News from the EPO - Strike Ballot comes out in favour of a strike

Merpel has been sunning herself again in the corridors of the EPO.  Readers may recall that just a few months ago the President of the European Patent Office refused a call for a ballot for a strike.  Well, there has been another call for a ballot, and this time the ballot was held.  Merpel understands that the results were announced last night, and has been informed that the results are as follows:

The total number of votes cast was 3553 (out of 6823 entitled to vote) representing 52% of the employees entitled to vote. The required quorum is 40%, so the quorum was therefore reached.
The result of the vote was as follows:
·        Votes in favour of a strike = 3032
·        Votes against a strike = 353
·        No opinion = 168
Thus 85% of the votes cast were in favour of a strike, so the result was overwhelmingly in favour of s strike.  This is only about six months after the last official strike at the EPO (industrial action took place in March and April 2014, are reported here, here and here).
The ballot took place in accordance with the EPO Strike Regulations, that have themselves been one of the issues in the industrial action.  They were reported by the IPKat here.  Notice of the actual timing of the strike still has to be given to the President of the EPO, at least 5 days before the strike.
In other news it has just been reported that the EPO has told unions (in particular SUEPO, the union in the German offices of the EPO) that they cannot use EPO premises on an ongoing basis, although meetings can continue to be held with permission and advance notice.
And on another related matter, it was first reported that staff representatives from the EPO were excluded from meetings of the Administrative Council for the first time, and then subsequently reported that the EPO had responded that representatives were not excluded as such, rather that the committee of staff representatives had not properly constituted itself.  The EPO spokesman was reported as saying:

 “Since July 1, the newly elected CSC (central staff committee) has not been able to appoint its chair, deputy chair or secretary, nor did the CSC nominate a delegation legitimated by its full members in spite of several meetings and reminders.”

He added: “There was then no appropriate way of knowing which persons should represent the CSC. As soon as they proceed with the nominations according to the rules, they will of course be entitled again to participate as observers to the AC.”
While the true facts are not always apparent, it is clear that the industrial unrest at the EPO is far from over, and the "Social Democracy" reforms of the President continue to provoke opposition.  Merpel hopes to return to this matter soon.
News from the EPO - Strike Ballot comes out in favour of a strike News from the EPO - Strike Ballot comes out in favour of a strike Reviewed by Merpel on Friday, October 24, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. President has ordered staff union to vacate offices. Staff union is no longer allowed in oeb.

  2. It is disturbing that the administration council does not curb the president's zeal in fomenting unrest. Even more so that neither the administration council nor any one other cares that the president is seeking to undermine judicial independence. Is no one looking?

  3. Admistration council will meet members of appeal boards or will president veto?

  4. The real news about the EPO can be found here but it is encrypted in Croatian:

    Here you can see a photo of a Vice-President of the EPO (accompanied by his attorney) on his way to a hearing before the Municipal Criminal Court of Zagreb.

  5. If the president does manage to remove the board's judicial independence, that would be a fundamental change in the european patent system. Both TRIPS and ECHR require a judicial instance. If the boards ca no longer fulfil that function, who will? UPC is not yet running, is untested, and does not have jurisdiction outside the EU. CJEU also lacks jurisdiction outside the EU. Leaving national courts to resolve many cases, several thousand each year. Is it in the interests of industry and the public to replace a system which is both relatively cheap and widely trusted?

  6. The challenge for the President is to undermine the board's judicial independence whilst making everybody believe that he has in fact enhanced it.

    His is an expert at this king of game-playing and you may be surprised at how far he can get.

    Remember his immortal words spoken back in 2012 ...

    « Je n'ai jamais été aussi libre, insiste-t-il. Je n'ai pas de ministère de tutelle, de Parlement, de gouvernement.
    C'est nous qui fixons les règles, les discutons, les négocions. »

    1. So president is only enjoying power? But why administration council is not doing job?

  7. The "job" of the Administrative Council is to convene on EPO premises once a quarter, politely listen to the waffle spouted by EPO management and enjoy the excellent lunches financed by the renewal fees generously donated by the EPO's "user community".

  8. Is not even ipkat interesting in judicial statute of appeal board?

  9. I suspect the president is trying to influence the advocate general in the unified patent case before the EU court. I also wonder whether the advocate general is waiting to see how successful are the president' attacks on independence.

  10. Why ipkat does not publish question of president a "investigating" boards members in R19/12 even retired and will not renew positions? Why ipkat does not write post on this?

  11. Interestingly, a google of Menapace and EPO Comes up with this decision of the ILO:

  12. Plus intéressant encore.
    Un représantant syndical paraît avoir été démissioné pour la faute d'avoir signalé au président que le taux de suicides risquait d'augmenter.
    On suppose que le conseil d'administration soit au courrant.


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