"If you go down to the Hague today...

... be sure that you close your eyes."

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports on staff demonstration
(Screenshot shows Google translation of headline)
Close your eyes, that is, if you're a member of the Administrative Council. You see, EPO staff were demonstrating (again) today with 900 staff marching from the French embassy to the German embassy. AC members may have a hard time reconciling this unrest (considering also the 1300 who marched in Munich last week) with their promises to restore the social dialogue and sort out the staff disquiet. From what Merpel can see, the "social dialogue" mainly takes place in disciplinary hearing rooms during the final stages of proceedings against staff representatives instigated by Mr Battistelli or those close to him.

The protests have been noticed by parliamentarians and by the media. The EPO march was joined by a couple of Dutch MPs (Sharon Gesthuizen, John Kerstens), a French MP (Philip Cordery), and a delegation of FNV, the largest Dutch union. Mainstream media reports  have appeared here, here, here and here.

Mr Battistelli has continued to push through and even intensify disciplinary measures against staff and union representatives, dismissing two union officials and downgrading another [amended 21.30]. Disciplinary actions against at least two other staff representatives are being actively pursued, as far as Merpel can tell.

Many of those demonstrating today are also concerned with the hospitalisation of one of the staff representatives, with several commenters and correspondents linking this to stresses arising from a disciplinary procedure which the individual has been prohibited from discussing with colleagues. Merpel can't tell if it is fair to make such a connection, not having any verifiable information one way or another. However, the fact that the EPO makes it a disciplinary offence for a staff member to even discuss any aspect of an investigation of which they are the subject seems to make it difficult to confirm or deny such rumours when they spread widely through the Office (as they have in this case judging from the number of comments that Merpel has disallowed on this blog for various reasons).

A further issue underlying the demonstration concerns a different staff representative who, while certified sick by his/her doctor, has not had that certification recognised by the EPO and is thus deemed to be on an unauthorised leave. Merpel's somewhat sketchy understanding of the sickness rules is that this means the EPO's doctor has examined the individual and disagrees with the individual's own physician.

It would take a brave person to be an EPO staff representative in the current climate. Happily, being a member of the AC is far less risky. In that forum, outright rebellion is expressed in a more gentlemanly fashion, by abstaining from a vote every now and again, and then, to show that there are no hard feelings, publicly applauding the President for his latest production figures.

If the Administrative Council really does want to address the "culture of fear" and the indisputably toxic staff relations within the office, then allowing the management to continually target and pressurise the staff representatives seems counter-productive. As long as the AC limits its actions to public displays of hand-wringing and paternal expressions of concern, nothing will change, and staff relations will continue to dance to Mr Battistelli's rather discordant tune. Merpel suspects that residents of the embassy districts of Munich and the Hague can expect disruptions to their lives to continue for the foreseeable future.
"If you go down to the Hague today... "If you go down to the Hague today... Reviewed by Merpel on Thursday, January 28, 2016 Rating: 5


  1. Is anyone able to say how many SUPEO officials have been disciplined/sacked over, say the last three years, and give the total number of official SUPEO has had during that period?

  2. Many journalists and cameramen joined today's demo. Either it was the investigative unit taking pictures of individual protesters, or there will be wider press coverage in coming days.


  3. merpel, I understand you do not want to spread rumours. However, a colleague witnessed another colleague who felt faint on friday 15, at lunch time at the epo. It was a few hours after the terrible news for the 3 colleagues who were either dismissed or downgraded and this adds up to the staff rep last monday. I do not know if there is a link with the EPO situation, however I find the sole fact of 2 colleagues within a week time to fall in a faint at work with both needing medical care very worrying.

  4. http://www.nu.nl/economie/4205596/van-dam-begint-onderzoek-octrooibureau.html

  5. The City of Justice quotes...

    “Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.”
    ― Bob Marley -

  6. Ex-examiner-now-patent-attorneyThursday 28 January 2016 at 19:41:00 GMT

    900. The Battistelli PR engine will probably present this as "a minority". But it's 30% of the EPO staff who feel strongly enough about the dismal incompetence of their superiors that they took part in this march. Assuming that at least part of the inactive majority has similar feelings but greater inertia/fear, that's a huge concensus.

    Very impressive.

  7. After today's demonstration, Radio West (regional radio for The Hague) had an interesting interview with studio guests Gersthuizen and Kerstens, the members of parliament who were also present at the demonstration. While the show also included news about the failed re-election of a major of a town near The Hague, the EPO was only one of the topics, but nevertheless: listen here.

    - one of those EPO examiners

  8. @epo upside down: the one who fell sick in the canteen had a heart attack, he was already diagnosed with heart problems before that happened, so it is unrelated.
    Not going to disclose more here...

    Direct colleague of

  9. "dismissing one union official and downgrading two others"

    That was (more or less) the recommendation of the Internal Inquistion a.k.a. Disciplinary Committee. Although they actually recommended one dismissal, one downgrade and one "freeze on promotion" for the next three years.

    The decision of the President was to dismiss two and downgrade the third.
    In all three cases he exceeded the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee because he "supplemented" one of the dismissals with a 20% reduction in pension rights.

    Vindictive old s*d ...


  10. you never have 100% of the workforce present but rather ca. 75 to 80 % due to all kind of missions, training, part-time, sick leave + managers + wanna be managers.

    900 is therefore a very high number for The Hague. This being said the pathetic VP1 stating "his door is always open" when he is one of the most agressive ones towards SUEPO officials is an absolute must see :


    see at 11:13

  11. In-Outsider said:

    There are not only obvious sactions against union officials and staff representatives but also more subtile ones, like denial of awards and promotions despite excellent performance and forced transfers.

  12. Et sinon, je reprenderais bien de croquettesThursday 28 January 2016 at 21:03:00 GMT

    The Dutch are overreacting.

    They should take example from the Germans, for once:

    no press or TV reports about the last demo in front of the EPO (1300 people), no journalists challenging the press releases of the Office, no politicians expressing their worries, absolutely no reaction at all from the Minister of Justice.

    Btw, who said in a comment to the other post that "the flow of money from the EPO is what funds (almost entirely) the entire Justice Ministry of Germany."?

  13. According to the following article

    "Martijn van Dam (Secretary of Economic Affairs) begins in March an independent investigation into the working conditions at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk.

    He will shortly also a meeting with the chief executive of the European institute, whose staff has long been dissatisfied with the business.

    Thursday protesting workers from the poor working atmosphere and against the dismissal of colleagues who criticized the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, the boss of the European Patent Office. The agency is reorganizing and the Cabinet and parliament showed earlier that it would be more careful.

    To improve the situation the next six months will be given to all matters that could affect the ''social situation'' of their employees, career development, remuneration and the position of the trade unions. Van Dam expects the investigation was completed before the summer.

    The European Patent Office is an international organization with 38 Member States, including all members of the European Union. The office in Rijswijk with its 2800 employees, mostly highly skilled engineers and scientists, the largest international organization in the Netherlands. The agency protects the patent rights of inventors."

    Dismissing Mrs. Hardon - a Dutch citizen - has really touched a raw nerve with the Dutch.

    Bravissimo Mr. Battistelli.

  14. Dutch authorities today have announced an independent enquiry into the situation at the EPO, which cannot but reveal great mental stress and suffering among staff. Office "doctors" might have a difficult time answering uncomfortable questions about EPO´s health policy.


