News

  • Filtering of SUEPO emails

    (26/08/2015)

    The Office continues to filter emails sent to EPO staff and containing the word SUEPO in the subject. A SUEPO lawyer addresses Mr Battistelli by pointing out the legal implications and requests the end of the filtering. A copy of the letter can be found here.
  • AMBA Questionnaire on the Reform of the Boards of Appeal

    (27/07/2015)

    AMBA, the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO), has launched an online questionnaire on reforms of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO:

    "The structural reform of the BoA is very important to the status of the European patent system as a whole. In our view, it deserves wider debate and consultation than it has received so far, especially amongst users and practitioners."

    AMBA's own proposal for reform can be found here.

  • Letter to Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection

    (18/07/2015)

    A SUEPO lawyer addresses Heiko Maas and informs him of the latest reforms and developments at the EPO. His letter is a follow-up on his earlier letter of March 2015. A copy of the letter can be found here.
  • FOSS Patents, "Leadership of European Patent Office blocks examiners' access to directory of potential prior art"

    (16/07/2015)

    FOSS Patents reports that EPO staff can no longer access the TechRights blog, which is written by a free and open source software activist from the UK, Dr. Roy Schestowitz. The matter was addressed by the Central Staff Committee (CSC) in a letter sent to the Director Internal Communication.

    Florian Mueller wonders whether the two posts on the EPO that TechRights published shortly before the censorship played a role:

    "TechRights has been around for almost a decade [...] and opinionated posts on policy issues are not the only thing it publishes. TechRights very frequently (mostly on a daily basis) provides link collections such as this one, which contain numerous technical news from the free and open source software community. [...] A patent office that is serious about patent quality should not take even the slightest risk that an examiner may, due to the blocking of a website, fail to identify prior art that could prevent a bad patent from issuing."

    "EPO staff can still read TechRights at home or on mobile devices, a fact that makes this attempt at censorship absolutely ridiculous. But it should also have access from its desktop computers at work just in case anyone finds links to prior art there. The EPO leadership has just scored an own goal: by blocking access to TechRights, it has now raised the profile of that blog."

  • 120th Session of the ILO-AT

    (16/07/2015)

    In its 120th session the Tribunal delivered a total of 90 judgments, of which 45 cases involving the EPO. Of the EPO cases, only 5 cases were won at least partially by the complainants. Of the remaining cases 11 were summarily dismissed. The result is marginally better for the complainants than that of the previous session but remains extremely poor. Moreover, none of the cases that were won seriously inconveniences the EPO.

    The present paper discusses selected cases and the overall implications.

  • Intervention of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' (PS) at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

    (02/07/2015)

    Pierre-Yves Le Borgn', a French Member of Parliament, made an intervention at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 June 2015.

    Mr Le Borgn' explained the rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office (EPO) and referred to the Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights from Mr José María Beneyto, Accountability of international organizations for human rights violations:

    "I make appeal to the Member States, from whom the European Patent holds its legitimacy, to act, because now is the time to act."

    The intervention is available on YouTube. A transcript is available here.
    Translations in English, German and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, "Rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office"

    (01/07/2015)

    Pierre Yves Le Borgn', a French Representative in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has initiated a declaration co-signed by 82 Members of Parliament, including four of the five main political group leaders.

    The declaration can be found on the Assembly's website in English (archive) and French (archive). Translations are also available in German and Dutch.

    In his blog, Pierre Yves Le Borgn' announces his intention to subject the deficient governance of the EPO to a review by the Venice Commisssion (The European Commission for Democracy through Law) which could make suitable recommendations to find a solution.

  • Münchner Merkur, "Seine Herrschaft muss enden"

    (30/06/2015)

    The Münchner Merkur reports on the demonstration of EPO staff on 24 June 2015 in front of the ISAR building in Munich:

    "The regularity of the protests by the staff at the European Patent Office brings back memories of the Leipzig Monday demonstrations in the days of East Germany, and, like them, this is a matter of basic rights. Large sections of the 7000 employees accuse their most senior executive, Office President Benoît Battistelli, of continuing abuse of power and of using East German methods - accusations he strenuously denies."

