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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Merpel pays a brief visit to Eponia

Merpel has been rather busy of late, but does not wish her dear readers to think that she is completely oblivious to the events that have been taking place in Eponia.  Taking her lead from the IPKat's multi-topic post, here is a miscellany with a brief round-up of the current issues.

Demonstrations continue
Three members of the EPO Staff Committees have been suspended, as Merpel reported here.  In support of their suspended colleagues, further demonstrations have been taking place (Merpel reported the initial one here) - and now she hears that the further protest in the Hague on 1 December numbered around 600 EPO employees, while that in Munich on 4 December attracted over 2000.  It is clear that the unrest within the EPO at various things, including the treatment of these officials, is widespread - these numbers are pretty much without precedent.

Service Regulations published

Merpel examines what has been going on in Eponia
Back in 30 September 2015, the EPO announced that it was publishing online its staff regulations and related rules (follow the link from the announcement at this link to the full document at your peril - it is a whopping pdf of over 2MB). This was stated to put "the EPO on a par with other leading international organisations in terms of the transparency of its internal regulatory framework."  It has however come to Merpel's attention that some parts are missing, and are not therefore publicly available from the EPO, namely:

Circular No. 347 Circular on Strikes
Circular No. 355 Regulations for the Staff Committee elections
Circular No. 356 Resources and facilities to be granted to the Staff Committee
Circular No. 364 Implementation of the career system. Minimum qualifications for recruitment, grading on recruitment, promotion and other rewards
Circular No. 365 General Guidelines on the EPO Competency Framework
Circular No. 366 General Guidelines on Performance Management
Circular No. 367 Absences for Health Reasons

Merpel hopes that this oversight can be rectified.

Questions raised by Member of French National Assembly
Monsieur Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' (National Assembly Deputy for French Citizens Abroad) has described how he intervened on 18th November 2015, when he sent a letter (English translation here) to the French Minister of Economy and Industry, Monsieur Emmanuel Macron, describing the "deterioration in social relations at the EPO". Two days later he received a reply to his letter from the EPO President (English translation here). M. Le Borgn' subsequently published the response from SUEPO in relation to M. Batistelli's comments (here and translation here), and a letter which he received from a group of "examinateurs exaspérés".

There seems to Merpel to be an unsustainable escalation in conflict at the EPO.  This affects both the general employees, and also the Boards of Appeal, as Merpel reported here.  There seems to be a somewhat raised level of political interest in member states now, but how long must Merpel keep writing that something must be done?  Meowing as loud as she can, Merpel says - this cannot continue, and calls upon the Administrative Council to act. 

116 comments:

Biting the hand that feeds you said...

"Merpel says - this cannot continue, and calls upon the Administrative Council to act. "

[Member of the AC, stretching on the dentist chair:]
Yawn ... and who is Merpel-cat, anyway?

GotTheTShirt said...

"This cannot continue."

Oh, but it can. Therein lies the problem - there is no effective mechanism to bring change. The EPC framers were not general law experts, let alone consitutional experts, and it is beginning to show. Same problem with WIPO, which has become moribund, same problem with WTO, EU institutions, and so on, so forth. In pursuing a laudable goal, the framers assumed that all successors would be as noble as they, and forgot to create a mechanism for users of the system to challenge systemic failure under an independent external body with eyes, ears and teeth. Thus, the present situation can and will continue, must to the disappointment of all who watch, until a major EPC state threatens secession due to incompatibility with its own national law.

Aux armes, citoyens! said...

Does anyone have any ideas how we can prevail upon the AC to act - assuming, that is, that they're not actively complicit in BB's wrecking of the entire system?

As a GB-based attorney I can write to my national delegates on the AC, but it's easy for them to ignore correspondence from a single person. If a substantial proportion of GB representatives were to write, individually, they'd hopefully find it harder to ignore. Similarly with attorneys in other countries, there is strength in numbers if we all write to our national delegates.

Are the relevant national professional associations taking any action? Has CIPA made any representations to the GB delegation? Has EPI made representations to any AC delegates? (I know both made submissions on the BoA reform proposals, which were largely ignored, but surely it is time for both CIPA and EPI, and their counterparts in other member states, to make a more general intervention directly to the AC members.)

If the largest EPO-using law firms and companies in each member state made official representations to the AC would these carry any more weight?

The IPKat is performing a great service in Kataloguing all of the perverse developments at the EPO but the time has come for us to speak up directly to those in power. While the complaints are being documented on a handful of blogs, the AC and the management can disregard these as being just some bloggers' opinion. We can't just sit on the sidelines and complain amongst ourselves, watching while the EPO management continues to ride roughshod over its employees - we users need to let the EPO know that we are concerned too, and that the opinion of the blogs is shared by many practitioners.

Who will coordinate such action?

Anonymous said...


EPO on Politico.eu : http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/

Belling the Kat said...


Who will coordinate such action?

A very good question indeed ...
http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/milowinter/6.htm

Better hurry up the AC is due to meet next week ... doesn't give you much time to get organised ...

Anonymous said...


just published on www.suepo.org : Countering the propaganda

Propaganda organised via the spoiling of 880.000 Eur of applicant's money...

MaxDrei said...

If all the King's horses and all the King's men were powerless to put Humpty Dumpty together again, it is rather naive to suppose that all of Europe's private practice European Patent Institute membership, even when acting in unison, in chorus, in concert, can do anything to arrest the precipitate fall of the EPO. Their whingeing protests can easily be dismissed by the pols as mere naked self-interest.

Conversely, if their international corporate clients protest en masse, that the demise of the EPO is too high a Price to pay for the UPC, that protest might count for something, and so influence the Commission, and some AC Member States. But that's just not going to happen is it? And precisely because it just ain't happening, the pols continue to press on, Full Speed Ahead, with their plan for an unimpeded free run for the UPC.

The SME community throughout Europe can whistle all it likes. It won't be heard either.

Animal Farm said...

Summarising the current climate at EPO:

- Three members of the staff committee are suspended, and might face dismissal in 2015.
- One of those has even three (!) simultaneous disciplinary proceedings against her. The complainant is the same person as the one prosecuting all three disciplinary cases.
- Two members of the staff committee got very ill after being questioned and pressurised by the EPO's investigative unit in November.
- One elected staff representative was downgraded.
- Two expert staff representatives of the appeals committee were downgraded.
- One expert staff representative got suspended for wanting to conduct a survey about the atmosphere at the EPO.
- One BoA member is still suspended and might face dismissal.

Who did I overlook?

Anonymous said...

Amicus Curiae

Let us not mix two issues, in particular the Unitary Patent with the situation at the EPO. I do not see a "huge conspiracy" here.

The Unitary Patent will or will not fly. There have been critical voices concerning various aspects, e.g. costs, in particular for the court, lack of flexibility, etc. We shall see.

The EPO situation is a mess, or better a nightmare. Total breakdown in communication, ongoing escalation, public exchanges via blogs or forums, on top of it: the Organization is infringing Human Rights, as decided by a Court, and nothing happens since February 2015. ILO-AT is overwhelmed by complaints stemming from of the Office and, more or less openly, considers to cancel access of the Office to ILO-AT. On the material side, there were some comments on examiners being "overpaid" and "underskilled".

It is the task of the Administrative Council to keep the Office in order. They are the supervisory body. Hm, who believes that they do their job?

The question is rhetorical, of course.

Anonymous said...

Worried EPOite says:

Nothing will ever change for the better here. They could even install torture chambers for dissidents in seasonally flooded parts of their basement, on the banks of river Isar - as long as money keeps pouring in, the AC would do nothing about it.

Today it was announced internally that this person from B's inner circle, with experience in the French secret service and Afghanistan, has been promoted to a high management position advising on strategy and change management.

http://techrights.org/2015/11/09/from-afghanistan-to-epo/

In the same time, selected scapegoats are questioned by the secret police without giving them information about their accusers, akin to a novel by Kafka. No, you don't have to build many chambers to rule the fearsome masses. They won't stick out their head, they will continue working the money-pumping threadmill and apply "the law", viz. the EPC, to generate the production figures expected by their masters.

The EPO's case is hopeless.

Anonymous said...

re amicus curiae:

"..some comments on examiners being "overpaid" and "underskilled". ..."

just having a short peek into the last two official gazettes, you
will find several newly hired staff , which are patent attorneys, patent engeneers, ? (obviously) underskilled ? (LOL)

and an AC representative supposedly proposed to employ roumanians on the basis of roumanian salaries in Munich to do the work of examiners,
as I have met highly qualified Roumanian examiners , I do not doubt that they are and would be capable for the job , but what would be the result of underpaying with a salary of a few 100 Euros a month ? ?CHEAP EXAMINATION?

ex-con

I have no quarrel with you, good Sir Knight said...

@ Amicus Curiae

Maybe is the members of the AC that are "overpaid" and "underskilled" ...

One of many said...

Unlike some who have doubts about the outcome of the confrontation betweeen Batistelli (actually the entire Batistelli system of nepotism and corruption) and the staff I´m pretty confident that it will end in the defeat of Batistelli.