  15. just seen on SUEPO Facebook : :o)))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    AMAZING : Minnoye declaring to the NL TV that should the Cassation case be lost for the EPO they will simply disregard its application ....

    and also mentioning the on-going investigations against staff reps in The Hague which would be just a coincidence if they concern SUEPO officials ...

    We have a new hero !!!!!

    what a bunch of clowns

  16. The "independent enquiry into the situation at the EPO" announced by the Dutch Minister is the so-called "social audit" agreed upon by the Administrative Council in December.

    Details of the Minister's statement can be found here (in Dutch):

    How "independent" the enquiry will be remains to be seen.

  17. RE: Minnoye declaring to the NL TV that should the Cassation case be lost for the EPO they will simply disregard its application ….

    What a " false start".

  18. NOS newuur 28.01.2016 22:00 stream download url:

    Stream download url (NOS newsuur 22:00)
    "http://download.omroep.nl/nos/content/mp4/web01/2016/01/28/12343/mp4_web01_backup.mp4" (169 MB)

  19. Anonymous at 20:23 said : This being said the pathetic VP1 stating "his door is always open" when he is one of the most agressive ones towards SUEPO officials is an absolute must see ...
    Does the revelation by SUEPO in October that VP1 met a journalist of the Financiele Dagblad shortly before the latter published confidential information relating to a disciplinary procedure against a judge to discredit him (http://techrights.org/2015/10/19/benoit-battistelli-smears/) perhaps explain the sudden mad hunt then triggered against the Union?

  20. This is a bit weird. The Dutch government seems to delibarately show a Janus-face regarding this issue. On one hand they now start an independent investigation into working conditions and are publicly negative about EPO management,

    but on the other hand they are extremely dismissive of the decision reached by the The Hague Court of Appeal (and in my view disrespectful regarding the judiciary) in SUEPO v EPO last year. They formally were allowed to join the proceedings in appeal at the Hoge Raad (supreme court) last year on the side of EPO. According Volkskrant in that case, oral arguments are heard today (Friday 29).

    I wonder if these are two fully separate processes, or whether it is a deliberate attempt to act socially but at the same time maintaining the image of an international organization friendly privileges respecting nation....

  21. Correction re. my previous post. Indeed no social study will be performed by the Netherlands. They "just" refer to the study of the Administrative Council as Tweedy Chambers mentions....

  22. Anonymous said,,,

    Congratulations to my management. Have just watched the National News on Dutch TV. EPO and this sordid story - news item number 5 (and the apparent wonderful production figures over the last few years didn't feature once in the item - we were even the item before Iranian President's visit to France !). All this when there are an awful lot more important things going on in the world. Rather sad.

    Some say that there is "no such thing as bad press", some also say that "what goes around, comes around",, all we know he's managed to make a mountain out of a molehill by trying to use a hammer to crack a nut,,,

  23. Et sinon, je reprenderais bien de croquettesFriday 29 January 2016 at 06:42:00 GMT

    Minnoye declaring to the NL TV that should the Cassation case be lost for the EPO they will simply disregard its application ....

    Did you hear that, excellent judges of the Supreme Court?

    Don't even BOTHER to render a decision!

    Because "the Rule of Law and Human Rights will never apply at the European Patent Office! NEVER! Mwuhahahahaha!!

  24. Jeremy tweets his opinion:

    I still can't believe that this travesty of governance that is the @EPOorg is allowed to continue @ipwatch @Ipkat



  25. EPO VP Minnoye seems to be singing from the same hymn-sheet as the Dutch government.

    I'm not 100% sure whether I correctly understood this article from NOS but the last line seems to say that the Dutch government takes the position that immunity of an IO has to be accorded precedence over alleged violations of human rights and other international law:
    "De regering maakt zich weliswaar zorgen over de sociale situatie bij het Octrooibureau, maar stelt: "voor de vraag of een internationale organisatie immuniteit toekomt (is) niet van belang of haar mensenrechtenschendingen of andere schendingen van internationaal recht verweten worden."

    Maybe a Dutch native speaker can clarify ???

  26. Dutch government takes the position that immunity of an IO has to be accorded precedence over alleged violations of human rights and other international law

    Really? Are they not thinking about the consequences? Do the really want to have a decision that would discredit the whole system of International Organizations in the Netherland?

    What credibility wold be left e.g. for

    Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
    International Court of Justice
    International Criminal Court
    International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
    International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
    Permanent Court of International Justice
    Special Court for Sierra Leone
    Special Tribunal for Lebanon

    "Oh, but wait: we are allowed to violate human rights and international law in order to enforce human rights and intrrnational law"?

    Would it not be easier to dump Battistelli?

  27. The literal translation is:
    The government worries on the social situation within the Patent Office, but remarks that it is irrelevant for the question whether or not an international organisation has immunity if it is accused of violations of human rights or other violations of international law.

  28. Awaiting the Hoge Raad decissionFriday 29 January 2016 at 12:09:00 GMT

    "De regering maakt zich weliswaar zorgen over de sociale situatie bij het Octrooibureau, maar stelt: "voor de vraag of een internationale organisatie immuniteit toekomt (is) niet van belang of haar mensenrechtenschendingen of andere schendingen van internationaal recht verweten worden."

    The Government does indeed worry about the social situation at the patent office, but stated that "For the question whether an international organisation enjoys immunity or not, is independent of accusations of a violation of human rights or violation of other international rights by this organisation."

    That may be true, yet the PPI of the EPO includes specific obligations, and the EPO is invoking immunity contrary to courts finding that there is no immunity based on the PPI.

    If the Dutch gave the EPO more immunity in their seat agreement than the PPI necessitates, then the Dutch are right, the EPO is immune, but they might need to renegotiate the seat agreement to bring it into line with the intentions of the PPI. And other host countries should check their seat agreements too, to not be faced with such a loss of face as the Dutch are currently facing.

    "Es darf keine rechtsfreien Räume geben."

  29. Representatives of the Dutch Government talk about the EPO as an independent International Organisation. By doing that they try to distance themselves from the responsibility of what is happening. Truth is that NL is inside the EPOrganisation. Participates in the Council and in the Confidential sessions as member. It seats in the B-28.

    The NL government line of action is a bit erratic

    1-Now, officiallay they seem to be on the side of good sense and moderation. Pushing BB towards a more social attitude and more dialogue

    2- But they insist to be on the side of the EPO and against SUEPO in the Cassatie case

    3- Let us not forget that the Social Democracy, the Investigation Guidelines and the (criminal) Health Policy were proposed by BB but they became our Law because the Council voted in favour. By doing that the Council became co-responsible of this evil.The Netherlands voted IN FAVOUR of these three regulations, Dutch judges found that what happens at he EPO is illegal and contrary to fundamental Human RIGHTS .

    Dear Dutch Government, thanks for your present support. Your votes in the past have led to the situation of today: Who is responsible? Where is the accountability?

  30. A pejorative term for a workplace that has harsh/poor (socially unacceptable) working conditionsFriday 29 January 2016 at 18:45:00 GMT

    It has probably already been said, but I would like to repeat it:

    the Management of the European Patent Office are so hell-bent on getting rid of the staff representatives in order to reach their goals - even at the price of having the Supreme Court to confirm the decision of the Court of Appeal - that they do not even realise the damage that they have already done and continue to do to the image of the Organisation that they preside.

