Bonum Certa Men Certa

New Union Syndicale Articles About the European Patent Office

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Oct 02, 2023


THE EPO's staff union (SUEPO) has just promoted two new articles it wrote about the EPO as an anniversary is approaching and the EPO will spend money lying to EU officials, national politicians, stakeholders, and the general public (also an often-ignored stakeholder).

We'll probably get back to regularly writing about the EPO in the near future. In the meantime, see [1-2] below.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. European Patent Office sets obstacle course to freedom of communication - Union Syndicale

    On 6 July 2022, the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT) issued – among others – Judgment No. 4551 against the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg), ruling that restrictions put on the use of the internal mail system since 2013 were contrary to the freedom of communication and must be quashed.

    The constraints were introduced when Benoit Battistelli was at the helm of the EPO, which was a time of deep social conflict, during which staff and union representatives were dismissed or degraded and measures curbing fundamental rights of staff were introduced (e.g. illegal strike regulations Judgments No. 4430,4432-4435, social democracy reform Judgments No. 4550 and 4482).

    Since the beginning of the presidency of António Campinos in 2018 and before the judgment was delivered, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO addressed the topic multiple times, especially during the corona pandemic when communicating with staff efficiently via email was of utmost importance. To no avail, the limitations remained and cost cutting measures – particularly in terms of salary indexation – and an extremely divisive childcare and education allowance reform were pushed through in the middle of the pandemic. In an organisation of 6200+ employees, submitting the sending of emails to more than 50 addressees to criteria laid down by EPO management is the equivalent of trampling on the freedom of communication of the staff committees and staff union of the EPO. This is what the ILOAT Ruled in its Judgment of 6 July 2022.

  2. EPC 50 years Celebrations: a Balanced View - Union Syndicale

    Colleagues are subject to intense work pressure in a system that incentivises raw quantitative output. There are troubling indications that staff’s health is negatively affected (see links “health, disengagement” below). Meanwhile, the quality of delivered patents is coming under public scrutiny (see “links quality” below). Feedback from outside can be valuable, and necessary (if patent quality were objectively found to be decreasing, it would create real problems for European industry, and the EPO would certainly be advised to take action in this respect); but in the context, critical views from the outside seem to corroborate the pervasive feeling among staff that quantity trumps quality, which adds frustration and detracts from job satisfaction.

    A further source of frustration is the fact that employment conditions are being curtailed — and this with only pro forma involvement of social partners — while positive changes for Staff can seemingly be extracted only through litigation at the International Labour Association Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) rather than true social dialogue. As a side note on this: it is urgent that the outcomes of the EPO’s internal justice system (Appeals Committee) are respected and all judgments of the ILOAT in favour of staff promptly executed (see here and here). This would help mitigate the impression held by a substantial section of staff that management does not deserve their trust, as was found again in the latest staff survey (see links “health, disengagement” below).

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