One cannot imagine Batistelli compromising the EPO for another three years. He has alienated so many of the staff and has committed so many management blunders (some himself, some by the hand of Elodie Bergot) that a normal working atmosphere can return only when they disappear from the office.

The bad press he (and, by association, the EPO) gets will intensify and at a certain moment the AC will realise he´s not sustainable any more. He will move to Paris as a president of the UPC, hopefully will take his cohort of minions with him and leave the office without losing much face. He´s definitely not able to defuse the situation and I trust he´ll commit more blunders in the near future. The existing situation, regardless of who is responsible for it, shows that he is incapable of managing people, only of dictating.

The sooner the AC changes him the better for the EPO. The AC should hurry.

Aux armes, citoyens! said...

"Battistelli rejected any suggestion that he had created “an atmosphere of terror” and called into question the union’s legitimacy, saying it “is not a trade union, it’s a mafia-type entity.”"

Well, at least now it is clear that the "social dialogue", announced to great fanfare in March, was never approached with any sincerity by the management.

Kant said...

Of course it needs to be remembered that the ILO held that Mrs. E. H. had been harrassed by the (then) President. It seems that senior management has a long memory.
http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=fr&p_judgment_no=2984&p_language_code=EN

pinky said...

Today yet another member of the "inner circle" (I won't use the term mafia) was promoted to the rank of director. Fast-track careers are still possible at the EPO...

A cat with 9 lives said...

Little felines, time has come to act.

Write an e-mail about what happens at the EPO. Use your mother tongue. Be factual and polite. You'll find recent events here: http://suepo.org/public/news

Address your e-mail to the Council delegate that understands your mother tongue. You'll find them here: https://www.epo.org/about-us/organisation/administrative-council/representatives.html

Also address a few Members of European Parliament that understand your mother tongue. You'll find them here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/search.html

Fear not, you have 9 lives.

Anonymous said...

Other person heard …

The missing (unpublished) circulars clearly show that the EPO is on a par with other leading international organisations in terms of the transparency of its internal regulatory framework, but not on par with regulations regarding respect of human rights.
Circulars 347 and 355 have been under scrutiny of some Higher Court in the low countries which found that they don’t comply with basic human right, whereas the service regulations of this international organisation, in the preamble, state that human right shall be respected.
Said higher court found that the claims dependency was not respected but high pressure is put on the low countries to reverse this decision because otherwise there will be less highly qualified people in the low countries, they will be moved to the high countries in Bavaria and Austria.
The Battistellian masterpiece seems to be Circular 367: God, personified by BB himself orders you to stay home during working hours until you are well again, you shall not travel to your home country during this period either because it is detrimental to the health. Finally, after a 10 year house arrest and after three specialists declared you seriously ill, BB will cure you with the stroke of a pen: you are fit to work again and happy to be cured.
In the real world such a tale would be considered illegal practice of medicine, however, don’t forget EPO has a high level of immunity.
The fairy circulars should be published for everyone to enjoy in full transparency.

Anonymous said...

Clark Stevens says...

I usually tend to consider union input with extreme caution and always check what the other version is. I find that unions have the numbers and a natural tendency to real-world blindness, so it's too easy to be misled.

The EPO is however a very peculiar case. A public service managed like a private company with no actual competition despite the claims of the contrary being used to justify questionable changes. Its added value to the citizens at large is mostly linked to its output quality: granting patents matching all the legal requirements and strictly rejecting the others. Yet it does not offer any hard evidence concerning quality but a user perception poll, ISO 9001 certification and production figures! I find it very suspicious from such a large and rich administration: Why not providing instead of a nonsensical smokescreen useful indications like the national invalidation rates of European patents from the main European countries? Are these data available at all? It seems obvious that to keep the same qualitative output, the workforce must be roughly proportional to the flow of incoming applications. Yet the head of EPO seems to have implicitly promised to process the expected growing input with a fixed workforce. I could not find any trace of public debate on this, so I presume this deceitful promise has been made (and foolishly accepted?) without any democratic mandate. Both the public at large and the EPO employees will obviously be the ones paying.

The public can only be deceived: a lower quality means undue restrictions of the public freedom to innovate, more lawsuits and more taxpayers money for the courts to correct the issuance of invalid patents by the EPO. Is the Baroness somehow accountable for such consequences?

I must confess I enjoy a very positive aspect of this farce: a good laugh. Officially, the EPO head and its administrative council have as their highest priority on their social agenda to conduct talks with a Mafia towards its official recognition! Wow! How long can a madhouse fool the rest of the world?

Disheartened said...

The ILO decision linked by Kant is disheartening. It reveals poor behaviour on both sides, going back many years. While a few of Mrs E.H.'s complaints were upheld, more were dismissed.

It seems to me that there are two causes of the social unrest at the EPO. It would be tempting to say "a plague on both their houses". But that would still leave serious problems.

If there is to be a solution, change and cooperation is needed from both sides. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any signs of change or cooperation from either side. Each side no doubt blames the other for the failure of the dialogue requested by the AC.

:-(

Vive le Roi! said...

"Today yet another member of the "inner circle" (I won't use the term mafia) was promoted to the rank of director."


Actually, there is an interesting graph which shows how the closest "collaborateurs" of Mr. Battistelli either originate from the INPI (Institut national de la propriété industrielle, of which Battistelli was the president) or are bound by family links between each other ...

Who said "nepotism"?

Forget the law said...

Just one more blatant violation of the EPC, with obvious consequences. Inbreeding is prohibited under Art. 53 b) EPC

MaxDrei said...

The commenter that is convinced that BB and his clique will soon be shown the door is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

The reality is that France is on the front line, the cutting edge, of a war to defend our most fundamental freedoms and we are all called upon to stand shoulder to shoulder with the French. Nobody dares to suggest otherwise.

What are these fundamental values of which I write. Well, you know, the Secular State, the Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers.

What separation? The separation of the three branches: legislative, judicial and executive. BB is just a good soldier, bringing the mischief and wickedness to an end, doing his bit for Europe. He tells the Administrative Council (and himself, just like Tony Blair did) that, in the end, history and the public will come to recognise the sacrifices he has made, for the greater good of Europe.

But it didn't work out quite like that for Tony, did it?

Anonymous said...

Ras-le-bol says:

(To Anonymous Disheartened)
I don't see that the ILO decision linked by Kant reveals poor behaviour on both sides. What I see is that, already at the time, Suepo was fighting nepotism (giving the lavishly paid posts in the top floors of the Isar building to members of your family...) and that Elisabeth Hardon signed for Suepo. No wonder that more and more people are joining the union either as members or in demonstrations.

The result of these complaints, as you may know, is that the regulations were changed so that complaints by Suepo are not admissible. And that basically, no complaint on this kind of subject (nepotism) is admissible any more. The next results, you see on the linked graph.

I don't know what the administrative council is thinking but one may wonder why they are so passive. Basically, Battistelli insults them at each meeting and made them lose face on the Suepo story: he was instructed to renew social dialogue and start a social study, his answer was to intimidate, investigate and dismiss the persons he was supposed to talk to. Is there any clearer way to tell your boss that you don't care about his orders?

In the mean time, Battistelli his putting chosen people at key posts. So with each day of delay, the Administrative Council is digging a deeper hole. Eventually, they will have to remove Battistelli, he is obviously becoming too much of a liability. But the latter he is removed, the more friends of him will be at key posts and the more difficult it will be.

Old Moore's Almanac said...

Rumours are currently circulating that in the context of his newly publicised "Anti-Mafia Campaign", BB is planning the most daring stroke of all.

As 2015 draws to a close, Old Moore now makes the following predictions:

Shortly before the next sitting of the AC, it will be announced that a number of members of DG3 have been implicated in the execrable "orchestrated campaign" of defamation and terror currently menacing senior management and that these miscreants have been subject to a "house ban" pending further investigation into their misconduct.

Thereupon the DPO will rubber-stamp an approval for the seizure of their computers and the IU will commence a fishing expedition to uncover "evidence" to support the claims which have been raised.

At the upcoming meeting of the AC, a pre-cooked document explaining the "well-founded suspicions" of high-level links between members of the EPO's judicial organs and the SUEPO "mafia" will be presented to the AC delegates who will dutifully gasp in horror and unhesitatingly approve all extraordinary measures proposed by the President. They will then adjourn for their Christmas lunch.

It looks like 2016 will be a busy year for the disciplinary committee of the AC and the (remaining) members of the EBA.

At some point in the not too distant future, we may expect BB to assume the "painful duty" of announcing to the world that the clear and irrefutable evidence of "Mafia infiltration of the judiciary" uncovered by his investigators requires that DG3 be finally dissolved due to its ignominious failure to maintain the necessary standards of judicial independence and incorruptibility.

Garbed in his magnificent Emperor's New Clothes bearing the logo of "Defender of Judicial Independence", he will then commence his final triumphant march towards the Presidential throne of the UPC in Paris ...

Mesdames et messieurs, faites vos jeux !

Proof of the pudding said...

Regardless of whether one's sympathies lie with the management or the staff in what has become an impossibly acrimonious debate about conditions of employment, there is mounting evidence that the management of the EPO indeed has scant regard for the fundamental human rights of its staff.