    Nor does the Administrative Council, either in its sheer ignorance or willful complicity.

    And even if the Dutch Supreme Court gives reason to the EPO, it will be a pyrrhic victory.

    Because, from then on, the general public will be aware that the granting of a Patent in Europe is based on the violation of human rights and the international law.

    At the end, the only difference between the EPO and a sweatshop will only be the salaries.

  31. At the end, the only difference between the EPO and a sweatshop will only be the salaries.

    That can easily be fixed ...

  32. Ex-examiner-now-patent-attorneySaturday 30 January 2016 at 07:40:00 GMT

    The sweatshop reference is absurd, given the luxurious employee facilities at the EPO. It also distracts from the real issues, which are the EPO management's lack of transparency, integrity and respect for the law.

  33. "the luxurious employee facilities at the EPO"

    Care to expand ?

    The Isar building is a fairly rundown non-descript technocratic architectural folly from the 1970s where you can't even open a window for a bit of fresh air.
    The wings with a southerly aspect are prone to overheating in summer.

    And before anybody makes a tasteless joke about "suicide prevention measures" the lack of openable windows has nothing to do with that. It's simply a "design feature" somehow related to the air-conditioning system (which rarely functions at an optimum level).

    Not exactly what most people would consider "luxurious employee facilities".

  34. The Dutch Government is wrong to say that the question of human rights is irrelevant to the question of immunity. The ceding of sovereignty to an international organization is conditional upon adherence by the organisation to human rights standards equivalent to those prevailing in the country concerned. Otherwise a country could duck its human rights obligations simply by founding or joining an international organization. This condition of equivalence (the rights need not be explicitly the same, but must deliver the same effect) is implicit in all treaties or conventions setting up IOs.

    The Dutch Court of Appeal indeed found that the protection available to SUEPO and the EPO staff was inadequate, both in terms of the ways in which the staff could not enjoy normal Union rights, and also in terms of the lack of any effective remedy in the form of timely access to a suitable court (the ILOAT only taking complaints from individuals, not unions, refusing oral hearings, and taking many years to render its judgments).

    The Seat Agreement with the Netherlands and the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities is a standard one, which does not contain any special clauses. It accords a limited immunity, and in theory enforces co-operation with the Dutch Authorities on labour law and health law. Of course this co-operation has always been resisted by the EPO.

    For these reasons the Vice-President of DG1 is on very shaky ground when he proposes to defy any negative Supreme Court ruling. The Dutch Government would also be gravely embarrassed by such defiance. If the Supreme Court decision is favorable to the EPO and the Dutch Government, it merely postpones the inevitable until case (against the Dutch Government) reaches the European Court of Human Rights.

  35. We are the EPO Staff, the Mob says...

    When we, the EPO Staff, learn to remember, when we, the EPO Staff, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed us last year, who played us for fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “EPO staff,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.


  36. The Url for the nieuwsuur 28.01.2016 22:00 EPO report is https://twitter.com/Nieuwsuur/status/693050296927330305 (7min 13 seconds).

    The mere stream url (HD version!) is


  37. Minnoye has an impressive track record of opening his mouth before putting his brain into gear.

    Remember this classic from January 2015:

    His latest performance on Dutch TV got a mention in the Dutch press today:
    Wat als het octrooibureau martelt("What if the EPO tortures ?")

  38. Willie Watcher, don't get your hopes up. I think Minnoye knows very well what he is saying.

    If the Kingdom of the Netherlands does not respect the EPO's immunity on its territory, the EPO branch in The Hague will close down faster than you can count to three. I have no doubt that a nice office building will be built (for free) for the EPO in Bucharest, and all the examiners who are not interested in moving will be replaced by new recruits who will be extremely happy with the EPO's salary package.

    Oh, and I think the Netherlands will also think twice before attacking an organization who creates more than EUR 885 million per year.

    Even though I despise the arrogance he shows throughout the interview, I am afraid he is holding good cards.


  39. @ ex-examiner and Betonklotz: regarding luxurious facilities: may I add that there is no hot water in the toilets at the floors where only employees work?

  40. @FormerExaminer,

    what new cards does he hold compared to http://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:GHSGR:2011:BR0188?

    either he does as told, or gets fired/demoted like anyone else

  41. Ex-examiner-now-patent-attorneySunday 31 January 2016 at 01:12:00 GMT


    Don't be too pessimistic. Remember that patents are a type of tax. The member states ceded this sovereign tax-raising power to the EPO on condition that the EPO render a share of the tax revenue back to them. The fact that the EPO is the first supranational tax-raising organ in Europe has largely escaped public attention so far. However, if the current bunch of misfits continues to drive the EPO into ignominy, it will only be a matter of time before the media (not least in the UK) wakes up to the fact that part of our sovereign authority is now under the control of an expensive, self-interested organisation managed by a nepotistic cabal under a despotic Enarque. The political fallout from such public scrutiny could be significant. And if it does come to this, then the Administrative Council will disown Battistelli and his cronies pretty smartly.

  42. @FormerExaminer
    In order to close The Hague "faster than you can count to three", wouldn't that require a diplomatic conference? Isn't that the same diplomatic conference that is required at least every five years according to article 4a EPC, is already years past due, and which the EPO management seems to want to avoid entirely, despite art. 4a?
    I don't believe such a move could be made so easily or so quickly...

  43. For a move to Bucharest, a diplomatic conference would be necessary, as the Branch in The Hague is enshrined in the EPC.

    Art 4(a)EPC, I see thee.

  44. Article 4a does not require a diplomatic conference (for the purpose of changing things),

    it requires a conference of ministers to discuss things.

    Given the AC/EPO approach to minimal governance and maximum cost, that should be a good dinner, well beyond the capacity of Le Fleuron.


  45. To the above two posters on Art 4(a)EPC - do you really think this would detract Battistelli ? You can perfectly close down the branch without a diplomatic conference. Just leave some admin staff as "liaison officers" in the polder. Sorry to sound cynical, but I am afraid that is how the minds of VP1 and Battistelli function.

  46. @FormerExaminer

    No doubt your understanding of the mindset of BB and his team Minnoye, Lutz, Topic, etc. is correct.

    These guys seem to think of themselves as the heads of a multinational corporate enterprise who stand above such petty things as law. If the Netherlands is going to play stupid with them, then time to move shop elsewhere to a more "business-friendly" environment!!!

    Unfortunately, as a number of commentators have already pointed out above, the legal and political realities get in the way here.

    The EPO is not a multinational corporate enterprise.
    It is - or is supposed to be - an intergovernmental authority established by an international diplomatic treaty.

    The "seats" of the organisation are defined by law. Munich and The Hague are cast in stone in Article 6 EPC and this can only be changed by a full diplomatic conference of the contracting states.

    So are you trying to tell us that BB who has (presumably by deliberate design) failed to convene even a ministerial conference under Article 4a EPC to discuss important matters such as DG3 reform etc. is now going manage to call a full diplomatic conference just to move the EPO headquarters to Bucharest?

    I am sure that he would love to try a master stroke like that, but please excuse me for being sceptical about his ability to pull it off.