    "The Office itself is stonewalling. Disciplinary matters are strictly confidential, and that means strictly no comment as to whether and how monitoring is currently being carried out. Insiders have reason to believe that a new guideline regarding video surveillance is in the making."

    Translations in English, French and Dutch can be found by scrolling through the document.

  • Situation of the European Patent Office, June 2015

    (28/06/2015)

    The social conflict at the European Patent Office continues. The working climate has become toxic for both individual staff in the EPO and for the broader functioning of this European institution as a whole.

    An overview of the latest events and an analysis of the current situation can be found in this publication.

  • Union Recognition: Attendance to Working Group meetings

    (26/06/2015)

    Ms Bergot, Principal Director of Human Resources of the EPO, has scheduled new meetings of the working group on "union recognition" between the administration and union officials. However, Mr Kongstad (Chairman of the Administrative Council) has still not reacted to the letter sent by SUEPO Central concerning the investigation of staff representatives and/or union executives during trilateral talks.

    Pending Mr Kongstad's written answer, as also reiteratered in the Council meeting of 24/25 June 2015, SUEPO regrets it must decline the invitation at present. Of course, SUEPO is looking forward to developments making the resumption of meaningful discussions possible.

    A letter of reply sent to Ms Bergot can be found here.

  • FOSS Patents, "1,000 EPO employees took to the streets of Munich to protest hidden surveillance, other violations"

    (26/06/2015)

    FOSS Patents reports on the demonstration of more than 1000 EPO employees on 24 June 2015 in front of the ISAR buidling in Munich.
    Florian Mueller also comments on the intervention of Axelle Lemaire, French State Secretary for Digital Economy, who used her keynote speech at the European Inventor Award ceremony of 11 June 2015 as an opportunity to comment on the social conflict in the EPO and express her government's concerns for the rights of EPO staff:

    "It's really unusual in two regards. One, this speech was given at the European Inventor Award ceremony, an event at which the EPO wanted to celebrate itself. I consider that event a sad thing. In my opinion, a patent office that promotes in any way (by this I also mean the USPTO with its Steve Jobs patents exhibition) patents that are or could still be used in litigation miserably fails to be neutral and its leadership should be replaced. But for the EPO's leadership, that event is meant to be a day of joy and self-aggrandizement. The fact that a politician would touch onthe delicate issue of the EPO labor conflict and human rights issues on such an occasion gives those remarks about ten times more weight than if they had been made in daily business. Two, Mr. Battistelli is French and the national governments of officials of international organizations are usually the last ones to withdraw their support."

    Elektronik Tidningen, a Swedish website, has also reported on the demonstration.

  • Actions continue at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (20/06/2015)

    SUEPO organises on Wednesday 24 June 2015 a demonstration in Munich in front of the EPO Isar building (Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1) starting at 12.30h.

    The main purpose of the demonstration is to make it clear to the Members of the Administration that investigating your "social partner" with the private security firm Control Risks is not the best way to renew "social dialogue".

    Our claims are still the same: respect for Rule of Law, for Freedom of Association and Honest Negotiation of our work package. But we do not forget the mission of the EPO as a public service created for the benefit of the citizens of Europe. That is why we continue to defend high quality searches and examinations as well as transparency.

  • IPKat Blog, "French toast leaves a sour taste for Battistelli on EPO's big day"

    (18/06/2015)

    IPKat reports on the European Inventor Award 2015 ceremony which took place on 11 June 2015 in Paris. Axelle Lemaire, French State Secretary for Digital Economy used her keynote speech as an opportunity to comment on the social conflict in the EPO and her government's concerns for the rights of EPO staff. She said:

    "Innovation is an imperative, an economic imperative. And what's true for technology is also true for public innovation, modes of governance, and social innovation. Under this heading, while it’s not the object of our meeting this morning, the French government knows of the social difficulties that are expressed within the EPO and in this regard, the Office has an exemplary duty of absolute transparency in the rights of employees working there."