Citing highly dubious reasons for blocking independent investigations into staff suicides is simply unacceptable in view of the obligations under Article 20(1) of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities to ensure the observance of (e.g. labour) regulations that apply under national law.

Further, failing to recognise a decision of a national court (involving a finding of violation of human rights) is hardly consistent with the obligation under Article 20(1) PPI to "facilitate the proper administration of justice". Relying upon an appeal to suspend implementation of a judgement is one thing, but seeking to assert immunity from a judgement relating to human rights is just completely unacceptable.

And now we learn that the abuses do not stop there. Regardless of what one thinks of Ms Hardon (and here I have to confess that I do not know anywhere near enough of the facts to pass judgement), it is impossible to not react with outrage that the management at the EPO forced her to respond to accusations against her from an unidentified source who then turns out to be the very person who is investigating those allegations! The mind boggles as to how it is that no one in the EPO management failed to spot the very obvious problems with pursuing such allegations, including (but not confined to) conflict of interest, abuse of process, denial of the rights of the accused and failing to separate the accuser from the judge / jury.

Whether or not there are justifiable concerns regarding the past or present behaviour of SUEPO (again, I have to confess ignorance of the facts on this point), nothing can justify the EPO management stepping over the line in this way. The failure of the AC to act to prevent such abuses underlines what others have already pointed to, namely a lack of laws, systems and procedures that are designed to ensure good governance and a proper separation of powers at the EPO.

With the AC seemingly unwilling (or unable) to step in, who is there left who can restore a respect for human rights and the rule of law at the EPO? I understand that this is a very difficult question to answer. However, I cannot help but wonder whether anyone (e.g. a journalist) has sought comments on the situation at the EPO from the large applicant companies with which the EPO has established "close" contact (which I understand include Canon, Philips, Microsoft, Qualcomm, BASF, Bayer, Samsung, Huawei, Siemens, Ericsson and Fujitsu). Whilst some might well refuse to comment, it is hard to believe that any would condone the abuses of the EPO management outlined above. If we're lucky, some might even be prepared to make statements of principle that are supportive of the human rights of the workers of Eponia. If that happened, then the AC just might find themselves forced to act...

Disheartened said...

"Each side blames the other". So BB blames SUEPO. And Ras-le-bol blames BB and the AC.

And neither side will change, and the problems go on.

:-(

Anonymous said...

Ras-le-bol says:

(to Disheartened)

There is a simple solution to that problem: let a third person sort it out. Normally, that would simply involve waiving the Office immunity and let an external, independent tribunal find out who is to blame for the mess the Office is in.

A Strange Rumour said...

Whilst some might well refuse to comment, it is hard to believe that any would condone the abuses of the EPO management outlined above.

Abuses, what abuses ?
From whence come such strange rumours ?

I am profoundly shocked by these accusations !

Anonymous said...

@ Disheartened

I would respectfully draw your attention that there is a huge disproportion between the involved parties as far as the employed resources are concerned. The EPO management has nearly unlimited power and money, on the other side the trade union has a very limited capacity. It is not a question of "each side blaming the other" or "neither side will change". There is absolutely no symmetry in their behaviour. The EPO management is pushing brutal reforms and savagely attacks is own staff. The trade union is committed to defeat all the "coup-bas" perpetrated by the management.

Remember the EPO used to be a functioning office and SUEPO was already there.

Disheartened said...

A third party could help, but not to lay blame. Just look for solutions. Didn't the AC request a third party at a recent meeting?

Forget who is to blame. That's for Merpel's squabbling children in the back of the car. "He started it." "No, she started it."

Both sides must be willing to forget the past and cooperate for the future. Otherwise even a third party will fail.

Anonymous said...

The EPO Jester

(to Disheartened)

Are you an AC delegate?
It's exactly this form of behaviour, blaming simply both parties of the conflict, not knowing anything about the substance of the conflict, not making your mind and not taking a position, because it's so easy and prevents of taking on any responsibility, which led to such developments in societies. And after all is brought to light you will claim you were completely unaware of the inhumanity, because it was all hearsay and everything so confusing.

VPO said...

Perhaps now is the time for Merpel to conduct some hardcore undercover reporting?

http://eurobrussels.com/job_display/110577/Top_Executive_Management_Assistant_Secretary_in_the_Presidents_Office_EPO_European_Patent_Office_Munich_Germany

Anonymous said...

The AC did not request a third party at the last meeting and has not requested a thid party at any meeting. The AC does not need to request a third party. The AC can order the third party to come and resolve the problem. Hence, if the AC had desired a third party, this third party would already be here. In fact it was SUPO who requested a third party, but that request was not granted.


Barbi

Benedictus de Groot said...

Remember the EPO used to be a functioning office and SUEPO was already there.

Yes but do not forget that it was a mafia-like entity which controlled everything and ran the office.

Kant said...

At least the EPO has decided that, in the interests of openness, decision G 2301/15 should be published:
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/pdf/g152301eu1.pdf

Macavity said...

If only we could get our hands on an unredacted copy of the decision, and perhaps the written arguments and evidence...

Macavity said...

Does anyone know why the chairwoman was replaced (items XII and XIII of the decision)? That would also be an interesting decision to read.

Anonymous said...

Speculator writes:

The replacement of the chairwoman is probably related to the change in the business distribution scheme of the EBA:
Until 30/06: M-B T-D first legal member (=chair pursuant to RPEAB);
From 01/07: I. B. first legal member.

G2301/15, page 3, point VI.: The decision concerning the composition of the EBA was taken on 30 June 2015, but the corresponding letter dates 2 July 2015. Hence, it was probably argued that the business distribution scheme from 01/07 has to be applied.

The fact that M-B T-D is the only chairWOMAN before I. B. in the list of legal members and could still take part in the decision after stepping back from the chair would also support the assumption made above.

Legal Eagle said...

M-B T-D was not the replaced Chairperson.
That was the Chair of the legal board.
But the reasons for the replacement will never be published.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kant!

So the Kat was right this time and the EPO king did not behave as presidentially as he should.
Maybe this king should announce to the public that there is no future for the BoA at the EPO and that the UPC will be much better for every stakeholder… and that the BoA will die out anyway…
If he is a decent person, excuses to the insulted DG3 member will soon follow, with media partners involved, so the 860k EUR will be well spend.
Maybe it’s part of his Xmas speech to come soon…, I hope the AC will wake up from their anaesthesia (due to dental interventions?) before the Xmas speech, so they will have a less troublesome 2016.

Disheartened said...

"...dental interventions"

Yet another repetition of the allegation that the EPO pays for Administrative Council members to receive dental treatment.

The basis of this allegation is never fully explained, but it is implied that there is something improper about it. After all, if the AC members received all their dental treatment in their home countries, it would be expensive, right? Perhaps it is cosmetic dental surgery so that they can greet each other with a beautiful white smile? Why should the EPO pay for that?

So can the previous poster please explain the nature of this dental treatment, and give the source of the allegation? I'm sure that no SUEPO supporter would ever spread a serious allegation without any basis. That would be an example of the poor behaviour which I mentioned in a previous post.

I don't know the truth about these dental allegations. But in the absence of any other explanation, here's one which might be possible.

If I go on a business trip to a foreign country, I expect someone to pay my travel expenses. As part of that, I expect to receive medical insurance, in case I suffer from a sudden medical emergency while I am away from home. And I expect the medical insurance to cover dental emergencies, such as a temporary filling or pain relief until I can visit my own dentist on my return home.

Since it only covers emergencies, not full dental and medical cover, the cost of such insurance is generally quite cheap.

If the EPO sends its permanent employees on business trips to foreign countries, I would expect it to pay for the travel expenses. And I would expect this to include insurance for medical and dental emergencies.

Now I turn to Article 16 of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Council:

"The travel expenses incurred by two delegation members per Contracting State in travelling to and from Council functions or in undertaking specific tasks within the meaning of Article 15 shall be reimbursed by the European Patent Organisation at the same level as that payable to permanent employees of the European Patent Office.

I wonder if as part of these travel expenses, the European Patent Organisation also provides insurance for medical and dental emergencies, the same as provided to permanent EPO employees?

Anonymous said...

Kant said: "At least the EPO has decided that, in the interests of openness, decision G 2301/15 should be published:
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/pdf/g152301eu1.pdf"

It seems that the decision has been taken off the EPO´s homepage after a couple of hours only.

Kant said...

Strangely. the decision has now disappeared!

MaxDrei said...

24 hours ago, Kant wrote here:

"At least the EPO has decided that, in the interests of openness, decision G 2301/15 should be published:
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/pdf/g152301eu1.pdf"

so I printed out a copy of G2301/15.

Less than 24 hours later, Kant wrote here:

"Strangely. the decision has now disappeared!"

So it seems that the spirit of open-ness didn't last long.

Looking at the parties to G2301/15 I note that the "Respondent" name is redacted. So no chance of asking him or her for a copy of the published then un-published Decision.