  47. Ex-examiner-now-patent-attorney correctly mentions that the fact that the EPO is the first supranational tax-raising organ in Europe has largely escaped public attention so far. This is even more true for the Unitary Patent which will divert huge amounts of money for the benefit of the contracting states for no counterpart at all: Unitary Patents will be entirely managed by the EPO, and the litigation costs for such patents be born by the parties before the UPC. So why wonder that the members of such conspiracy-like association so fiercely cling to immunity?
    The echo in the media of Mr Battistelli´s behaviour and the raising public awareness of the situation might indeed trigger a cataclysm for all parties concerned.

  48. Another Sick Building says…

    @ Betonklotz

    You should see the 1970s iconic EPO building in The Hague, still operational (800 staff+ VP1) half demolished and the façade claddings are crumbling away some of them are covered with white sheeting, the window washers are even not allowed to go up the facade. Somebody over there told me that the asbestos abatement of the old library was done underneath staffed upper floors with openable windows and air grids. Apparently the windows have not been maintained for the last 20 years and staff complain about horrendous droughts in their small offices, most of them only 10 sqm. The VP1 (site manager) even managed to get a user permit from the local authorities for the EPO site, the architectural style of that main building is called “New Brutalism” (some of the previous commenters used this expression before) this style seems to have rubbed off on the VP1 management style. Talking about third world country H&S standards in The Netherlands.. EPO should have been put right by the local authorities on H&S matters; they are not able to do it by themselves.

  49. Funnily enough, in last Thursday's Daily Telegraph (26th Jan, page 14), there is a piece written by a French lady entitled "Authoritarianism is the norm in France". Nothing to do with patents of course, but it could partly explain Mr. B's attitude.

  50. Yes, a threat to move an office if they don't get their way has been a mgt. tactic before. Unlikely ever to be implemented for various logistical reasons - if the office can have so much trouble getting a new president voted in, what chance the 38 states quickly agreeing which one of them can get an office of the EPO? And how long before a suitable building is available, given the time the new Rijswijk building is taking? Such an idea of a move is possible but not realistic.

  51. Thinking about the statement "Remember that patents are a type of tax."

    I am reminded of how easy it is to twist a meme.

    In this "tax" meme, who, exactly is being taxed?

    Those with "anti-patent" feelings will try to twist the meme into an answer to this question being society itself - but that is just NOT the case, as the actual answer is that those being taxed are the innovators who chose to use the (optional) patent system.

    There is no tax on society, given the premise that a patent right is given as quid for a certain quo.

    Sorry for the interlude - now back to the "grift" of EPO leadership.

  52. http://zsu-schmelz.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/int_beziehungen/Personal/Publikationen_Reinisch/waite_kennedy_iolr_2004.pdf

    Very interesting for the relationship betweeen human rights and the immunity of international organisations.

  53. Perhaps not Bukarest, but how about Riga? (or somewhere in Poland where the goverment is implementing similar law as BB did)

    Anyway, any state (hello Germany) that says it cannot do anything since it has only one voice, be reminded that this reasoning was also widely applied by Germans living in the 1000 years between 1933 and 1945 ... they were not really praised for this point of view; it is a no-excuse.

    What could these states for example do: go for the EPOrg to sign the (European) Charte of Human Rights (or to declare them applicable) or (a bit radical but s.th. a single state can do) announce to leave the EPC ... these are possible steps for a single state - they just WANT to have to go them (or in a small group, eg consider Germany, The Netherlands and France to leave the EPC).

    And a third point: I am anyway wondering when the first case ends up before the Boards of Appeal invoking the lack of a diplomatic conference (but would you want to have such a thing while BB is reigning?)

  54. Art 173 EPC

    Disputes between Contracting States
    (1) Any dispute between Contracting States concerning the interpretation or application of the present Convention which is not settled by negotiation shall be submitted, at the request of one of the States concerned, to the Administrative
    Council, which shall endeavour to bring about agreement between the States concerned.
    (2) If such agreement is not reached within six months from the date when the dispute was referred to the Administrative Council, any one of the States concerned may submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice for a binding decision.

    So if there is only one Contracting State which is not satisfied with the interpretation of the EPC, say for EPC Art. 4a, Art. 23, Art. 146, PPI Art.3(4) or the Protocol on Staff Complement, he might consider this approach.

    Moreover, parliaments may change the law, even Grundgesetz Art. 24 could be changed, e.g. to explicitly take out some principles such as Menschenwürde or separation of powers from IO immunity.

  55. Art. 4a has nothing to do with a diplomatic conference of the contracting states, nor with amending the EPC.

    Art. 172 lays down the procedure for amending the EPC. It requires a decision by the AC to hold a "conference of the contracting states", i.e. a diplomatic conference.

    Without amending the EPC, the EPO cannot empty the branch in The Hague (e.g. by transferring people to Munich), because the "Protocol on Staff Complement" forbids that. The only way to amend this protocol is, again, by means of a diplomatic conference.

  56. Society at large is indeed highly concerned by the patent costs and the way patent fees are distributed to member states.
    Albeit patent fees are paid directly by patent owners, it seems a bit naive to think they are not reflected in the products sold on the market: whenever we buy a smartphone or a car, a portion of the money we pay for it covers patent costs.
    Society thus undoubtedly pays for patents, and its contribution actually amounts to a hidden consumer tax, which socially is far less just than an income tax.

  57. The NL government line of action is a bit erratic

    The NL government's position is in fact rational.

    As the government of a host state of the EPO, it must ensure that state organs respect the EPO's immunity to the extent that the EPO is entitled to it and chooses not to waive it. If the possibility exists that a national court incorrectly lifted the EPO's immunity, then the Dutch government is essentially obliged to aid the EPO in appealing against that court's decision.

    If it considers that international law obliges it, the Dutch state might even have to block execution of a final court decision, even of one by its Hoge Raad. (Suppose e.g. that the Hoge Raad rules in favour of SUEPO and that the Dutch government initially allows the execution. Now some other contracting state like Hungary considers that The Netherlands violates the Convention. Hungary can then submit the case to the International Court of Justice for a binding decision (Art. 173 EPC). If the ICJ rules in favour of Hungary, then certainly The Netherlands will just have to ignore, i.e. block execution of, the judgment of its highest national court. But the Dutch government could also itself decide that the Hoge Raad's judgment, although by definition in conformity with national law, is contrary to the Dutch state's international obligations.)

    As a host state, the Dutch state is not completely sidelined. There is still Art. 20 PPI that requires the EPO to cooperate with the Dutch state's authorities in order to facilitate the observance of inter alia regulations concerning public health and labour inspection. The EPO appears to be in blatant violation of this obligation. The Dutch state may therefore submit a dispute to an international arbitration tribunal under Art. 23 PPI. The EPO's immunity does not protect against the enforcement of the decision ("award") of the arbitration tribunal (Art. 3(1)(c) PPI).

    The Dutch state is also a contracting state. As a contracting state it bears responsibility for the functioning of the EPO, but in this respect it cannot be distinguished from any of the other 37 contracting states.

    (1) as the government of a contracting state, the Dutch government tries to push BB towards a more social attitude and more dialogue
    (2) as the government of a host state, the Dutch government insists that the EPO's immunity when not waived must be respected (within its proper limits, obviously, but those have not been finally decided yet even at the national level)
    (3) as the government of a host state, the Dutch government might eventually decide to submit a dispute to an international arbitration tribunal in order to force the EPO to respect its obligations under Art. 20 PPI.

    There is no conflict between (1) and (2). At most one may wonder when the Dutch government will decide that the time has come to invoke option (3).