    The video of the event is hosted on the European Commission A/V services and shows the full speech in French (starting from 109:40 for the criticisms).
    Les Echos, the French newspaper acting as communication partner for the Office, initially released a report of the event including Ms Lemaire's criticisms, but later removed them.

  • de Volkskrant, "Staat voor de rechter om misstanden octrooibureau"

    (17/06/2015)

    De Volkskrant (printable version) reports that "SUEPO is taking the Dutch government to court. In February, the Court of Appeal ruled that the EPO in Rijswijk is breaching human rights. Despite this, the Dutch government has not intervened, while SUEPO is of the opinion that it should."

    "In response to clarification requested by Members of Parliaments, Minister Van der Steur (Justice) wrote 'Enforcement of the ruling would be in conflict with the Kingdom's obligations under international law'."

    "The Dutch government has a financial interest that means it won't come down too hard on the EPO. The economy does well from the establishment of international organisations on Dutch soil. In Rijswijk, the EPO is currently building a new office for more than 200 million euro."

    Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document. The article was also published in the paper version of 9 June 2015.
  • IPKat Blog, "Given up on following the EPO posts? Here's a recap of the year to date"

    (16/06/2015)

    IPKat provides an overview of the events at the European Patent Office since 1 January 2015. Merpel concludes as follows:

    • "The Administrative Council (AC) has shown some signs of independent thought, but there's a lot more to do if it is to bring the EPO into line with the standards of the national patent offices whose heads make up the AC."
    • "The delegates know full well that if they tried to subject their own staff at home to the same regime as in the EPO (i.e. the investigations, the unilateral changes to promotion structures and invalidity benefits), they would find themselves in court and probably out of a job due to the revolt of civil servants. But when they board the plane to Munich, somehow the standards slip."
    • "The AC continues to approve proposals for social reforms when it knows that the staff’s input into these proposals have been deliberately silenced. They are aware of the atmosphere of fear pervading the office, and now they know that someone in the EPO is spying on attorneys and potentially on themselves. Will this be enough for someone to cry "halt"? Merpel is, as she said, eternally hopeful."

  • Letter to Heiko Maas, Resolution adopted by staff of the European Patent Office

    (16/06/2015)

    In a well attended General Assembly, staff of the EPO adopted a resolution to be sent to Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection. The letter informs Heiko Maas of the investigation of staff representatives and/or union executives by the company Control Risks during the trilateral talks on union recognition.

    A copy of the letter can be found here. Translations in English, French and Dutch are also available.

  • Letter to EU commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, JURI committee and the Members of the Policy Department C (Citizen's Rights and Constitutional Affairs) of the EU Parliament

    (16/06/2015)

    The JURI committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament has invited Benoît Battistelli to a public hearing on 15 June 2015. In preparation of this hearing the Policy Department C (Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs) drafted a report The European Patent Office State of Play - In-depth analysis (printable version)

    Legal counsels of SUEPO sent a letter in order to complete the picture portrayed in the report. A copy of the letter can be found here:

    "There are serious concerns that [the] internal structure [of the EPO] does not meet the standards of transparency and labour conditions which the EU institution expect of themselves. [The Unity Patent] project will be in jeopardy if it relies on a system in violation of fundamental human rights and on deficient labour conditions, and if staff performing quasi-judicial work does not enjoy internationally acceptable and agreed legal standards."

    Translations are available in French, German and Dutch.

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Forderung nach externem Datenschützer"

    (16/06/2015)

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that Thomas Petri, the Bavarian Data Protection Commissioner wants to have an external data protection supervisor deployed at the European Patent Office. It has become a matter of public knowledge that publicly accessible computers at the EPO were placed under observation using surveillance technology after the receipt of letters containing [allegedly] defamatory remarks against the Management.

