Unrest in Eponia as staff take to the streets

Merpel has just heard that European Patent Office employees are taking to the streets of Munich to express their extreme anxiety and disquiet at the state of governance of the office that, if things go according to plan, will soon be responsible for administering the unitary patent system that will provide patent protection across almost all of the European Union's Member States.

Europe is no stranger to authoritarian management and, although the continent has no monopoly of it, there's not much the rest of the world can teach the Europeans in this regard. President Benoît Battistelli has certainly earned a great degree of unpopularity, to the point that people have long stopped grumbling about the real or imaginary failings of his predecessors -- and that is no mean achievement.

Apart from this weblog, Intellectual Property Watch has also carried reports of unrest and mismanagement at the EPO (see eg here). And there's more about the employees' grievances here, in German.

Merpel calls on those who enjoy the prestige and wield the responsibility for overseeing the operations of the European Patent Office to take a look at what is happening at the EPO and ask themselves, and each other, if they have ever troubled themselves to look closely at how the organisation is run and what the grievances of its employees are. If everything is absolutely fine and there is nothing for anyone to worry about, they can tell us, can't they? And if it seems that all is not right, they can do something about it too ...

The IPKat has little add here except to say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and, if you don't watch carefully how power is exercised, you end up playing the Football World Cup in Qatar.

Eponia here
Unrest in Eponia as staff take to the streets Unrest in Eponia as staff take to the streets Reviewed by Merpel on Tuesday, December 02, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B96qKs4-EI8

  2. I tried for over a year to get EPO to at least correct its capitalization when it writes "RegisterAlertautomatedMail" and to prefix with a clearly visible "EPO" in the From field of such mail. I failed to convince them. EPO's system administrators seem to have much "authority", too.

  3. Hear, Hear.

    It's about time the "grown ups" (DE, GB, NL, IT, FR?...?) in the Administrative council crack the whip, or are lobbied to do so by outside bodies.

    Attorneys who take the position that the current industrial relations dispute is just a flash in the pan, and that the Examiners are just being made to work a little harder, ought to reflect, and be careful what they wish for.

    Filings are already shifting back to national offices. The causes are complex. High fees, long pendency, UPC uncertainty. Do we really want to trash 40 years of convergence though? Are we really sure that the (inevitably smaller) number of national filings will be good for the wider profession?

    In its time, the EPO has come up with some good jurisprudence, and served industry well. The vast majority of the highly skilled Examiners there still want to do a quality job.

    All ought to be concerned at the turn things are taking.

  4. D iscontented Eponians on the increase
    E scorted by Plod to keep the peace
    S ince Baghdad Benny took over the reins
    P atent Office goes down the drains
    O ur Administrative Council must steady the ship
    T his man is begging for a pink slip

  5. "All ought to be concerned at the turn things are taking."

    Oh but they are.

    At the last Administrative Council meeting it was announced that AC delegates will now be covered by the EPO's health insurance scheme during any trips on EPO business.
    All paid for out of your renewal fees with no contribution from the delegates themselves.

    This was proudly announced to all assembled (which did not include staff representatives who had been excluded from attending on a flimsy pretext) by none less than the Vice-President of DG4, a man who allegedly knows a trick or two when it comes to using the public service in a "self-service" capacity.

    Honi soit qui mal y pense !

  6. Oh and by the way, it is rumoured that DE and NL are in line to get a nice financial "tax present" at the upcoming December AC meeting.
    Something to do with the national taxation of EPO pensions. Ask your local AC delegate. He or she will be glad to provide details.

  7. The reference to Qatar is right on the spot. A few days ago, when Sepp Blatter was mouthing off in German about his so-called "ethics commission", I was dumbstruck by the parallels between FIFA and the EPO. There too there seems to be some confusion between "immunity" and "impunity".

    Alas, the grown up men in shorts running after inflated swine blatt^W bladders get way more public scrutiny.

  8. FYI Staff in The Hague have also been on strike today and also marched to the French and Danish embassies ( about 500+ according to the police who were guiding the route) where peaceful vigils were held, and letters delivered and quiet discussions held with diplomats.

  9. Examiners are willing to work hard. They buy-in new work tools even if they are not friendly (e.g. no hand-written amendments). They are not against new career system. They just desire checks and balances. Today the speaker at the demo told that the Hausartzt who prescribed an examiner a sick leave cannot be informed and be present if the EPO doctor wants to check the examiner...

  10. The rule says no one but the president may be present. Really. I presume it will mean the president's agent in the form of a doctor, but that is not what the rule says. What it does say is that no on else may be present. Want your friend there? No. Your spouse? No. Your small child who cannot be left alone? No.

  11. Only those teams that qualify will play in Qatar.

  12. Is there a new EPO filing office in Qatar? I don't remember seeing a Notice from The President. Much too hot for oral proceedings to take place there, in my view.

  13. For more detailed office readers may like to look at FOSS Patents blog:

  14. Board of Appeal member thrown out!!!
    Wake up patent world !!!!

  15. I recently attended a meeting in Washington DC, where the Sun King declared that the EPO was a sunny happy place that should inspire other offices, thanks to the measures personally introduced under his regime. I almost lost my lunch on that one. These are indeed tough times in Eponia, and things are destined to only get worse until BB steps down, e.g. see apparent examples of such "measures:: http://www.suepo.org/public/su14286cp.pdf.

  16. What's the world coming to when even members of the judiciary have to abide by the rule of law and be subject to disciplinary procedures in the workplace.

    What next? King George being posthumously indicted for being Jack the Ripper?

  17. The rule of law? Fine. But which law is that? The one where the accuser is prosecutor, sole judge and sole appeal judge? And where the accused is not
    actually under his control?

  18. The President has created his own internal police and introduced so-called “Investigation Guidelines” that encourage staff to report on each other and that deny staff the right to remain silent, the right to be represented by a legal counsel of one's choice, and the right to refuse access to one's home without a search warrant.

    An excerpt from this document http://www.suepo.org/public/su14286cp.pdf

    Reminds me of the Inquisitorial Squad in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...

  19. I would be curious as to MaxDrei's views on this...

  20. MaxDrei's views on this? Unprintable.

    But one might reasonably muse on what makes the EPO's French President behave as he does? Is it just money, or is it something else, more Machiavellian?

    I have no idea, but I should very much like to know, what does Paris (designated home of the European Patent Court, should it ever come into existence) have to say about all these goings on in Munich and Holland, (where the bulk of pan-European patent litigation runs - up to now).

    Perfidious Albion? Or something else?

  21. "what does Paris (designated home of the European Patent Court, should it ever come into existence) have to say about all these goings on in Munich and Holland"

    I don't think "Paris" is particularly aware of the goings-on. In any case, Mr. Battistelli is a notorious "Sarko-Boy" and not in particularly good terms with the current French government...


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