  58. Euro Anon confuses pricing with tax.

    Tax is just not the same, and the attempt to use the sound byte meme of "tax" is not justified.

    Pricing is what it is. You have the power of choice NOT to pay that price.

    You have NO such power when it comes to taxes.

    Let's not descend into a "sound byte" logic that cannot be maintained under scrutiny.

  59. From behind the iron curtainMonday 1 February 2016 at 17:13:00 GMT

    Letter of MEP A. Jongerius to European Commissioner Thyssen (Employment & Social affairs). I'm sure English translation will follow soon, the original is in Dutch.


  60. The Pigs,
    Yes, but... You are paying for an intellectual property RIGHT so that you are paying a sum for something to which you have a legal right. You are not buying a good to which a VAT is attached but rather for a legal service. The current UK govt. has attached a charge (or tax) to using the courts and that has met with opprobrium from one and all. Meanwhile IP can only be obtained at a cost. That is a tax on innovation.

  61. @No taxation without...

    How is innovation taxed?
    Only the desire to be granted a monopoly is fined, by a) disclosure of the (alleged) invention, and b) fees for upholding the monopoly (renewal fees).
    It's not a tax, IMHO, as one can easily avoid it (by not requesting a monopoly).
    Wheher one wants to pay the "fine" for a monopoly in turn is s.th. the owner of the intellectual knowledge mst decide, depending on circumstances, which we do not need to elaborate here.

    If a monopoly is granted, pricing is done, which will include an element of the costs of having obtaind the patent, and the knowledge of being alone on the market.

  62. No Taxation without,

    Sorry, but he tax meme still fails.

    One can fully and freely innovate without partaking in the choice of engaging the patent system.

    Further, any monies spent IN the patent system are monies for a service.

    You confuse the "pay to whom" as necessarily meaning that such is a tax.

    It is not.

    That meme needs to be put to rest.

  63. Sorry, but does that mean VAT isn't a tax because I don't have to buy the goods? Or that stamp duty paid as a percentage of a property isn't a tax because I don't have to buy the property? The fact that I have an option to do something or not doesn't make the amount charged not a tax. With regard to patents, participation in the system requires certain payments. Choosing not to enter the system is hardly the same as entering it in terms of effect. Unless that means the system has no benefit to entrants. But you will not be freely innovating if you have no protection, unless having no patent equals having a patent.
    As for the fees being passed on when you get a monopoly, that doesn't make it less of a cost. Indeed it serves to make demand lower assuming price/demand relationships. And those who do not acquire exclusion rights or are unable to sell their product?

  64. Is ANY service the same as a "tax"...?

    Stop the "tax" meme - it does not fit.

  65. Don't worry folks. The new EPO Chief Economist will soon be along to sort it all out.

    By pure coincidence from France ...

    Expect a flurry of academic papers tinged with a distinct flavour of Enarchical Battinomics.


  66. There are several examples of immunity lifted.

    1. Dominique Strauss-Kahn (managing director of the International Monetary Fund). He was arrested by NY police over allegations of sexual assault. The judge rejected Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s claim of diplomatic immunity.

    2. Devyani Khobragade (Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India in New York City) was charged by U.S. authorities with committing visa fraud and providing false statements in order to gain entry to the United States for a domestic worker. Khobragade was arrested the next day by U.S. federal law enforcement authorities.

    3. Edith Cresson (European Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology)
    She appointed a friend as personal advisor. (She did nothing else wrong).
    The European Commission lifted the diplomatic immunity of Ms Edith Cresson, to allow her to be questioned by the Belgian judicial authorities.

  67. I am very curious to see a discussion of how people are recruited to the EPO...I have the feeling that the story of friends bringing other friends in has gone too far and none is commenting it!

  68. Board 28 meeting in Munich today.
    Did anybody hear any news ?


  69. AMAZING article in UK


  70. AMAZING article in UK

    Amazing indeed - and judging by this article and by the tone of the recent TV reports and articles in the Dutch press, it seems the the 800.000 EUR "to address the media presence of the EPO." went down the drain.

  71. Amazing indeed - and judging by this article and by the tone of the recent TV reports and articles in the Dutch press, it seems the the 800.000 EUR "to address the media presence of the EPO." went down the drain.

    Plenty more where that came from.
    BB is dripping with cash ...

  72. Amazing article should be compulsory reading. A good summary and clear explanation of most of the facts. Staff don't get 3 months leave and the AC's rejection of BB proposals in December have been ignored

  73. I am really struggling to understand something, and so I turn to the good readers of IPKat for help.

    When reporting "production" figures for 2014, Monsieur le President was quoted as saying "Our production, our productivity and our cost controls have all improved". I also understand that the accounts of the EPO have shown a healthy surplus for the past few years.

    Thus, based upon its own publications, we can conclude that the EPO has achieved both a healthy "profit margin" and a reduction in underlying costs (of production). Right?

    So why (as always) are fees increasing this year? That is, how come the users of the system (who, after all, fund the whole shooting match) do not benefit from the apparently improved productivity?

    Answers on a postcard, please.

  74. Clooney comments:
    The article is Arstechnica is very good but it contains a critical, misleading information about the amount of leave for the employees: not 3 months ! rather 30 days. The author Glynn Moody should quickly correct this wrong information which is very damaging as the readers might indeed believe that the employees of the EPO have incredible privileges and thus form the opinion that BB is right in his mad actions. If the author reads this blog or someone reading this blog knows the author, please intervene.

  75. WRT amount of leave at EPO, does anyone have a link to official information on that, please? The only source I could find was Le Monde.

  76. Confused cat,

    The "easy" answer is because you are not looking at the entire picture (which, when that picture is enlargened to include all payouts - including salaries - there very well may be NO increase in what you want to call "profit."

    I post this "answer" as a hypothetical because I have not actually checked the numbers.

    HOWEVER, you raise a coincident - and NOT minor - point: How is that "productivity" being measured?

    I would posit that any "measure" of productivity that does not take into account whether "faster" decisions maintain (or better yet, improve) a certain level of accuracy and correctness is a FALSE measure.

    I have been vocal in the states for quite a number of years pointing out that mere Rubber Stamping is bad.

    Rubber Stamping is bad when the mantra is Reject Reject Reject.
    Rubber Stamping is bad when the mantra is Accept Accept Accept.

    Neither mode is actually examining properly. ANY measure of productivity that omits this critical feature is simply NOT a proper measure and will only (quite naturally) lead to actions that game the system.

    We do need to hold the leaders of Patent Offices accountable - not for gamed "productivity," but rather for true and meaningful increases in productivity.

  77. Confused Cat,
    The increased fees are not for patent examination but for essential EPO business like spying on employees and members of the public, buying favorable press reports, organizing inventor of the year events, providing "technical" support to obedient member states, subsidizing private companies like Control Risks or FTI Consulting. To the benefit of European society.

  78. Glyn,

    Do you have an e-mail address?

    Otherwise, the EPO published a heavily bowdlerized version of the Staff Regs, you should be able to find them.

  79. @glyn moody

    Article 59 of the EPO Service Regulations reads as follows:
    (1)(a) Permanent employees shall be entitled to annual leave of thirty working days per calendar year. For the purposes of this chapter, Saturdays shall not count as working days. Annual leave should normally be taken before the end of the current calendar year. If this is not possible because of the requirements of the service, it must be taken in the next following year.