    Data Protection Commissioner Petri previously investigated the data protection arrangements at the EPO in the Spring of 2014 following a complaint and he came to the conclusion that they were deficient. "It emerged that nobody was really in charge", told Petri.

    Translations in English, French and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.

  • FOSS Patents, "The so-called data protection officer of the EPO signed off on keylogging, hidden cameras"

    (15/06/2015)

    FOSS Patents reveals the document signed by the Data Protection Officer of the European Patent Office authorising the covert surveillance of publicly accessible computers in the Munich ISAR building. Florian Mueller comments as follows:

    "There is now conclusive evidence that the EPO has violated basic human rights not only of its staff but even of unsuspecting visitors of one of the EPO's Munich facilities. [...] [T]he request that the "data protection officer" (who is more than 25 years late to serve as a Stasi official) authorized merely refers to freedom-of-speech issues: "a sustained campaign of defamatory and insulting communications against [the EPO's Jack Warner] Vice President Zejlko Topic, other senior managers of the Office and possibly Administrative Council Delegates, in the form of normal post and electronic mail."

  • Münchner Merkur, "Wie bei der FIFA oder in China - Europäisches Patentamt: Beschäftigte bespitzelt"

    (14/06/2015)

    The Münchner Merkur (printable version) reports on the spying scandal at the European Patent Office:

    "[E]mployees were tracked with spy software. Patent attorneys and members of the Administrative Council may also have been affected. [...] The goings-on inside the EPO nowadays resemble what was previously thought to only occur in China or at the FIFA. [...] As a result of the surveillance a member of EPO Boards of Appeal was suspended because he is alleged to have disseminated defamatory statements about the Office and its managers. [...] Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether or not the suspended EPO staff member was really guilty of defamation or whether he was merely stating the truth. His remarks reportedly referred to the EPO Vice-President, Zeljko Topic, and included allegations of corruption relating to his time at the Croatian Patent Office."

    A similar article was published in the Badische Zeitung. A translation in English can be found by scrolling through the document.
  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Europäisches Patentamt überwachte Mitarbeiter mit Keyloggern"

    (14/06/2015)

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung (printable version) reveals a spy scandal at the European Patent Office.

    Towards the end of last year, in the EPO ISAR building, "publicly accessible computers were placed under surveillance [...] by means of cameras and so-called keyloggers. This allows the recording of what the user types, which pages he accesses and how he communicates." These computers were "provided especially for the members of the Administrative Council" and "visitors to the Patent Office who typically sojourn on the first floor also include patent attorneys".

    "The matter is also particularly sensitive because during the period in which the surveillance was being carried out the 142th Meeting of the Administrative Council also took place in the building, namely on 10. and 11. December 2014. In addition, the Budget and Finance Committee also met during the period in question. The computers are apparently located near the room where the Council meets."

    Translations in English, French and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document. The article was also published in the paper version of 9 June 2015.
  • Huffington Post, "L'Organisation européenne des brevets, une zone de non-droit en Europe?"

    (14/06/2015)

    The Huffington Post, a website partly owned by Le Monde, published a tribune signed by Members of the French Parliament, the French Senate and the European Parliament. The signatories regret that the success story of the European Patent Office is "now endangered since 2012 by authoritarian social policies which do not respect the fundamental rights of staff".

    Translations in English, German and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Spy scandal - EPO hits the news in Germany

    (10/06/2015)

    IPKat reports on the article of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Europäisches Patentamt überwachte Mitarbeiter mit Keyloggern" revealing a spy scandal at the European Patent Office and provides an English translation.
  • Union Recognition: Investigation of staff representatives and/or union executives during trilateral talks

    (10/06/2015)

    The external company, Control Risks, is performing interrogations of staff representatives and/or union executives at the initiative of the investigation unit, itself under the direct authority of President Benoît Battistelli. During the last meeting on union recognition, Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council, took note of the issue, and declined to comment or act on this serious development. The investigations not only continue, but seem to have been extended to even more staff representatives, some of whom are active participants to the trilateral meetings.