But the "Petitioner" is stated on the Decision to be "Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation". Can't it show us the Decision? How much "spirit of open-ness" does the Petitioner possess? Does it know? Or must it first ask the EPO President for guidance on that point?

Isn't there something in Europe we regard as important here? Something about justice not only being done but also being seen to be done?

Rapporteur said...

Medical Insurance

The medical insurance thing was reported in the official minutes of the Administrative Council CA/79/14.

How come the delegates were able to survive for the last 40 years without this little "sweetner" ?


12.1 Any other business

45. The Vice-President DG 4 informed on newly introduced medical insurance for delegates. Urgent medical treatment and dental treatment would be covered for delegates, deputies or experts when attending meetings of the Coucil and its sub-bodies or any event upon invitation by the Office. The insurance would cover all costs not taken over by the delegates' insurance.

46. The Council noted this information on new medial insurance for delegates.


MaxDrei said...

Interesting snippet, that, from Rapporteur.

I see that, as regards "dental" treatment for AC delegates coming to Meetings in Munich, reimbursement is not limited to "urgent" treatment, and is intended anyway to cover treatments for which the normal travel insurance for medical costs declines to pay out. I can speak from personal experience here in Munich. The city has a lot of top quality dental practices, accustomed to accommodating the wishes of visitors who jet in from other countries, many from the Gulf States, Russia etc. I now have a magnificent set of teeth, of which I am very proud. The cost was horrendous, even with full medical insurance, but my magnificent new smile makes it all worthwhile.

So what is not completely apt, with the choice of word "sweetener"?

MaxDrei said...

Why is the AC doing nothing to stop BB's destruction of DG3? A mystery, no?

Here is a possible explanation. The Link below (thanks to the IPCopy website) will take you to an EU Commission Paper on "Upgrading the Single Market". Now how important do you suppose that political objective is?

Amongst the proposals are (see pp 68-77) to encourage SME innovators to upgrade to the EU unitary patent. What about the expense, I hear you cry.

The Commission hears you. It tells us that patent legal expenses insurance is the answer, and a must, but that a market in such insurance can germinate and grow only when the unitary patent succeeds.

So there you are. For the Commission, we get more innovation in Europe only when the unitary patent system displaces the EPO bündle of national patent rights. So don't you see, we should all be grateful for BB's deep sacrifice, because it is helping the AC to deliver to all of us the Commission-defined Roadmap to the unitary patent future.

Does the Commission believe its own tosh? Does it care? Who does care?

https://ipcopy.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/eu-commission-unitary-patent-concerns-ip-insurance-and-unitary-spcs/#more-5049

Anonymous said...

Finally, the SUEPO published some numbers:

This year, 1228 persons were entitled to vote in the local SUEPO The Hague committee elections.
Last year (2014), 975 members were entitled to vote.

Within one year, SUEPO attracted netto 253 new members in The Hague alone.
That is more than 25% added over one year!

I think this alone speaks for whom the staff trusts and supports...
Or did we gang-press people on the street to join this mafia-like organisation?

In return, last weeks internal consultative organs received a new proposal by the president, which he might sell to the AC as necessary to be able to continue docking half the salary of the suspended DG3 member.

Current Article 95(3) of the Service Regulations limits any withholdings of salary to a maximum of four months, to incite the administration to be speedy.
This will be amended. No more time limit given.
Article 95(4) is intnded to be deleted, which included that if the disciplinary procedure resulted not in a proposal to downgrade/dismiss the employee, the withheld salary hat to be paid out in full. It also states, that if the disciplinary procedure takes longer than four months, the withheld amounts had to be payed out anyway.

The new regulations would allow the president/administration to take years for any disciplinary procedure, thus , if necessary to get rid of "unwanted" persons, just pay them half and let them rot at home. (not being allowed to take up any kind of work, and having to be accessible for hearings, even at short notice).
Just being suspended would become a punishment in itself, as it will be questionable if withheld amounts based on false grounds dismissed by the disciplinary committee would have to be refunded.

We will be the only organisation having nothing in place to ensure a speedy procedure....

- on the other hand I got informed of a very intresting rumour, by my director nontheless. But as (s)he pointed out, it would be the kind of rumour we want to hear, so we will have to wait to see how reliable it is.
Next week will be very interesting (AC meeting).

-fan of Art. 6 ECHR

Anonymous said...

Observer said…

Dear Maxdrei…

Don’t worry about the G2301/15 being taken down. Publishing the decision is contravening the service regulations of the EPO employees, especially Art 14 because it’s not in the interests of the Office. CRG and IU have taken care of this and the person responsible will be suspended soon. It’s business as usual… The President will inform the AC that everything is fine and …there will be plenty of Xmas gifts.

Disheartened said...

Rapporteur,

Thanks for those details from the AC minutes. This is clearly just travel insurance to cover emergencies, as part of the AC delegates' travel expenses, as I suggested.

MaxDrei,

This is a minute written by an administrator to provide a summary of an announcement made at an AC meeting. It is not a legal definition of the insurance cover written by a lawyer.

So I completely disagree that the word "urgent" relates only to medical treatment but not to dental treatment. It would be very strange to provide comprehensive cover for non-urgent dental work, even for cosmetic dentistry, but then to limit the medical insurance in the manner of a travel insurance policy. If that was the announcement intended for the AC delegates, then surely it would have been spelled out more clearly?

Furthermore, if this dental work is intended as a "sweetener" for the AC delegates, why must it take place only during official AC and EPO meetings? I don't doubt the excellence of Munich dentists, but surely it would be more sensible (and no more expensive) to pay for treatment with a dentist of the delegate's choice, in his or her home country, at a time which did not conflict with AC or EPO business?

The insurance is clearly intended as a top-up to cover emergencies not covered by any existing travel insurance held by the delegate. It is an absolutely normal condition of most insurance policies that the insurer will decline to pay out if the risk is also covered by a more specific policy with another insurer. Please note that this condition also applies to the cover for medical treatment, and you are not suggesting that it would therefore cover non-urgent medical treatment.

I'm disheartened not only that a few EPO staff members are jumping to wild conclusions with inadequate evidence, but also that you have been taken in by it. There is strong evidence of many things that are wrong with the management of the EPO. This allegation about dental insurance is not one of them. Those who continually raise it are weakening their own case. Why should anyone believe what they say?

Co-Rapporteur said...

The insurance is clearly intended as a top-up to cover emergencies not covered by any existing travel insurance held by the delegate. It is an absolutely normal condition of most insurance policies that the insurer will decline to pay out if the risk is also covered by a more specific policy with another insurer. Please note that this condition also applies to the cover for medical treatment, and you are not suggesting that it would therefore cover non-urgent medical treatment.

So how come this insurance was never considered a "must-have" for AC delegates until the current VP4 arrived at the EPO ? For almost 40 years, the AC delegates have managed to survive without it. Why is it now necessary to introduce it in the present era of "financial streamlining" ?

I'm disheartened not only that a few EPO staff members are jumping to wild conclusions with inadequate evidence, but also that you have been taken in by it. There is strong evidence of many things that are wrong with the management of the EPO. This allegation about dental insurance is not one of them.

How can you be so sure ? Where are the figures showing how many claims were made on this insurance and by whom and for what amount ? How can you be so sure that there is no abuse of what you claim is a purely innocuous top-up insurance ? If EPO staff can be arbitrarily accused of rampant abuse of sick-leave etc. without any evidence, why should anybody be expected to believe that AC delegates are squeaky clean ?

Those who continually raise it are weakening their own case. Why should anyone believe what they say?

Unfortunately, precisely the same question can be asked of the President and the AC.

'Ndrangheta said...

How we we be sure that MaxDrei is not in cahoots with the mafia-like entity of SUEPO?
This needs to be clarified.
Call the Investigative Unit immediately and put him under surveillance ...

Disheartened said...

"How can you be so sure ? Where are the figures showing how many claims were made on this insurance and by whom and for what amount ? How can you be so sure that there is no abuse of what you claim is a purely innocuous top-up insurance ?"

So we agree that there are no figures and no evidence. Yet you are the ones making wild accusations of wrong-doing. How can you be so sure? It's your accusation. Why do I have to prove anything?

"Unfortunately, precisely the same question can be asked of the President and the AC."

Yes. As I've said, there is poor behaviour on both sides. And both sides react badly to the other side's poor behaviour. So the problems just get worse and worse. That's why I'm so disheartened.

Trollgate said...

I would like to know if some of you have written to their AC delegate? and with some protection or not?

My intention was to do so (and I still have it) but some comments on IPkat have slightly cooled down my (good) intentions. I will do it using a proxy and/or the Tor browser.

By the way congratulation for the good little troll called Disheartened. What a joker, I almost fall down from my coach. Thanks for the good stories.

nero said...

@Co-Rapporteur:
"Those who continually raise it are weakening their own case. Why should anyone believe what they say?

Unfortunately, precisely the same question can be asked of the President and the AC."

The important point here is that continually bringing up the dental non-issue is weakening the EPO staff's case. An outsider reading the comments will think "if EPO staff has to rely on THAT argument, then they cannot have a real case to begin with".

