BREAKING NEWS: EPO Communique -- Boards of Appeal "independent in principle"; "precautionary" suspension approved; concern "expressed"

Here is the text of the communique issued this morning on the European Patent Office website:

Munich, 12 December 2014

Communique on decisions taken by the Administrative Council at its 142nd meeting concerning senior employees and appointments and reappointments to the Boards of Appeal

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 142nd meeting in Munich on 10 and 11 December 2014 under the chairmanship of Jesper KONGSTAD (DK).
The Council addressed a number of points concerning senior employees and the Boards of Appeal. Specifically, the Council addressed disciplinary arrangements applicable to senior employees appointed by the Council under Article 11 (1)(2)(3) EPC and, noting its obligations under Article 11(4) EPC, agreed to set up a Council Disciplinary Committee.
The Council took this opportunity to reiterate its full endorsement of and support for the principle of independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal, as specifically set out in Article 23 EPC and generally embodied in internationally recognised principles of judicial independence.  
The Council also made four re-appointments of members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and Chairmen and legally qualified members of the of Boards of Appeal pursuant to Art 11(3) EPC, as well as a total of twelve appointments and re-appointments of legally qualified members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal pursuant to Art 11(5) EPC.  
On a proposal from the President of the Office, the Council addressed and carefully considered a particular issue concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee under Article 11 (3) EPC.  As a precautionary and conservative measure without anticipating any further steps which may ensue, the Council unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty on full salary until 31 March 2015. The Council requested the investigation to be completed as soon as possible, in order to allow it to decide on the next steps. The Council expressed its concern at an incident unique in the history of EPO.
Details of the appointments and reappointments as well as of other decisions taken by the Council at this meeting will be published separately.
Council Secretariat  
Comments are likely to follow ...
BREAKING NEWS: EPO Communique -- Boards of Appeal "independent in principle"; "precautionary" suspension approved; concern "expressed" BREAKING NEWS: EPO Communique -- Boards of Appeal "independent in principle"; "precautionary" suspension approved; concern "expressed" Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, December 12, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. So he's had a little smack on the botty, and then back to business as usual.

  2. "The Council expressed its concern at an incident unique in the history of EPO."

    Rightly so, but I wonder whether the "incident" that concerns them is (a) an alleged misconduct by a Board of Appeal member, (b) the suspension of said Board Member by the President, or (c) both of the above?

    One of the partners that trained me in patent attorneying used to delight in engineering what he referred to as "controlled ambiguity". I wonder if the AC is adopting a similar course?

  3. "The Council expressed its concern at an incident unique in the history of EPO."

    I think it means something like: "How dreadful, somebody disturbed our afternoon nap ... now let's try to go back to sleep ... zzzzzz"

  4. The hypocrisy of the Council is incredible. The injustice continues. Instead of condamning the behaviour of the President and the "monster" guidelines for investigation, they suspend the member for months. An abject humiliation for the boards. A shame for the EPO !

  5. What kind of misconduct exactly ?

  6. Business as usual, the reign of fear, lawlessness and injustice is free to carry on.

  7. I am disgusted too. I had hoped for better from the AC. The AC has maintained the suspension apparently on a proposal from the President whereas Art 23 clearly states that the right to propose removal from office (which, as the EBA and national IP judges have noted is the effect of the suspension) lies exclusively with the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The AC has confirmed the President's supremacy and in doing so confirmed that there is no longer any separation of the executive and judiciary within the EPO. By whom is the investigation being performed - the President's Investigation Unit??

  8. I suspect it is the former, (a). If they had concerns about the actions of the president, but wished to sweep it under the carpet, they would not have made that comment.

    In which case, all of the criticism and defamatory comments made against the president on this website are wholly inappropriate.

  9. defamation: the injuring of a person's good name or reputation

    In the light of the AC's recent decision, one has to wonder who is the one defaming the EPO...

  10. "In which case, all of the criticism and defamatory comments made against the president on this website are wholly inappropriate."

    Don't worry, the Investigation Unit is monitoring all traffic on this site.

    Misconductors will be apprehended and punished.

  11. It would be interesting to know the kind of misconduct before criticising the conservatory measure. Was it a case of "force majeure"?

  12. The AC has simply acknowledged that the president can disregard Article 10(2)(h) EPC.
    One can wonder which other rules or laws he may now ignore with the AC's approval.
    Curious to see how the judiciary across Europe will react.

  13. "Council .... agreed to set up a Council Disciplinary Committee."

    "On a proposal from the President of the Office, the Council addressed and carefully considered a particular issue concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee ..."

    Please compare the comment I posted here last night. It seems I may not have been far wrong.

  14. Why did the AC "express its concern" so hand-wringingly, about the "incident unique in the history"? Because the buck stops at the AC, because the buck has never before got as far as the AC and because, now that the AC has received the buck it has no clue what to do to discharge its heavy responsibility. So it wrings its hands and asks who will rid it of a troublesome priesthood.

    Il Presidente, if he were indeed a bully and a thug, would of course be only too happy to oblige them in that wish.

    One afterthought though: There are 38 Member States and just three of them take virtually all the business. Those three whinge about loss of business in DE, GB, NL. Could it be that the remaining 34 are right behind FR, in breaking up what they see as a cosy cartel?

  15. It is absolutely mind boggling to imagine that 25 EU states are contemplating yielding a critical part of their legal sovereignty to this group of people.

  16. One more thought on defamation: how has the DG3 member allegedly defamed the office, when nobody knows what he's done?

  17. "In which case, all of the criticism and defamatory comments made against the president on this website are wholly inappropriate."

    Mr. B., how nice to see you here! I see that you remain adamant in your principle that "all criticism" directed to you is "inappropriate". In any case, don't worry about any "defamatory" comments. For them to be "defamatory", they would have to lower your reputation and, as it stands, your reputation is already mud, both inside and outside the EPO.

  18. The Communique in fewer words:

    "The AC supports the independence of the BoA in principle. In practice, we couldn't care less..."

  19. Art. 23(1) EPC:

    "The members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and of the Boards of Appeal shall be appointed for a term of five years and may not be removed from office during this term, except if there are serious grounds for such removal and if the Administrative Council, on a proposal from the Enlarged Board of Appeal, takes a decision to this effect."

    The President and the AC are clearly willing to bet that a "suspension" is not the same as a "removal". It remains to be seen what will happen if, after the outcome of the investigation, the EBA still refuses to "propose" the removal of this member of the BoA.

    If I was Mr. B, I'd start looking for a face-saving solution: the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

    Also, the 31 March deadline may become rather inconvenient, as it will be unpleasantly close to the decision of the CJEU regarding the Spanish complaint against the unitary patent. As you'll all remember, one of Spain's arguments was the lack of independent judicial oversight of the EPO...

  20. Imagine:
    You sit in your room studying your files or preparing the next oral proceedings. Two gorillas approach you, take your badge, change the lock of your room, confiscate your computer and accompany you out of the office. You are banned from work. The accuse: you defamed the office. An investigation will be carried out by the President's office.
    If they had some evidence, why not just sending a warning letter? No, the scene with the gorillas, the explusion, the threath of the investigation, the ban is more impressive and will scare all your collegues.
    Return to the middle age!
    Forget human rights, democracy and moral values!
    This is the regime of Battistelli. Not a word from the grey bureaucrats of the AC. They had a good dinner and Battistelli extended to them the Van Breda benefits.

  21. Anonymous at 9:45

    There is an oddity in the EPC.

    Article 23(1) says that BoA members may not be removed from office, except on serious grounds and if the AC so decides on a proposal from the Enlarged Board.

    But Article 11(4) gives the AC a more general power to exercise other disciplinary action as well. And Article 10(2)(h) says that the President can propose this to the AC.

    I don't think that the EBA said that suspension had the effect of removal from office. Rather, they said that a "house ban" had the same effect as a suspension (a lesser disciplinary action than removal).

  22. Note that the new committee shall be responsible for disciplinary arrangements not only for members of the Boards of Appeal but as well for disciplinary arrangements applicable to other senior employees appointed under Article 11 (1) and (2)EPC. I.e. for the president and the vice president. Does this imply anything?

  23. This is such a one-sided 'debate' due to IPKAT censorship of contradictory comments.

  24. Some info on what the suspended Board member is supposed to have done in Les Echos today:

  25. "Misconductors will be apprehended and punished"

    There have been allegations and the allegators must be hunted down.

    Part of me thinks Animal Farm: part of me thinks a zoo. Which is correct?

  26. The communique says "On a proposal from the President of the Office, the Council addressed and carefully considered a particular issue concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee under Article 11 (3) EPC. As a precautionary and conservative measure without anticipating any further steps which may ensue, the Council unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty on full salary until 31 March 2015."

    Now this would have been NEWS if it had referred to Article 11(1).

    What a difference one "character" can make.....

  27. Had the Office some evidence of wrong doing by the member the appropriate "legal" procedure would haven been the following: inform the EBA which would have examined the case and, if necessary, proposed disciplinary measures to the AC.
    But why go the legal way if the illegal is more effective and spectacular?
    The representatives of the AC ignore the law and follow Battistelli who nurishes them with power and privileges and promises of money for training courses or future VP positions (the appetites od Spain and Croatia have already been satisfied)

  28. In reply to:

    "This is such a one-sided 'debate' due to IPKAT censorship of contradictory comments."

    Merpel has moderated (she thinks) all the comments on this thread this morning. She has not had reason to censor, disapprove or not post any comment. So the debate is one-sided because the comments have tended to be reflecting the same viewpoint. It is possible that other team members have been moderating the comments in between Merpel's frequent visits to this page, but she's pretty sure that everything submitted has been approved.

    As it happens, Merpel would greatly welcome an alternative viewpoint in this debate. If you (or any other anon) has submitted a contrary viewpoint, please do so again and it will DEFINITELY be approved unless it is unpublishable.

  29. According to google translate ( a tool that saves years of unnecessary school attendance and foreign holidays) says:

    A spokesman stressed that the employee has not been suspended and can work from home.

    So, aside from my alleged xenophobia, what is the problem here?