    The EPO Service Regulations can be found here:

    The link for downloading the Service Regulations:

  80. @ glyn moody

  81. Re EPO holidays

    BB's propaganda machine typically adds in the twelve days or so of statutory Bavarian public holidays which are available to all people working in Bavaria.

    EPO staff are no more privileged in this regard than, for example, German civil servants based in Bavaria. (Northern Germans probably get one or two days less of public holidays).

    But this kind of twisting of the facts is part of BB's propaganda trickery to try and pretend that he is doing the public a favour by cutting back on the privileges of overpaid and underworked EPO staff.

    No mention of the significant monthly salary increases that his management team awarded to themselves as part and parcel of their "redesign" of the EPO career system. That seems to have slipped past the Administrative Council's radar too.

  82. @ Glyn Moody:

    Service Regulations
    Article 59
    Annual and special leave
    Permanent employees shall be entitled to annual leave of thirty working
    days per calendar year. For the purposes of this chapter, Saturdays
    shall not count as working days. Annual leave should normally be
    taken before the end of the current calendar year. If this is not possible
    because of the requirements of the service, it must be taken in the next
    following year.
    Permanent employees aged 65 and over having accrued 35 years of
    reckonable service for pension entitlement and having thus reached
    the maximum rate of retirement pension will benefit from 12 days'
    additional annual leave per calendar year.

    Selected parts of the ServRegs are available here:
    You won`t find certain spicy Implementing Rules concerning hot topics such as the strike rules or the "social mockery" staff representation rules.

  83. Clooney replies to Glyn Moody:
    For the correct information on the amount of leave at the EPO, please consult the published staff regulations in the Official EPO site epo.org. It is not three months as wrongly reported in the article (it is an absurd amount!) but 6 weeks, ie 30 working days per year.

  84. @glyn moody

    Have a look at the "service regulations" published (in parts) on epo.org.
    Article 59, "Annual leave", says that employees get 30 days annual leave per year. In Addition expats get 8 days "home leave" every two years.

    We are the office

  85. OK, I've had the 30 days holiday figure corroborated, so I've now corrected the text.

  86. Glad to be out of the madhouseWednesday 3 February 2016 at 17:27:00 GMT

    Mr. Moody, maybe you could have had a look at the EPO's own website (see bottom: "Leave and working hours. All EPO staff get 30 days' annual leave. Expatriate staff receive a further eight days' home leave (plus travelling time and expenses for themselves and their immediate family) every two years. The normal working week is 40 hours, but the Office operates a flexitime system for all staff."

    It's also clearly stated in Art. 59 of the Service Regulations.

  87. Glad to be out of the madhouseWednesday 3 February 2016 at 17:46:00 GMT

    US anon, you overlook one critical difference between US and EP practice, which is that the EPO doesn't have the USPTO's RCE racket, with which "Final" actions, despite being in fact anything but final, do reset the "production" counter, so that "Reject Reject Reject" can be presented as increasing "productivity". This isn't the case at the EPO, which instead cashes in annual fees for pending applications, but doesn't try to pretend that a merry-go-round of exchanges between applicant and examiner represents "productivity" in any way. And because drafting a definitive refusal of the application is a lot more work than granting it, increased productivity pressure may indeed result in granting more invalid patents, rather than the USPTO's succession of spurious rejections, ultimately culminating in a grant after a sufficient number of RCEs...

  88. On the great scale of things, the amount of holidays issue was not a major detail (except to those of us with a degree in pedantry...). Anyway, a fine summary by Mr Moody and perhaps a doffing of the hat for a clear report. A few things slipped by but that maybe would just add to the cloud which tends to hang around long running disputes. Such as... the Administrative Council rejected Battistelli's proposals on a number of issues at their meeting in December - a bit of a rebuke? He then did sack two staff representatives but in both cases he took the advice of the disciplinary committees and amplified them - as he is entitled to do under his rules. Thus sacking became sacking plus 20% pension reduction. Demotion became sacking. Delay of possible promotion in a third case became significant demotion.

    But of course, as you are aware, we aren't allowed to talk about that - all confidential. And even after being sacked they aren't allowed to discuss it. Nice.

    Thanks for shining a rather large light. If not for me, at least for those who are suffering unnecessarily.

  89. I add my compliments to Mr Moody for doing a fine job. It might have been a tad more useful to the public to have pointed out to the public just how demanding is the job at the EPO. Too lenient on Patentability and you give applicants 20 years of exclusive rights on something that isn't an invention at all. Too strict though and deserving inventors get done out of their just reward. How many would be EPO examiners can assess what is obvious in some esoteric field of technology, in any of the three official languages of the EPO? Any number of hopefuls offer their services to the EPO but very few indeed have what it takes to be a half decent Examiner.

    But what does the EPO President know of this? His experience is all at the Patent Office of France, which doesn't do any examination of patentability whatsoever. Instead it grants you a patent as soon as you pay him his fees.

  90. A big thank you to Glyn Moody for the first truly excellent journalistic coverage in English of the troubles at the EPO. Well researched, thorough, balanced and accurate (special praise due for reacting so fast to the question of how much leave staff get).

  91. Clooney says:
    I would like to join my voice to the chorus of praise for the work of Mr Glyn Moody and for the rapid correction in the excellent report of the wrong information about leave. Bravo!

  92. His experience is all at the Patent Office of France, which doesn't do any examination of patentability whatsoever. Instead it grants you a patent as soon as you pay him his fees.

    Sounds like the indulgences racket of the medieval papacy.

  93. For comparison, when I was an examiner with the UKIPO between the mid-1970's and 1989, annual leave was initially 25 days, rising to 30 days after 10 years' service. To these were added around 8 1/2 days for the usual public holidays and privilege holidays for events such as the Queen's birthday and Maunday Thursday. I don't know what the present situation is.

  94. @ all the people praising Mr. Moody and his article

    while adding my voice to this chorus, I warmly suggest you to reiterate or write your comments on HIS blog.

    This will only further stimulate the discussion.

    Also, a copy should be defiinitely forwarded to the british member(s) of the Administrative Council of the EPO.

    But really, thanks Mr. Moody for such a detailed and well researched article.

  95. Glad to be out of the madhouseThursday 4 February 2016 at 09:17:00 GMT

    His experience is all at the Patent Office of France, which doesn't do any examination of patentability whatsoever. Instead it grants you a patent as soon as you pay him his fees.

    @maxdrei, you are actually rather wrong: the French Patent Office does conduct examination of patentability.

    In the French system, after filing, there is a preliminary search report. This is subcontracted to the EPO for first filings, but carried out by the FPO itself for filings claiming a foreign priority. Either way, this preliminary search report is published with the application, and a written opinion on patentability is also drafted, to which the applicant must respond if relevant documents are cited in the search report.

    What is specific to the French patent system is that the FPO can only reject the application for clear lack of novelty, and not for lack of inventive step. Therefore, in most cases, the reply and eventual amendments may be rather perfunctory.

    Other European national patent offices do altogether dispense with examination: for instance, in the Belgian national procedure, no reply whatsoever is required to even the most negative search report. And in Spain, the applicant may choose, after the search report, between an examination procedure and grant without examination (although this is just about to change, making examination compulsory).

    However, in all those countries going to court on the basis of a patent that received a negative search report is generally considered to be rather suicidal.

