Further rumblings from EPO - strikes and demonstrations prohibited

Cat passport in paw, Merpel heads out
Merpel has been rather overdue another visit to the august corridors of the European Patent Office, since she has been detained in Paris and was denied an exit visa due to irregularities with her pet passport.  In the meantime, her email inbox has been far from empty, and there has been a steady flow of news from one or other of the EPO sites, since her last post.

First, the strike ballot that was called for has been refused by the President of the EPO, which seems to the IPKat to be precisely the sort of interference in the process that was suspected may happen when the new strike rules were promulgated. The reasons for refusal to organise a strike ballot were set out in a communique which Merpel has seen, and the main one appears to be that elections to the Central Staff Committee are underway - the elections take place today on 18 June - and so organising a strike at this time would create confusion.  The communique also stated that a strike action should be a measure of last resort, and opined that "responsible social dialogue" had not been engaged in.  This was reported by WIPR here.

In the meantime, apparently the EPO administration feared unofficial action.  A key day was yesterday, 17 June, when the European Inventor Award ceremony took place in Berlin.  Merpel has heard that supervisors were asked to be particularly vigilant about unauthorised absences on that day, particularly in Berlin.  News has yet to reach the IPKat of what actually happened yesterday, if anything.

17 or 18 June was however not the date of the proposed strike, which was planned to coincide with the Administrative Council meeting on 25 and 26 June in the Hague.  Merpel has seen correspondence from the site manager at the Hague explicitly stating that no demonstration is permitted on EPO premises on 25 June, when apparently there will be a ceremony marking laying of the foundation stone of a new building at the Hague, and the Dutch Prime Minister is expected to attend.  An alternative would be a demonstration on public property, for which the permission of the local Dutch authorities would be needed, and Merpel has not been informed whether or not this is specifically planned.  However, she does expect the event to be accompanied by some kind of protest, and there are signs that not only those working at the Hague, but also those from other EPO sites, may wish to become involved.

Meanwhile, for those who question exactly what it is that the EPO employees are complaining about, on the website of SUEPO, the EPO Union, there have been posted a couple of documents (link here, postings on 15 and 17 June) setting out the issues in greater detail.  One is a release on the occasion of the European Inventor Award, while the other is a document drafted for submission to the Administrative Council, which was not however transmitted by the President.

Merpel has even seen a suggestion apparently made by the EPO Central Staff Committee to the Administrative Council that the EPO's integrity system should be assessed by Transparency International.  Merpel is not holding her breath for anything to come of this initiative.

Well, that seems to bring matters at the EPO about up to date - if any more news reaches her ears, Merpel will let her dear readers know.
Further rumblings from EPO - strikes and demonstrations prohibited Further rumblings from EPO - strikes and demonstrations prohibited Reviewed by Merpel on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. Heard being chanted in Munich yesterday:

    "What do we want?"

    "Lots of money"

    "When do we want it?"

    "We have it already"

    "What else do we want?"

    "Lots of holiday"

    "When do we want it?"

    "We have it already"

  2. Just recently, an ardent LPS officer committed suicide after being suspended because of writing anonymous emails to the EPO president. Though times at the EPO...

  3. Zing! Hilarious, Anonymous 14:06, really well done. You sure skewered those EPO guys, eh? With their loads of money, and decent holiday allowances!

    How dare they lobby for change, and then take further action when that change is denied them. Especially with all their money and holiday sloshing around. It's obscene.

    We can't strike, Anonymous 14:06, can we, so why should they be allowed to?

    Did I mention that I'm jealous of the benefits employees of the EPO receive?

  4. If I understand well, the EPO employees cannot freely execute their job. They have, more or less, no possibility to complain (except leave their job).
    Then the problem of transparency is very serious and will probably also affect the applicants.

  5. Anonymous 1406. Thanks for explaining that you don't understand the issues. They aren't about money or holidays, although the staff refusing a bonus offered by the President may have been seen as an economic item to you while the staff saw it as a bribe to produce more and to compromise the independence of decision-making.
    I don't know your background - except a would-be provocateur? - but it 's disappointing that in a legal field you don't resort to analysing the facts of the matter rather than casting irrelevancies on troubled waters.

