Disturbing news from Eponia: staff union under fire

Merpel has been having a quiet May, but has been rudely awoken from her frolics in the amiable grass of Lincoln's Inn Fields (her preferred place for Spring gambolling) by disturbing news from the European Patent Office.

Improved social dialogue ...
The IPKat initially welcomed the call by the Administrative Council of the EPO for the President to work towards recognition of the trade unions of the EPO and to work towards improved social dialogue.  Then, an initial meeting seemed to achieve little more than to agree another meeting, which was at least better than not to agree another meeting.  But in the meantime, most of the reforms to which the EPO staff objected were being pushed through, and it began to appear as though, even if union recognition was achieved, it would be too late to achieve any of the modifications that were needed to the reforms.

"J'accuse!"  Bad
news for EPO staff
Through all of this, there have been many reports that staff representatives (people elected under EPO procedures to serve on the Central Staff Committee and attend the General Consultative Committee, which the is the body in which staff consultation takes place, in the absence of union recognition) have been investigated or disciplined in relation to their work as staff representatives.  They have also been publicly castigated for their work (see here and here), notwithstanding that they are elected under EPO procedures (recently reformed by the EPO administration to be by single non-transferable vote) and are performing their elected function.

Control all risks!
Now, SUEPO, the Staff Union of the EPO, has announced (see news item of 21 May) that it understands that Control Risks (who describe themselves as "an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments") has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.  Merpel considers that this completely undermines any attempt at social dialogue, or moves towards union recognition.  How are EPO employees to be expected to serve on the Central Staff Committee, or to represent the EPO unions, if at the same time they are to be harassed and investigated, apparently for performing this very service?

BB, or BB?
By this action, the President of the EPO and his administration risk being seen as acting to destroy utterly the very social dialogue that they claim to be seeking.  More seriously from the constitutional position of the EPO, they are contravening the explicit instructions of the Administrative Council, to whom the President is ultimately answerable, who have "call for a renewed social dialogue" and instructed the President to work towards formal recognition of the trade unions.  Sabotaging these talks by simultaneously investigating staff members flies against both the spirit and the letter of these instructions.  The talks are in danger of becoming a sham and a smokescreen, increasingly failing to hide that the President is determined that nothing will change.

As ever, Merpel welcomes comments, but begs to remind readers of the following:
Henceforth, in respect of all EPO-related blogposts, no comment will be posted if it is merely ascribed to "Anonymous".  Any reader wishing to conceal his or her identity must adopt a pseudonym (which should not be obscene and should not be the name, or the mis-spelling of the name, of a real person).  The pseudonym need not be an actual login name, as long as it is stated clearly at the beginning and/or end of the comment itself. This way, it will be easier for people who post later comments to identify and remember the earlier comment-poster and to recall the discussion string.  Where, as has already happened on occasion, a string carries over from one blogpost to a later one on the same or a related subject, readers will be encouraged to use the same pseudonym for the sake of continuity.
Disturbing news from Eponia: staff union under fire Disturbing news from Eponia: staff union under fire Reviewed by Merpel on Friday, May 22, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. The message reproduced below has been going around after the EPO-SUEPO meeting of 11.5.

    Only its second part with the "progress" report is shown. It followed a segment which dealt with the scornful way in which staff were informed of their new spot in the President's pecking order.


    Union Recognition: little progress was achieved in the first WG meeting took place yesterday, Monday 11.05

    This informal message is written to my best knowledge after gathering some feedback from the participants: An official report will be provided as soon as possible by SUEPO.

    Despite the high profile given by the numerous announcement of this WG, the reality of the discussion has been disappointing. Despite having received a comprehensive framework agreement proposal from SUEPO 14 months ago, the administration still “requested” input from the unions, asking SUEPO what it expected from the process.

    So the opportunity was used to remind (again) the basic principles and questions that should be clarified if such an agreement between the two parties should be reached (see below*). In the light of the complexity and the lack of preparation from the administration side, it does not come as a surprise that very little progress could be achieved, in particular in areas such as the lack of willingness to touch the immunity of the EPO and allow for basic mechanisms of external checks and balances.

    SUEPO is not very optimistic for the second meeting announced for the 20th of May. But so much is clear already: the administration seems very keen in pushing something (or should we say anything?) concrete by the next “trilateral meeting” on the 28th of May.... with or without the agreement of the partner.

    SUEPO has made clear that Union recognition is not a goal in itself: no framework agreement is better than a bad agreement.