    The President has merely taken decisive action and followed standard procedure.

    Had an appeal board member run rampaging through the building with a gun would the president have had to go to his office and write a letter to the AC asking them to address the issue when they next happen to be in town?

    I suggest everyone calms down and goes home. Nothing to see here, folks.

  30. How can a board of appeal member supposed to work from home? Will the hearings of his board be held around his coffee table?

  31. Anon, 12:19, since the EPC specifically states that the president does not have disciplinary authority over members of the BoA, a "Hausverbot" is ultra vires ("he shall exercise disciplinary authority over the employees other than those referred to in Article 11 ). I am sure the standard procedure in the case of anyone brandishing a gun would be to call the local police.

  32. "A spokesman stressed that the employee has not been suspended and can work from home".

    Does the employee have appropriate video conference equipment at home to enable Oral Proceedings to be held?

    Oh wait, we are talking about Boards of Appeal aren't we.

    Will three months working from home equal three months cancelled oral proceedings?

    "Had an appeal board member run rampaging through the building with a gun would the president have had to go to his office and write a letter to the AC asking them to address the issue when they next happen to be in town?" - for a critique of this argument see

    Anyone who confuses guns with words is a dangerous person to be around.

  33. "... the Council unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty"
    - official communique

    A spokesman stressed that the employee has not been suspended and can work from home.
    - translation from Les Echos

    Which is correct?



  35. For the anon that suggests there is nothing to see here: the statement about the suspended employee being allowed to work from home is being reported by Les Echos, but there is neither confirmation that it is treu nor is such an indication to be found in the communiqué (or should I rather say the ukaze) issued by his Highness B.B.) that this employee can really work from home.
    Second, the employee did not run rampaging with a gun.
    Third: the procedure the president followed is not standard. The external members of the EBA gave ample explanations, unless you know better than the judges.

  36. Maybe there is a technical problem causing some posts not to make it through moderation. A post I made earlier has not appeared.

    I commented on the fact that the AC had now confirmed numerous re-appointments of BoA members. Dr Mueller-Stoy's letter to the German AC representative may have been effective. He suggested that Mr Battistelli had been putting pressure on BoA members who were due for re-appointment, by not passing their names on to the AC.

  37. I've just seen your sidebar note "Recommended by the European Patent Office as reading material for candidates for the European Qualifying Examinations 2013".

    I'll say no more....

  38. 1219 and 1241,
    A gun is an extreme case (although would the polizei be allowed on site without Presidential approval with regards to immunity?). Perhaps assault would be more likely. But, as others state, words or letters are hardly urgent problems.
    While I do not know the precise details, the pres dud inform staff that it was related to a previous issue of (in his opinion) defamatory statements concerning VP4. Previously pres had had the investigation unit investigate rumours that most of us had not seen or heard and had declared them untrue. Subsequently, translations and pictures have been blogged which appear to contradict the evidence found.
    To what extent the defaming refers to them or to other allegations is not stated. And to what degree the statements made are,a priori, defamatory is not explained. Since we do not know them, we couldn't tell. But it appears that the action is required because the president has declared any criticism of VP4 defamatory, irrespective of what facts or evidence may be relied upon.
    Since the EPO declares immunity, it doesn't appear possible for VP4 to go to, for example, a German court to seek justice for any defamation. It is thus difficult to work out how defamation can be prosecuted at the EPO, other than by presidential decree?

  39. So am i right in understanding that a board member had been suspended for two months illegally, then the council not only condoned that but also added two more months of suspension after having heard only one side, in the absence of the accused, who could therefore not defend himself??? What kind of justice is that??? I am speechless......

  40. This factual document ought to have wider circulation:

  41. Defamation can very well be prosecuted on a national level. The employees of the EPO are not immune. If VP4 feels himself insulted, he can go the normal national way. Which is not open to the employee who has to to prove his innocence. It is all very one-sided indeed.

  42. I read the comments regarding working from home being possible for the suspended board member. So is he supposed to receive the parties at home for oral proceedings?

  43. Tyranny giggles with joy when "self-censorship" and political correctness do its bidding.

    Yes, this blog has shown a tendency for such "self-censorship" under the guise of "being polite."

    I am still wondering why the decision to pull a link was made. The reason of "upon request" remains nebulous. Whose request? WHY was the request deemed sufficient?

    I am perhaps too accustomed to the ability to question authority that is fostered here in the States with our robust views - and ability to express those views (even if and sometimes especially if those views are less than polite).

    Suffering such impolite is a small, small, small prize to pay for the force against tyranny - real or merely imagined - that such ability to speak up brings.

    Best wishes to you and yours for an effective and appropriate resolution.

  44. Some tyrants really do understand the adage: "The pen is mightier than the sword."

  45. Does anyone have some more information about this topic?

    Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 14:10:00 GMT

    Anonymous said...
    The dutch police has just recently denied entry when they wanted to find out about the details of a EPO colleague who jumped out of the window out of dispair. not long time ago
    Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 14:16:00 GMT

    Anonymous said...
    Is my understanding correct that an EPO staff member died by falling from the window at the EPO in NL and as the dutch police arrived the EPO denied entry to the EPO???

    This sounds unbelievable...
    Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 17:31:00 GMT

    Anonymous said...
    That is very sad, and, no disrespect intended whatsoever, if true appears very wrong.
    Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 17:44:00 GMT

    Anonymous said...
    Foxcon style?

    The building where the suicide happened in TH was the only one with the possibility to open totally the windows.

    This freedom was highly appreciated by the users.

    All the windows of this building have been recently locked under the pretext to "harmonise with the others buildings of the EPO.

    From a well informed source, this total lock has been unilaterally decided at high level to impede future suicides.
    Friday, 12 December 2014 at 00:57:00 GMT

  46. The practical implication of this mess is that very shortly a certain BoA Chairman will be sending out Forms 3303.16 (SAMPLE) announcing a change in the composition of his board, suggesting that the person who is being replaced is the one who was sent on gardening leave"... Unless it was the chairman himself who was suspended, which in case the form would be sent out by VP3 himself.

    I found nothing yet in the appeal cases in the OP Calendar for the coming days, but it's only a matter of time.

    Anyone who will have to be replaced for whatever reason will be suspected of being the hapless fellow who incurred the wrath of Sa Majesté L'Empereur.

    The career of the person who was suspended is already prejudiced, and I can see a flow of petitions for review coming.

    The chairman could also refuse to replace the person, and just let the affected procedures visibly and publicly collapse. But since the AC fully endorsed the presidential coup...

    As to the alleged object of the "defamation", it's curious that the interested party is apparently subject to a much more lenient and compassionate treatment by the president.

    The times, they are getting more and more "interesting"... :-(

  47. Battistelli certainly looks a bit like Napoleon, and some people say he is a bit short, but to liken him to Sa Majesté L'Empereur is to ignore that emperor's admirable reorganization of the French public administration based on enlightenment principles.

    The Sun King would be a better designation, or perhaps Robespierre -

    Incredible that the French Government is happy to sit back and allow such abuses take place on the watch of one of "their" people.

    I suppose the diplomatic upset involved in getting a French person out of a high-level international role also explain why nothing happened yesterday.

    Remember that they jailed Al Capone not for the murders, but for the corruption.

  48. The funny thing about over-reacting to allegedly defamatory comments is that it tends to increase attention towards those comments. Mr. B should perhaps inform himself about the "Streisand Effect".

    In the meantime, I look forward to hearing more, a lot more about Mr. Topic's past and present activities. It sounds like a fascinating Topic indeed...

  49. Note, under Article 8 EPC the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities only grants to the office, employees and miscellaneous hangers-on “..the privileges and immunities necessary for the performance of their duties”.

    Under the Protocol Article 3(4) “The official activities of the Organisation shall, for the purposes of this Protocol, be such as are strictly necessary for its administrative and technical operation, as set out in the Convention.

    Despite this necessity provision, under the Protocol Article 1(2) “The authorities of the States in which the Organisation has its premises shall not enter those premises, except with the consent of the President of the European Patent Office. Such consent shall be assumed in case of fire or other disaster requiring prompt protective action”.

    It is hard to see how it is “necessary” or “strictly necessary” for the operation of the Office to bar entry to the police in investigating a death. I would also have assumed that someone falling out of a window to their death would constitute a disaster requiring prompt protective action [closing the window at least].

    Of course, if the President was not in the Office that day, and if security takes the view that a death is not a disaster, it is difficult to seek presidential permission.

    Does the Office have the view that once someone leaves the Office (by whatever route) it is not their concern?


  51. It's not just de Nederlandse politie...

    There is a tale whispered from ear to ear in the great Eponian (Elbonian?) tradition. It's been so long that I'm not sure anymore whether any of this really happened.

    Once upon a time in a faraway galaxy, an official of the Rijswijk fire service was smuggled by concerned staff into the tallest structure in his jurisdiction to let him make a discreet and cursory inspection.

    In that blessed era before computers finally took over the world, this dingy brutalist construction was filled to the rim by cryptic parchments called "Prüfstoff". (There is still an awful lot of paper, carpet and furniture in there, not to mention a very important IT facility, and several very expendable scratch monkeys).

    The story continues with the dismay of the professional ladder climber, but has no real conclusion.

    One could half-forgive East-block embassies during the cold war for blocking firemen from intervening (eg. here, there, or there) while heavy smoke was billowing out of the windows, knowing that dirty tricks were the bread and butter of secret services from both sides.

    But what about an European public service institution? Why should public safety authorities have to resort to conspirational techniques, when the EPOrg has an obligation to provide them access pursuant Art. 20(1) PPI?

    In 2008, the civil engineering (!!!) department of the TU Delft, a building within the horizon of EPO facilities and of comparable purpose, vintage and construction, but with only half as many storeys, caught fire.

    The men in the smart red engines had no other option but to just sit and watch it slowly burn down, and eventually collapse. No rogue aircraft was involved, and the job was finished with a very old-fashioned wrecking ball.

    Did the ghost visitor have any thoughts on that really awful day about all those out-of-bounds buildings sprinkled about Plaspoelpolder for which he couldn't make serious plans for the worst case?

