Bonum Certa Men Certa

The European Patent Office's (EPO) Illegal Ban on Mass Communication Gets in the Way of Democracy

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Mar 04, 2024

How the EPO's António Campinos imposes a regime of self-censorship while disguising that as "privacy"

A wolves and sheep democracy: Maaaaayyyy... I please communicate with EPO staff that elected me? Maaaaayyyybe... if you change these words

THE Local Staff Committee The Hague (LSCTH) has been a subject we've been focusing more on this past week or two...

It's not exactly a happy family and elections are run there under suboptimal conditions, as we explained before. Today we want to share the Official Report of the Election of the LSCTH (April-June 2023) - a "republication upon request of the Electoral committee," as they put it at the time. The following message was sent to staff last year:

Dear Members, dear colleagues,

Please find here the Official Report of the Election of the Local Staff Committee for The Hague (April-June 2023).

The election committee congratulates the newly elected Staff Representatives and wishes them all the best.

Your election committee TH

Looking at the report critically, it's clear that not everything went smoothly. Some "ballots" got 'lost in the mail' (spam), the process cost over 3,000 euros (seems like way too much for a simple election of this scale), and voters cannot or could not be properly informed because Campinos still tries to find excuses to continue to not obey the rulings of judges, in effect censoring staff and interfering with a flow of information/communication.

These divide-and-rule tactics against the staff were covered here many times before, especially in 2022 and in 2023.

Take a look at page 11 of this report, in particular this part:

6. Communication channels

Even with the support of PD Communication, it has been very time consuming to prepare the publications on the INTRANET and the mass e-mails. Authorising the election committee to directly send mass emails to all The Hague staff is for sure much more efficient. Also facilitating the publications in INTRANET having an assigned partner in PD Communication and not having to go through the request forms (single point contact form), would make the publishing work of the EC much easier and more efficient.

The INTRANET site dedicated to the SR election was not visible at the first glance and it required quite an amount of effort (at least clicking 3 times and knowing where to find the right icon on the starting web site) to find the information regarding the SR elections. In our opinion the visibility given to the SR election was very low and when the PD Communication was explicitly asked to give more visibility to the election by publishing during the actual election days an announcement in the INTRANET home page carrousel, this request was not granted.

Despite all the above-mentioned challenges, the EC managed to engage the staff in The Hague in the election and achieve a very high participation rate.

But the participation rate could be higher (and remember that the number of workers is decreasing in general). In the Benoît Battistelli days they kept getting in the way of staff exercising choice, e.g. choosing to go on strike. Nothing has changed, right?

The recent General Assembly spoke of many more issues and impediments to democracy, justice (including illegal patents being granted, not limited to software patents) and basic human rights.

Then we're meant to just wonder why, according to staff, “Campus Days” activities "were less than half full"...

Who would want to participate in this? People need to antagonise the injustice, not become participants in it.

In 2024 the EU is still trying to make a strong case against Russia (some in eastern Europe remain sympathetic towards the Kremlin), lecturing us about how Putin is really autocratic (he is!). Seeing how the EPO and EUIPO operate, their case is weakened. It does not look like democracy at all and the flow of information is constantly subjected to interference. People are subjected to disciplinary proceedings for "discrediting" the EPO and get 'fined' in their career process.

The scientific process (patents apply to science) must allow scrutiny, both from within and from the outside.

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