    It is not about reaching maximum advantages for staff or even less one union. It is about creating a solid system that solves a long standing issue of the European Patent Organisation: the fact that decisions are taken on unilateral basis and have led to recurrent social conflict, health hazards and eventually to the disfunctioning of the EPO.

    Instead decisions based on pluralism should be the guiding principle of all reforms... starting with this dossier. Otherwise it is not worth the paper it is written on.

    Perhaps it is time to upgrade the old saying mentioned numerous time in history of the EPO, that “it takes two to tango” and quickly learn to dance with three partners.


  2. It seems that every day new depths in morale are being explored.

    Anonymous pamphlets are circulating in samizdat fashion, and people are now openly suggesting that time has come to put the organisation out of its misery. Was this the sought after outcome all along?

    Here is a sample from a document with the title "The destructive strategy of the EPO examiners", where a colleague deplores the apparent acceptance of staff of the "terreur".


    But the EPO staff itself should be deeply concerned by this evolution. I am, because it will harm on the short term the staff of the EPO:

    1. The impressive increase of productivity will have a first immediate effect. Since the number of incoming applications rises slower than our productivity, on the short term (2-3 years), the backlog will buffer the lack of incoming workload. After completion of the files in the backlog, guess what will happen? Yes, not enough work for everybody, exactly what happens already now in many technical fields. And then? Who will have to leave? All examiners over 60? All “low producers”? Both? I suggest to read Art.46, 114 and 53 of the Codex. Contrary to the wishful thinking of many EPO employees, the Codex makes clear that we are not established officials (Beamte auf Lebenszeit, fonctionnaire titulaire).

    2. Producing crap search reports will not remain unnoticed for long. If the examiners think that our applicants will put pressure on the AC or the president in order to reestablish our old career system, they are really naive. In the best case, a change in the paradigm of the office will operate, and the quality will become the first objective on the agenda of the management. But guess what: nobody will ever accept a reduction of the productivity! So the examiners will have to provide both the output and the quality. Who will be able to do that? In the worst case, the member states will consider that the relevance of our search reports has become equivalent to those of national offices. But having the cost of search at the EPO much higher than at the national offices, the obvious consequence is that searches should be outsourced to them. Again less work for the EPO staff.

    3. Not doing properly the work we are paid for is first harming the applicants and the public, not the EPO (in the short term) and even less the president. We may get some support from the public opinion in our fight against these disastrous “reforms” only if we remain honest. If we cheat on the public, we will lose any legitimacy to raise our voices for condemning a dishonest management style. At the same time, we will lose our good professional reputation, which may seem of secondary importance for some of us, but that may be essential if we need in the future to look for some employment out of the office (see points 1 and 2).

  3. Staff resignations are through the roof. Every week more and more leaving parties, here in Munich.


  4. This new authoritarian action is appalling : unions and staff reps are mainly investigated in dictatures !!

    Btw I too was told that many newcomers are leaving before end of their probation to look for more inspirational environment when they realise how unatractive the EPO has become in the meantime.

    I wonder when the next suicide will be reported.

  5. The resignations/retirements are partly tactical with concerns being expressed about BB's intentions about the pensions from 01/2016. There's a fear that a change may come early in July to stop anyone retiring before the new unilateral changes are made so it's safer to go before 30.06. Many departures in May it seems but that may taper off. Still, it seems BB will not be unhappy although how VP1 makes his numbers is another question!

  6. Vostradamus says:
    At this point, Suepo should interrupt any dialogue in view of the new unjustified intimidation and publicly declare itself ready to continue only through the intervention of a neutral mediator.

  7. At this point, Suepo should interrupt any dialogue in view of the new unjustified intimidation and publicly declare itself ready to continue only through the intervention of a neutral mediator.

    No way they can do that.
    BB will throw a hissy fit and threaten to resign.
    Works a treat every time with the AC apparently.

  8. I posted a comment earlier but it seems to have been eaten by the Spam filter...

    According to the SUEPO website, the AC at the last meeting proposed that an external mediator be appointed. BB apparently threatened to resign if this was done, and so the AC backed down.

    Perhaps now is the time for the AC to call BB's bluff and appoint an external mediator.

  9. Hippy Hippy Shake says…

    BBs attitude proves that any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... Fear stifles EPO staffs thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. Talented people start to procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and a downward spiral becomes inevitable. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move the EPO again in the opposite direction.
    Instead of an Iron hand in a velvet glove, EPO staffs cries out for a pure hand that needs no glove to cover it!