  52. The Administrative Council supports the independence of the Boards of appeal so much that in the same session it approved an amendment of the service regulations that deletes the article which previously exempted the Board members from reporting to guarantee their independence.

    From now on Board Members are subject to reporting under managerial, i.e. indirectly President´s, responsibility.

    Moreover, from now the career advancement of the Board´s members is dependent on this reporting.

    Finally, they also introduced, in blatant contravention of Art. 23 EPC, a one year probationary period for new members and chairmen.

    One wonders what they would have if they had not supported the independence of the Board members: deported them all to Guantanamo?

  53. Just a thought: the EPC was signed, and the EPO opened its doors for business about 8 years later.
    Question: Had BB been president of the EPO, would the history of the EPO have become the success story it was (until now). I think I know the answer ...

  54. This president does neither respect people, nor legal premises. So why should I respect HIM?

  55. Among the suspension scandal and the Topic issue it went somewhat unnoticed that the AC voted in favour of the new remuneration system.
    From now on output will be paramount for examiners.

    In fact I have never been so frustrated in my professional life as a patent examiner as I am today. I found it almost impossible to focus on work.

    From now on I will be financially punished for not immediately stopping a search once the first useful document has shown up. I will be punished for taking the time to retrieve documents from outside our own databases. I will be punished for scrutinising and discussing decisions within the examining division and so will be my collegues when looking at my work. I will be punished for working in a difficult technical area. etc. etc.

    However, I will be rewarded for raising as many non-unity objections as possible, searching the bare minimum documentation and signing each and every AGRA which is not blatantly wrong, etc. etc. Apart from the serious financial loss I find it personally extremely depressing to be coerced into delivering sub-standard patents. If this is to continue for years I have serious worries about the effects on my health.

    I take some comfort from knowing that our phenomenal ISO system will always warrant the highest quality in what we do. I take further comfort from my president letting the world know how much I appreciate the new reward system.

  56. 1523,
    The death would already have happened so no emergency existed after medical agencies had been. The police were apparently not allowed in to investigate matters such as background. I'm not sure how the coroner would have done his work. If at all. I presume something must have been done. Surely?

  57. About police access : the police was not denied access after the suicide of the colleague. High ranked officers (captain and commander) were in the building less than 10 minutes after it occurred.

  58. Votes at the Administrative Council of the EPO are not by secret ballot, but by raised hands.
    It would be interesting to know how representatives from every member state voted to "absolve" Mr. Battistelli from suspending a member of the Appeals Board.
    Can the communications service of the EPO or anyone present at the AC meeting provide the information?

  59. @examiner@19.00:
    What happened to 'Raising the bar'?

  60. Today the bar hit the ground.

  61. “The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence.”
    ―Karl Popper

  62. Was this Karl Popper person aware of the stupendous level of self-delusion when it comes to evaluating the level of one's own intelligence?

    It seems like excessively BAD advice to give.

  63. IAM blog:

    "EPO president defends his actions and achievements in the face of mounting criticism"

  64. And as from Jan. 1st it will be buried.

  65. And now comes Xmas, and the clamour will die down, and by the time the new year starts, BB can be proud and happy that the storm in the tea cup has blown over.
    Why is apparently not a single investigative journalist anywhere in Europe interested to uncover whether or not there is corruption and skulduggery at the heart of a (once) great European institution?
    Why is there not a single national politician interested in asking ministers what their minions are up to at the meetings of the EPO AC?
    And one final thought: now that BB has managed to get (almost?) every one of the AC members to vote for an illegal act on his part, the time is ripe for him to call a diplomatic conference of the EPC member states in order to make some major changes (.e.g, deletion of Art. 23). The delegates to such EPC diplomatic conferences are none other - yes, you guessed it - the AC members simply wearing another hat!
    What a prospect!

  66. "Was this Karl Popper person aware of the stupendous level of self-delusion....." I should think so. As a philosopher who had major positions on both scientific progress and liberty he would have been admirably placed to comment on what happens in the EPO. His view that scientific progress proceeds through a process of falsifiability is relevant. The hypothesis that the President has the confidence of the staff of the EPO appears to have been falsified. The jury is out on the hypothesis that the AC is a spineless blob.

  67. Indeed. The proposition that 'only' x per cent went on strike means 100-x are with me is clearly the wilful delusion of a man in power. That too many are scared or wary of striking is obvious. Similarly, the fact that his new staff committee scheme got a high turnout at the first vote, reflected that the only way to express outrage was to turn out and vote for the very candidates he was trying to suppress.
    Perhaps his biggest claim to achievement in 2014 was the ability to unite staff against him. The votes for strikes were overwhelming - far more people voted against him than any president before primarily because he insists that non- members must vote in what would normally be union-only votes. Consequently, his 'minority' was a majority of all staff ( not just majority of thos who vote do!) and he managed to get more people striking than ever before and more than the total number of union members. And this at a time when neither the union nor the originators of the strike call were able to contact staff directly.
    Way to go!

  68. More investigations may be starting soon ... or maybe not if the matter can be swept under the carpet.


    Just one comment: as far as I've understood, the Council gave mandate to the investigation unit of the office (i. e. under President's authority) to carry out the investigation on the BoA suspended member. The new disciplinary organ of the council will then decide on the basis of the findings collected by the investigation unit.

  70. Well, Mr. B bases his reasoning on a French conception of the world (probably taught at ENA school). According to French parameters you should first divide and conquer and only if cars are being set in fire you start to reconsider. For now, he very well-knows that EPO staff is made of inoffensive and peaceful acedemic minds. He bets on the fact that nothing serious could ever happen to him and so far he has been proven right.

  71. to Anon. And now comes Xmas...

    On the contrary, I think we have gained confidence.
    The tsunami of condemnations from everywhere is only a start.
    I have heard the recording on Techrights and felt ashamed of this management.

    The reality is that EPO people are real Europeans and feel the duty to behave as Europeans and provide a service to Europeans.

    We have made this office. We have created its reputation. It’s a good reputation and I want to be proud of it.

    These people are nothing without us. I don’t want to feel ashamed every time I hear their voice, their language, their behavior.

    January will start and I don’t want to accept more humiliations. We should show who is the real engine of this office. Don’t give them what they consider for granted. Concentrate on quality and service. Show a little bit more solidarity.

    Because remunerating an intellectual job on a production basis and pretending that the quality will remain the same is a farce and neither the European public nor the EPO people should accept to be the fools of this farce.

    Some years ago I have watched the movie Der Untergang. This is where I think they are now. May be they will destroy the EPO. But I don’t want to give up without resisting.

  72. The Commision has observer status at the Select Committee (Article 9(2) UP Regulation).

    - Do they have observer status at AC?
    - If not, why not?
    - If yes, do they use it?
    - If they do use it, would they have been party to the closed discussion on disciplinary matters?
    - If they were, what do they think?

    Just asking....

  73. Art. 23(1) EPC reads:
    Independence of the members of the Boards

    The members of [...] of the Boards of Appeal shall be appointed for a term of five years and MAY NOT be removed from office during this term, except if there are serious grounds for such removal AND if the Administrative Council, ON A PROPOSAL FROM THE ENLARGED BOARD OF APPEAL, takes a decision to this effect.

    The communique issued by the EPO on 12.12.14 reads:

    ON A PROPOSAL FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE OFFICE, the Council [...] unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty.

    Regarding that, how credible are the President's and the Council's views that the President respects the law and that the Council endorses and supports "the principle of independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal, as specifically set out in Article 23 EPC and generally embodied in internationally recognised principles of judicial independence"?

    Art. 4a EPC 2000 reads

    Conference of ministers of the Contracting States

    A conference of ministers of the Contracting States responsible for patent matters shall meet at least every five years to discuss issues pertaining to the Organisation and to the European patent system.

    EPC 2000 entered into force on 13 December 2007, i.e. exactly 7 years ago! Can you remember the last time such a conference has taken place?

    So much for the President's claim, he fully respects the law... What appears to be new here is that the Administrative Council is apparently not more interested in respecting the law than the President.

  74. @anon 11:25 : dont know what the Commission is up to but persistent rumours say that the Swiss delegation of the AC proposed to punish all the signatories of the EBoA's letter (why not add insult to injury after all...)

  75. The Council secretariat has been advised during the last 142nd AC meeting not to distribute further information to the delegates which was given to it. Apparently Jesper Battistelli do not want that the delegates obtain non-filtered informations and/or facts but only their - very subjective - points of view. The same holds true with respect to the staff committee. Greetings from George Orwell's epo farm!

  76. "... persistent rumours say that the Swiss delegation of the AC proposed to punish all the signatories of the EBoA's letter (why not add insult to injury after all...)"

    Well let us hope that he will also propose punishment of this external member of the EBA for giving support to her "internal" EPO colleagues:

  77. Anon at 11:45 :

    I think you've missed a couple of points. First, suspension is a lesser disciplinary action than removal from office. Second, Art. 10(2)(h) EPC says that the President may propose such disciplinary action to the AC.

    However, I think that there is an important issue nevertheless. While the President can propose such action, he cannot actually implement it himself. Only the AC itself can do that - Art. 11(4) EPC.

    Apparently the President has come up with the excuse that a "house ban" is not a suspension, and that prior to the AC's decision to suspend him the BoA member could still work from home. See the Les Echos article cited previously.

    That's pretty lame. Even if a house ban is not a suspension, it's still a disciplinary action. It's still something for which the AC has exclusive competence. The President has exceeded his powers.

    And this is important, whatever the BoA member concerned might or might not have done. Another contributor has described the likely chilling effect on other BoA members, when the President's gorillas turn up in a colleague's office, confiscate his computer, escort him off the premises and change the locks. Inevitably, their thought will be "if I cross the President, that could happen to me".

    It is vital that BoA members must maintain their independence. If a BoA member has transgressed, then disciplinary action should follow. But the President should play no part in it, other than proposing to the AC that they should investigate. If a BoA member is to be escorted off the premises, that is a decision for the AC alone.