A second point is that you want/need AC delegates to choose your side. Suggesting that they are a corrupt bunch without anything to back that up is not the best approach to achieving that.

Filling comments (and letters to delegations and to national authorities, etc. etc.) with evident hyperbole is simply unhelpful. It is tiring to read and does not give the recipient a reason to read on or to care at all. (This is not directed at you but a general comment of mine.)

And who cares if the President is doing the same? If he is putting himself in a bad light, then all the better, so just let him but don't copy it.

Nothing will be forgotten said...

Strangely. the decision has now disappeared!

Not so fast, Kant!

Because nothing is faster than Google and its cache!

Et voilà, I present you G 2301/15 (Request for a proposal of removal from office) of 17.9.2015







MaxDrei said...

As Disheartened above observes, in the case of The Government of Eponia vs SUEPO:

"...both sides react badly to the other side's poor behaviour. So the problems just get worse and worse."

Suppose it degenerates as far as the point where Habeas Corpus becomes relevant. For the interest of members of the families of SUEPO officials, please tell me the name of the court they should turn to, that has the power to order the Government of Eponia to come up with the body?

You see, I just don't know what's going on. I wonder, is it in the EPO a bit like in The Vatican City, perhaps, but much less transparent? Or (at least when it comes to sweeteners at AC level) would FIFA be the better comparison? One can only stare into the murk and ask oneself whether what is in fact going on inside EPOnia. What does happen, readers, when (as a fact) a secular Head of State is not answerable to any effective control by any court for his actions taken, especially against those of his people who are troublesome to him?

See for example the curiously weak and wishy-washy wording of G2301/15 when it comes to reimbursement of the Respondent's costs. The EBA lacks any power to order the Petitioner to pay. And if the Petitioner simply declines to pay, what then? Will that reveal the AC as being "in contempt" of the "court" ruling from the EBA? Come to think of it, is the attitude of the AC towards the EBA correctly characterized as "contempt". It has already shown contempt for a court in The Netherlands, I seem to recall. Let us judge the AC more by the deeds committed in its name than by the words uttered in its name.

Anonymous said...

EPO Strike regulation - Circular 347 has been published,
see here http://techrights.org/2015/12/10/eponia-state-curfew/

Barbarosa

Sunlight (tThe best disinfectant said...

@nero

A second point is that you want/need AC delegates to choose your side. Suggesting that they are a corrupt bunch without anything to back that up is not the best approach to achieving that.

And what if one take the view that they are a "corrupt bunch" ?
And that there's plenty to back it up ?
As Max Drei indicates they are entirely complicit in everything Battistelli has done so far.

What's their excuse ?
"Oi Corbloimey guv we didn't realise wot we was rubber-stampin'".
Is that it ?

If the AC delegates cannot be persuaded by reasonable argument to desist from supporting BB's circus, then maybe at least some of them can be SHAMED into acting in a decent manner.

How ? Quite simply by exposing their complicity to public scrutiny.

MaxDrei said...

Barbarosa provides a Link to the July 2013 Strike Regulation of the Govt of Eponia. Article 31 took my attention. As I understand it, it provides that, for the hours of strike, all remuneration is stopped but all social security deductions from pay continue unabated. Quite an impressive squeeze, what? Is this what the miners (for Iron Lady Maggie Thatcher the "enemy within") of Yorkshire faced, when striking against the shutting down of their industry? Is such a provision standard, in macho management circles, these days, or have we moved on from that, in our more enlightened times. Except perhaps in the management textbooks of Croatia, where (if I recall correctly) Eponia's Mr Topic honed his skills.

Take labour relations work at, say, Volkswagen. Is it also there a case of the "enemy within"? Who wants to work at a place in which management regards workers as "the enemy within"?

nero said...

@Sunlight:
If the AC delegates cannot be persuaded by reasonable argument to desist from supporting BB's circus, then maybe at least some of them can be SHAMED into acting in a decent manner.

Shaming? You seem disturbed. Do you think it wise to lend credence to the mafia-type entity claim?

"Exposing" the AC delegates' lack of action can be done simply by pointing out that they failed to vote against the President's proposals (and at the same time pointing out the flaws in those proposals). Absolutely no need for boring the objective reader with the dental non-issue.

If reasonable arguments do not convince the objective reader, then diatribe certainly won't.

Galba Otho Vitellius said...

@ Nero

You don't work at the Office, don't you?

"pointing out that they failed to vote against the President's proposals (and at the same time pointing out the flaws in those proposals)" is what the staff representatives and SUEPO have tried to do since a couple of years.

3 of them will get fired by Christmas.

Also tell me, in case someone may be able to convince the "objective reader" ((you?) with reasonable arguments, what do you expect this person will be able to achieve? More than the Dutch Court?

Disheartened said...

Nero,

Sadly, it is easy to explain these attempts to shame the AC (for example with the dental non-issue) rather than arguing objectively.

It's an example of poor behaviour (by SUEPO supporters), reacting to poor behaviour (by the President).

:-(

Scharfmacher said...

The only "mafia-like entity" at the EPO is BB's "inner circle".

It was described with perfect accuracy on this German blog post from February of this year: http://crosswater-job-guide.com/archives/49331

"Der Chef des Europäischen Patentamts sitzt wie ein Krake in der Mitte, umgeben von seinen getreuen Vasallen, die er aus früheren Ämtern kannte und in der neue Behörde mit lukrativ dotierten Positionen versorgte. Personalchefin inklusive."

nero said...

@Galba Otho Vitellius:

It is of course possible that reasonable arguments fail to convince. But in that case unreasonable arguments will not help either. Not to mention threatening with shaming actions.

You will not improve the situation of any of the three staff reps by bringing up the dental non-issue once more.

TN205 said...

@ nero - about dental issue.

Nobody knows (and will never know) what the EPO pays exactly to the delagations for dental issues.

Does the EPO pay sometimes 50 Euros (then nobody will complain) or does the EPO pay 20000 Euros to some delegates?

At least, one thing is true: The lack of transparence about dental issues.

Sweet Tooth said...

You will not improve the situation of any of the three staff reps by bringing up the dental non-issue once more.

The "dental non-issue" is only a "non-issue" inside nero's head.

The ostensibly innocuous "top-up insurance" is very clearly a "sweetener" for the members of the smaller Eastern European delegations. The fact that nobody had needed it for the last 40 years and that it was introduced at a time of "austerity" and "cutbacks" (for EPO staff) should be enough to make any objective observer suspicious. Not to mention the fact that it was introduced by VP4 who has quite a reputation as a confectionary expert from his previous career in the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office.

If there really is nothing to hide then I'm sure that we can look forward to publication in due course of the figures of the number of incidents of "urgent dental treatment" of AC members and the costs involved. All in the interests of transparency ...

nero is doing a good job as a presidential sock-puppet but like BB he has obviously never heard of the "Streisand effect".

Alain Sorba said...

I am very sad, I would even say exasperated when reading comments that tend to imply that BB and SUEPO are behaving in a similar (bad) manner. This appears to be an absurd attempt to prove that, if BB is behaving in a poor fashion the same applies to the trade union.
Well, may be there are just a couple of heartless persons out there not aware of what is going on at epo.
The union SUEPO, set up about 4 decades ago, is committed to defend the interests of the staff and by the very same way the interests of the epo. Remember the epo would be nothing without his highly skilled staff. A couple of persons, team BB, is systematically and fiercely attacking the epo staff. Team BB started with SUEPO, imposing new rules for strikes, for electing Staff reps, then continued harassing sick staff, imposing an infamous " house arrest", and subsequently attacks the benefits of the pensioners and imposes unachievable working conditions for examiners etc....This being just a short list of the "achievements".

Now please tell me, who is behaving in a poor manner?

SUEPO is trying to counter the systematic destruction of the EPO by team Battistelli. In my opinion it his an honourable task for a trade union. As a reward 3 leading members are on the runway to be fired.

Therefore putting the leading team of the epo and the trade union on the same level is mala fide
Last but not least: the "non dental issue" is a mere statement of facts: SUEPO didn't write the minutes of the quoted AC session. AC members get free dental treatment. Fact! Whether AC members misuse this benefit is not the point here. Why should they, anyway?

Disheartened said...

TN205: "Nobody knows (and will never know) what the EPO pays exactly to the delegations for dental issues. Does the EPO pay sometimes 50 Euros (then nobody will complain) or does the EPO pay 20000 Euros to some delegates?"

Quite so. Nobody knows. There is no evidence.

Except that we do know that this dental insurance is only provided to AC delegates "when attending meetings of the Council and its sub-bodies or any event upon invitation by the Office". Not at any other time. That's consistent with 50 Euro travel insurance.

And we do know that it is the same dental insurance that is provided for non-delegate "experts" who are invited to assist at AC or EPO meetings. That's also consistent with 50 Euro travel insurance.

And we do know that it is part of a package which provides only "urgent" medical treatment. 50 Euro travel insurance, again.

We know all this from the same AC minutes which cause some people to assume that the dental insurance must be a 20000 Euro "sweetener".

So why do those people assume that?