  6. I am anon at 1406 and must apologise for trivializing the issues. Obviously, what needs to happen to the EPO is that it is closed down completely. Not so that everyone who works there can try life in the real world, but simply because it has been producing garbage for quite a few years now. It is a failed organization that exists for its own needs.

    References to suicides are wholly inappropriate and do not support any cause.

  7. Well Merpel, elections were indeed held yesterday. The Staff Committee had its mandate cut short by the president who didn't like the answers he got when he had to consult them. His new rules meant that staff couldn't organise the elections but he or, by delegated power, his HR director (her recruitment/appointment is another matter...) organised them with new voting rules. The rules were designed to hamper the union(s) by preventing them getting a majority of seats.
    Result? 68% turnout overall and the union members were elected en masse (9 of 11 central members and all in TH and 7/9 in MN, for example).
    The results were such that clearly even non-union members must have voted for union candidates even though the head of HR refused to publish their campaign literature at all on various technical grounds e.g. Instead on one sheet per candidate, the union candidates preferred 2 sheets shared by 11 and the union candidates wanted to ask voters to vote efficiently ie spread the vote across union candidates (each voter got one vote so there was a risk/likelihood that one union candidate would get all the union members votes - part of the president's plan to hamper the union).
    We await the new committee's actions and whether the president will treat it any more respectfully than the last if they have the temerity to raise any issues.

  8. "Obviously, what needs to happen to the EPO is that it is closed down completely. Not so that everyone who works there can try life in the real world, but simply because it has been producing garbage for quite a few years now."

    Well that's certainly not trivializing the issues. Good job !

    Now I'd like to ask something to all those who think about EPO employees "Good, that will teach'em":

    Imagine that David Cameron promulgates a set of new laws: from now on, if you're a millionnaire:

    - David Cameron can order the police to launch secretly an investigation against you anytime he has a hunch that you did "something wrong".
    - In case you're accused of something, your have no right to a fair trial and no court is competent (well, maybe there's one, but it always sides with Cameron). Instead, you'll be judged by a corporate tribunal composed of some friends of David Cameron.
    - By the way the new laws don't apply to David Cameron's personal friends. If a legal dispute puts you against a good friend of David Cameron, he or she'll be declared immune from prosecution.
    - The police may search your house, your personal computer, and so on, without a warrant. They don't have to tell you what they're looking for and why.
    - The police can interrogate you anytime about anything if they decide that you're a witness in what they say is a criminal case. If you don't give them the answers they want to hear, they can put you under house arrest for as long as they want. Because officially you're just a witness and not a suspect, you have no right to be assisted by a lawyer or anybody and no right to tell anybody that the police asked you questions.
    - When interrogated, you have no right to remain silent but whatever you say can be used against you even if you're not accused of anything. Yet.
    - If you're sentenced at the end of your trial, David Cameron can decide that the sentence is not hard enough and has the right to inflict you a heavier one.
    - Protests about topics that David Cameron decides are of "political nature", such as the fact that some people have no right to a fair trial, are forbidden.

    What would your reaction be ?
    a) good, all those millionnaires are robbers anyway. They should all be put in jail and their money should be confiscated.
    b) Who cares about civil rights when you're a millionnaire ?
    c) David Cameron is the saviour of the country. What we need is a good dictator. That will eliminate corruption.
    d) All of the above

    Now I'm not saying this has any resemblance with the EPO's situation, I'm just asking about people's feelings about a very hypothetical thing.

  9. Stop the whining, pull your fingers out and do your job properly. Can't you hear the world telling you they don't care about your pathetic little problems? No? then you need to clean your ears too.

  10. I support EPO employees going on strike. It will be one day less of worthless patents being granted.

  11. Anon 1406, from anon 0020,
    First of all I agree with the point about suicide(s). Emotions run high but I haven't heard that a recent death was connected to events at the EPO. Could be wrong but I'm not in the know.
    Re. The failed EPO Project - a bit harsh I think. It isn't perfect but it is trying to be better than it is which, I think, is not as bleak as you portray.