    In a letter to Mr Kongstad, SUEPO now asks him to react. A copy of the letter can be found here.

  • de Volkskrant, "Octrooibureau zet detectives in tegen eigen medewerkers"

    (09/06/2015)

    De Volkskrant (printable version) reports on the information that the EPO has commissioned the company Control Risks to investigate elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.

    This is the "the latest weapon to be added to EPOrg president Benoît Battistelli’s reign of terror" where "systematic investigations are being carried out on employees known to be active within unions or those who have been chosen as staff representatives."

    Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document. The article was also published in the paper version of 5 June 2015.

  • Philip Cordery, "La Commissaire européenne, Elzbieta Bienkowska, répond à mon courrier concernant la situation de l'OEB"

    (08/06/2015)

    Earlier in February, Philip Cordery, member of the French Parliament, had published an article (en,de) criticising the "antisocial policy of the EPO" and sent a letter (en,de)) to European Commisionner Elzbieta Bienkowska calling upon her to intervene.

    Philip Cordery has now published the letter of reply (printable version) from Elzbieta Bienkowska. She wrote:

    • "The European Patent Organization (the "Organization"), of which the EPO is the executive body, is an independent international institution, which has no organic links with the European Union. [...] The Commission has only the role of an observer within [the EPO's Administrative Council].
    • "I have been informed of the social tensions which have transpired between the management of the EPO and the staff representatives, and which have been widely reported in the press."
    • "The EPO will be in charge of the issue and management of the Unitary European Patent. With this in mind, I have issued instructions to my staff who represent the European Commission as observers on the Administrative Council to monitor the developments of the situation closely."
    • "I have also requested the President of the EPO to make every effort to return to a constructive social dialogue."

    Translations in English, German and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Independence of the Boards of Appeal - EPLAW and CCBE comment

    (06/06/2015)

    The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) is the representative organisation of more than 1 million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies from 32 full member countries, and 13 further associate and observer countries. In a letter addressed to Mr Jesper Kongstad (Chairman of the Administrative Council) on 15 May 2015, CBBE comments on the Structural Reform of the Boards of Appeal proposed by Mr Battistelli. Among the concerns are:

    • "We would encourage the Administrative Council to seek its own independent legal advice on constitutional law. It should not rely on advice obtained by the President of the EPO."
    • "In the interests of perceived independence, it is highly desirable, both in dealing with these reforms and more generally, for any communications to be seen to come either from the Council or from the President, but not to be presented as a joint position."

    The European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) is "in full agreement with the comments" of CBBE and has sent them by letter to Mr Battistelli on 4 June 2015.

    IPKat comments on these letters and still considers that relocating the Boards of Appeal in a different city from the rest of the EPO "would be folly".

  • Nederlands Juristenblad, "Fundamental labour rights and immunity"

    (05/06/2015)

    Nederlands Juristenblad, a Dutch legal magazine, published an article about the judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal in the case SUEPO v EPO:

    "The Court of Appeal in The Hague has created an international precedent in the case against EPO by rejecting the immunity of an international organisation in a collective labour law case, and also awarding the claims on their merits, based on the fact that the organisation in question violated fundamental human rights. This decision is important because it further institutionalises the accountability of international organisations. Unfortunately the Netherlands also showed itself at its most narrow-minded: the Minister instructed the bailiff to not enforce the judgement because the organisation enjoys immunity from enforcement under international law. This instruction not only erodes the separation of powers stipulated by the Constitution, it isn't an obligation under international law either: as is the case for immunity from jurisdiction, immunity from enforcement can only be granted if the organisation adequately protects fundamental rights."

    Translations in English and French are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Público, "La Oficina Europea de Patentes viola los derechos laborales, según los trabajadores"

    (05/06/2015)

    Público, a spanish newspaper, published an article (printable version) titled "The European Patent Office is violating labour laws, according to the employees".

