Bonum Certa Men Certa

The EPO's Management Has Just Eliminated Almost All the Printers in Munich, Creating New Problems for Examiners

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jan 13, 2024

Not just many empty offices:

EPO: handbook says bringing teams 'together' = Empty offices?

OKAY, SO YESTERDAY the union of EPO staff in Munich wrote to staff, relying a message from the Local Staff Committee Munich (LSCMN) about some rather mysterious developments that attracted our attention and reached a lot of people this past week, notably the situation inside the office building in Munich (the main building). Some of our recent EPO articles got about 2,000 reads and the more relevant ones concern air conditioning (or heating) being turned off (or down, as per thermostat settings) while office go vacant, maybe entire floors. Delegates ask aloud if the Office is now in the business of real estates (and gambling with mortgages) instead of patent examination. Is this truly a patent office or a glorified bank with assets that include large buildings?

The message from LSCMN said:

Dear Colleagues,

Returning to the Office after a well-deserved Christmas break can need some adjustment, but returning to the Office in 2024 presents an extra challenge – where have all the printers gone?

In fact, the number of printers office-wide decreased from 425 in November 2023 to 73 on 19 December 2023 – a reduction of approximately 83%.

Many, including Staff Representation and DG1 Directors had opposed this. We presented arguments at the LOHSEC in several meetings, furthermore directly to the responsible CIO (Diego Eguidazu), to the COO (Razik Menidjel), as well as to VP4 (Nellie Simon), both in written and oral form. To no avail.

Judging by some of the very summary answers to our questions by the CIO, there seems to be no intent to even listen.

Read more in this paper.

Sincerely yours

We've examined the paper carefully. It contains a number of figures and it is dated two days ago (but the communication was sent yesterday, a Friday).

Here's the full thing.

Örtlicher Personalausschuss München Innenstadt, Haar und Brüssel
Local Staff Committee Munich City, Haar and Brussels
Le Comité local du Personnel de Munich Ville, Haar et Bruxelles

Munich, 11-01-2024
sc24001mp

Where have all the printers gone?

Returning to the Office after a well-deserved Christmas break can need some adjustment, but returning to the Office in 2024 presents an extra challenge – where have all the printers gone? In fact, the number of printers office-wide decreased from 425 in November 2023 to 73 on December 19, 2023.1 In other words, a reduction of approximately 83%.

Fig 1: Level 4, PH 1-4, printer landscape in 2010
Fig 1: Level 4, PH 1-4, printer landscape in 2010

Fig 2: Level 4, PH 1-4 printer landscape in 2023 (rooms outlined in red)Fig 2: Level 4, PH 1-4 printer landscape in 2023 (rooms outlined in red)

What happened? Let’s take the 4th floor of PH 1-4 as example: over the years the number of printers went down from 11 (2010, see Fig 1) via 7 (in March 20232) and 5 (08.12.2023) to finally two printers (19.12.2023, see Fig 2, print- er-rooms outlined in red).
Printing via the SEAL app was stopped on the evening of 19.12. 2023. Without notice, the central printers (in the future remaining printing rooms) were removed before that date, on 08.12.2023, additionally straining colleagues during the usual year-end run, since leaving only five printers around the periphery of level 4. Finally, without prior announcement and contrary to what had been announced on the intranet3, all of the shown printers in Fig 3 were disconnected on the evening of 19. 12.2023. Only via rumours and trial-and-error investigation could it be gathered that all printing, even from the JViewer or Ansera tools with selectable P-address printers, was now exclusively via “secure printer”. A rather ambush-style exchange procedure, we feel.
As mentioned, the remaining two printers on our example floor are exclusively available in “secure print” mode. Many, including Staff Representation and DG1 Directors had opposed this. We presented arguments at the LOHSEC in several meetings4,5, furthermore directly to the responsible CIO (Diego Eguidazu), to the COO (Razik Menidjel), as well as to VP4, both in written and oral form. To no avail. Judging by some of the very summary answers to our questions by the CIO, there seems to be no intent to even listen.
Thus when we mentioned the potential problem of queuing in the sole remaining printer rooms, his advice was to start printing and then leave the printer unattended, “knowing that nobody would have walked away with your print-out”. Not only does this defeat the purpose of confidential printing but because routing sheets are no longer printed, a stack of unseparated paper sheets emerges from the printer. The more people who print within a given time, the higher and less manageable that stack gets as colleagues try to work out who owns which print- out, since such a stack of many documents would need to be spread out somewhere and inspected. One might ask: Is this the New Way of Sorting? Consider JViewer printing, where at least a routing sheet is added (comprising the valuable Yellow Sticker content): that routing sheet is white and not readily distinguished. Don’t forget, anyone with an EPO badge can initiate “secure” printing from any location, there is no even distribution configurable. Since there are only two printers left on level 4, with this sparsity of printers similar office-wide, it will be interesting to see how this works out.

Fig 3: notice found in lieu of printer N4/2, PH 1-4, 08.12.2023
Fig 3: notice found in lieu of printer N4/2, PH 1-4, 08.12.2023

The CIO highlighted that secure printing of documents, unpublished patent documents, personal data was possible. We disagree:

• Non-published patent applications are centrally printed, hence this is a non-issue.

• “secure” (aka P5000) printing jobs are deleted after 4 days (which cannot happen with a direct sending to a specific printer). Colleagues who are teleworking are often away from the printer rooms for longer periods, hence they will now be de facto unable to print on office printers.

It is clear that with the new system similar amounts of paper will be used, but the amount of time needed for printing will go up substantially. In other words, productivity will go down.

A so far not mentioned reason for forcing “secure printing” may be that we only have two printing rooms left on our example floor, there is hence not enough room to house all the “pigeon hole” mailboxes in them. It is easy to imagine what happens to countless printouts with or without a name on them that have no clear final destination: they severely clutter up the printer rooms in a very short time. Indeed, there have been complaints in the past (resulting in the “Aktenbock” box shelves reaching down to the floor).

Why can’t we at least have the number of printers as before December 2023? Paper consumption would be the same, but with the usage distributed over more machines there would be less strain, both on our colleagues and on the machines. We do not want to imagine what happens if one, let alone two machines on the same floor fail.

Your Munich Staff Committee (LSCMN)

_______

1 Intranet announcement dated 12.12.2023, we now have new printers that can print securely

2 Intranet announcement dated 10.03.2023

3 “both the old and the new printers during the transition period” Intranet announcement dated 12.12.2023

4 Report on the 52nd Meeting of the Munich Local Occupational Health, Safety and Ergonomics Committee (LOHSEC), published 12.12.2023

5 Intranet announcement dated 10.02.2023, discussed at 50th LOHSEC, first mention of the new printers

So it generally looks like EPO executives, who are basically a circle-jerk of nepotism (ample evidence that they're not even qualified in the correct disciplines), are taking away equipment that examiners need to properly do their job.

Perhaps the "job" is to sabotage examination in the name of so-called "production", i.e. granting as many monopolies as possible. What does Europe stand to gain from giving Chinese and American companies lots of legal weapons that can only be used inside Europe? Not even the local (German) economy stands to benefit, unless you're some lawyer or attorney in the area.

Spread democracy by dropping patent monopolies

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