Wednesday whimsies 1

Does the Baroness have
have the magic touch?
Baroness to fly.  The IPKat learned yesterday that the United Kingdom's Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, is to visit that sadly-troubled entity, the European Patent Office. This is how Managing Intellectual Property magazine's Twitter account broke the news:

Just interviewed Baroness Neville-Rolfe at . She is visiting next week, wants to find "a positive way forward"

This Kat very much hopes that the visit will be a constructive one, with a positive outcome, and that the Minister -- who does not have a background in patents -- will be sufficiently well briefed ahead of her visit to make it a valuable one for all concerned and not just an exchange of diplomatic cordialities. Maybe she has a magic touch which will do the trick, since the normal avenues of conflict resolution don't seem to have accomplished too much ...

A great money-maker
Now it's the turn of trade marks.  While governance of the European patent system continues to preoccupy many of us, MARQUES -- the European trade mark organisation -- has just fired off a salvo or two of its own in the direction of the effective functioning of the parallel trade mark systems for the Community trade mark and national or regional marks within EU Member States.  MARQUES has long been concerned with the financial issues arising from the fee structure of the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), an organisation that has proved itself to be very good at earning money which, for both legal and political reasons it finds pretty difficult to spend.  MARQUES's position paper on the current proposals, expressed with both clarity and dignity, can be read here. If you have any comments, MARQUES will be pleased to receive them.

Complaint Department.  Yesterday we announced that Dr Danny Friedmann (IP Dragon) had agreed to field complaints from readers who feel that their blogposts have been unfairly blocked by this weblog's moderation policy (see details in the side bar feature "Want to complain?" on the weblog's home page). Today we can announce that we have a second person to whom readers may make complaints -- Dennis Crouch (Associate Professor, University of Missouri Law School, and author of the Patently-O weblog). The identity or, where relevant, anonymity, of complainants will be respected.

Going so FAST! The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST)'s Legal Advisory Group -- a.k.a. FLAG -- meets next week on the evening of 18 March, in the House of Lords, London. If you are interested in attending, do please register either with FAST's General Counsel Julian Heathcote Hobbins at or, if you prefer, Sarah Gray at, either of whom will happily send you a copy of the agenda.

Around the weblogs.  Fellow Kat Darren, together with his EIP colleague Robert Barker, write up the Idenix v Gilead litigation over whether a document cited as prior art in a patent validity dispute over novelty is entitled to its priority date, on the jiplp weblog here. The same blog carries a note by JIPLP editorial board member Charles Macedo, with three of his colleagues, on "trade mark tacking" and the recent US Supreme Court ruling in Hana v Hana. On the 1709 Blog, Ben records a US$ 25,000 hit in the pocket as the price for abusing the DMCA take-down procedure -- though most of it goes to the lawyers.
Wednesday whimsies 1 Wednesday whimsies 1 Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. It's great to hear that the Baroness will come to the EPO next week.

    Will she meet SUEPO? Staff representatives? Board of Appeal members?

    Or will she talk only to President Battistelli who will give HIS side of the story about the governance crisis?

  2. Baroness Neville-Rolfe will visit the EPO next week


    you will be certainly told by the President and Vicepresidents that "its all the fault of a small but vocal minority" etc. etc.

    But then, ask to meet the examiners.

    No, not the Staff Representatives - altough you may want to do so, since they won the decision of the Dutch Court, and they may give you more details about the lack of respect for the law at EPO.

    Talk to the (UK) examiners at the Office and ask them: how many of you are unhappy of the situation?

    Ask them to raise their hands.

    Ask them why.

    But then, I really doubt that President Battistelli will allow you to meet someone who does not agree with him.

    After all he did not allow President Hollande to meet the french examiners at the Hague some time ago, and you're not even a Head of State ...

    If I may humbly suggest a solution, a Mediator - a highly respected, independent person - to attend the meetings between Staff and Managers and report to the Administrative Council may be of great help in this situation.

    Finally, I really hope that the "positive way forward" you're looking for is not more money for the IPO to continue to close their eyes about the scandal of what is going on at the office.

    Yours truly.

  3. Hannibal,
    She will do well to get inside the building. But if she's showing this interest maybe she has a mission. Or is it just a social/political visit? If Sir Robin was seen at the EPO recently as someone suggested a couple of weeks ago, the need and timing of the visit is curious. If all was well, she would presumably stay away and provide a suitably anodyne but supportive statement. If not...

  4. BB unpacks his best bib and tucker
    Almost royalty from England to visit our mucker
    Realm of the peer or some such like
    Over with Easyjet,if they don't strike
    Neville and Munich not a good fit
    Expect some untruths,don't swallow it
    So hopefully,Lucy will have a ball
    Saving DG3 from going to the wall

  5. I should like the Baroness when in Munich to keep in mind how hard it is (in the current climate of adversarial vindictivemess) for reasonable individual EPO employees with family responsibilities to raise their heads above the parapet and volunteer to serve as SUEPO Staff Representatives and allow their name to go forward on the list of those for whom SUEPO members can vote. Let her ask the UK nationals at the EPO about the personal attributes needed these days, to contemplate being a staff association rep at the EPO.

    They will answer, I imagine, that you need the courage and selfless love of a martyr, or a retirement date less than 5 years away, but preferably both. Then ask how is long-term (>5 years) morale these days at the EPO.

  6. MaxDrei,
    Actually I'm pretty sure that BB doesn't let staff with less than 5 years left stand for staff representation. Management had to approve the candidates before they went on the ballot form.
    Ho hum. And still be couldn't get his chosen ones elected...