  10. Maybe Control Risks could supply a mediator??

  11. We are the office said:
    I just read on the Control Risks homepage that they offer "Anti-corruption Services". Looks like BB is putting himself and his collaborateurs at a certain risk ...

  12. The BB strategy is based on lies.
    He violates the human rights... but to the outside world, he pretends that he respects those rights.
    Believe what I say, but never come & check.
    BB will never let an independent audit come to the EPO. Also and he will never let a neutral mediator check the real situation.

    The situation is so messy at the EPO, that it becomes unbelievable.

  13. What evidence does the Kat have that the EPO President has indeed hired Control Risks ? Thank you for clarifying, as your news of today seems to hinge on this "fact".

  14. BB has no common sense to commission Control Risk. The EPO staff should be treated with Academi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academi).

    The Insidious Insider

  15. if you wish evidence check the suepo website www.suepo.org where you will find the letter addressed by SUEPO to this company as well as annexes.

    Since 3 days radio silence at EPO.

    Isn't it amusing that Battistelli has contracted a communication firm FTI for (rumour has it) no less than 600 000 Eur (of applicants' money) to .... shut their mouth !!!

    as to corruption in the EPO : come on guys you know that there is none do you !

    The EPO is so transparent that you see nothing so this means that there is nothing ;o)

  16. A risky controller quotes…

    BB: "They're here!"

    CR: "Listen to me, BB. You're the knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!"

    BB: "Round up the usual suspects."

    CR: “Goodbye” is the best ever gift that you can receive from the usual suspects. Never hesitate to wave it back. The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of the usual suspects; it is fueled by your mind that gives it importance.”

  17. Upset...,
    Actually, I think BB is away on EPO business (China?) so presumably radio silence arises from nobody daring to speak for him in his absence. Also CR will be far more 'discrete' i.e. say nothing and let the story die - to deny is to confirm etc.

  18. AdAbsurdum

    SOSepostaff said...

    "[...] newcomers are leaving before end of their probation to look for more inspirational environment when they realise how unatractive the EPO has become in the meantime."

    I am afraid this is part of a strategy: You recruit at the lower end of the (reformed) salary scale and then make sure that people get enough "incentives" to leave after a few years (before they can become more expensive). Those that are close to (early) retirement will leave, the new recruits won't stay long (do the EQE to have something of value in the outside world and off you go) and you are left with those (highly motivated ...) that have no real choice, because of their age and because the job is kind of a one way street after some years. Very sad.

    "I wonder when the next suicide will be reported."

    Disastrous indeed, especially under the reformed health system. I also expect further people dissapearing/leaving under strange circumstances. Control Risks people must have been hired for the expertise on how to make people (want to) "dissapear".

    Get rid of some high risk assets ... strange accidents, maybe?, just like we did in ... oh, sorry, that's classified.

    Seriously, why else would you hire a company with this particular background? The organisation (again) clearly chooses for some outlaw-we-are-immune-untouchable approach. But this time, they want to be able blame the contractor providing the "service" if the shit should hit the fan.

    And this is all happening unanimously approved by our beloved democratic member states - in Germany, in The Netherlands (in the City of Peace and Justice even), ...

  19. Thanks for the Link to the "Control Risks" website. Scrolling through it, one can see how it could help "organisations" (its clients) to manage risk, when they need to operate in the world's risky hot spots.

    But Munich? And a staff union? What sort of "risks" are involved here? Are they really the sort of risks that "Control Risks" specialises in?

    I can see what sort of "controls" an "organisation" might need to be put in place, if it is operating in one of the world's deadly hot spots. But Munich? And a staff union? So, what "controls" did CR offer to BB? What Brief did it receive from BB? What did it agree with BB to achieve, when bidding, and in accepting BB's filthy lucre?

    Now when your "organisation" is a government or a global titan corporation, you control your own risks, through your own dark channels. Fair dibs. BB deludedly sees himself as CEO of a Global Titan, and therefore naturally demands a corresponding level of power and autonomy, including his own dark channels, (even if the only threat and enemy and "risk" he can come up with is those who represent his own employees).

    EPC Member States, what instructions are you giving your delegates on the EPO's Administrative Council, to whom BB answers? Do you agree with Il Presidente, that the staff at the EPO are a threat and a risk? Your continuing silence implies that you do. If so, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Come on, the UK, Germany and France. Put your heads together and do something.