Well, their only "evidence" is that the minutes say "urgent medical treatment and dental treatment". This is ambiguous. Simply as a matter of English language, the word "urgent" might apply to both the medical treatment and the dental treatment. Or it might not.

I wonder if the minute-writer's first language was not English? Had he or she instead written "urgent medical and dental treatment", then nobody would have blinked an eyelid.

As it is, the language is ambiguous. There is no evidence to prove a 20000 Euro sweetener. So we have to look for other clues. As set out above, the only other available clues suggest (but do not prove) that it is 50 Euro travel insurance.

As TN205 says, nobody would complain about 50 Euros. In fact, it seems to be an obligation under Article 16 RPAC to pay the delegate's travel expenses. Maybe the biggest surprise is that such travel insurance was not provided before.

Yet with no further evidence, some people pick up this linguistic ambiguity, and present it as a huge scandal. Sorry, but unless you've got more than that, I call that poor behaviour. Look up Hanlon's razor. If you want to make a serious accusation like corruption, it's your job to prove it's 20000 Euros, not mine to prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy.

And I'll repeat: yes the EPO management is also guilty of poor behaviour. But if you want people to believe you about that, you need to ditch the unbelievable allegations which have no evidence.

Anonymous said...

On an irrelevant thread under the IPKat the following was posted:
“Bringbackalib said...

Renewal fees are well spent,last week 2 QCs were flown in to Eponia to help dismiss a misguided Eponian !!!!!!
Monday, 14 December 2015 at 17:24:00 GMT”
Although it is almost cryptic to me (a simple European Patent Attorney watching in horrified amazement) I believe it belongs here.

Are we to understand that a dismissal of an EPO staff member has occurred? In view of the EPO's purported independence of any jurisdiction, what are QC's needed for? Is it official UK Government business or is it on a private matter? Moonlighting?



Kind regards,


George Brock-Nannestad

Speculator said...

George, I know no more than you about the rumour of these two QCs, so this is pure speculation.

Maybe there have been further oral proceedings in the case of the suspended Board of Appeal member? Maybe the AC saw the cock-up last time, when the lawyers from DG5 didn't understand the Enlarged Board's Rules of Procedure? So maybe they decided that they should instruct better lawyers this time?

Of course, under the President's proposal CA/98/15, in future the lawyers from DG5 will themselves write the Enlarged Board's Rules of Procedure. So there will then be no possibility of a cock-up. No need for expensive QCs! Efficiency will reign! Independence will triumph!

Er....

Tired one said...

Speculator,
I understand from a Suepo report that it was one QC and one barrister in one of the cases involving a union committee member. Of course, the defendant isn't allowed to tell you that as the proceedings are 'confidential'.

TN205 said...

@Disheartened
You said: ”Yet with no further evidence, some people pick up this linguistic ambiguity, and present it as a huge scandal. Sorry, but unless you've got more than that, I call that poor behaviour. Look up Hanlon's razor. If you want to make a serious accusation like corruption, it's your job to prove it's 20000 Euros, not mine to prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy.”

Sorry, but you do not prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy. Where did you read this information?

In December 2014 (one year ago), this dental issue was pointed by Foss Patents http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/european-patent-office-pays-for-health.html

In June 2015, Foss Patents made a parallel EPO-FIFA and pointed again the dental issue http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/06/striking-structural-parallels-between.html

What has been done by the EPO to clarify the dental issue after one year?
Nothing. As you see the ambiguity is not only linguistic.

Rumpole said...

The two QC's were flown in for the show trial of a staff representative who is in all likelihood about to receive notification of dismissal from Ebeneezer Scroogitelli just in time for Christmas.

Move along now ... said...

"If you want to make a serious accusation like corruption, it's your job to prove it's 20000 Euros, not mine to prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy.”"

@Disheartened

Maybe you didn't realise that "proving" allegations of financial irregularity at the EPO is a logical impossibility. No "corruption" can possibly exist because there is no effective oversight to expose it if did. That's the wonderful world of Eponia for you.

BB took care of all that by abolishing the EPO's external audit committee back in 2011.
http://techrights.org/2014/10/31/brimelow-and-battistelli/

Or to be more precise:
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL ABOLISHED ITS OWN EXTERNAL AUDIT COMMITTEE AT THE BEHEST OF BATTISTELLI !!!

But, hey, everybody let's not upset Disheartened.

Please try to avoid any topic or Topic that might risk bringing PUBLIC SHAME upon the Administrative Council for their apparent complicity in the alleged misgovernance of the EPO.

Point of order said...

On a further point of order:

The "dental issue" is not a non-issue.
It is actually highly significant.

According to this very recent report on FOSS patents, it appeared on the charge sheet against one of the suspended staff representatives:
http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/12/why-would-patent-office-be-afraid-of.html

As we can see Bully Boy is not targeting the blog which commented on the matter in somewhat cautious and circumspect terms.
Oh no ! He's already burned his fingers badly with the TechRights affair which has in the meantime made it on to the pages of Private Eye.

Instead he has decided to target a staff representative who is "alleged" to have been responsible for leaking to the blog operator the details of something which can be found in the non-confidential minutes of the Administrative Council meeting referred to above.

BB doesn't have any evidence to prove his allegations that would stand up in the proverbial "court of law". But he doesn't need that because he has a "disciplinary committee" stuffed with his obedient stooges.

That's how BB operates.
And he is "protected" by his "friends" in the Council.
But please refrain from using the word "Mafia" unless you are talking about SUEPO !

And remember that only people raising allegations against BB have to produce evidence. He and his obedient cohorts are "immune" from such mundane technicalities.

MaxDrei said...

Rumpole writes:

"The two QC's were flown in for the show trial of a staff representative"

My thought: If there is anything taking place that purports to be a "trial" it sure as heck ain't a "Show Trial". The whole point of a "Show Trial" is to "show" the world the "trial". In EPOnia trials, it's the exact opposite.

English QC's are officers of the English court and have a centuries-old tradition of defending the Rule of Law and victims of dictators around the world who trash the Rule of Law. I hope any English QC, flown in to Munich from London (the "Libel Capital" of the world) will think carefully about whether their work in Munich is compatible with their professional vows and Rules of Conduct.

Ever-optimistic, I remain hopeful that the English lawyers are taking their fees for educating the EPO's in-house legal officers (I refrain from calling them "lawyers") on what English law is all about. They will do that expertly. But whether what they have to say will be heard is another matter.

Anonymous said...

Is it too much to hope that the QCs involved will honour their professional commitments to independence, fairness, and the rights of the respective parties, beyond the strict letter of the law? Strangely, it's a bit of a job to find references to this on the Bar Standards Board's website, although they are generally expected.

Anonymous said...

An interesting way of solving the Boards' problems is proposed here:
http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2015/12/14/der-tod-das-muss-ein-wiener-sein-will-georg-kreislers-famous-song-be-the-writing-on-the-wall-for-the-epos-boards-of-appeal/

MaxDrei said...

Please do take note of that Link to the Kluwer blog, just above, where you will find one of Europe's leading international patent litigators giving (under his real name) his views on the way the EPO President is running the EPO (into the ground).

I find such heart-felt, well-informed and expert utterances, in one's own real name) much more powerful than all the anonymous whingeing here on this blog. It takes a brave man to stick his head up above the parapet, even when his best career years are yet to come. Look. Read. He puts the interests of his clients (large and small, domestic and foreign, patent owners and accused infringers) above his own interests. Our clients need an EPO that works. If you think so too, say so.

Anonymous said...

Can someone here answer the following questions? I am thinking about applying for an examiner post. Someone from inside told me I won't be able to work for 2 years after leaving the office. Is that true? How can the office impose that outside of Germany if I want to work as an attorney in Spain, for example? Can they force an attorney to fire me?
The same person said that there are plans to lower pensions. What recourse do I have if the office refuses to pay pensions in the future or pays me less than originally agreed?

A future examiner.

THE US anon said...

MaxDrei,

Perhaps inadvertently, you raise a critical question when dealing with Trans-national entities.

To whom - if anyone at all - (and to what level) are "whatever" traditions and vows even amenable?

As I often point out in your dabblings into the US patent environment, patent law is intrinsically law meant to be within a sovereign. Here in the US, we simply do not have the same EPOnia aspect that you all have. Your problem then with its leadership cannot have a solution that EITHER follows any US solution, NOR can look to the traditional within-sovereign "respect" factors (in truth, you just do not have any that apply, and even if you adopt them, to whom would you apply them to?)

MaxDrei said...

US anon, if you are a lawyer registerd to practise then you have Bar Rules of Conduct. Not following them leaves you vulnerable to being struck off. That you do not understand my post gives me the feeling that you are not subject to any Rules of Professional Conduct. You can't escape them just by boarding a flight to Munich.

Anonymous said...

User circles' interest in the fate of the Boards seem to gain momentum
http://eplaw.org/epo-structural-reform-of-the-boards-of-appeal/

A Nonni Mouse said...

I think all of the issues here really come down to one problem, lack of transparency.

There is no transparency about expenses, either of the AC or the management. Ask the UK parliament where that can get you.

