality has fallen further;

- The office’s practice concerning patentability of business methods under Article 52(2)(c) EPC has become unclear again; and

- More embarrassing ILOAT Judgments showing the EPO’s violation of fundamental rights were issued three months ago and while implementation could be smooth and easy, it has yet to occur.

In more detail:

In the meantime it has been announced by senior managers and line managers that examiners will be required to produce more and that production pressure will be significantly increased for the coming year. This is even though staffing levels in core tasks are alarmingly low, examiner productivity is at its limits and at the same time the quality of issued patents has further deteriorated to below 75% compliance rate. In team meetings the figure of an increase of up to 10% of production has been mentioned (see also the corresponding CSC publication[2]). It seems that management no longer has any meaningful answers to manage the office’s workload.

Concerning the assessment of patentability of business methods in substantive examination (Article 52(2)(c) EPC), a recently started debate illustrates that this issue still seems to be very unclear. A clear guidance at the level of the Contracting States of the EPC seems to be necessary.

In early July the ILOAT issued inter-alia the Judgments no. 4550 and 4551, the latter clarifying that again the EPO has violated fundamental rights of staff freedom of association for roughly a decade. With the Judgment, the ILOAT lifted the presidential ban on Staff Committee sending mass emails to staff.

However, even after repeated requests by the Staff Committee and SUEPO, the President has not yet removed his technical restrictions on Staff Representation in the office’s email system that were put in place to enforce the ban. Currently, it looks like the Office continues to refuse to comply with the court’s ruling and allows the illegal email ban to remain in place. It seems that the ILOAT will have to be called again in this matter, this time simply to obtain the enforcement of its judgment.

Thus, not only has the fear that further embarrassing ILOAT Judgments will be issued against the organisation been confirmed, but it is compounded by the lack of willingness in the office leadership to recognise the highest court having jurisdiction over the organisation and to comply with the EPC. This procedure could put the existence of the organisation, and thus our own, in jeopardy. It is unclear whether the Administrative Council can or wants to put a stop to this.

In view of the above, an external review of the situation of the EPO by the Contracting States has become even more urgent.

This external review is claimed by the petitioners to the Members of the Administrative Council of the EPO to call for a Conference of Ministers of the Contracting States under Article 4a EPC.

Information about the petition is also available on our website, see **here.

Your SUEPO Committee The Hague

[1] [redacted]

[2] sc22124cl

There’s a meeting coming up in less than a fortnight. We’ll try to cover EPO affairs more frequently around that time, at the very least to raise awareness of the issues.

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