    Re. Anon 1747 - yes, 'hypothetical', but sadly not more than minimally removed. How about adding that you can tell your spouse and one colleague but no legal advisor? And that silence is seen as not co-operating which would be an offence in itself.

  12. My days are now spent trudging through EPO-granted junk. Of course it has failed. I used to laud the quality of EPO examination and was critical of US examiners. At least with the US you got some examiners doing a good job even though the quality overall was a little low. Today, the EPO are producing junk faster than a fast food restaurant. US examiners are 'raising he bar'.

    And don't get me started on the quality of international exam reports produced by the EPO. Money for old rope anyone?

  13. Anon 2342, the difficulty is that examiners are given less and less time to do their work. Adding search opinions to reports but giving no time leads to limited effort. Senior mgt just want numbers to give grants to the Admin council (grants = income for them). It all sounds positive from BB as he demands 'efficiency' but examiners are just forced to reach unrealistic targets on pain of disciplinary procedures. And with the lack of control of BB, it is impossible for anyone to say that the work is suffering for fear of his wrath and the threat that he's looking for someone to make an example of.

  14. "My days are now spent trudging through EPO-granted junk. Of course it has failed. I used to laud the quality of EPO examination and was critical of US examiners. At least with the US you got some examiners doing a good job even though the quality overall was a little low. Today, the EPO are producing junk faster than a fast food restaurant."

    Haven't you ever heard of the GIGO principle: "Garbage In, Garbage Out" ?

    Who, pray tell, is responsible for submitting all this garbage in the first place ?

  15. The last anon should try telling that to he 'third parties', as they are know, who are affected by the junk the EPO grant. I guess you are an EPO examiner, because no half-decent attorney would make such a ridiculous comment.

    Just for a spot of education the position is this:

    1. Applicants/attorney file applications covering 'stuff'.

    2.Said applicants pay large wodges of dosh to the EPO for the purpose of examination to determine whether said applicant is entitled to a patent on their 'stuff'.

    3. The EPO take said large amount so of dosh and in return they are supposed to examiner the claims to the 'stuff' to determine whether said 'stuff' is patentable in accordance with the EPC. In case you are not aware, the EPC is the European Patent Convention. In addition to the EPC, the case law of the EPO is also taken into account.

    To put it simply (if that's helps your understanding), the EPO examiners are PAID to examine the 'stuff' and weed out the garbage.

    So, your equation is wrong. IT should read:

    "Mix of garbage and good stuff in: Good stuff out."

    Currently the left hand side of the equation is unchanged, but you are completely correct about the right hand side.

  16. Anon 1120, agreed but too much Gi and not enough time means some Go. Not defending everyone but DG1 is under real productivity pressure from top mgt. And that pressure cannot be resisted e.g. warning letters of disciplinary measures purely based on reaching a top mgt. decided target I.e. Pres promises AC a figure and here is your share. Of course this leads to gaming the system and this is reinforced by the rules changes such as for divisionalise.

  17. It isn't a question of how much garbage in there is. If it's clear garbage then reject it. Easy. If it isn't clear garbage then it isn't garbage, so examine it. Easy. If it is great stuff then grant it. Easy.

    Just this year I've had to give advice to a company on the relevance of a dozen patents that should never have been granted. It wasn't garbage, but the they clearly aren't patentable according to well-developed case law. That is, EPO case law developed by people who could do their job properly.

    One project saw numerous patents to salts and polymorphs. Novel? Yes. Data? No. Unexpected benefit claimed in application? No. Unexpected benefit claimed during prosecution? Not relevant, but no. Technical benefit claimed anywhere? No. Not possible to make using standard techniques? No. Hint anywhere in the patent or during prosecution as to why they may be patentable? No. Not even so much as a unity objection.

    The 'Garbage In' sign must be hanging on the staff entrance at the EPO.