    The article reports on the authoritarian drift of the European Patent Office under the presidency of Mr Battistelli with the introduction of an investigation unit (supported by Control Risks), the increase in disciplinary procedures and the violation of fundamental rights of staff with the latest health care reform (lack of confidentiality of medical records and house arrests for invalids).

    Translations in English, French, German and Dutch can be found by scrolling through the document.
  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Krisenfachleute spähen im EPA"

    (03/06/2015)

    The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports on the information that the EPO has commissioned the company Control Risks to investigate elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union:

    "Control Risks ist in Deutschland nicht unbekannt. Es soll das Unternehmen gewesen sein, das angeblich für die Deutsche Telekom Journalisten bespitzelte, um an Kontaktpersonen aus dem Konzern heranzukommen, die Informationen nach außen durchgestochen haben sollen."

    "Dass es aber ausgerechnet Control Risks sein musste, die da ausgewählt wurde, hat an einigen Stellen des Hauses – gelinde ausgedrückt – Magengrummeln ausgelöst. Es wird als "unglückliche Wahl" bezeichnet. Und es wird nicht gerade als förderlich für eine gute Verhandlungsatmosphäre zwischen Präsident und Gewerkschaften betrachtet, dass nun ausgerechnet ein Personalvertreter Gegenstand von Ermittlungen wegen vermeintlicher Mobbingvorwürfe ist."

    Translations in English, French and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.
  • Striking structural parallels between the European Patent Office and soccer body FIFA

    (02/06/2015)

    FOSS Patents draws parallels between the structural deficiencies of FIFA on the one hand and the EPO on the other hand:

    "both organizations have similar structural issues that lead to bad decisions and bad behavior. Neither FIFA nor the EPO are corrupt per se, but their structural deficiencies have various corrupting effects."

  • Union Recognition Talks: going nowhere, as slowly as possible

    (01/06/2015)

    The last tri-partite meeting (Administrative Council/Office/Unions) on Union recognition took place on 28 May. Neither the Office nor the Administrative Council (AC) have given any indication that they intend to involve SUEPO in any form of serious collective bargaining.

    The EPO also refuses to stop investigations against staff and union representatives launched during the talks on unions recognition.

    More information can be found in the publication available here.
  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Sturm im Glashaus"

    (01/06/2015)

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung (printable version) comments on the information that the EPO has commissioned the company Control Risks to investigate elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union:

    "Fruchtlose Friedengespräche. Das Europäische Patentamt kommt nicht zur Ruhe: Neue interne Ermittlungen, die sich gegen Personalvertreter richten, sorgen für Aufsehen. Weil die hauseigene Ermittlungsabteilung personell überlastet sei, sollen nun Krisenspezialisten aus London Mobbingvorwürfen nachgehen".

    Translations in English, French and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document. The article was also published in the paper version of 1 June 2015.
  • Jean Nouvel builds the new EPO building in The Hague... and the Philharmonie de Paris

    (29/05/2015)

    Ateliers Jean Nouvel has been chosen to design and construct the new EPO building in The Hague.

    Mediapart, a French information website edited by former journalists of Le Monde, has recently published an article (printable version) on the severe problems of the Philharmonie de Paris designed by this same architect. Translations in English and German can be found by scrolling through the document.

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported on the difficulties of Jean Nouvel.

  • More on Control Risks

    (28/05/2015)

    SUEPO understands that the company Control Risks has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. The following articles report on the activities of this company:

    A summary can be found here.
  • Answer of Control Risks

    (28/05/2015)

    SUEPO sent an open letter to the company Control Risks which we understand has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.

    We have now received a reply from Nick Allan, Regional Director (Europe & Africa).

  • The EPO confirms use of external investigation firms

    (27/05/2015)

    The EPO has issued a communiqué confirming the use of external investigation firms. A copy of the communiqué and comments can be found on IPKat:

    "The "best international standards" followed by the Investigative Unit don't include allowing the employee to be represented by a lawyer. Perhaps readers think that "lawyering up" at an early stage is an over-reaction, but consider that the employee may face dismissal without any of the safeguards of labour law available in the EU or other member states. The targets of investigation are severely restricted from even disclosing that they are being investigated, and apparently have an active duty to cooperate, so no "right to silence"; and the Investigative Unit (and by extension, Control Risks) has the power to invade the privacy of the subject to an extent that would cause uproar if it happened in a national patent office or in any private enterprise operating within the EU."