There is no transparency about senior appointments, hence the allegations of nepotism and cronyism against senior management.

There is no transparency about reform. Proposals arrive out of thin air, ignoring all advice from those who might have a legitimate view, and are then rubber stamped in closed meetings.

There is no transparency in staff relations with gagging clauses, threats of dismissal, clandestine surveillance and expensive PR campaigns deliberately clouding the issues.

In fact all of the recent reforms have worked to reduce any transparency there may have once been with.

Unfortunately I do not see anything changing until the AC realise that without transparency an organisation is destined to become seen as corrupt, whatever the reality may be.

superann said...

To anonymous, who would like to become an examiner….I would leave it awhile until we see if anything or anybody can intervene in the present nightmare.

Yes, it is true that the President has proposed that he is give the power to veto employment after one leaves the office. Of course he cannot force anyone to fire you, but he can withdraw any benefits you might have accrued from your EPO service, such as entitlement to a pension, or the return of your contributions if you have worked for less than 10 years. The only judicial instance available to you will take a decade to render a decision, which will probably not be in your favor. The EPO exists in a legal vacuum, and in space, no-one can hear you scream.

Not so Optimistic said...

Ever-optimistic, I remain hopeful that the English lawyers are taking their fees for educating the EPO's in-house legal officers (I refrain from calling them "lawyers") on what English law is all about. They will do that expertly. But whether what they have to say will be heard is another matter.

Pray tell what has English law got to do with Eponia ?
The EPO's in-house legal officers are under the control of a former German judge who knows far better than any English lawyer how a legal vacuum functions. He's been running one successfully for quite a number of years now and was recently reappointed by the AC despite the fact that he has reached retirement age.

Far more likely that the English lawyers will trouser the money and laugh all the way to the bank.

No skin off their nose if some poor staff rep gets the chop on the basis of some trumped-up charges from Ubustelli Roi with their "expert pleadings" forming the icing on the cake.

I don't see any form of legal redress available to the adversely affected party in such a case.


zoobab said...

"Our clients need an EPO that works."

Well EPO is not responsible in front of a court, so there is no procedure if the EPO does not work.

That's why it needs to be dissolved, or reintegrated in other democratic structures.

WorkingAtTheEPO said...

@future examiner:

Regarding working elsewhere after leaving the office, go to
http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/12/boards-of-appeal-tell-ac-we-were-never.html
and click on the link at the last word of "an updated proposal addressed to the AC, which is attached here" (pages 7-11).

Regarding lowering the pensions, you do not have any recourse. You can file an internal request for review, then an internal appeal, then go to the ILOAT. However, that takes many years and none of the decisions are binding to the office, just as little as rulings of ANY other court. Any judgements can be ignored and are ignored, see for example
http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/02/the-epo-privileged-and-immune-says_24.html.

At the European Patent Office, you do not get a working contract. Instead you are employed according to the rules of the EPO "Codex" which the EPO can change unilaterally whenever and however the EPO likes.

Before considering joining the office, I would strongly recommend you to carefully read:

1.) the other articles here at IPKat about the EPO
2.) http://techrights.org/2015/09/22/investigative-unit-gestapo/
3.) https://www.google.de/search?q=european+patent+office+eponia
4.) https://www.google.de/search?q=european+patent+office+fosspatents
5.) https://www.google.de/search?q=european+patent+office+techrights

THE US anon said...

MaxDrei,

In your haste to accuse me of not understanding, perhaps you yourself are the one that is not understanding.

I invite you to take some time to read the words I actually use.

Yes, I do recognize that the oath taken is for matters within that sovereign.

Do you understand that? Do you not see that I am pointing out matters being followed OUTSIDE of that sovereign?

Try again (or for the first time).

Anonymous said...

@Notsooptimistix

The part of English law which deals with human rights and the rule of law, which are universal and, despite the lacuna which BB claims, apply , or should apply, to the whole of the EPO, is very relevant, and provided that our learnéd friends hold to their professional obligations, will be very well expresses by them. I hope.

Cheerleader said...

Do you understand that? Do you not see that I am pointing out matters being followed OUTSIDE of that sovereign?

Damn right you transatlantic interloper ... sock it to 'im ...

The Max-Bubi obviously hasn't twigged the fact that the London QCs didn't travel to Munich. They temporarily disappeared inside a singularity in the legal space-time continuum (colloquially known in these parts as Eponia).

Just like the Max-Bubi can be spied on by BB every time he enters EPO premises.
Let him try to obtain redress for that before a German court.
That will soften his cough for him.


MaxDrei said...

As to the issue of the English barristers, are they mercenaries lacking any scruples and just waiting to be hired by whoever offers enough money? Or are they members of an honorable profession with its own Rules of Conduct?

Imagine you are a surgeon. Your job is to save lives. But then some absolute ruler of some foreign State (let's call it Eponia) learns of your exquisite reputation and wants to hire you to perform nefarious deadly experiments on selected citizens of Eponia who are unfortunate enough to have come to the attention of the authorities of Eponia. Do you take the money and do the experiments? Or do your Rules of Conduct (and your conscience) give you pause?

Or are lawyers not comparable with doctors?

What a laugh said...

As to the issue of the English barristers, are they mercenaries lacking any scruples and just waiting to be hired by whoever offers enough money? Or are they members of an honorable profession with its own Rules of Conduct?
...
Or are lawyers not comparable with doctors?


Lawyers comparable with doctors ??? What planet do you live on ???
I would be inclined to put them in the same category as "hired guns" of Control Risks. Simply used by BB to add a veneer of sophisticated "British respectibility" to his nefarious goings on.

Control Risks were hired to prepare the charge-sheet and the barristers were hired to plead the case for dismissal. Good for the UK economy but not much else. It's that simple.

So now BB can say:
"Look here, we engaged the best British mercenaries ... pardon professionals ... to perform our investigation. Then we used the finest silks from London to plead our case for us. What greater respect could we have shown for the human rights of our staff. Of course, the accused people were guilty to begin with so we could have been much nastier but we did it all in such an eminently civilised manner ...Nobody was waterboarded ... not yet anyway ..."

Or some such absurd twaddle which nobody apart from himself (and a few numpties on the AC) will actually take seriously.

And to conclude:
"... if they don't like it they can always appeal to the ILOAT. We'll all probably be dead by the time the judgment is delivered from that quarter so quite frankly my dear ...."

THE US anon said...

What's not comparable is your LACK of understanding as to what duty WITHIN a sovereign means, my dear MaxDrei.

Let me provide a ready example (and instantly recognizable to any States-side savvy individual).

Here in the States, the comparable duty is (by and large, but there are exceptions) driven by individual States oaths.

Having sworn in, let's say New York, I am simply NOT permitted to practice law in another State, say, California.

Let's modify the example a tad, and say that I have been successful at passing multiple state bar exams, and have been sworn in in several states.

Let's also say that State Chaos forbids an item that State Confusion permits. Do you think that I violate my "duty" in State Chaos, if, while I am in State Confusion, practice that very thing that State Chaos forbids?

I say thee nay.

(or is that neigh ;-) )

Anonymous said...

I think it is possible big companies would say something. Most patent departments are run by patent attorneys who are fairly similar to their counterparts in private practice. It is jut not a priority and it is too confusing to know what is going on. I would suggest that those concerned put together a short concise summary explaining what the issues are and how it will effect big companies.

Maintaining independence and quality of the boards of appeal, quality of examination or retaining experienced examiners are things big companies may be concerned about. Abstract human rights in employment, culture of fear etc less so because they do not impact the companies directly and anyway many in-house attorneys, in US at least, do not have much job security and are used to large corporations were the CEOs are very powerful and in some cases can be quite autocratic.

Tired man said...

Re. The English barristers - one is very eminent and famous for a very high profile public interest case. But of course, barristers, despite the public misconception, work on a cab rank principle so that they may be experts on a subject or area but can represent either side. They present a case to the best of their ability while respecting the law. Doing right is not their task - they present their clients case as well as they can. No more, no less.

The Cat that Walks by Himself said...

I wonder already for quite some while about the following

"Article 3 Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Patent Organisation
(1)
Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation shall have immunity from jurisdiction and execution, except […]"

It would be interesting to see a construction of this range by the EBoA or a national court.

Especially in view of

"Article 4[ 3 ]
European Patent Organisation
[...]
(3)
The task of the Organisation shall be to grant European patents. This shall be carried out by the European Patent Office supervised by the Administrative Council. "

In principle, the scope of EPO immunity can be delimited by the argument that certain activities are not necessary or not proportional to the talks assigned to the Organisation, i.e. grant of European patents.

It also can be argued that in case the EPC does not provide a sufficiently clear legal basis for certain activities or powers, the EPO should rely on Member States with respect to those powers. Any EPO powers are just a branch at the tree of the state sovereignty. If something is not clearly given in the EPC, it's because these functions/powers belong to another branch of the tree. Reshaping a branch is a matter of the tree, in due time ...

MaxDrei said...