  20. I wonder when somebody in charge will finally say: « Enough. »

    I know this is not obvious for outsiders, but the damage done inside the Office is enormous already. I fear the Office cannot support much more of this.








  22. Apparently, some staff representatives were seen in bad shape recently.

    Is that part of the new batch of "well-being" measures?

  23. If it should be true what is reported by SUEPO, it is clear that the meetings are no more than lip service to a "dialogue" which looks like you do what I want, or I put external detectives on you.
    Is the president afraid to use the internal investigation unit that he needs help from external consultants (and at what costs)?
    It is high time that the AC shows a bit of courage and simply dismiss such a person.

  24. A traveler says...

    Maybe the EPO uses Control Risks for their travel policy, informing the EPO staff on possible risky destinations. The EPO crowd travels all over the world. Just a guess...

  25. this is exactly the point that question me on the mental state of BB and his friends.

    The control risk layer comes in addition to the investigation units layer, breaking lives of EPO staff continuously, in addition to the french army intelligence officer at a high level at the human ressource department, in addition to the DG3 farce, in addition to the multiple denies of justice, in addition too the carrier destructions, in addition to the downgraded elected colleagues, etc, etc.
    Hopefully this will be the layer or the move too much
    On the necessity of this disaster, the mental health
    of BB is, for me, still in question.

  26. Silent majority says...

    @ a traveler says..

    Within a business continuity context Control Risks could be useful to the EPO. Your guess maybe right

    Control Risks Website says:

    - Travel Security Management Service is an enhancement to Security Membership and provides pro-active, customised support for our clients’ security and risk management functions and their international travellers and expatriates.

    -This service is customised to how your organisation operates. Through a dedicated line to our Global Security Centre, travellers get immediate access to experienced security consultants who are fully briefed on each individual client’s operations and security policy and procedures.

    -This customised service offers a number of additional elements, including:

    -Proactive notifications tailored to your requirements

    -SMS notification of breaking crises and notification by phone when issues escalate within your countries of interest

    -Active monitoring to oversee the safety of your employees visiting high risk locations

    -Holding of your crisis management plans and policies

    -Activating your crisis, incident and emergency management teams in accordance with your escalation procedures

    -Management advisories during a crisis, providing detailed advice and guidance aimed at your security and risk management.

    These days with the German Wings crash experience, Nepal, etc.., it would be sensible for the EPO to have their BCM plans in place and up to date.

    Using Control Risks to bother the EPO trade Union would be indeed ridiculous!

  27. Mass recruitment in the last two years, more and more directorates with no more search files in stock, this can only mean one thing: gettin rid of too expensive examiners in the near future. Nobody else has noticed this? Not striking or striking and then working harder in order to reach your target is not helping your colleagues! Examiners are the ones who bring in the money, please realise the power you have to determine your own future.

  28. we are the office said:

    Just have a look at the SUEPO website (suepo.org) - this doesn't sound like a travel issue: "SUEPO understands that the company Control Risks has been commissioned by the European Patent Office to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union."

    The internal investigation unit might be able to intercept staff representatives office phone or mail. Maybe for external means of communication Control Risks is more suitable/experienced.

  29. A wise owl says…

    In the middle of the IP landscaped garden stands an old majestic oak which we all admire, full of life and loads of acorns. On a beautiful sunny morning and from a balcony some honorable men admired some squirrels running playfully up, down and round the old oak tree, a moment of pleasure captured in a perfect world they thought. This beautiful spectacle was an invitation for these honorable men to walk the garden and having a closer look at this majestic tree, arriving at the tree they were shocked about what they witnessed and faced a dilemma. The majestic oak appeared to be hollow only providing shelter for a couple of squirrels and a wise owl, it suddenly lost its former glory and was about to collapse. The dilemma these honorable men faced was either axing the oak tree or fill it with concrete.

  30. "honorable men" ?????

    Who exactly are you referring to ?
    Surely not the members of the AC ?

  31. Out of interest, does Suepo think that they are being investigated but others (e.g. The AC?) aren't?

  32. So are they all, all honourable men--


    Fourth Citizen

    They were traitors: honourable men!


    Second Citizen

    They were villains, murderers [...]

  33. A wise owl says...

    @"honorable men" ?????. Who exactly are you referring to?...Surely not the members of the AC ?

    Wise Owl: O fellow bloggers! If I were disposed to stir, your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, I should do BB wrong, and the AC wrong, who you all know, are honorable men.