  18. "Just this year I've had to give advice to a company on the relevance of a dozen patents that should never have been granted. It wasn't garbage, but the they clearly aren't patentable according to well-developed case law. That is, EPO case law developed by people who could do their job properly."

    Well all I can say is that I hope that you have written to the last people within the EPO who do their job properly - that is, the President and the Administrative Council - to inform them of this deplorable state of affairs.

  19. Why would I need to write to them? Doesn't everyone at the EPO now spend their time on IPKAT?

    Best not to hope things will happen, but to make things happen.

  20. Let's not get our hopes up about making things happen. I recently heard a senior EPO official proudly stating that it is "a self-financing organisation". That's a bit like the tax office claiming to be self-financing. As long as the financing model remains like this, the EPO will get away with anything. How about a yearly budget set by the AC which is sharpened year by year instead of production targets ? Then things will suddenly be made to happen very quickly !

  21. No govt/international organisation is self-financing. The EPO is solely financed by the applicants.

    Maybe if the whingers remembered this little point, the EPO could return to be a respected and useful outfit.

  22. "Just this year I've had to give advice to a company on the relevance of a dozen patents that should never have been granted."

    Well now, that must have been a nice little earner.

    Might also explain why the allegedly declining quality of EPO granting practice doesn't attract too many complaints from patent representatives ... :-)

  23. Absolutely right. Let's all get together and screw the applicants. I've got a nice little case ripe for oral proceedings, rejection, appeal, opposition. If you fancy a few Euros in your back bin send me an e-mail at attorneywhothinkslikeanEPOemployee@crapattorneys.com

    I also have some gold teeth I prized out of an old dears mouth last week. Let me know if you can get me a good price.

  24. And the mechanism for making such a complaint is?

  25. As an onlooker to the EPO organizational struggles (union/suppression of expression/quality of examination), I have to say that some of the comments are really inane.

    For example, Anonymous at 11:01 states "Might also explain why the allegedly declining quality of EPO granting practice doesn't attract too many complaints from patent representatives ... :-)"

    This is posted on a thread with the very same complaints that he is saying are not there...

    The implication of his message is that patent representatives themselves are gaming the system and WANT to have poor quality patents approved.

    This appears to be nothing more than propaganda implicating that the entire system is greed-based and lacking any sense of ethics.

    I see the same type of "attorneys are evil" CRP passed off in the states - even by professed attorneys!

    It is indeed a sad day when such passes (or is attempted to be passed) as an accepted fact.

    Are there bad actors? No doubt - any system will have bad actors, as that is just human nature. Is the system as "grift"-based as is being implicated? Why should I even have to ask that question?

  26. RE: Let's all get together and screw the applicants.

    Just read in the article from another thread:
    On average more than 30% of European invalidity actions result in the explicit invalidation of the challenged patents, and approximately 50% of the patents challenged are found not to be infringed 13 .

  27. And your point 15:53 is?

  28. Heard being chanted in Munich yesterday:

    "We are the EPO"

    "Everybody hates us"

    "We don't give a *?!&"

    "But it's quite upsetting really"

  29. And your point 21:44 is?

  30. 22:15 must be an examiner. Doesn't understand simple statements. Summon me to Munich to explain?

  31. Thank you for your observation re. quality (20.6 at 16:02), the same for the comment in the "applicant-submitted prior art" (18.6 at 02.55).

    Pharmaceuticals are since 1.1.2013 examined in Area of Competence only on one site. This means that about one third of examiners, who studied pharmacy or synthetic chemistry, and had years of industrial experience in Pharma now need to do e.g. carbo-metal catalysts or distillations. On the other hand, process engineers were given 20 days to learn all about receptors and SAR. If you were on the wrong site, you were not allowed to move with your field or at least have a proper training. Combined with the change, all directors need to rotate.

    An attorney who does not undertand the technical field, asks the client, examiners are not given any time and not allowed to complain, otherwise they are punished by Dutch language files.

    Yes, Dutch is not an official EPO language but the examiners are responsible for the treatment of the NL and BE national files, according to the bilateral agreements. Directors decide who treat such files and French and German examiners have been forced to treat these files for raising their voice.

