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Thursday, 4 December 2014

In suspense about the European Patent Office? You're not the only one ...

Merpel catches up on her
incoming EPO mail ...
In recent posts here and here Merpel has been spreading the word concerning the increasing disquiet and anxiety felt by her and many others regarding the running of the European Patent Office, its staff relations, finances and other issues. These posts, as well as those that preceded them, have generated a considerable amount of interest among readers, and a large email postbag from users of the Office from across the globe -- though to her sadness neither she nor the IPKat have yet received so much as a peep from any of the members of the European Patent Organisation's Administrative Council [even though she knows that quite a number of them are subscribers to this weblog].  

Merpel's disquiet is moving up a gear now, since she has since learned that a Board of Appeal member has just been suspended from office and escorted from the building. Apparently the ground of suspension is alleged misconduct and the EPO's Investigation Unit has been instructed to examine the matter. Merpel's intelligence reveals that the suspension (technically a "house ban", she believes, but with the same functionality as a suspension) was ordered by none other than President Battistelli himself. Now there is a structure for dealing with alleged misconduct on the part of Board of Appeal members -- but there are also checks and balances in place. One such check is that the power to suspend Board of Appeal members lies in the hands of the Administrative Council and not the President: if this were not the case, we would have the executive branch of the EPO having effective control of the judiciary -- a dangerous and undesirable situation.

Merpel believes that next week the Administrative Council is meeting in Munich. She notes from its web page that there are some jolly good souls on it. In the chair is Jesper Kongstad (Director General, Danish Patent and Trademark Office), with Hungarian Intellectual Property Office President Miklós Bendzeel as his deputy chairman and Yves Grandjean (Director, Council Secretariat) as its secretary. Each member state nominates its own representative, plus the Board of Auditors, the Staff Committee -- and President Battistelli himself. Then there are the observers, intergovernmental organisations, and non-governmental organisations.

If you are concerned about what is going on in the European Patent Office and come from one of the European Patent Organisation's member states, you can check who your representative is by clicking here and scrolling down.  Why not get in touch with your national representative? You can ask him or her (i) if they know what is happening, (ii) if they care and (iii) if they are going to say or do anything about it.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

The president of the executive suspending a judge? Wow. Sounds like Eponia is turning Banania.

Anonymous said...

How long before he suspends an AC member?
By the way, did VP3 know in advance?

Anonymous said...

The Guidelines for Investigations at the EPO under which the present investigations are carried out, came into force as Circular 342 on 30 November 2012. Shortly after AMBA, the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appelal, wrote a letter to the Administrative Council expressing their worries about the investigative powers of the President. The Council decided to pass the letter to the President to pursue the issue. Nothing happened. Now one board member has been suspended for two months.

Anonymous said...

This are AC member who are paid medical treatment? http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/european-patent-office-pays-for-health.html

Anonymous said...

Well they are looking for a speechwriter/ comms person

hardly surprising!

Anonymous said...

Minor correction regarding attendance at the AC - while the AC invites the Staff Committee, President B prevented the committee's four nominees from attending the last meeting in October (and presumably also the one on 10.12.14) because he didn't consider they were correctly chosen. Consequently, there were no staff reps there.

Anonymous said...

A s we speak the Enlarged Board sit
C ould total chaos come out of it?
T he Great Leader a force spent?
2 weeks before Christmas an ex-President?

Anonymous said...

President Battistelli likes to eliminate free thinkers. For example in 2011 he got rid of the Principal Director responsible for the Internal Audit, in 2012 of the Principal Director responsible for Quality Management and in 2014 of the Principal Director responsible for Communication. He also destroyed the appeal system, weakened the staff representation and now is attacking the Boards of Appeals. The administrative council is silent and thus is not fulfilling its role. What else should happen before somebody in the council wakes up and stops Battistelli?

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it was a Board of Appeal member? According to http://www.worldipreview.com/news/epo-suspends-former-committee-member-7363, it was a former (?) member of the Internal Appeals Committee, i.e. an administrative rather than judicial committee that looks into EPO employees' appeals against their employer's decisions. So, not a member of the EPO's in-house judiciary.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 18:41: That was a different case.

Anonymous said...

Several people have been suspended,one was a former member of the Internal Appeals Committee.Yesterday the Great Leader went one better suspending a member of the EPO's in -house judiciary!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

These are two different persons, both were suspended. The second one is indeed a BoA member.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, Thursday, 4 December 2014 17:36:00 GMT:

It's 2 different suspensions. The first, a couple of weeks ago, was a former member of the Internal Appeals Committee. The second, yesterday, a member of the "judiciary".