  34. Vostradamus said:
    "At this point, Suepo should interrupt any dialogue in view of the new unjustified intimidation and publicly declare itself ready to continue only through the intervention of a neutral mediator."
    Now Vostradamus suggests:
    SUEPO should propose as neutral mediator Mr Vermeij, now Dutch Consul in Munich but formerly Vice-President DG2. He knows the EPO, has frequented the AC, is familiar with the staff and should master the diplomatic arts.
    For Battistelli, who dislikes him, "an offer he cannot refuse" without making himself ridiculous. A winning move.

  35. The investigation unit has no realistic way of investigating the private lives of EPO employees outside the office.

    Control Risks has the expertise to do so. From now on, every EPO employee should be prepared to be tracked by detectives, have bugs placed in their home during their absence and their private home computers riddled with spyware (and that might apply to blog websites too!)

    And only Control Risks is able to investigate the members of the investigation unit.

    The BB Nightmare has only just begun ...

  36. A 28th May Phantom Meeting says…

    JK: “Hello, TUs and SR . Welcome to you, your faithful chairman, and that handsome young man and pretty new face. I'm so terribly happy to see all of you. But before we move on with the agenda points, I wonder if you could spare me a little time and assist me with a few trivial tasks?”

    ZT: “Why of course, we're in no hurry.”

    BB:” Now young man, if you will take these exquisite tweezers, and move this pile of sand from here, to here.”

    TU:” With these?”

    EB: “Of course. And you sir, have the privilege of taking this delicate needle for digging a hole through this cliff.”

    TU: “Why, thank you sir! An exacting assignment, quite worthy of my talents. I shall enjoy it no end.”

    BB: “And you sir, get to take this eye-dropper and empty that well.”
    SR: “But these tasks don't seem very important.”

    JK: “Of course they're not important! If you always do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones!”

    New face: “Now I know who you are! You're BB!”

    BB: “Quite correct! BB, demon of petty tasks, ogre of wasted effort!”

    SR: “Come on TU, let's get out of here!”

    JK: “[advancing] And to lazy and foolish people everywhere!”

  37. Part 1/3

    What this company really does, or is supposed to actually deliver to the EPO, is very mysterious. Their self-description is vague enough to allow any interpretation, from the harmless, as in collecting press clippings, to the insidious, nämlich: some sort of private spook à la CIA/KGB/MI5/BND, with their staff of lamplighters, pavement artists, wranglers, or ferrets (cf. John Le Carré). Would they have scalphunters too?

    The EPO puts out every year a few dozen contracts out to tender on the EU's TED (Tender Electronic Daily) web site.

    I looked it up to see whether I could gain some insight on the contractor's mandate, but I could not find any current or past RFPs whose description appears to match what this company seems to offer.

    Perhaps the amount involved is too insignificant to put out to tender? The EU currently demands that all procurements over about 110 kEUR be subjected to a public invitation for proposals. Even though the EPOrg as embodied by her President claims to be absolutely immune to any law but its own, there are surely internal regulations limiting the discretion with which money can be spent, at least on a formal level.

    Here is an admittedly arbitrary sample of invitation for tenders put out by the EPO in the last five years. They range from the janitorial to the strategic, and include summer jobs (through a pimp, er, sorry, contractor), porters, stationery, EQE document processing, but also medical services, accounting, auditing or consulting services. Many of of these invitations are rather mundane or seem to involve relatively small amounts.

    171731-2015 The provision of on-demand human translation service for patent documents and other scientific literature from ZH, KR, JP, RU and SP into EN
    146596-2015 Provision of security services for the EPO Buildings in The Hague, the Netherlands
    109962-2015 Provision of intensive French and German language courses
    79957-2015 Maintenance of technical installations at the EPO's premises at The Hague, the Netherlands
    55281-2015 Carpenter works
    51283-2015 Framework contract for the purchase of around 40 desk combinations for directors
    13779-2015 Lift and escalator management
    2943-2015 Purchase and delivery of stationery to the EPO's sites in The Hague, Munich and Berlin
    416243-2014 Hygienic-technical treatment
    256109-2014 Framework contract for the purchase of 600 office swivel chairs with armrests
    245138-2014 Market research through multilingual user satisfaction survey(s), analysis and report(s) of results for patent search and examination services
    223450-2014 Yearly international survey and analysis services relating to future patent filing numbers on the basis of a framework agreement
    115858-2014 Co-ordination consultancy and documentation services, and fault clearance — Technical building maintenance
    80669-2014 Disposal of waste and recycling thereof for the buildings of the EPO in Munich