  • Disturbing news from the EPO

    (26/05/2015)

    IPKat comments on the information that the EPO has commissioned the company Control Risks to investigate elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. Control Risks describes itself as "an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments".

    IPKat 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?"

  • Open letter to Control Risks

    (21/05/2015)

    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.

    An open letter sent to the company can be found here.

  • Reform of sick leave and invalidity - Another severe attack against both dignity and fundamental rights of EPO staff

    (19/05/2015)

    The reform of sick leave and invalidity constitutes another severe attack on both dignity and fundamental rights of EPO staff.

    Explanations can be found in the publication available here.

  • Union Recognition Working Group - Report on the 1st meeting of 11 May 2015

    (13/05/2015)

    After the first tripartite (AC/Office/Unions) meeting on 22 April where all parties expressed a cautious optimism that such engagement should lead to an improved social climate, a special Working Group (WG) was established to look into the particular issue of formal union recognition.

    A report on the meeting can be found here.

  • 119th Session of the ILO-AT

    (12/05/2015)

    In its 119th session the Tribunal delivered a total of 77 judgments, of which 24 cases involving the EPO. Of the 24 EPO cases, only one case was won by the complainant. The remaining 23 cases were dismissed, 13 summarily.

    This paper discusses the cases that have broader relevance and the overall implications.

  • Battistelli reportedly threatened to resign; Dutch diplomat concedes concern over bad press

    (04/05/2015)

    On 30 April 2015 some 800 colleagues marched from the PschorrHöfe complex to the Dutch consulate in Munich. The demonstration was covered by FOSS Patents:

    "It's unfortunately true that the EPO, claiming immunity, behaves like an enclave that doesn't have to respect European/EU human rights and labor law standards." [...] "While I don't think Mr Battistelli's resignation would in and of itself represent a solution, I also don't feel he's unreplaceable. The Administrative Council should have decided to take the mediation route anyway and should simply have accepted his resignation.

  • Promise of union recognition insufficient to solve conflict at European Patent Office

    (04/05/2015)

    FOSS Patents reports on the protests which continue at the EPO despite the promise of union recognition. The article also cites a SUEPO flyer titled A Brave New EPO explaining some key underlying issues behind the governance crisis at the EPO:

    "The stated reasons for certain reform measures are based on the nonsensical notion that the EPO "competes" with the USPTO, JPO, SIPO and other non-European patent offices. If it competes with anyone, it's with national patent offices, but national patent systems control the EPO through the Administrative Council and milk it (through high renewal fees that have an almost 100% gross margin for national patent systems)."

    "Two-thirds of the applications filed at the EPO are not of European origin and thus are more likely to hinder European industry than benefit it. A flood of badly examined patents could affect in particular the small and medium-sized enterprises that cannot afford expensive litigation."

  • Actions continue at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (27/04/2015)

    AFTER having pushed through a career reform that increased the salaries for newly recruited managers and stalls the careers of almost everybody else,
    AFTER having accepted the next health reform that further weakens the position of staff who are sick or invalid, and
    AFTER having confirmed the Council's "clear will to continue the policy of reforms to the benefit of users" (sic),

    Mr Kongstad and Mr Battistelli called for a renewed social dialogue. Mr Kongstad and Battistelli "consider in particular that the formal recognition of the trade unions within the EPO’s legal framework could create the conditions to re-launch the process and to overcome some longstanding issues."

    SUEPO obviously applauds the initiative to recognise a Union that represents half of the personnel of the EPO. This was indeed long overdue. However, we fail to see how Union recognition could solve any of the more urgent outstanding problems.

    The next demonstration targets the Dutch consulate (see SUEPO flyer).