  78. "Because remunerating an intellectual job on a production basis and pretending that the quality will remain the same is a farce and neither the European public nor the EPO people should accept to be the fools of this farce."

    Trying tell that to my boss. She is too scared to pass the message up the line, and is busy trying to look good in front of the company directors. If only they understood what was really happening they would be furious. (I am an attorney)

  79. On Wednesday last BB was desperate to hide the extent of unrest within the EPO from the AC. 1500 people, a broad spectrum of examiners, directors, members of the boards or appeal, formality officers and even Munich based patent attorneys were present at the demonstration. Mr Topic banned the demonstrators from standing on the EPO grounds, forcing the crowd to stand on Erhardstr as far from the office as possible. Apparently, even the delegations lunch was rescheduled so that they would not get wind of what was going on outside. Some delegations did get to see a photo of the numbers at the demonstration but were told by BB that it was photoshopped.

    To be clear, the staff are not against reforms per se. A large portion of staff now have no trust in their president.

    A lot of vitriol has been unleashed against the staff on various blogs, primarily because they have very good remuneration. Everyone is free to apply to the EPO, the starting conditions are in the public domain (not like BBs contract). There seems to be a tacit opinion that because you earn well you have prostituted yourself and deserve the complete lack of human rights that go along with working at the EPO. Prostitutes working in Germany and The Netherlands have more rights and regulatory oversight.

    Most of the staff working in the EPO are intelligent, highly qualified, professional, decent and hard working people. They have been insulted enough and I sincerely believe that the backlash against BBs style of management is only starting to gather momentum. He would do well not to underestimate their spirit and resolve.

  80. @anon 15:05

    "Staff are not against reforms per se"

    That is interesting... what proposals do the EPO staff unions then put on the table to:
    - Lower procedural and renewal fees at the EPO. Attorneys are having a harder and harder time to explain the dichotomy with other jurisdictions to their clients.
    - Reduce pendency times. "What ? 5 years to get my patent granted ?"
    - Bring back the quality of search report to pre-BEST levels. Nowadays, it seems like one X document is considered to be an exhaustive search, and the document is then stretched and stretched and stretched as much as necessary until it falls to pieces at Oral Proceedings.

    I have not seen yet any proposals on the SUEPO website for the future of the European Patent System. Can you point me to one ?

    Thank you.

  81. As Anon 15:05 has hinted at, there does appear to be visible sympathy for the Examiners in the Munich patent attorney community.

    Perhaps this is because in that city, they are often friends, and the Attorneys can see the effect that the president's policies are having on the Examiner's friends / their families. It's easy for Attorneys based a long way away to jump to conclusions, and to reach for the thoughtless and callous "well paid/lazy" clichés, when they don't have such direct interpersonal feedback.

    It can't be repeated often enough that Examiners and Attorneys are engaged in a common enterprise - you need high-quality Examination and high-quality representation to ensure high-quality rights. The develop(ing) body of the BoA's Jurisprudence gives all attorneys a playing field on which to excel.

    If users of the system begin to lack confidence, it will start to eat into the business of the EP patent attorneys as well. And what about the downward wage pressure implications of hundreds of Examiners returning home and retraining as Attorneys?

    Given the choice between covering a stagnant and declining European market, and growing, dynamic Asian, South American and African markets, why would in-house strategists be bothered with increasing filings at an increasingly troubled EPO?

  82. "...were told by BB that it was photoshopped"

    So many made-up anecdotes.

    "Prostitutes working in Germany and The Netherlands have more rights and regulatory oversight."

    More and more out-of-order comments.

    I have little sympathy.

  83. Battistelli stated that the EPC is "his bible".
    I just had to laugh. What a funny joke!
    The man is incredibly double-faced. With these jokes he can only fool the members of the AC who do not know better and can be bribed with just a fancy dinner. His only bible is his enormous ego and his thirst for power and money. He has no respect for rules of law and decency.
    Ask any of the many victims he made along the way so far. The board's of appeal member is just the most recent one. More to come. You bet?

  84. RE Mr Battistelli's interview in IAM.

    Suspending someone (or inflicting a houseban) on allegations of misconduct at the EPO is the equivalent of arresting someone in the real world on allegations of misdemeanor. Even then, in the real world, the officials would have a very limited length of time to make their charges stick, not three or four months (i.e. writ of habeas corpus in Great Britain).
    What happened to the basic democratic principle: innocent under proven guilty?
    Mr Battistelli's views on justice are as credible as would be DSK's views on deference towards women

  85. 1612
    Suepo have made suggestions but BB refused to read them.
    Quality is going down? Perhaps the drive for production (to be accelerated under the new career scheme) might be a cause?
    Reduce costs? We could if the national offices didn't take a large cut of renewal fees? And ask BB why he keeps a €2 billion reserve?
    If we could simplify matters, it would make our life easier and more productive - win, win? But we also have to put up with managerial interference which makes us less efficient.

  86. @Anon 16:12:00

    SUEPO is a staff union, not an IP policy adviser. The points that you raise may be valid, however, they are management issues and not necessarily under the influence of the individual examiner. In detail
    -Fee reductions: There have been times where the EPO budget surplus was regularly given back to the users by means of fee reductions, e. g. under President Kober. The current administration prefers to spend the money somewhere else, to build up a cash reserve or to pass it on to the member states. This is a matter of the administration and of the Administrative Council who approves the budget.
    -pendency times: This is a matter of work distribution and priorisation, controlled by the administration. On an individual level an examiner has no authority for a reasonable work priorisation anymore. However, there is still accelerated examination on request.
    -Pre-BEST times: BEST was introduced more than 15 years ago and I am long enough inside to assure you that searches were not generally better in these times. If you notice a decline of search quality in recent years this is a result of the more and more production based examiner appraisal system where the average time available for searching has been decreased down to a ridiculous level. With the current administration and the new career system that has passed the AC these days this is unlikely to change.

    These and other issues are regularly addressed internally. Examiners have regular contact with attorneys and applicants on a working level and know where the problems are. However, the current administration ignores any input from the working level and prefers to optimize the functioning of the EPO based on strategies bought from well-known external consulting firms.

  87. @Anon 17:35:00

    Would you mind outlining these suggestions ?

    Thank you.

  88. Well batistelly forgot that there is always divine justice . Even late

  89. From now on output will be paramount for examiners.
    Thanks anon yesterday 19:00. This is a VERY important point. Its consequences are extremely clear for EPO examiners, but how to render it more clear to the rest of the world, attorneys included ?
    Let’s try this way:

    From 01.01.15 I will receive a bonus if I produce more, that is, if I search or grant/refuse more patent applications. My chances of promotion, i.e. more money, will ONLY depend on that. Quality ? What quality ?

    Until now my salary was based on my performance AND my seniority. I could count on a promotion even if I decided to have a slightly-lower-than-average yearly production, because I wanted to take all the time I needed to search for good prior art or to actually read and understand your letters of reply and send all necessary communications before taking sending out a grant or just summons oral proceedings. I was proud to do a good job.
    From now on only the output counts.

    Performance-related pay.
    It is a disaster.
    In order to keep pace with other examiners, I’ll have to cite the first couple of prior art documents that I encounter in my search, of course restricted to the compulsory databases, and write a first communication/WOISA/ESOP with some weak objections easy to circumvent. During examination my work will consist in finding a sentence in your letter of reply that I could use to quickly send out my votum. Next step will be a grant. I won’t care anymore to actually verify what you write. If you said that it is inventive why should I bother double-checking ?
    Performance-related pay! Being paid (yes, even more) for doing a silly job in a relaxed atmosphere. Only formal checks (are all the reference signs there ?) will be necessary.

    Then why the heck are we complaining ??

    Well... given the high costs to get a (completely useless) patent from the EPO, this situation cannot last. Our ISO9001-compliant patent office will be deserted as soon as applicants realize what a poor service we have now been obliged to provide.

    Since this ‘awakening’ will happen fast, I am afraid that the name of Mr Battistelli will be associated forever to the dismantling of the EPO.

  90. I have worked as an examiner for many years now. I have studied in my field up to PhD level, in Italy, UK and the US, before joining the EPO. Back then I thought my move was a smart one - after all, universities had no more autonomy to offer as a professor, managers are taking over academia more and more, y'know. But now it seems they are also taking over public administration and IP law. I have to apply the EPC to the letter every day, but they just bend it as they please.

    Never before have I felt so ashamed of working for this institution. Never before has morale been so low. Over 1500 people demonstrated last week in front of Mr. B's HQ in Munich (famously known as the "Death Star"), but nobody cares, not a single line of press coverage in major newspapers, nothing.

    Well, here's my forecast for next year: Many grants! Great production figures! Mr. B. will shine! Now is a great time to file for a BS patent if you have one in mind, you'll be sure to get it. Users will move to national filings more and more, the European patent will become meaningless. Eventually you won't need us overpriced examiners any more. And you'll have to battle it all out in national courts. Have fun! But please, user community, don't complain, after all you didn't care a damn.

    By the way, I don't feel particularly overpaid. I have a contract with this institution, which fairly accounts for the fact that I can't just walk to the next patent office down the street to ask for a new job. This contract is being changed unilaterally, my elected staff reps haven't even been heard. And, to comment on another posting, I drive neither Bentley nor Porsche (which seems to be the norm among Munich residents though, there's just so many dentists and attorneys around), but a modest 2010 Renault Scenic. After all, I have a family to raise.

  91. Quality ? What quality ?

    You surely must know what quality BB is talking about.

    Quality measured by the number of times there is initial disagreement within the Examining Division. Each time the chairman has a different initial view than the first examiner, the one who is convinced by the other loses a "quality" point.

    Isn't it great to be ISO 9001 compliant? Sure, it goes against the spirit if not the letter of the EPC, but who cares about such things these days...

  92. If applicants start filing nationals rather than Europeans it will be for cost and delay reasons rather than quality. The EPO quality is not that much higher (if at all) than national examining offices, but the cost saving of not having to separately prosecute in each country can be significant.

    However the extortionate internal renewal fees on pending applications combined with long delays is eroding this advantage. Were it not that France has closed the national route from PCT applications there would long ago have been a flood of cases going national rather than EPC route.