    There is however also the issue of the utility models granted in many European countries without any search or examination whatsoever. The case of Germany, where unwritten foreign disclosures cannot be considered as prior art for invalidating a utility model, is probably the most egregious...

  96. Thanks to everyone for providing links to the 30 days information, and for the kind words.

  97. How kind of Madhouse to write in and say that I am "rather wrong".

    In fact, Madhouse confirms what I said, that the FPO indeed does not examine for patentability, bearing in mind that the key issue for patentability in 90% of cases is obviousness, which the FPO doesn't go anywhere near.

    Mr Moody you will perhaps already have grasped, that whether claimed subject matter is or is not novel is more or less a black and white issue, whereas whether or not it is obvious (within the meaning of the EPC) though, that is a judgement that requires years of specialised education, professional training and experience, of which President Battistelli has none.

  98. There is no such thing as the French Patent Office (FPO).

    The Grande Nation has a National Institute of Industrial Property known as the INPI !

  99. Glad to be out of the madhouseThursday 4 February 2016 at 15:34:00 GMT

    "How kind of Madhouse to write in and say that I am "rather wrong"."

    Indeed I was kind, I could have written "completely wrong". I didn't at all confirm what you said. The FPO's examination on patentability may be limited, but there is one, contrary to what you said, and your answer is "rather" graceless, I'm sorry. That'll teach me to try to improve your patent education in the future.

    I'm not French myself, but I really can't abide with the pervasive French-bashing in all Battistelli-related threads. He's hardly beloved in his home country, you know, and AFAIK, the staff of the FPO was also quite glad to see the back of him when he left...

  100. Clooney remarks:
    On a kind note, Mr Moody might want to check also further information he provided on the salary and benefits of EPO staff by looking at the staff regulations and annexes:
    a) the nternal tax is highr than 6%;
    b) medical costs are covered by an insurance for which the staff pays a monthly contribution;
    c) children education fees are not always totally reimbursed. There are a variety of limitations;
    d) retirement at 50 is possible with a cut of 50% of the matured pension (2% of basic salary for every year of service)
    e) full (matured) pension is received only from the age of 60.

  101. I come back to your view, Madhouse, on what constitutes "examination" of patentability.

    As we are now, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO is the commodore of all the ships in the fleet, the fleet I mean being the fleet of national Supreme Courts of the EPC Member States, when it comes to the substantive law of patentability in Europe.

    But now we have a new Commodore, the UPC.

    And if the UPC has put DG3 out to grass, why should the EPO attempt any longer to issue any decision at all on obviousness? Why should it ever refuse any application for a patent for the reason that the claimed subject matter, even if new, is clearly obvious. Why not save a ton of money and have it merely do a search and issue an advisory EESR opinion on obviousness, and leave it at that.

    You know, like INPI does. And like the UK Patent Office used to do until 1978. Isn't that the cost-saving, modern and efficient way to go? Is that not where BB is taking us all?

  102. EPO’s Persona Non Grata says…

    Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    Done at Vienna on 18 April 1961

    Article 9
    1. The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.

    2. If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations under paragraph 1 of this article, the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission.


  103. Blogger shaking his head says:

    Regarding examination or not: there are several patent systems possible, each with its advantages and drawbacks. But as long as the EPC requires that examination be carried out and as long as the EPO takes a nice fee from the applicants for doing an examination, it is not within mr. Batistelli's competence, nor within that of the AC, to "take us" to a different system, however modern that may be.

  104. "Isn't that the cost-saving, modern and efficient way to go? Is that not where BB is taking us all?"

    That may well be so.
    It's abundantly clear that he is intent on shutting down the EPO Boards of Appeal.
    He has more or less said so publicly on a few occasions or at least it can be read between the lines of some of his propaganda.

    But the question in the back of many people's minds is where is his mandate coming from ? Paris ? Brussels ? Washington ?

    BB is not a "visionary". He is a technocrat. He is implementing somebody else's vision. But who is or are the puppet-masters pulling his strings ?

  105. Is BB's string puller in Paris, Brussels or Washington DC is the question? Wrong question, I suggest.

    I venture to suggest it is all of them. Just as with so many other issues (tax law, patent law in the USA) what drives BB, Paris, Brussels and inside the DC beltway is a world-wide consensus amongst the chiefs of the multi-national corporate community as to what's best for my corporation. This is a consensus arrived at incrementally, in places like Davos, and implemented through intensive and vigorous lobbying activity in the corridors and restaurants of DC, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin.

    Now listen up! What's good for the corporation is good for its shareholders. The shareholder and the taxpayer are one and the same aren't they? Ergo, Mr Democratic Politician, what's good for my corporation (low fees for bulk filers at the Patent Office, and I don't care how unpredictable and uncertain patent law becomes) is therefore what's best for all you taxpayers out there. For a model, look at Singapore.

    Just as much of what we read in the media is spoon-fed to the journalists by corporate scriveners, so too is the text of statutes drafted and paid for by the corporations. Democratic politicians are terrified of the power of Big Corp to withdraw co-operation and take its job opportunities elsewhere The politicians compete with each other, which of them can make the offer that is most attractive to the itinerant corporations. And what is it from democratic politicians that best pleases the corporate interests? Asymmetry of course. Just like in the world of finance. Get out of the way. Under the guise of pruning mere bureaucracy, eliminate all regulation. Scrap all employment protection legislation. Clear the way for me to take all the profit while you take all the work, all the risk, all the overhead costs, and you suffer all the losses when they strike.

    I suspect that folks like BB can't see how anything could go wrong with this vision of who shall rule the world. And perhaps it is all for the best. After all, unlike Sovereign States, dictators and fundamental religionists, rival corporations don't have armies that go to war with each other. Not yet anyway.

  106. Puppet on a string - can you please expand upon the reasons why an agenda to shut down the Boards of Appeal can be "read between the lines" of statements from BB?

    In the absence of any concrete evidence, I cannot say whether or not there really is a conspiracy to increase the importance of the UPC by effectively destroying the Boards of Appeal. Nevertheless, I do find it surprising (I would say "shocking", but it is hard to be shocked any more in the context of everything else that has happened recently at the EPO) that there are so many unfilled positions on the Boards.

    If there is a desire to achieve a certain objective with regard to the Boards, then BB would be acting beyond his mandate if he was doing anything other than merely reflecting the collective will of the AC. With this in mind, please remind me - was there anything in the minutes of the last AC meeting that addressed the unfilled positions on the Boards?

    I know that epi wrote to the AC in December 2015 on the issue of unfilled posts. Does anyone have any information on what reply was received (or what action taken) in response to that letter? If the answer to this question is nothing (other than prevarication), then even I would have to concede that there may be something to this conspiracy theory after all...

  107. After all, unlike Sovereign States, dictators and fundamental religionists, rival corporations don't have armies that go to war with each other. Not yet anyway.

    Max Drij has obviously never heard of Academi!

  108. It is LESS a "wrong question" than a "wrong direction" entirely.

    To wit: "what drives... is a world-wide consensus amongst the chiefs of the multi-national corporate community as to what's best for my corporation." is NOT an answer of "all of the politics of ANY country," precisely because multi-national corporations are NOT true "citizens" of ANY country.

    They can flit between any country and are beholding to not a single one.

    This is practically the closest that MaxDrei has ever come to one of my well-discussed positions, even if I think he still does not grasp the bigger picture completely (as evidenced by his incorrect takeaway of "I venture to suggest it is all of them").