  38. Part 2/3

    74378-2014 Operating the Office's "Merlin" crèche in Munich (67 places)
    54575-2014 Study of health and safety related services in the EPO, suggestion of changes where necessary, and (optional) support in the implementation phase of any suggested changes
    50738-2014 Conclusion of an agreement relating to the provision of auditing services as assistance to the Board of Auditors (Board) of the European Patent Organisation
    286318-2013 The provision of First Line Customer Services ("the Services"), including other related services
    239093-2013 Framework contract for financial modelling and simulations, financial planning, scenario analysis and actuarial calculations
    235150-2013 Delivery of an independent performance measurement and performance reporting service for the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) of the EPO
    233393-2013 Framework contract for Management Accounting and other budget execution services
    206372-2013 Framework contract for media and advertising services for recruitment purposes
    172122-2013 Printing of examination papers and electronic processing of handwritten examination answers
    138921-2013 Provision of temporary staff to assist the work of the examiners in different technical fields
    73106-2013 Provision of cleaning work at the EPO's premises in Rijswijk
    64823-2013 Provision of consultancy services for quantifying the cost of patenting in Europe
    36280-2013 Support for the e-learning activities for the EPO
    403494-2012 IT and Business related work, managed services and/or support services
    387773-2012 Framework Contract with regard to the production of the films and footages on the nominees of the European Inventor award as well as on the ceremony of the European Inventor award
    363102-2012 consultancy services related to Contract Management for monitoring and controlling a Design and Construct Contract for a new office building in Rijswijk, the Netherlands
    343122-2012 Award of a Framework Contract relating to "Train-the-Trainer" Services
    326531-2012 Supply of off-the-shelf software for centralised storage, retention and control of access to the log data generated on all computer equipment within the EPO and the provision of software maintenance
    297839-2012 Framework Contract with regard to planning, organising and running the ceremony of the European Inventor Award
    292196-2012 Provision of work and consultancy services for the design and conception of external communication materials of the European Patent Office and Organisation
    271831-2012 Framework Contract with regard to development of the EPO internet website and the EPO intranet
    256529-2012 Framework agreement relating to the inward transfer of pension rights
    222703-2012 Maintenance work on the windows and facades of the EPO buildings
    204029-2012 Framework agreement relating to the provision of different project management courses
    198085-2012 Framework contract relating to the construction of exhibition stands

  39. Part 3/3

    189530-2012 Assisting the Board of Auditors in its audit of the Organisation's annual accounts
    169288-2012 Support for the EPO's Internal Communication Department
    165677-2012 The conduct of a pre-certification audit and a full certification audit and the preparation and implementation of training courses
    142076-2012 The provision of market research services through the conduct of telephone surveys in 4 languages and the analysis of the results (User Satisfaction Surveys (USS) for patent search and examination services - 2012)
    139185-2012 The provision of parallel quality assurance support for all tasks (incl. the tendering, planning and execution) required for the entire process to built the new tower building in The Hague
    135409-2012 Consultancy services for a review of the strategic asset allocation
    103004-2012 Assisting the European Patent Office's medical adviser in Munich
    87385-2012 Painting work
    65564-2012 IT and business related consultancy
    63837-2012 sale, installation and maintenance of Firewall equipment by the Contractor
    188-2012 Design, engineering and construction of a new office accommodation on the EPO's premises in The Hague (Rijswijk), the Netherlands
    381627-2011 purchase and delivery of CANON printer cartridges
    329417-2011 Conclusion of a framework agreement with a lead agency for media and external communication
    226965-2011 The supply to the EPO of a case management system
    182198-2011 Independent study on some of the EPO's main support areas regarding their effectiveness, efficiency, structure, organisation and methods including benchmarking with other comparable organisations or enterprises
    164676-2011 Framework agreement relating to management training services
    384673-2010 Inspection of the premises
    304350-2010 Delivery and installation of a Microphone System for the Auditorium
    292551-2010 electricity
    256691-2010 Consultancy for benchmarking of e-recruitment solutions against CADABRA
    226421-2010 Independent quantitative and qualitative study of the behaviour of inexperienced applicants of the European patent system
    221162-2010 Provision of auditing services as assistance to the Board of Auditors of the EPOrg
    208223-2010 Framework contract for the purchase and supply of canteen sundries
    164444-2010 A study of IT at the European Patent Office

  40. Dear Roufousse T. Fairfly
    What are you trying to achieve or prove with an endless list of orders issued by the EPO?