  32. Thank you 23:19. For the first time in months of complaints and criticism, digging and sarcastic remarks, someone has finally decided to provide the beginnings of an explanation into the quality drop at the EPO.

    Would anyone like to continue to add to the material?

    The lack of understanding of the subject-matter is clear. As you note, a thorough understanding of the technical subject matter is essential for producing a quality product. This applies to both attorneys and examiners. I am well aware of the poor quality work produced by generalist private practice attorneys in the specialist area of pharmaceuticals. Of course, many attorneys claim to have pharmaceuticals as a specialty. It is listed first on their web profiles, but that is merely an attempt to obtain lucrative pharma business.

    I would expect a good synthetic chemist to be able to hand organometallic work, etc, although a pharmacy specialist would clearly struggle. We are back to the problem of horses for courses, which is not followed in the patent field, at least to my knowledge amongst patent attorneys, and based on your comment, within the EPO also.

    The date of the change Jan 2013, however, does not explain the poor quality in the preceding years. It also does not explain the poor application of the EPC and case law, although I can see a problem if the technical subject-matter is completely alien to the examiner. In which case, they need to own up to their inadequacies.

    The standard of IPRPs is also clearly suggestive of a direct policy change, with orders being passed down to spend no time on them. As I said before, it is money for old rope. However, as far as applicant are concerned it is a lot of money that does not grow on trees.

    In response to the commentator who believes I do well out of the current EPO, I act solely in the interests of the applicant and not in the interest of my pocket, which has always been my main flaw from a personal finance point of view. I am extremely good value.

    In fact, I would ear a lot more a an EPO examiner. My only failing is my limited knowledge of French and lack of German. However, if quality of examination was the key factor, then I'm sure there are plenty of English applications I could be put to work on. Ideally, I would like to work within the UK, but should suitable relocation assistance and schooling for the children be on offer, then I would be interested in the move. Just tell El Presidente to give me a shout.

  33. more information on rumblings at the EPO here (in Dutch):


  34. The number of Dutch applications is negligable. Within one directorate (ca 30 examiners) there were within rolling last 12 mmonths only 3 applications dealt with by non-Dutch native speakers - each of them living for at least 5 years in The Netherlands and each of them having a possibility to take a 160 hour Dutch course offered by the EPO.

  35. Anon 1338, for those who Dutch is not purr-fect, a synopsis...
    Tomorrow Battistelli and Dutch PM Mark Rutte are going to lay the first stone of the new building in rijswijk. Staff meanwhile are being victimised and silenced; for example staff can only strike if and when BB allows it and , according to Suepo, a number of staff face disciplinary measures or have been demoted. Additionally BB has removed to allow an investigation into a suicide in the office during working hours in 2013. The office says it doesn't recognise the union's portrayal of the EPO. The spokesman says there is a right to strike and that while he does know it happened, he doesn't know any details.

    Note, from me: the spokesman didn't answer the point raised I.e. That while there is a 'right' to strike, that only applies when BB gives his permission (he hasrefused at least 2 requests for ballots). With regard to the absent investigation, the office's spokesman is surprisingly unaware - in a French article today the lack was explained, after comment by BB, on the office's claim of official immunity which is being defended vigorously by the office in German and Dutch courts for other matters.

  36. Anon 1648.
    The earlier point was about examiners in Munich who do not live in NL and do not get Dutch courses. Prior to Areas of Competence, whereby now all examiners in a field are in one location, there were examiners in a field in both NL and DE. No longer. Thus Dutch language searches in a given field may have to be treated in Munich since all the examiners in that field are located there. Some directorates there will have a Dutch examiner, but not many and possibly not with the necessary technical specialism.
    This isn't a major issue except for the non-Dutch examiners who have to do the work.

  37. I have the right to strike. I must accept that I will be sacked for exerting that right, however. I'm not going to lose sleep over grumblings from the EPO.