    Further, there is zero credible logic int he attempted "equalization" of "The shareholder and the taxpayer are one and the same aren't they?" This is profound LACK of understanding of the dynamics of Big Corp.

    Yes, there is indeed "truth" to MaxDreis's "Just as much of what we read in the media is spoon-fed to the journalists by corporate scriveners, so too is the text of statutes drafted and paid for by the corporations. Democratic politicians are terrified of the power of Big Corp to withdraw co-operation and take its job opportunities elsewhere," so at least some observations are on the right path. But to think that modern warfare needs old-style standing armies is still a bit pollyanna. Even the addition of Academi - thank you for that addition - does not blunt the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword.

  109. First, anon, my use of the adjective "itinerant" was deliberate.

    Second, readers, on the issue whether corporations like or don't like legal certainty, on reflection I suspect that they actively prefer that patent law be obfuscated, please, rather than clarified. Every time it comes to a dispute, that obfuscation will give them an advantage over all the troublesome nondescript small fry, because Big Corp have something the little guys lack, namely an unlimited litigation budget, and Croesus-deep pockets that will outlast anything the Little Guy has got.

  110. MaxDrei,

    When it comes to patent law - especially currently in the US - Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) are most certainly in play.

    Maybe you should spend less time celebrating those who you "do not agree with" and their "demolishing" on the US patent blogs, and spend more of your time seeing how what you say here (in the immediate sense of Big Corp) aligns with my well known positions...

    Just a thought.

  111. (From UK Anon, to Academi and MaxDrei...)

    Academi (the firm) was not the first to do this, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company ...

  112. @ Blogger shaking his head: it seems that in practice everything is within Mr. Battistelli’s competence. It is unlimited and unfettered, as far as we can see.

    @ confused cat: in practice, the expression ”beyond his mandate” is a mere descriptor – it has absolutely no consequences.

    @ MaxDrei: sadly, I completely share your view of the patent world (both 10:42 and 18:07). If it is not so today, within 5 years that is what we shall have.

    There is very little that can be done about it, unless SMEs were to join together in cooperative oppositions and court actions to invalidate patents on a regular basis. The chances are slim, because their pre-occupations normally lie elsewhere. Finance, for instance. And we have a very, very bad example from the small software developers: they have preferred to cry “Fire”, acting as victims, trying to influence politicians, rather than acting in concord and filing well-phrased and well-documented oppositions to the innumerable unpatentable software inventions. At least the Greens filed oppositions to biotechnology patents. But the aloof software developers, never. They have never realised that politicians cannot be bothered with minutiae.

    Patents will end up becoming a subdiscipline of the history of technology. I take an avid interest in this field.

    George Brock-Nannestad

  113. George - I am not sure that acting against the wishes of (or beyond the mandate provided by) the AC would have no consequences for BB. However, whether it does or not will depend upon whether representatives to the AC eventually remember that they are vertebrates (i.e. have a spine) after all.

  114. Anonymous @ 22:46,

    The guild mindset and such things as "company towns" have existed long before the East India Company.

    It is ever the audacity of modern man to think that somehow they are above repeating the past mistakes of history.

    History is full of examples showing otherwise.

  115. BB’s Declaration on Truth and Self-Imposed Stupidity...WHO'S COMING WITH ME?...

    The 4th of February hyped up glam and glitz
    Giggling audience break down in fits
    Facing BB goons devoid of wits
    The shallower they go, the deeper it gets

    Silhouettes lacking inner angles and lines...
    The substance goes absent when the light shines...
    Plotless drama without direction, still winds
    These tragically bad fads spread like vines

    Overrun with reality shows depicting what's REAL
    A mass zombie audience digesting their meal
    Not In, but outside, this box they soften like veal
    Staring at a screen that numbs how they feel

    When did the war on intelligence start?
    Losers’ not knowing that losing’s not smart...
    Cable providers gladly doing their part
    EPO news channels selling half-truth ” a la carte”

    I will be vicious and fight for your mind
    Hiding remote-controls where they won't find
    Trading entertainment for knowledge in kind
    Giving out books to the voluntarily blind

    I ‘am on a Mission!!! WHO'S COMING WITH ME??!!

  116. Hi,
    this article (though written in French !) appears to deserve to be widespread read:

  117. Latest news from The Staff Committee is that they have informed the AC that they no longer support the planned Social Survey. Their version is that while BB invited them to nominate an observer for the organising committee, the nominee then wasn't invited to any meetings and was given the results at the last minute as a fait accompli. The SC consider that their nominee is just a fig leaf to show that BB had dealt with them but that this was not bona fide consultation. Also it seems that no AC members are part of this either so that it is all being organised by BB. Quelle surprise!
    In his 4th Feb speech to staff, BB gave the impression that his door was open but that the SC kept refusing to come on in! I wonder how he'll organise an independent study if no staff will speak to the survey.
    Meanwhile, SUEPO is organising a follow-up to a survey from a couple of years ago. Should be revealing but I presume BB's PR gurus are already writing their rebuttals...

  118. At the protest held this Wednesday in Munich, it was announced that the Administrative Counsel had recently withdrawn its second request to the Enlarged Board of Appeal that a patent judge be dismissed. The AC seems to have finally understood that the accusations brought forward by the President and his minions were unsubstantiated, as had been ruled by the EBA in relation the first request, and that it had been manipulated by the President. Not good for him.

  119. Presumably, since the Prsident's immunity as recited in A.13, Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, refers to privileges accorded to diplomatic agents, he is not subject to immunity in his home country and so the innocent judge could sue him there for defamation.

  120. Wow! I'm sceptical about words like "announced" and "withdrawn" but, if there is substance to this, it could be the moment (had to discern) when the tide turns. But as we all know, if the tide has actually turned, what a momentous event that can be.

  121. "the accusations ... were unsubstantiated, as had been ruled by the EBA in relation the first request..."

    This misunderstands the EBA's response to the first request. They didn't make a decision either way about the accusations. They just ruled that the request was inadmissible, because there was no proper statement of case setting out the grounds.

    This says nothing about the guilt or innocence of the accused board member, but it does say something about the competence of those making the request.

  122. Unsubstantiated,
    Could that mean unsubstantiated in that no substance was given to the assertions other than the provision of a pile of"evidence" i.e. no reasoned argument had been provided so that the assertions had not been substantiated?

  123. Cynic, yes that's exactly what the EBA meant. However, it's not the meaning that Battistefini's post supposed.

  124. Meanwhile...
    The EPO has tonight announced, as reported by Suepo, concerning a strike call by 754 EPO staff:

    "Dear colleagues,

    I hereby announce the result of the vote on the call for strike signed by 754 staff members and received by the Office on 10.02.2016.

    The number of employees entitled to vote is 6738. The necessary quorum is 40% representing 2696 votes.

    The total number of votes cast is 4062 representing 60,3% of the employees entitled to vote.

    The quorum has therefore been reached.

    The result of the vote is as follows:

    Votes in favour of a strike = 3701
    Votes against a strike = 219
    No opinion = 142
    The number of votes cast in favour of a strike is 3701 representing 91,1% of the total votes cast.

    Staff have therefore voted in favour of a strike.

    Following our rules, before a strike can go ahead, the President must receive a prior notice at least 5 working days before commencement of the strike."

    The AC meets on Wed 16th March and there are 5 working days before that.


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