    Are you trying to kill off this discussion? Or What was the point of boring the pants of everyone with that random list? We all know that the EPO needs stationery, furniture and even toilet paper.

    Seeing that I am the first one to write a comment after a gap of nearly 12 hours after your listing, I think you may well have succeeded if that was your aim.

  41. Completely Spooked said:

    Not so fast Fafnir. Roufousse may have a point albeit poorly stated.
    If you sift through the interminable lists of the posted items, some details emerge which may deserve closer attention. For example:

    146596-2015 Provision of security services for the EPO Buildings in The Hague, the Netherlands
    What kind of "security services" ?
    The EPO already has security services of its own.

    326531-2012 Supply of off-the-shelf software for centralised storage, retention and control of access to the log data generated on all computer equipment within the EPO ...
    Clearly a routine IT support measure ... honi soit qui mal y pense ...

    222703-2012 Maintenance work on the windows and facades of the EPO buildings
    Maintenance of "facades" is clearly a priority.

    169288-2012 Support for the EPO's Internal Communication Department
    Badly needed after the last mysterious resignation of the Director of Internal Communication ...

    65564-2012 IT and business related consultancy
    Could this refer to the activities of Control Risks ?

    63837-2012 sale, installation and maintenance of Firewall equipment by the Contractor
    The Great Firewall of Munich ?

    329417-2011 Conclusion of a framework agreement with a lead agency for media and external communication

    226965-2011 The supply to the EPO of a case management system
    Are these patent cases or investigative cases ?

    384673-2010 Inspection of the premises
    What kind of "inspection" is this ?

    304350-2010 Delivery and installation of a Microphone System for the Auditorium
    With or without built-in surveillance and secret recording features ?

    164444-2010 A study of IT at the European Patent Office
    This could cover a multitude of sins ...

    All in all, some interesting leads in there which may need to be followed up.
    Roufousse just needs to work on his presentation.

  42. Vostradamus remarks:
    I fully agree with Fafnir: Roufousse has killed the discussion with the useless boring lists.
    I intervened by suggesting to Suepo a stop to the trilateral meetings under the new circumstances of an investigation to be carried out by Control Risks for the management.
    I suggested to request publicly the intermediation of neutral mediator and I have proposed Mr Vermeij.
    No one has anything to say about these ideas?


  43. It appears that the office has posted an internal note "Regarding questions raised in recent publications and blogs" under "Investigative unit and external firms".

    Can someone provide a copy?

  44. Control Risk:- Navy seals, army officers, etc.


  45. THE EPO Jester found...
    ...this under the King's desk

    Investigative Unit and external firms


    Regarding questions raised in recent publications and blogs

    Dear colleagues,

    Some recent publication and blogs have questioned the participation of an external firm in EPO activities related to the Investigative Unit. I want to clarify that because the EPO Investigative Unit is rather small in terms of staffing, we need to be able to contract external companies to support our fact finding enquiries. This is one reason why an external firm can be chosen in regard to an investigation, operating within the regulatory framework of the EPO, under the full supervision of the Investigative Unit.

    The European Patent Office cannot comment on specific internal investigation cases. This lack of comment is to protect the integrity of any such case and protect the interest of all parties concerned. However I would like to remind the Office has a duty of care to its employees including to investigate allegations of harassment against them by other employees. Investigations can only take place following specific allegations, made by EPO staff or external parties, and these investigations are independently and objectively carried out by the Investigative Unit, under its sole responsibility.

    The investigation process of the EPO follows the best international standards and allows persons to be heard, to respond and to defend themselves against any allegations, before any conclusion of misconduct would be reported to the employee's appointing authority. Only in any case where a serious misconduct is confirmed by the Investigative Unit, a disciplinary case could be instigated where the subject has a further right to be heard before a disciplinary committee and before any subsequent decision on a sanction would be taken.

    In 2014, the Investigative Unit received 68 allegations of misconduct (-23% compared to 2013), 50% being already rejected as insufficiently specified.

    John Martin
    PD Internal Audit and Oversight‎

    Perhaps an amusing detail is that Control Risks is a member of Transparency International...


    ...and sorry for posting this comment first at the wrong post

  46. We are the office said:
    Face it: People don't care.
    More and more unbelievable things happen, but nobody is interested.
    People outside the EPO are still envious because of our high wages, people inside are frustrated, have given up all hopes and try to get on somehow. Good example: Lower presence at demonstrations. Those who don't want to resign leave.