    So, something for examiners to thank France for?

    By the way, not all examiners are selfless saints: a significant number are opinionated persons who appear to take pleasure in saying no or avoiding work, and frequently both. This (small) group tarnish the reputation of the rest. No doubt there are attorneys who fulfil the same role of spreading ill will. When a good attorney encounters a good examiner life is easy and strong rights result. Co-operation is not a dirty word.

  93. @Meldrew

    "The EPO quality is not that much higher (if at all) than national examining offices"


    Of course, because most of national searches are processed at the EPO, FR, NL, IT, CH...

    "By the way, not all examiners are selfless saints"

    Indeed, but at least you can speak to them in person and in your language at any moment. Not to a stupid helpdesk or machine situated in Marocco or elsewhere.

    This has also a value, and additionaly,
    a cost :)

  94. @anon 23:04

    Let me paraphrase your comment:
    "I have studied to PhD level in UK, Italy and the USA and therefore I am entitled to a job in which the rules of reality do not apply, and my employer has a duty to keep such lowly things as reality at bay from me"

    You will have a very hard time waking up to the rules of reality. Hint: entitlement is not one of them.

  95. @anon 8:22
    the EPO examiners above are trying to explain that:

    1) the EPO will soon be closed.
    2) until this happens they will earn more money as long as they send out more grants.
    3) they are disgusted by this situation.
    4) bad times ahead for the whole patent system in EU

    Is this so difficult to understand ? What has this to do with your 'rules of reality' ??

  96. Anon @8:48

    A perfect example of the type of examiner that assumes he knows what users and the public want, rather than listen to attorneys who are somewhat closer to what users and the public want.

    We (attorneys) talk to users and the public - we don't get our information filtered and third hand. The public want a system that is inexpensive, timely, and good enough. No one expects perfection - and no one gets it. "Quality" is used by some to excuse slowness. With no time management in the office this is a recipe for delay, and delay means more, high, internal renewal fees and cost.

    Those in ivory towers (whether Camelot or Mordor) often cannot see more clearly than those on the ground. Not all examiners are so short sighted.

    The whining of the staff "representatives" in the past is the reason why support was so slow in coming from the public (including attorneys). If you cry wolf for decades, you can't complain when the real wolf comes and you are ignored.

    Has this wolf has bitten more than he can chew?

    Would he have dared to if the staff "representatives" and some examiners had not tarnished the reputation of the vast majority of diligent and balanced examiners?

    I know it took me a while to appreciate what was happening, largely because the first reaction was "more whining". It was only when I heard "ordinary" examiners express concern that it became real to me.

    After all this is over, the examiners really should consider whether they are well served by their representatives.

  97. @anon 8:22

    I believe I have a qualified understanding of my field (ok, with little rusty patches here and there), and up to now I took a certain pride in doing my job well, to "walk the extra mile". From my experience, the vast majority of my colleagues works according to the same principles of professional conduct and decency, even if there is the odd exception here and there. It has become clear now that this is not what the office wants. For what it's worth, they should indeed hire less qualified but more cynical people who have "woken up to the rules of reality", as you put it. Those might also come cheaper. Don't expect any of the savings being passed on to users, though.

    And one more thing: A manager implementing some new policy should be smart enough to leave his underlings enough leeway to filter out his major blotches, to keep the machine running. If something improves for whatever reason, he can pat himself on the shoulder; if it fails - their fault and time for another change policy. No problem to live with that type of manager. But B's style is a little different: He kicked out or muzzled those people that understood running the office and replaced them with folks whose qualifications are that they are French pals from his alumni group, his former state job, or their spouses. He denigrates his own workforce in public, puts half-a-dozen photos of himself "looking at things" in all office publications, and spells his title with a capital "P". In the same time, there's no more time to do the job right, we're inundated with partly contradictory, unclear, ill-conceived, retroactively introduced and/or short-lived regulations. Thinking is replaced by crossing boxes, quality is replaced by quality certification. I don't believe you can run a business with folks working "malgré eux". If this continues, this ship is bound for disaster.

  98. Could three more people comment please. It would be nice to reach 100, even if several have been from me.

    Question 1. Which IPKat posting received the most comments ever? A top 10 ever posted might make interesting reading. The top read in the last 30 days shown in your sidebar is very interestng.

    Question 2. How many readers from Germsny and the Netherlands have you had this week compared with a "normal" week?

  99. Here is another step to 100... :o)

    Anon 0941
    Good to hear that 'inexpensive, timely, and good enough' is what public wants.

    I used to think that 'good enough' was the first priority at the EPO. I vaguely recall that novelty and inventive step were also somehow mentioned during my initial training as a patent examiner. But this was 20 years ago. Now we are in the 21st century. Things change.

    So, we'll just have to follow the new easy guidelines.

    On 'inexpensive' I have no influence, but on 'timely' I'll start working after Christmas holidays. Cutting of course from the 'good enough' part of my job.

    Happy patenting folks!

  100. It is true that if you are always crying wolf, once the real wolf arrives no one will believe you. And that is partly the problem that EPO examiners face. However, I would like to point out that examiners were the first ones to oppose the introduction of bonuses for production, were completely against the introduction of the harsh 24 month divisional rules and lastly but also importantly are highly suspicious at the introduction of the new "early certainty from search" strategy as it will translate into an effective deferred examination due to the low priority if examination files. Examiners may have appeared to leave in an ivory tower and in some cases it may be so. But there is also a majority of examiners who take pride in their job and take the concerns of the users seriously.

  101. @Anonymous 09:41

    "The public want a system that is inexpensive, timely, and good enough"

    A survey showed that registering a patent in eight countries for a ten-year period costed on average around 30,000 EUR. Four key factors determined this amount:
    costs relating to the registration procedure (4,300 EUR)
    the cost of professional representation (attorneys) that accompanied the request for a patent (5,000 EUR)
    costs relating to the translation of patents into the languages of the countries where the patent was registered (11,000 EUR or 40% of the total cost!!!)
    renewal of patent registrations in the relevant national patent offices (9,000 EUR)

    Professional representation and translators do not do too badly out of the system.
    The national patent offices of the designated states get half the renewal fees after grant for no work done.

    There are several procedures for accelerating the processing of your application at the EPO, why are they so seldom used?

    "Good enough"

    User surveys about the EPO indicate, by and large, that the applicants are very satisfied with the quality

    Would the users really rather have lower quality, lower legal certainty?

  102. Anonymous @12:28

    I agree with your last sentence. In my post I referred to damage to " the reputation of the vast majority of diligent and balanced examiners". Prosecution before the EPO is a joy when both attorney and examiner know what they are doing, and why.

    The Handbook of Quality Procedures should be required reading for both parties.

    I received one of the EPO's random telephone surveys a while ago, asking for comments on the examination process for a particular application and the field in question. After all the usual questions there was the tentative query “do you have any other comments on this application”. Yes, I replied,

    If all examiners were like examiner X, the EPO would have a better reputation. He reads the claims: he only raises objections that are material and relevant, and he raises them in the first communication: he reads my responses: if I push too hard he resists: if I am reasonable he is reasonable: he speeds up if PACE is requested: and he understands that co-operation with attorneys does not require surrender to attorneys. Everyone is happy.

    However not all examiners are like examiner X. There is a significant number of examiners who seem unable to read claims: raise objections that are insignificant and irrelevant, sometimes to the point of fantasy: give every appearance of never reading responses but call for oral proceedings in the hope that I will give up and get the case off their docket: ignore PACE requests: refuse offers of co-operation (e.g. to settle minor matters, or to explain their incomprehensible communication with a phone call): believe every attorney-agent encounter is a fight: are unreasonable at every opportunity. No one is happy.

    [By the way, examiner X is a real person whose initial has been changed to protect the innocent].

    Now I am sure that examiners can produce a list of traits of nightmare attorneys too. Could someone oblige?

  103. inexpensive, timely, and good enough ???

    Have you ever heard of Fast, Good ***AND*** Cheap???

    You can only pick two!

    More seriously, can you please provide measurable and implementable definitions of "inexpensive, timely, and good enough"?

  104. > Have you ever heard of Fast, Good ***AND*** Cheap???


    who needs Fast? It is a serious question, no irony involved.

    Isn't in time an adequate attitude?

  105. "Have you ever heard of Fast, Good ***AND*** Cheap???"

    Well sex used to do that for me....

    Seriously, inexpensive, timely and good enough equates with less expensive than the EPO, in an appropriate timescale, and at least as good as the German and UK offices.

    In an appropriate timescale means in a controlled and controllable timescale. For years we have had de facto deferred examination without the safeguards. The early certainty from search program will do little for deferral, but it does provide some knobs to twist for applicants, third parties, and the office to get efficient prosecution. It is too soon to see whether this will work, but it does provide several things applicants and third parties have long asked for.

  106. So I can expect quality to drop in the new year? I don't expect any damage after a fall from such a low level.

    Still, it was good to see examiners getting several years head start on the new process.

  107. "...examiners ... are highly suspicious at the introduction of the new "early certainty from search" strategy as it will translate into an effective deferred examination due to the low priority of examination files."

    On the plus side, a less well publicised aspect of the new strategy seems to be that the EPO is also trying to clear its backlog of very old applications, some of which have been pending for over a decade.

    For too long, the EPO has been known as not only the most expensive but also the slowest of the world's major patent offices. I'm sure I'm not the first person to describe it as a black hole, where stuff goes in but never comes out. That is of course an unfair description - sometimes new cases come out quite quickly. But other older ones don't.

    Typically these are cases searched over a decade ago, when search reports did not contain a written opinion. It then took 5 or 6 years for the first examination report to issue (perhaps the examiners were busy granting more recent cases). We responded within 6 months; and then it sat in the black hole for another 5 or 6 years.

    However, in recent months I have received a lot of examiner actions on applications which have just been sitting inactively in the black hole for many, many years. For example, I recently had a Rule 71(3) communication on an application filed over 14 years ago.