Anonymous said...

@Anon 18:41
The case you are referring to is a different one. Things are starting to get confusing with all this (presumed) misconduct at the EPO

Anonymous said...

1615 - I think you mean http://www.worldipreview.com/news/staff-barred-from-epo-meeting-7299

1736 - don't forget PD Human Resources who was replaced by the current French incumbent. But there won't be any more - lessons learned!

Anonymous said...

And the problem for users of the EPO is what exactly ?

Anonymous said...

The problem could be that the 'Judiciary' declares itself partial due to the lack of separation between executive and judiciary!!!!

Anonymous said...

"And the problem for users of the EPO is what exactly ?"

I think that the loss of independence of the Boards of Appeal is a pretty big problem indeed. Not only does it mean that the ultimate authority to which you can appeal in case of refusal of your patent applications can be arbitrarily intimidated by a single person if he doesn't like your face, it could lead to the German Constitutional Court deciding that the EPOrg lacks the proper checks and balances to grant patents that are valid in Germany.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 18:41:00 GMT
There are so many staff suspended at the EPO that it's not easy to follow the story.
1) Some weeks ago, the communications chief Oswald Schröder was dismissed by the EPO president.
2) +/- 2 weeks ago, a former member of the Internal Appeals Committee was suspended.
3) Some days later, his colleague also former member of the Internal Appeals Committee was suspended too.
4) The IPKat article speaks about a new suspension. Yesterday 03-12-2014, a member of the Board of Appeal got suspended by the EPO president.

Who is the next ?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that if the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe reaches the conclusion that the Boards of appeal are not independent any more (actually, to my best knowledge, there is at least one complaint pending), it might order Germany to opt out of the EPC (or have the system changed). This might be a problem for the users of the EPO, I guess.

If my understanding is correct, the EPO management is playing with fire.

Anonymous said...

The president, Mr. Battistelli, has apparently promised sweeping reforms of the EPO at the Administrative Council. In exchange, he will get a secret amount of money, allegedly about 20 million Euros. His employment package is confidential, not even the Administrative Council member states have a copy. Now, Mr. Battistelli has to deliver what he has promised, and he does not want to jeopardize his yearly bonus and departure gift. Some people will be sacrificed, but who cares?

Anonymous said...

"President Battistelli likes to eliminate free thinkers"

Welcome to the world of corporate employment.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like Eponia is turning Banania."

I already live in Banania. I am a corporate employee.

Anonymous said...

This is a huge blow to justice, the rule of law and the separation of powers. It's an embarassment to all the contracting states and anyone asking what difference it makes to the users is clearly unfamiliar with basic legal principles. The above comments relating to Banania in the corporate world also go to show why justice is administered (or should be) by an independent and impartial judiciary.

Anonymous said...

“We are not here trying to build a reform which is compatible with each of your nation’s law. We are trying to build something which is useful for the Office, for the Organisation. So if in some cases, it is not compatible with the German law, the UK law, or the French law, this is not the issue. The issue is: is it useful for the Organisation?” Mr Battistelli on the careers reform (BFC, 20 November 2014)

Anonymous said...

""Sounds like Eponia is turning Banania."

I already live in Banania. I am a corporate employee."

Well now it has turned North Banania. And the supreme leader is about to nuke all dissidents and the whole world if he feels it's appropriate. I guess a way to survive in North Banania is to wear the same spectacles and have the same hair cut as his supreme leader.
All this is a very sad story.

Anonymous said...

With the former Vice-President, Mr Messerli, Battistelli would not have dared so much, but the present VP-3 is one of his servants and has no courage at all. Fortunately, most of the members still have a sense of law and justice and will resist. Hopefully the rules of law will prevail. It is very sad to see these developments.

Anonymous said...

C ourage Dutch the VP thinks
L ittle chance without some drinks
O ur Great Leader is so wise
G et some sort of compromise

Anonymous said...

The refusal of Battistelli to disclose his emoluments and benefits goes against the general worldwide trend toward more transparency (even Obama's salary is known). Surprising in this respect is the suspicious silence and connivsnce of the administrative council. This gives rise to all kinds of speculations including that of a final bonus of 20 millions if the reforms "a' la Battistelli" are implemented at the costs of legality. The man is eager for power and money. He badly wanted a bonus for the staff in order to get one himself because if an employee gets 1 he gets at least 400. He was crossed by the refusal of the staff to play this dirty game. Someone ought to investigate these mattersv as a lot of public money flows there and any gains should go to the benefits of the users, not of Battistelli and his accomplices.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 06:51:
Actually, most of the EPO's EUR 1 billion budget goes to the salaries of staff members, not to "Battistelli and his accomplices". Even if the EUR 20 million bonus for Battistelli is true, you cannot fail the AC's logic that a one-off 2% cost is a bargain for a year-on-year saving of 5-10% by capping the salary mass, no ?