  47. The Investigation Guidelines are the EPO are the following:
    1) You are not allowed to come with a lawyer, you don’t have the right to remain silent and an audio recorder stores everything you say.
    2) The "fact finding process" then continues with several guards coming to your office to check everything you have in it. Your phone calls and emails are then analyzed.
    3) The procedure is entirely confidential. You don’t have the right to talk about it, not even your friends about it.

    All the collected data and your psychological profile is then given to BB. BB can then decide to launch a disciplinary procedure or not. A disciplinary committee is constituted. It makes a recommendation that BB will ultimately ignore if he has decided to sack you by all means.

    Are these really "best international standards"?

    It is now blatant that the Investigation Unit (IU) of the EPO is the political police of BB.

    1) Last year, the Central Staff Committee tried to organize a staff survey on the "social democracy" reform . BB got furious and sent the IU to suspend the expert who was in charge of organizing the survey.
    2) Recently, the IU stole the computer of a member of the Boards of Appeals (a 'judge') and banned him from the Office.
    3) Several resignations took place among staff representatives. But BB will never acknowledge his responsibility in these resignations. Now, the IU investigates the remaining ones. Control Risks, an external company, has apparently been commissioned this time. Maybe to give the "perception of impartiality" of the procedure?

    The political investigations of the IU are not launched by BB himself. It is important to keep the "perception of independence of the IU". BB can use one his cronies for that. For instance, Ms Bergot, Head of the Human Resources and spouse of the right-arm of BB, is a regular "customer" of the IU. Her hobby? To sack staff.

  48. The refeences to "BB" make me think of the late, lamented, departed bluesman BB King, which somehow seems appropriate for this BB (especially as he is associated with the town of Louis XIV). SO, I guess he could sing his own blues:

    Everyday, everyday I have the blues
    Everyday, everyday I have the blues
    When you see me worried baby
    Because I simply hate to lose

    Oh nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
    Yes nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
    Speaking of bad luck and trouble
    Well you know I had my share

    I'm gonna wreck my office, move folk down the line
    Yes I'm gonna wreck my office, move folk down the line
    An’ I ain't at all worried
    'Cos I can’t hear nobody cryin’

  49. Lulubelle, you never cease to expand my musical horizon!

    Do you want to marry me?

  50. Our governments should act.

  51. Compare




    for the latest progress in Eponia.


  52. As to FIFA vs EPONIA, here's something from the end of last week, in a thread over on UK newspaper The Guardian:

    "The parallels between President Blatter and President Battistelli are striking. Both are adored by their constituency because both have the power to direct a tasty pile of money to those who vote for them. No accounts. No accountability. No transparency. No sunlight. And in Battistelli's case, strikingly, those voters are exclusively the 38 Member States of the European Patent Organisation ie the sovereign first world, highly-civilised States of Europe. It seems that these very governments like things how they are today, at the EPO.

    In Rome there is an enclave beyond the Rule of Law called The Vatican City, ruled over by The Pope. In Munich there is the Republic of Eponia, also beyond the law, and ruled over by Battistelli. Eponia is the home of the European Patent Office, that takes in squillions of cash, and doles it out to its owners, the Members of its Administrative Council, civil servants who are there to represent the 38 Member States of Europe. But hey, these civil servants are only human after all, aren't they.

    President Benoit Battistelli (some call him "Battistoritelli") is a career politician from France, a mate of M. Sarkozi, and he has the 38 AC members in his capacious pocket. Not even the AC members know how much the President awards himself in "compensation". Question Benoit, ever-smiling, ever hand-shaking, ever-equable in public, quite other when away from the public eye. Ask him what adjustments of the cash flow will he contemplate, in consequence.

    You talk of abuse of employment rights in Quatar. Consider instead the abuse of rights of those many thousands who work at the EPO. Being outside the Rule of Law, they have no rights. Consider that you cannot find out anything about how EPO workers are treated by management, and ask why that might be.

    There is a problem today with NGO's wherever you look. But if you are looking for one where Western Europe can set an example to the rest of the world, there's none better than the EPO. And of course the corollary is if the 38 choose to do nothing, they are no better than the countries of Asia, Africa and South and Central America that today (I'm talking to you, Big Dave) they are so quick to criticise.

    The grapevine reports that the UK is bent on doing something at the level of the AC of the EPO. But the hard bit is implementation. If only the USA sat on the EPO's AC. The USA has a record of actually doing something, when doing something is called for."


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