    Of course, if I wished I could file PACE requests on such old cases. But sometimes it is commercially useful to keep an application pending for a long time. It adds to uncertainty for our competitors. And we live in a commercial world where technology does not stand still. If an application is still pending we may be able to amend the claims to suit the new technical and commercial reality. Or file a divisional.

    So are these EPO delays a good thing? No, absolutely not. Uncertainty for third parties is a bad thing (at least when I'm the third party :-)). Amending the claims at a late stage to suit new circumstances is likely to be objectionable, and it increases the examiners' workload. But if it gives us a commercial advantage, then I'm sorry, but my duty as an attorney is to take advantage of your delays.

    So there are some reasons to welcome the new strategy. It may lead to deferral of some cases which would currently be granted more quickly. But that may be acceptable if it allows examiners to process the cases which have been pending longest.


    As an aside, the disastrous 24 month time limit for divisionals was an attempt by the EPO management to curb people who kept divisionals pending for many years, in order to increase uncertainty for their competitors. There is a much simpler solution. Don't let either parent or divisional applications remain pending for over a decade after their parent filing date. If a divisional is filed very late, examine it as a priority. If you grant our applications earlier, we won't be able to play these games.

    The Enlarged Board of Appeal suggested such "administrative measures" a long time ago, in Decisions G1/05 and 1/06 (paragraph 13.5 of the Reasons). The EPO management just ignored it.

  108. "appropriate timescale", "in time", "less expensive than", "at least as good as", "controllable timescale"...

    The answers are up to my expectation, even though I was hoping for precise definitions, in Euros (which fees should be adapted?), days (with a specification of the start and finish points), and quality units. (How do you measure quality? In furlongs per fortnight? In dotted-eyes-and-crossed-tees per page?)

    And while we're at it, why don't we study the full cycle, and take a deep look into drafting and billing practices on the attorney side? Ich kann ein Lied davon singen...

  109. Two points:,

    The qualities you need in a CEO are different depending on whether you are a start up or a mature organization, and whether the objective is to build the organization or destroy it.

    It is horribly easy to destroy reputation and accumulated excellence. Much harder to preserve it, while you focus on generating superficially good stats to make your reputation as a dynamic CEO. But not to worry. Who cares? By the time the damage is recognised, you have moved on to another, even more important position,and could not care less,what becomes of the organization you used to "lead".

  110. I do not like the ping-pong between the attorney and the examiner(s). We seem to have lost track of the problem under discussion, namely the independence of the Board of Appeals members and the respect that all employees deserve. So, please let's go back to the issue.

  111. The divisionals fiasco was nothing to do with delay or abuse. The EPO got their knickers in a twist because it looked as though the Commision were going to dump on them in the pharmaceutical patent enquiry. They needed to be seen to be doing something.

    In fact the report was less unpleasant than feared, and Sir Robin Jacob's star turn in rubbishing it defused the time bomb that was feared. However the EPO carried on regardless, ignoring everyone (examiners, attorneys, applicants) who told them it was unjustified and stupid. Admitting mistakes comes slowly to the office.

    Still, the divisionals fiasco did have the slight advantage of coming at a time when otherwise filing numbers would have fallen off a cliff. so thank you EPO for the brief period of quantitative easing: it helped attorneys, if not applicants.

  112. To sum up the developments at EPO:

    Financial aspects:
    - pensions rights were reduced for new-comers (no partial tax compensation, investment risk, taxation risk on defined contribution part)
    - pension contributions have risen from 7% to 9,7%
    - health insurance: new contribution for gainfully employed spouses
    - new career system shall lead to reduction of salary mass by 13% in 2035 and correspondingly lower pensions

    Suppression of critical voices:
    - abolishment of Audit Committee
    - abolishment of communication channels from staff reps to staff (email, paper, etc.)
    - investigation unit investigates the cases that the President wants
    - staff are legally forced to whistle-blow to this unit
    - staff using external channels are accused as defamatory
    - strike is subject to Presidential approval
    - staff, staff reps, DG3 judges and even AC members are intimidated by suspensions carried out by man in black, threatening letters, shouting etc.
    - new career system gives more powers to the managers which can punish critical voices

    - all VPs are silenced, on the PD level INPI trusted people are placed at key positions called roadmaps (Rene Kraft, Elodie Bergot, Francois-Regis Hannart)
    - the salary of the President is apparently only known by the AC chair

    For the future the following is foreseeable:
    - reduction of pension (e.g. not based on last salary)
    - abolishment of expatriation allowance
    - more production pressure

    In the end, the EPO will save a lot of money.

    This could be used to
    - lower the fees (although the number of applications goes from one record to the next)
    - change the split for the national renewal fees (money for Nat. Offices like Austria to pay bonuses to their staff from work done by EPO)

    The questions remains: WHY?

  113. @Anon 21:22

    "The questions remains: WHY?"

    Pay for the setting up of the UPC?

  114. To complete the list at 21:22:

    - list of cronies must include Željko Topić
    - institutional castration of staff representation

  115. Anon at 20:00 : Surely the Commission's pharma patent enquiry was everything to do with what they perceived as abuse?

    But you are right: the EPO management just presses ahead with reforms, without even thinking about consulting with attorneys or examiners who could warn them of the likely problems.

    Tell you what, perhaps they should punish US applicants who draft long, unclear sets of claims by charging huge excess claims fees? They could make the fees so punitive that it is cheaper for the European attorney to amend them. This would produce claims with multiple alternatives which are even less clear, but fewer in number?

    Or they could abolish the safety net which lets you pay an administrative fee if your deposit account accidentally goes overdrawn because clients instruct you to pay a lot of fees at short notice.

    Even better, they could cause huge amounts of unnecessary stress at oral proceedings, by banning handwritten amendments and insisting that you struggle with them on a laptop. And then fail to keep their promises to provide workable solutions for printing them out.

  116. I have seen much debate about whether or not the house-ban respected the Rule of Law and the required independence of the Boards, about Mr Topic, about an alleged suicide and EPO's immunity, and about performance-based pay and quality.

    What about the ongoing investigation? Now the AC is to take a decision by March based on its outcome. But before we (hopefully) get to know the outcome: how is such an investigation performed at the EPO? Is there a procedure approved by the Council? Or is the President free to decide on the investigative methods?

  117. To anon at 22:14,

    They are just a few examples that EPO examiners are fighting on behalf of applicants. Or they will do once they've feathered their own nests and had a nice long European-style coffee break.

  118. One potentially interesting point that has not been discussed so far is the composition of the AC.

    Who is sitting in it?

    Being of Italian origins, I am quite familiar with our main representative, Mr. Masi, whose career I will try to summarize below.

    Mr. Masi graduated as a lawyer. He went on to work at the Italian State Bank (Banca d'Italia) and then further as a consultant for economics first, PR later, to the Italian government. He has been working for the ONU and for the Italian State television (RAI).

    In this incredibly bright career there seems little, if anything, to do with patents.

    I am not a strong believer that a good technician makes a good manager. I know for a fact one major issues with several courts in Italy is that excellent judges do not necessarily make excellent managers. And I don't think one should necesserily work his way up into a national patent office to get to sit into the AC of the EPO.

    All this considered, I nevertheless believe that some, if any, experience related to patents may be useful when it comes to managing an institution such as the EPO.

    Because we should never forget that the President is appointed, but the managing power ultimately resides in the AC, not in the President.

    I wonder if some other nationals on this forum can also contribute and let us know who, in their country, is sitting in the AC of the EPO, and what experience he/she is bringing to the table.

  119. The thing with the orals and the amendments:it is an opportunity for Examiners to bond with attorneys. Management aims to set the two camps against each other, to divide and rule. Dont let it.

  120. Can someone provide actual details of the link between the commission enquiry and changes made by the EPO?

  121. @Anon 22:55, ýou do not understand the work pressure at the EPO.

    I am an examiner and must do at least 7 search reports and 3 grants/refusals per month just to stay afloat. Less than 80% of that and I would get a warning letter and threat of dismissal.

    A search entails scanning 500-1000 relevant documents and reading thoroughly the 10-20 best, in English, German, Italian, Chinese goobledygook, whatever. The search report is accompanied by a written opinion. At least 7 of those per month.

    A grant or refusal usually entails several communications, telephone calls, sometimes oral proceedings, in English, French or German. At least 3 of those per month.

    We also have to squeeze in meetings, oral proceedings as chairman/second member, oppositions, classification, etc.

    No time for long coffee breaks.

    Next year Battistelli and Minnoye (VP1) are turning the screws again: we have been told there will be a "significant increase" in production (rumoured 20-35% more).

    Please do not sneer at us, attorneys. We are doing a difficult intellectual job under a repressive and out-of-touch regime. We should be standing together now, trying to serve the public as best we can.

  122. @anon 22:23
    The investigation will be carried out by the investigation unit set up by the President according to the investigation guidelines (introduced by the president as well). I think they have been made available to the public few days ago in some blogs, as attachment to the letter written to the AC by the BoA members

  123. @Anon 22:55, ýou do not understand the work pressure at the EPO.
    I am an examiner and must do at least 7 search reports and 3 grants/refusals per month just to stay afloat. Less than 80% of that and I would get a warning letter and threat of dismissal. But 10 search reports and 10 grants/refusals per month and I may be called a “high performer” and stand in line for promotion.
    A search entails scanning 500-1000 relevant documents and reading thoroughly the 10-20 best, in Japanese English, German, Italian, Chinese goobledygook, whatever. The search report is accompanied by a written opinion. At least 7 of those per month.
    A grant or refusal usually entails several communications, telephone calls, sometimes oral proceedings, in English, French or German. At least 3 of those per month.
    We also have to squeeze in oral proceedings as chairman/second member, oppositions, classification, meetings, etc.
    No time for long coffee breaks.
    Next year Battistelli and Minnoye (VP1) are turning the screws again: we have been told there will be a "significant increase" in production (rumoured 20-35% more).
    So please do not sneer at us, attorneys - we are trying to do our best in very stressful conditions. We should be standing together now, trying to serve industry as best we can.