  38. Anon 1106. If you are in the UK then I suggest you do not know what you are talking about. You cannot be sacked for industrial action which is organised according to specific laws, primarily that it concerns a dispute between employees and employer, a ballot is carried out by the union (and scrutinised by an independent party) and 7 days notice of action is given.
    At the EPO doing this is 'illegal' according to Battistelli's law. The union is not allowed to organise any ballot. Only Battistelli can organise a ballot (yes, really - I suspect UK law never even contemplated such a state of megalomania). Even then he is free to decide not to organise a ballot and, if he does organise one, he also includes non-union members including himself to vote against himself...
    So, basically, you don't understand your own situation and you don't understand the EPO either.
    For facts, check UK gov pages which explain the law simply.

  39. Caption:
    Yes, I know it hurts, but I have immunity!

  40. "Anon 1106. If you are in the UK then I suggest you do not know what you are talking about."

    Yes, I am in the UK. I suggest you reconsider your criticism and your facts. Find a brain to borrow for the afternoon and have a think about the reasons why you might be talking out of your backside.

  41. Caption:
    Cerfully looking he gets his hand back unmolested.

  42. Regarding loss of quality at the EPO: that started quite some time ago. But now it has become abundantly clear that expertise is not wanted. It is removed as soon as possible. Examiners are seen as box-ticking (novel: yes/no; inventive: yes/no) individuals who do not need to have any technical knowledge which would only hamper the quick granting of patents. It is a fact that a number of nationlities are under-represented becasue the working conditions are not interesting enough to leave their home country.
    From what I learnt when visiting the EPO, it seems to me that the management has no appreciation, let alone respect, at all for the expertise and knowledge of those doing the actual work, which is examining the correctness of patent applications. Sad, very sad.....

  43. Anon 1659.
    I used my head and you can find the explanation of the law at:
    See 'Dismissal for industrial action'.
    I suppose the UK Gov site could be wrong but it seems very clear and lacking in abuse.

  44. "you can't be dismissed for industrial action if..."

    Let us ignore the if for one moment by assuming the criteria is fulfilled. However, in practice there are significant difficulties in proving the criteria was met, especially in the case of unrepresented/non-union staff.

    The law does not prevent the sacking of staff,. but merely provides a forum for recourse for those wishing to 'claim unfair dismissal'. Once the 12 weeks are up, what is to stop your employer sacking you for an un-related reason? How do you provide it was due to the industrial action? The mere fact of an individual getting to the stage of going on strike means there were recognizable 'issues' in the relationship between employee and employer. You could be sacked for 'unreasonable behaviour', being a poor worker, for taking too many toilet breaks, for spending too much time on the internet looking up your employment rights. You could simply be made redundant with a well-directed lack of business need for your particular function. You could put a team of people at risk, go through the rigmarole of assessing business needs versus employee skills and ultimately decide the person who happened to go on strike 3 moths earlier is the one for which there is no work in the new organization.

    And, how many years do you have to have been employed for in the UK before you are entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal? I'm sure you can find it on google.

    I could carry on with the caveats for a very long time. Put simply, in the UK, if an employer wants rid of an employee then there are no hurdles to stop them. The protection UK employees have is minimal. If you sack an 80-year old black female lesbian who's worked for you diligently for 40 years whilst on maternity leave, you will need a decent lawyer at the employment tribunal (if she was a union member and can therefore obtain suitable legal representation).

    If you spend your life following scripts and ticking boxes you are not going to be skilled and knowledgeable enough to contribute meaningfully to such debates. This is when backsides are used for arguing a point.

  45. Anon 0913,
    Why the obsession with bottoms?
    To return to the point... You started by stating 'I have the right to strike. I must accept that I will be sacked for exerting that right, however.' I pointed out that that statement is wrong. Your argument, now, is that the law doesn't matter, they'll get you in the end and that the law isn't a right (although you did use the word right...).
    From your logic, no law represents a right, merely an obstacle to a law breaker. Thus if my employer decides to punch me then I don't have a right not to be punched, merely a means for possibly obtaining recompense in whatever form.
    If that is what you think, then you should have stated that originally. The law is clear, it's is clearly explained, and your statement was per se wrong. Strike and you may, illegally, be sacked or may later suffer punishment. But in no case can you be sacked for the reason that you went on strike beyond the case where the employer knowingly or ignorantly chooses to ignore the law. That does not mean that you do not have the right not to be sacked.