Tired man explains what English barristers do. It involves putting his client's case as best he can, to the court. But the cases at Eponia are a little bit unusual in that the "court" and the "client" are effectively one and the same. What if he is appearing before a "court" that is not actually a "court" in the normal meaning of that word? What if the entire behind-closed-doors "legal process" is a pure sham? Do those fastidious, honorable and impeccably correct English barristers really feel at ease in lending their considerable weight to such a scenario? Have they thought about it, I wonder.

Meldrew said...

Still, look on the bright side,all the rules for the UP were approved by the Select Committee today.

Disheartened said...

TN205,

On the dental issue, you say "Sorry, but you do not prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy. Where did you read this information?"

I agree, I've not proved it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy. All I've done is to show that the AC minutes are ambiguous. Travel insurance is one perfectly reasonable explanation. If you and your fellow SUEPO supporters have evidence to prove the contrary, let's see it. I'm happy to examine it.

My point is that I don't need to prove anything. You quoted me: "If you want to make a serious accusation like corruption, it's your job to prove it's 20000 Euros, not mine to prove it's only a 50 Euro travel insurance policy." You've not answered that.

This is your accusation, not mine. If you and your fellow SUEPO supporters want to convince me and the rest of the world, where is your evidence? Why should we believe it otherwise?


I have examined the latest material you've now cited. Your argument seems to be "FOSS Patents says it, therefore it must be true."

OK, so I've read the FOSS Patents links given. Mr Mueller is quite clear. He is not offering any proof. He is merely repeating an allegation he heard in a speech by a SUEPO official at a demonstration in Munich.

So where is the evidence relied on by this SUEPO official? I've tried to search the SUEPO website, but I've not been able to find it.

Could it be that this SUEPO official merely read the ambiguous AC minutes, and ignored that travel insurance was a reasonable explanation? Surely there must be more than that, if he wanted to accuse corruption? So where is it? Otherwise that would be poor behaviour.


Right, Mr Mueller also notes that one of the disciplinary charges faced by Ms Hardon is that she allegedly contacted him personally and leaked the corruption allegation. He presents a believable case that she didn't. As described above, it was a public speech by a different SUEPO official.

Assuming that to be true, then I agree that making this particular charge against Ms Hardon is poor behaviour by the EPO management. (I cannot say anything about the other charges she faces. I can also imagine that the EPO management might have a better case against this other unidentified SUEPO official if not Ms Hardon.)


So where does all this lead? It merely brings me back to where I started. There seems to be poor behaviour on both sides. Both SUEPO and the EPO management are making accusations which, as far as I can tell, are not supported by evidence.

I'm even more disheartened now than I was previously.

:-(

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Disheartened here. To get from those minutes to the AC being corrupt is a massive leap for which I have seen no evidence. I am happy to accept that corruption may be present but as someone sitting on the side lines I have seen nothing to allow me to decide one way than or the other, except to say that Disheartened's interpretation seems reasonable.

slartibartfast said...

Will everyone please stop banging on about the dental treatment thing?

There are far more important issues at stake. Suspension of staff members on spurious grounds. The ongoing "house ban" issue. The possibility of another attempt to fire the suspended DG3 member. Insane efforts to move the Boards of Appeal to Vienna, against the express wish of seemingly every user of the system.

Yes, the AC seems to be incompetent or complicit. Yes, it needs to be forced to take action. Yes, if the AC really is rinsing the fee-payers of thousands of Euros in dental expenses, that's a scandal. But compared to all the other things it is a minor side show and it is clear that nobody has the full facts or even knows for sure if the dental plan has ever been used. What we do know for sure is that there are other serious problems (see above) which are verifiable and are much more fundamental to the effective functioning of the system. Going on and on about a dental treatment plan, for which nobody seems to know the full facts, risks letting the President and/or the AC get away with much more serious abuses.

Can we please focus on the important issues?!

Anonymous said...

@ Disheartened, a fundamental distinction between the respective behaviour of SUEPO and EPO management is that the latter are able to concoct a story, treat it as fact, and act upon it without scrutiny to the extreme prejudice if the person targeted. When SUEPO get silly, they can be told to get lost. More concerning is when the Staff Representation, which has always had a statutory presence within the EPO, which has been tinkered with considerably by BB with a view to neutering it, is also treated with contempt by the EPO management, who confound them with SUEPO as the mood takes them. I suggest that nobody reading this blog who has any claim to knowledge of general law - which should be every reader - would be content with such a state of affairs.

We (The People) said...

all the rules for the UP were approved by the Select Committee today.

Another of this decisions behind closed doors?

Does anybody know if any objection raised during the discussion that occurred within this "selected" (by whom?) Committe will ever be made public?

L'angelo Misterioso said...

I think it's time to stop feeding the troll. If you ignore him, he will head back under the bridge.

Op Naam de Volk said...

We (The People) said...

all the rules for the UP were approved by the Select Committee today.

Another of this decisions behind closed doors?

Does anybody know if any objection raised during the discussion that occurred within this "selected" (by whom?) Committe will ever be made public?


For your information the "Select Committee" is a body formed pursuant to Article 145 EPC.
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2013/e/ar145.html

It comprises the delegates from the EPC Contracting States that have signed up to the EU Unitary Patent, i.e. most of the EU Contracting States.

If you want to find out more about what its members are up to then try contacting one of your MEPs or making a freedom of information request to the competent ministry in your country.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Bringbackalib. said...

W ill the Great Leader sleep well tonight
A vote in the Council gave him a fright
T he big delegations have seen and it shows
E mperor Batters is wearing no clothes
R esuming tomorrow with other issues
L et's hope Elodie has stocked up on tissues
O ne more defeat and he'll be Benny Who?
O ver to you AC,you know what to do.

Anonymous said...

@ Barbarosa 16:01

Your last comment is really going too far, and whatever side of the cause you take, it really does nobody any good at all and perhaps you should take your own advice to think twice, particularly about the context.

The situation in the EPO really is one of the absence of both employment rights and human rights which most of us take for granted. There are those in many of our countries who believe that the existence of such rights, and the protection that they afford, is spurious, an affront to sovereignty, a restriction on progress, and that their absence would cause no harms to any citizens. If nothing else, the EPO's current situation is an experiment which proves, should proof ever be needed, that such people and beliefs are wholly misplaced. There really is no such thing as a benign dictatorship - Lady Astor's comment has already been quoted here.

It is obvious that there are various sock puppets commenting on this blog, one can speculate on who they are. But some are clearly attempting to defend the indefensible. Were they in any of the EPO's member states, they and their masters would certainly not be behaving as they are, and would actively and forcefully be prevented from doing so.

But stupid, thoughtless and offensive comments don't contribute anything.

bobvanb said...

A vote in the Council gave him a fright

This does make me curious...

Old man of EPO said...

Keep an eye out for a letter from the VIE, the Dutch division of AIPPI (AIPPI.nl), sent to the Administrative Council and which denounces Battistelli's style of management. It couldn't be clearer and (unless it's written off as the 'enemy without' or another mafia) must be adding pressure.

Anonymous said...

Late last night I posted in reply the following:

"@Anonymous 16 December 2015 at 21:07:00 GMT

Firstly, my post was not a comment but an advice to a person not knowledgeable of the traps hidden in the nicely golden polished job offer.
Secondly, if you would have bothered to think at least once, you would have understood that what I meant was exactly, and beyond, what you said: "The situation in the EPO really is one of the absence of both employment rights and human rights which most of us take for granted." Obviously, a prospective outsider would take these for granted.
Thirdly,"There are those in many of our countries who believe that the existence of such rights, and the protection that they afford, is spurious, an affront to sovereignty, a restriction on progress, and that their absence would cause no harms to any citizens. If nothing else, the EPO's current situation is an experiment which proves, should proof ever be needed, that such people and beliefs are wholly misplaced. There really is no such thing as a benign dictatorship - Lady Astor's comment has already been quoted here."Seriously? I have experienced these first hand where I come from. So, do not bullshit me with these cliches which appears to be mere acquired knowledge to you.
Fourthly, "It is obvious that there are various sock puppets commenting on this blog, one can speculate on who they are... Were they in any of the EPO's member states, they and their masters would certainly not be behaving as they are, and would actively and forcefully be prevented from doing so." Really? Where? Like in Croatia, Germany, France, etc.?
Lastly, being stupid, thoughtless and defensive in comments it's the name of the game to be successful in the new Bergot-Battistteli career. If you have these skills and you are either an EPO employee or a wannabe I foresee for you a successful rapid career with plenty of bonuses.

Barbarosa"

This morning the post disappeared.
Did Control Risks take control of this site?

Barbarosa

Merpel said...

To Barbarosa
As far we know, Control Risks has not taken control of this site. Merpel is not sure what happened to your comment from last night, but others of your comments including this morning at 09:09 have been intercepted by the Blogger spam filter, and your comment at 20.05 (not 16.01 as erroneously referred to by previous commenter) has been deleted for its content.

Anonymous said...

Foxy cat says...

@ Merpel

Shrewd answer! Spoke to some other bloggers and they experienced the same as Barbarosa. "Merpel visits Eponia" is it now subtle censorship or cherry picking out of control?

Best Wishes for 2016!

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