  124. - Total elektronic surveillance, including of visitors
    - Subornation of the Boards

  125. "Chinese goobledygook"

    Aside from the racist aspect of this comment, we are constantly told by examiners on this blog to get on our bikes and learn the languages required to work at the EPO. Or is that just the 'official languages' created for political reasons, rather than those necessary to do the job?

    Obviously, I wouldn't expect examiners to have to learn Chinese also, but then I don't see why an examiner needs to speak the three official languages either.

  126. "I don't see why an examiner needs to speak the three official languages either."

    A.14(1) EPC - The official languages of the European patent office shall be English, French, and German.

  127. Thanks you to anon at 9:31 by responding with an EPC Article quote. To all those whining examiners out there, my response to you is therefore: "EPC".

  128. I suspect that the poster who considers "Chinese Gobbledigook" to be racist, has never had to try to make sense of machine translations of highly technical documents written in oriental languages.

    1. I would like to congratulate all posters as so far Godwin's law has not been fulfilled. Let's keep it that way!

  129. Ron,
    firstly your suspicions are incorrect. Secondly, the comment did not refer to machine translations.

    Of they had identified the document using Google and then used Google translate, they should have explained.

    Of course, T1961/13, as referred to in the latest CIPA journal notes:

    "The TBA was critical of the fact that the appellants had to investigate the lack of relevance of the Google search themselves."

    I presume Google is the one of the approved databases that examiners must restrict their search to, such that they are prevented from doing a quality job? After all, what sort of nonsense is written in those peer-reviewed journals!

    My suggestion is the examiners forget about Google and stick to their primary source, Wikipedia. After all (again) it is the primary source for lazy dumb-downed, patent attorneys, too.

  130. "The TBA was critical of the fact that the appellants had to investigate the lack of relevance of the Google search themselves."

    This is why BoA independence is so important to users of the system. The potential for the BoA to be critical of EPO process must arise very frequently.

    See 5.1.6 of T1961/13:

    "5.1.6 The Board notes that it should not have been necessary for the appellants to investigate the relevance of Google's date indications. It is the task of the examiner to make an objective assessment of what a particular date indication is intended to represent and how reliable it is, and to make further investigations if necessary. If it is not understood how a particular date reported by a search engine was generated, it cannot be used as evidence of a publication date."

    It's hard to believe that the TBA would have been so comfortable in being quite so critical of EPO internal processes, had there been a risk to members of the TBA of upsetting another VP of the EPO, possibly risking some kind of sanction...and these are calls that the TBA's have to make on a daily basis.

    It all seems like angels dancing on a pin-head; wait until it's one of your cases...

  131. Anon 11:12,

    "After all, what sort of nonsense is written in those peer-reviewed journals!"

    isn't it the case that many Examiners in this thread sound like they would love to have the chance/time to do deep quality searches in the peer-reviewed journals, but that the existing performance targets already lead to the kind of eventuality arising T1961/13...

  132. Refer to amicus curiae letter from anonymous dated 28.11.2014 in case number G 03/14, section 6.4, paragraph 6, putting it in a nutshell: efficiency, cost-effectiveness, staff reduction, reduced actually time needed for each case.

    => This necessarily leads to more clarity and insufficient disclosure objections and rejections in order to avoid time consuming and thus costly patentability discussions.

  133. Attorneys and examiners should be on the same side here, we’re all on the front line. I don’t know who’s influencing the members of the AC. If it’s the national POs wanting more of the EPO-pie then it would be better to increase the EPO fees rather than cutting costs on examiners. If it’s big industry, then the advisers are far too far from reality. Reducing remuneration of examiners, which is effectively what these latest decisions result in, can only result in a decrease in the quality of granted patents. As an in house attorney I can only see this resulting in even more uncertainty, which drives up the total costs (due to patent opinions, oppositions, lawsuits etc.). The desire to cut backlogs alone will not reduce these costs. If I were representing big industry I would far prefer to pay a little extra at the examining stage to 1) reduce backlogs and 2) get a patent with the right scope of protection, in order to avoid the far greater costs occurred due to poor quality patents. Although I don’t represent big industry, I do work for it and will be expecting my personal workload to increase due to the politics of the president and the AC, and I won’t be getting paid any more either. I can only advise anybody thinking of entering this industry as an attorney or examiner for the good remuneration to think very hard. Don’t base your expectations on what you see people currently earning. With extra competition from ex-examiners I can imagine that the starting wages of attorneys will also be under pressure.

  134. Alas, Anonymous @ 10:53 has violated the anti-Goodwin corollary.

  135. "isn't it the case that many Examiners in this thread sound like they would love to have the chance/time to do"

    It would seem so, but my concern is the lack of quality is not starting next year, but has been going for several years already.

  136. Anon 13:12 - is there any way of getting "big industry" involved via, for example, the IP federation (UK), or VPP (DE)? Where are all the big IP bodies in this debate?

    He who pays the piper calls the tune.


  137. (comment part 1)
    I don’t like the pettyness of some of the comments, such as what kind of car people drive, unless it can be proven that such cars have been acquired through corruption. The pay people get for being in an international environment is no different from the pay given in organisations such as the United Nations or even the EU, outside your own country. And I find it completely unreasonable to call some of those examiners who have had to express themselves anonymously as “whining”.

    I think we get to know far too little about life at the EPO to be able to comprehend the situation. Even with 2-300 comments on various IPKat posts, the comments are not representative.

    What further do we not know? We do not know if there is any possibility of communicating with the outside world, once you are inside the EPO. Equipment exists that is quite able to block mobile phones, or to eavesdrop on any mobile phone conversations and to read all outgoing mails – the mere fact that they appear as gibberish (encryption) will make them subject to suspicion. It has been stated again and again that there is “abolishment of communication channels from staff reps to staff (email, paper, etc.)”. How is that possible? Why do those who need to communicate not do it outside the EPO outside working hours?

    We also do not know who the “gorillas” are that escort people out. Are they of the type we knew from Blackwater (Iraq-style)? What is their remit, what is the legal basis? Do they use handcuffs? Are there holding cells inside the EPO for these people until they can be moved without observation, or is observation of the escort intended as an intimidating measure? Are the residences of banned people watched by private detectives?

    There is no doubt that prosecution of applications will suffer, because there will be a general sense of disheartening with the situation. That will always be to the detriment of the applicant, because creating the UPC has not done a proper job. There is still no legal recourse for a rejection of an application/European patent after appeal. That is something you have always had in national patent law. You need a proper diplomatic conference for doing a proper job, and the way the EPO is now being re-moulded we really, really need one.

    (end of part 1)

    Worried regards,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  138. (comment part 2)
    Do not expect any help or reaction from the AC. The chairman, who is the head of the Danish patent office, became notorious for only supplying statements in favour of the arrangement during the massive campaign early 2014 for premature Danish ratification of the UPC and Patent with Unitary Effect and for not giving a balanced view and prediction based on the statistics available. In this he as a loyal civil servant only followed the policy in several areas of society, in which the present Danish government has replaced a professional approach with productivity. The areas where this has already been carried out are in completely revamping the Danish primary school system and the Danish primary health care system: acts were passed through parliament that removed the professionals’ influence on professinal decisions. And seeing similar revisions of the working of the EPO through the AC is second nature to this kind of civil servant.

    It is a great pity, because this chairman showed huge promise in his first period, arguing for division of EPO labour with EPC member state patent offices, which would both increase throughput of the EPO system and maintain a technical standard in the participating patent offices. Of course, with those eventually disappearing with the introduction of the UPC/Unitary system that has become irrelevant. The neatest solution would be to oust the present president and to become one oneself. But apparently time is not ready yet.

    Revisiting all the IPKat blogposts and their respective comments since 2 December 2014 (Unrest in Eponia as staff take to the streets) – a Word document of 105 pages – I see a picture emerge. The image is drawn of an Eponia, and the Eponian society is described in terms that remind me of Deutsches Reich from 1933-45, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik from 1949-90. But perhaps it is more akin to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Now, in those societies there were a lot of people who just ducked their heads and got on with daily life – I am certain that this is also the case in Eponia. The difference between Eponia and the oppressive states mentioned above is that it was possible for foreign observers to enter the states and write independent reports. This is not possible here. Not that such observers really helped: Leland Stowe was a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and his series of articles in 1933 were collected in a book that did not appear in the US: “Nazi Germany Means War”, but which was translated into a few European languages. As we know, his predictions were not reacted on.

    Are the century-old principles upon which modern (non-US) patent law is built to be maintained, or will their embodiment in the EPC also suffer the scourge of modern times: mass production?
    (end of part 2)

    Equally worried regards,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  139. George, I was going to read your post to see why I shouldn't accuse examiners of whining, but you went into looniness (no offence intended) too quickly with you mobile-phone blocking etc. I couldn't risk carrying on to hear about the secret room hiding Lord Lucan and the thousands of "missing" nazis from WWII added for the sake of ensuring silly theories can continue).

    Time to call time on this story, PLEASE!!!!

  140. Anonymous @ 16:59:

    You are not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

  141. I find the examiner's view of the world quite entertaining: a remark about their cushy lifestyle is dismissed as "petty", yet the introduction of a pay system which expects performance for promotion means "the end of the EPO" :-)

  142. 144 comments...

    That's just gross.

  143. Anon 1935.
    I am giving up.
    There is nothing we can say to convince you guys that performance-related pay was simply wrong for the EPO.

    We'll just have to accept our new pay structure and get a rich bonus in 2015 on top of our current salary because of our increased production.

    Do you still find it entertaining ? I do not.
    Money isn't everything, a fulfilling job counts more. And I had been lucky enough to have one until now.

    1. @ anon Monday 19.35

      Well, you might be a good manager at the office: equate performance with production figures, ignore the interrelation between quality and quantity - don't even need to be brainwashed :-)

  144. A survey showed that registering a patent in eight countries for a ten-year period costed on average around 30,000 EUR.

    And this price must cover the costs incurred by all those applications that NEVER issue, i.e. the vast majority of them, since the EPO must be self-financing.

    It also pays for the functioning of DG3, whereas opposition and litigation before your national court will normally be borne by the public purse. (Depending on the country, in full or at least in part).