  46. Ah! So you believe you are right based on a legal analysis of the wording of your response? In which case, you must construe my original statement more accurately:

    "I must accept that I will be sacked for exerting that right, however."

    You are anally (you bring our the Frenchman in me) construing the word 'for' as meaning my employer would put in writing "you are sacked for lawfully going on strike". A bit of an extreme (hence anal) construction, methinks. Most sensible/intelligent people would take a more real world/pragmatic construction view of my statement. Hell! They may even apply the principles of the Protocol on interpretation of Article 69 EPC!!!

    Such anal construction may apply in the non-real world comfy surrounding of the EPO, but out here I can assure you that such constructions are 'academic', to put it politely.

    You can rest assured that when I say "my employer will sack me for going on strike", legitimately or otherwise, I, as would many people, certainly anyone employed in the UK legal profession (plus many others) WOULD be sacked FOR going on strike.

    Your original opening statement.
    "Anon 1106. If you are in the UK then I suggest you do not know what you are talking about.", is evidence that you have now amended the meaning of your argument to justify your position. Suffice to say, you were talking out of your backside.

    Enjoy your EPO lunch break. I have a right to a lunch break in the UK. I must accept that I will be sacked for exerting that right, however. Possibly.

  47. I can see why there is an event horizon on this blog, because the higher the number of comments, the more sewer-like it gets, and the level of information concerning the real issue as indicated by the title of 18 June 2014 approximates zero. How happy I am that I do not subscribe to e-mail reminders that another comment has arrived!

    Kind regards,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  48. All the UK legal profession? While ignoring the criminal barristers who went on strike this year? Undoubtedly you will also contend that your statement should be defined by you later the way you wish it to be defined. You must have problems with 123(2)...

  49. George, take the comments in the sarcastic manner they are intended. Level of a sewer? No. You don't seem to mind that the blog readers have to put up with reading your self-indulgent nonsense on a daily basis. but then you are a member of the club and only club members have anything valuable to say.

  50. I heard that many of those striking barristers were sacked by their employers, only to be reinstated when HMRC advised that self-employed individuals cannot sack themselves.

    I have a feeling there will be no further comments.

  51. Anon 25.6@ 21.54

    Quality drop has a historical background!

    At the introduction of BEST, EPO seriously considered closing TH site because Dutch governement was blocking the seat agreement. All the recruiting was done in MU, and many good search examiners also moved to MU.

    After 2006, with the new seat agreement, there was massive recruitment in TH, however there was nobody to train the new recruits. Many of them have with unadequate training in examination landed in MU, but because of technical shifts, their poor quality was not noticed.

  52. Quality drop has a structural background.
    Since decades, an examiner's career is determined by his bis-annual report. Four points are examined: quality of work, quantity, aptitude of the examiner and attitude in the department. Someone with four "Good" markings is assured of a very slow track.
    What actually is counted is quantity, quantity, quantity and quantity. Until 2012, a "very good" or "excellent" marking in quality was the key to promotion (read money) and/or managerial posts. By doing so the EPO deliberately killed the traditional quality of its work, the biggest producers of crap becoming managers. In 2012, Battistelli put a stop to the promotions. Nowadays, only an "excellent" marking leaves a few hope. The consequence is predictable: some examiners now produce more that 4 times what is expected from them, while the huge majority of the other demotivated ones fight for reaching the requested target and maintain an acceptable quality level.
    Soon will applicant miss the poor quality of yesterday.

  53. The irony of those in power offering a statement such as "opined that "responsible social dialogue" had not been engaged in."

    should not be lost on the readers (nor the owners) of this blog.

  54. Erratum
    Until 2012, a "very good" or "excellent" marking in QUANTITY was the key to promotion


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