  7. MaxDrei,
    To clarify, i referred to electing staff representation, which is for 3 year terms, rather than for suepo.

  8. Thanks Old Man. Sorry about this, for I had not even grasped the distinction between SUEPO and the staff representatives. I appreciate your alerting me to it.

  9. Ye Older person of the EPOWednesday 11 March 2015 at 18:51:00 GMT

    Does get a bit confusing. Basically there are two representations but which often have an overlap in personnel.
    1. The EPO rules include Central (CSC) and Local Staff Committees (LSC) at the four locations All staff elect their representatives who have (now) consultation roles rather previously advisory roles. They also sit on various mgt/staff committees e.g. Discipline, health etc.
    2. Staff Union of the EPO (Suepo) which also has central and local committees. Here about half of the office are members (there is also a Dutch based second union). This Union has had the ability to organise strikes etc but has never been recognised by the EPO as an official partner. Now, BB has effectively neutered Suepo by declaring that only he can organise a strike ballot and that all members of staff can vote. In theory Suepo members could be outvoted but haven't been so far. For fear of reprisals, all requests to BB under his new rule have been anonymous with regard to who the organiser is. All supporters of a request sign their names but the 1400+ names are in a large pile with no "number 1". The request can be made by any group of more than 10% of the total staff.U

    In the past the Union vote and organisation meant that there was a large overlap in people getting elected. The new rules were, obviously, designed to limit suepo's chances but, again, seem not to have worked beyond creating difficulties (you cannot be on local and central committees as was previously the case).

    Here endeth the lesson! Hope it has made it clearer for you and any others.

  10. I am sure it has not made it more clear to an ousider, but the reason for that is only BB and nobody els. BB makes it more and more complectated and tangles himself in contradictions.

    Nonetheless, I must say that I am impressed by the (re)action of the UK government which seems much more positive so far than the reaction of the Dutch government, who only managed to block the order of theri own court from execution. Nothing els so far from the Dutch!

    The (re)action of the UK seems impresive, because, the Baroness is not comming only to congratulate BB on the successful reformes that he managed to implement, most likely (although you never know). She just might add her one or two other comments.
    Nonetheless, I do not think that she will talk to the union or to the examiners. It would be a public offence to BB and he does not take offences well. Thus, it would expose the UK delegation to the AC to ad personam retribution from BB. So that, unless the UK delegation consists of masochists, they will begg the Baronsess not to. She will spend her time in meetings behinde closed doors. I only hope that she will make clear that violations of Human rights of the subjects of Her Majesty, who work at the EPO, cannot be tolerated by Her Majesty´s Government, and that regardless of whether such violations are consdiered legal under the EPC.


  11. Ye Older person of the EPO
    It does indeed get a bit confusing.
    What you are saying is that there is a union (SUEPO), not recognised by the EPO as a "partner".
    About half of the staff at EPO are members of the Union.
    The Union (SUEPO) is not free to organise by itself, but must abide by rules laid down by Mr Battistelli (who is not a union member I should imagine).
    According to Mr Battistelli's rules, every member of staff (union members and non-members alike)is eligible vote in SUEPO's elections.
    Is this really what you are saying?

  12. Macabity,
    Almost correct. Only Suepo members vote for their own Union elections but any strike by Suepo would not be recognised. Such a strike would be unauthorised absence and subject to disciplinary measures. Only strikes (as defined by BB) are permitted and only as a result of a vote to strike by the staff in general (with quorums and required percentages of all staff). Unions per se have no standing with regard to organising industrial action by their members.

  13. One should not forget that these new strike rules are a (n over) reaction to what SUEPO The Hague called `flexi strike`.

    They used to organise strike periods of months, where staff members were allowed to go on strike for half days or days, whenever they wanted. No picketing required, and it could be declared retroactively.

    Since it was usually organised during holiday periods, a nice day at the beach was often a good reason to strike.

    It could be combined with normal leave days, and you did not even have to be in the country.
    By many it was considered `cheaper than unpaid leave`, basically adding days to their holiday period.

    With that, SUEPO lost the moral high ground....

  14. Unfortunately, dear DG1Director, you are damn right.

  15. Director DG1,
    Lost the moral high ground? Not what the Dutch court suggests. Or what the votes for strikes after the new rules say either - even non-suepo staff were in favour.
    I don't disagree that there may have been some abuses so perhaps we better leave it there rather than getting into a "you started it" type of debate.

  16. Old man of EPO,

    DG1Director did acknowledge that the new rules were an over-reaction. As a result, perhaps both sides have lost the moral high ground.

  17. Dear Colleague DG1director

    SUEPO integrity may be low but at least they still have an integrity.

    It's already a long time that EPO management has lost any track of it.

    You may not like the flexi-strikes but they have been paid at high (illegal?) price by the staff.

    And is this a reason to introduce an illegal, dictatorial strike system far bellow all European labor law standards?
    Is this a reason to downgrade 3 staff rep colleagues?
    Is this a reason to introduce a new almost penitentiary health regulation?
    Is this a reason to destroy promised and deserved career even for the very best performers?
    Is this a reason to forbid a one hour peaceful demo in Munich

    Anyhow, even under the BB law of the new strike regulation, which seems to please so much Mr DG1Director how many line managers have participated?

    3 courageous Directors have participated to the SUEPO demo to protest against the coward attacks against the downgraded staff rep colleagues.

    That's all.


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