    That lavish annual junket called "inventor of the year award", which doesn't contribute anything to grant statistics, is also paid for by those fees.

    That money buys grade-A real estate right in the center of Munich. (BTW, entrusting the new building to a starchitect who is known even better for his cost overruns than his construction is worrying.)

    It also provides a massive indirect cross-subsidy to national procedures, and there is also the cost of getting all those delegations behind the president of the day, no matter what...

    The attorney cost quoted would be charged to both applications that issue, and those who don't. But does this number cover drafting, or is that typically done abroad? (The majority of EP applications stem from overseas). And does the representative provide real advice, or merely bounces all correspondence back and forth with Milwaukee or Minneapolis?

  145. There are some comments about the easy life of an examiner and some sarcastic comments about the concerns we, examiners, are living nowadays. I could make some comments about representatives and applicants, but, as any generalisation is unfair, I will refrain and I will maintain the professional approach that I normally apply in my daily examiner work.

    A patent is a legal document that needs to fulfil some legal criteria. The patenting procedure is ruled by certain legal requirements too. All patent offices are ruled by strict legal requirements. It is clear that in the affair dealt with in the present post basic legal requirements have been completely and arbitrarily overruled, and the major supervising body has limited to protect the "one of us".

    Does anyone of the present commentators, including the ones posing some irony on the 'whiny' examiners, think that this can be let go without consequences? Well, if our top managing body acts with such lack of due care to the EPC they are supposed to respect and make respect, why should examiners act more carefully in the application of the law? Our managers are not an example to follow, right?

    Well, do not worry. Maybe there is more profesionalism in the base than in the head of the organisation. We plan to work 30-35 years at the EPO and it is our main interest to respect the rights of the parties involved: the applicants and the public. We have very clear the concept that they are above the present conflict and should not be affected by the present mismanagement.

    On the contrary, the president, the recent VPs and the delegates in the AC are there to serve themselves, their political carrier, their NPO with an insane short sighted view.

    Reforms are possible and even positive. But when you need to dismantle all the controlling bodies (internal audit, internal consultive bodies, internal appeal system, staff representation, staff communication, right to strike), when you need to impose your control on all decision - making levels and when you need to impose a fear atmosphere on your subordinates (investigation unit, deprivation of basic defence rights -the investigation unit can initiate an investigation on request of the president without the need of having proofs that a misconduct has been produced; they can simply investigate to try to find "something"-, lack of effective judicial protection -the president decides on any internal appeal and the only alternative is AT-ILO, in which your case can take more than 10 years to be treated-), I bet that anyone can understand that something is really wrong in some of said reforms.

    You have witnessed how the president behaved in the case of the suspension of a BoA member and how he and the AC have over passed any legal requirement. Well, you have only seen the top of the iceberg. Imagine what is hidden under the surface of the sea and givethanks that the mmajority of the staff is working with professionality with respect to the public we serve.

    Even when, sometimes, we have to dig into ununderstandable machine translations, in our own databases and provided by some organisations and NPOs, of Asian documentation that we should consider before granting a valid patent.

  146. I think when Alison Brimelow was head of the UK patent office she introduced an aspect of performance related pay into the salary system. Do any of the users here have an impression that it had any effect on the quality of the patents granted?

  147. B ad poetry don't come easy you know
    L ittle bit of doggerel to go
    O nly short but very nifty
    G ets us up to 150!!!

  148. Re:
    „Refer to amicus curiae letter from anonymous dated 28.11.2014 in case number G 03/14, section 6.4, paragraph 6, putting it in a nutshell: efficiency, cost-effectiveness, staff reduction, reduced actually time needed for each case.

    => This necessarily leads to more clarity and insufficient disclosure objections and rejections in order to avoid time consuming and thus costly patentability discussions.“

    This appears to be an obvious abuse of the legal frame.

    You should better find at least one relevant document in order to force the applicant to file amended claims. Then, it will in most cases possible to reject the application due to Art. 123(2) EPC violation, i.e. added subject-matter, or an intermediate generalization.

    These rejections will most likely be approved by the Boards of Appeal as the Boards neither are in a position to get into patentability details to much.

  149. The Council [...] agreed to set up a Council Disciplinary Committee.

    Under what rules of procedures would this so-called Committee operate? Is it a court?

    Who will initially select the kangaroos that will sit (or hop) on that committee? On what criteria and instructions? Will they be confirmed by a secret ballot?

    Will the proceedings be public? Contradictory?

    What kind of evidence can be presented against the accused? Testimonies? But if everyone is under the thumb of the president, who will dare speak up for the accused?

    Will/was the accused be interrogated by the president's goons acting under the infamous "investigative guidelines"?

    Which law should apply for judging the alleged offense of the member of the Board?

    Will a retroactive "EPO criminal code" be concocted to judge the alleged offense? (Art. 103(2) of the German constitution prohibits Ex Post Facto laws. So does Art. 49(1) of the EU Fundamental Rights Charter.)

    What is the nature of the offense committed? Rumor is that it may have been thoughtcrime...

    Will the accused be allowed to be assisted by an outside counsel?

    Who will draft the accusation act? The president? VP3? Both together? But how can VP3 act credibly in this matter if he was deemed in R19/12 to be a creature of the president?

    If the composition of the boards concerned is modified, does this mean that DG3 followed presidential instructions?

  150. Thank you, Fairfly, these questions are essential and more pertinent than those that I asked! Will anybody dare answer them?

    Kind regards,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  151. Back in 1973, when the EPC was done, there was supposed to be a regime for dealing with patent matters post-issue. But that proved to be politically too difficult so it was shelved. Till now though, the EPC, half an EU patent regime loaf, has been much better than no loaf at all. Manifestly, the other half of the loaf is no more malleable today than it was in 1973. On the contrary. It has got progressively harder. Indeed, it seems now to be destroying the EPC.

    And as to the EPC, we are learning now, what it looks like, when pigeons come home to roost (and to shit all over the shop).

    The thing about patents is that the consequences of drafting failures are often not seen till 20 years later (if at all). With patent conventions it seems, it takes even longer.

    With patents, it is dangerous enough for the nurture of the property, and for orderly decision-making, when even just two parties share in its ownership. The EPO has 38 owners.

    After President BB has departed the EPO, we shall then be able to appreciate what sort of a legacy he has left behind him. Chin up though. Politicians (unlike CEO's) are reputed to care about their legacy.

  152. @MaxDrei

    That's the problem BB thinks he is the CEO of a production plant.

  153. "Alas, Anonymous @ 10:53 has violated the anti-Goodwin corollary."

    This is not really "Godwin" territory ...

    More like the DDR ... :-)

  154. This communique has been published on the EPO page, supposedly issued by the secretariat of the Administrative Council. Is it reasonably conceivable that the EPO's communication department took the precaution of "polishing" it beforehand? Those who know president battistelli know too well he is customary of extreme brutality. His last audio recording tends to prove it. Once faced with the fait accompli, the AC could not publish a dementi without opening the EPO Pandora box.

  155. „We do not know if there is any possibility of communicating with the outside world, once you are inside the EPO“

    There is, but it’s quite risky. Once you’ve been an examiner for a while, you get completely dependent on the system. Not only your monthly salary, but your entire social security scheme depends on the goodwill of the European Patent Office – and thus on the goodwill of the president. If, for whatever reasons, the president decides to get rid of you, there is no social security net you can rely on, no judicial control and no independent court to appeal to in case of arbitrary or unfair treatments. You are left without health insurance and without unemployment compensation, even your pension can be subject to disciplinary measures. Furthermore, when you’ve been examining patent applications for several years, it might not be easy to find a job in industry, due to rather different job profiles.

    The recent cases of two employees who were suspended only became publicly known because these two had special duties (the first was representing staff during internal appeals and the second employee was a member of the boards of appeal). However, recently, several other employees were removed from the office as well, and many others are being sanctioned and put under pressure.

    As all EPO employees and their families are completely at the mercy of the president, communication with the outside world is effectively prevented without the need to block private communication means. Given the current management style prevailing at the European Patent Office (reign by intimidation and by dreadfully sanctioning individuals for the slightest reasons, in order to scare off all others), EPO employees are very cautious about communicating with the outside world.

    Therefore, it's kind of a closed system, with only the tip of the iceberg visible from outside of the office.

  156. Re. Communicating - you should have mentioned that if you are under investigation, by the internal investigation unit, you are expressly forbidden from telling anyone internally other than one member of staff representation. You can tell your spouse and an external legal rep, who cannot however act for you at the EPO in any disciplinary proceedings. Of course, this is based on preventing harassment et Al of complainants and to give you protection for innocent until proved guilty. Apparently. In practice it makes all acts of the investigation unit secret and isolates people at moments of greatest stress and fear, particularly when they are obliged to supply all information, even if it is incriminatory or against their own best interest.

  157. We should be grateful it is difficult for EPO staff to communicate with the outside world . Think of how many hundreds more bleeding-hearts stories we would be have to suffer on this blog.

    Unless, of course, their trouble communicating is their inability to the blog security that they are not robots. If everyone had to prove they were not sheep, it would be like the Marie Celeste on this website.

  158. It is rare that I grumble about comments, although the invisibility cloak of "anonymous" is always an irritant, because you cannot properly evaluate the context in which the writer writes. Anonymous at 08:34 is almost choking on his/her frustrations and is not even able to write coherently.

    Please be reminded that reading the IPKat blog is not compulsory, suffering is not necessary. But those who are professionally and human rights concerned should read it in these times of unrest and consider what action to take.

    I am essentially clueless, but I contribute under the delusion that being "anonymous" in the header and signing under my own name somehow leaves me out of certain search engines. I may be wrong, but "blogger" does not have a field that fits me.

    Please consider the environment before you blog again, anonymous at 08:34 GMT!

    I won't be frustrated if the present comment does not make it onto the comment page! But at least consider it a grateful appreciation of your hard jobs as moderators.

    Kind regards,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  159. It is entirely appropriate that the EPO examiners speak out anonymously. Or do you think otherwise George?


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