Anonymous said...

The EPO staff claims the respect of fundamental rights: access to justice, freedom of speech, freedom of association and honest negociation of reforms.
It agrees that some reforms are necessary, but they must be conform with fundamental rights.

Anonymous said...

@anonym: compare the document CA-55-13_en.pdf (just google it) with EC salaries in Brussels (google EC service regulation or http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8620994/Half-of-European-Commission-workers-earn-more-than-71500-a-year.html).
Mr. Juncker however has no authority over Strassbourg judges.... and the costs of living in München or Den Haag are higher ....

Anonymous said...

That a great part of the annual budget goes to the salaries of staff members is not at all surprising in view of the task if the organisation which is to deliver good patents through a screening procedure of search/examination/opposition/appeal. This is intellectual work. For this, in the years, the EPO has been able to attract an incredible amount of excellent academic minds from all the different fields of science and technology, with knowledge of at least three languages. This was possible because of the good working conditions. Munich, the The Hague, Berlin and Vienna have taken great economic advantage of it. This was the success story of the EPO. Any savings made through increased efficiency or else should go to the benefit of the users not of the staff or its management team. If the working atmosphere deteriorates in consequence of bad management, like now with Battistelli and his accomplices, the EPO will become less attractive.

Anonymous said...

The working conditions are currently not attractive at all!

HELLLP!! The EPO staff is persecuted and is dying! via injustice, intimidation, fear, isolation, censorship, punishment, dismissal, terror...

Everyone* (the administrative council, the management, the politics, the depressive and scared staff, the journalists...) looks at this massacre, and does nothing... HELP!!!!

This is certainly not in the public interest...
There are many parallels with the "third Reich"...
Please take your responsability and help as you can!

*with some exceptions.

Anonymous said...

Berthold Brecht :
„Die Regierung solle sich ein neues Volk wählen“

Anonymous said...

...together we can stop this blatant abuse of power, and make an end to this dictatorial regime!
Let's believe in justice in Europe.

Anonymous said...

1128
Is that sarcasm or hyperbole?
The staff are well aware that there is a difficulty in expressing their problems while the President focuses his comments on our salaries (while being silent about his own, funnily enough) in order to distract from the issues. That final salaries for average examiners will be cut by more than 1/3 under his reforms, the actual financial loss to staff is never mentioned. Targets of searches completed and patents granted are increasing by 10+% next year while quality has also to be improved. The only way for mgt to get that is by cutting wages and demanding more to achieve the same salary (possibly). Nice idea. But how will quality be affected?

Anonymous said...

@13:39
It is not sarcasm! It is the truth! The EPO staff is full of fear for repression!

As a previous anonymous said:
The EPO staff claims the respect of fundamental rights: access to justice, freedom of speech, freedom of association and honest negociation of reforms.
It agrees that some reforms are necessary, but they must be conform with fundamental rights.
This is common sense!

Anonymous said...

does anyone know what is going on with the Petition 2848/2013 addressed to the european parliament in relation with some high rank Manager of the EPO ?
Some sources have previously assured that a Response to this Petition would be published at the end of october.

Anonymous said...

To get the latest on the status of Petition 2848/2013, send an email to the European Parliament Petitions Committee:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/de/peti/home.html

The Petition is not on the provisional agenda for December 2014 so it may not be dealt with until January 2015 or later.

The open question at the moment is whether the admissibility hurdle will be passed.

Anonymous said...

Erm...
http://techrights.org/2014/12/07/battistelli-audio/

No idea if this is real but what is going on?

Anonymous said...

The EPO needs proper Parliament scrutiny. This can be resolved by a right of the European Parliament via an interinstitutional agreement with the EPO/administrative council.

Anonymous said...

In view of the recent EPO scandals applicants should be advised to file national patent applications beside or instead of EP applications. In recent years many burdensome requirements were created in order to reduce the workload for the EPO. However, these developments were disadvantageous to the inventors whose rights were (and still are) diminished. Reforms are overdue.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/top-notch-patent-litigator-sees.html

Anonymous said...

If anyone is in any doubt about how self-centered EPO employees are the post making the following comment should clear things up:

"There are many parallels with the "third Reich"..."

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