  • Unitary Patent Package: Complex and Misinformation about it

    (27/04/2015)

    IPKat reacts to misleading information provided by the European Commission and the European Patent Office on the Unitary Patent Package. In particular, the procedure is more complex than advertised, the costs won't be lower in practice and European SME's won't benefit from the new system: "Any benefits of the system apply equally to non-European companies, but the disadvantages will disproportionately affect European ones, particularly the potential rise in third party patent rights that they have to consider, and especially in the countries where fewer European patents are currently validated."

    In a later post, IPKat simulates an interview between a patent attorney and his client trying to understand whether he/she should opt for the Unitary Patent.

  • El Pais, "La 'oficina feliz' se va a la huelga"

    (26/04/2015)

    El Pais, one of the reference newspapers in Spain, published an article on the social conflict at the EPO due to the "dictatorial attitudes" of President Battistelli, abuse of the judicial immunity and lack of proper consultation on the reforms.

    Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document.

  • European Patent Office: The Colossus' feet of clay crumble

    (26/04/2015)

    Back in February 2015, the Danish website, Ingeniøren (printable version), commented on the protests at the European Patent Office and the lack of independence of the Boards of Appeals:

    "the highly educated specialists of the EPO have been so frustrated about the consistent erosion of their ability to do a good job that they have been out demonstrating in Munich, where the EPO has its headquarters. The most recent demonstrations ended at the Danish consulate in Munich" [...] "There will no longer be even one independent instance for a company that fails to get its European application approved. That amounts to serious prejudicing of rights!"

    "It is now being suggested quite seriously in professional patent advisory circles that clients should be advised to avoid the EPO (and thus the unitary patent) entirely and apply nationally, the way things were done long ago, before 1978."

    A translation in English is available by scrolling through the document.

  • Trilateral meeting of 22 April 2015 with the President and the Administrative Council

    (23/04/2015)

    Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad called for a renewed social dialogue and invited Union officials to a "kick-off meeting" on 22 April 2015.

    A report on the meeting can be found here.

  • IAM Magazine, "The case for IP can only be fully made if its institutions are transparent and subject to independent oversight"

    (20/04/2015)

    IAM Magazine comments on the lack of transparency and independent oversight of international IP offices such as the European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). It concludes that:

    "No doubt, transparency and independent oversight look unattractive for many that work inside IP’s major institutions. Such reactions are understandable among people who, like most inside the IP world, entered the field when it had a very different, much lower profile. Nevertheless, I am afraid, that’s the way it has to be. We cannot hold off on doing the right thing because it discomfits certain people and interests. IP is too important for that."

  • Letter from the Bayerische Landesärztekammer

    (22/04/2015)

    Early March, SUEPO sent a letter to the Bayerische Landesärztekammer (BLAEK) asking questions about the obligations of medical doctors working for the EPO. We have now received a reply. We are very grateful to the Bayerische Landesärztekammer for providing us with timely and thorough answers, as well as the relevant regulations.
  • Le Monde, "Harcèlement chez France Télécom : après la direction, de nouveaux cadres mis en examen"

    (17/04/2015)

    Earlier in December 2014, Le Monde published an article on the French company, France Telecom, which initiated an alleged "modernisation process" and introduced corporate harassment against its employees. Several suicides took place among the employees of the company.

    Translations are available in English, German and Dutch by scrolling through the document.

  • Saarbrücker Zeitung, "Großer Zoff beim Patentamt"

    (15/04/2015)

    Saarbrücker Zeitung published an article on the governance crisis at the EPO. "Der Verwaltungsrat hat beschlossen, aktiv zu werden", says the Federal Ministry of Justice in Germany.

    A similar article was published in Stuttgarter Zeitung, "Der soziale Friede ist zerstört".

  • Le Monde, "Un si bon office"

    (09/04/2015)

    Le Monde, one of the reference newspapers in France, published an article on the deleterious social climate at the European Patent Office culminating with an authoritarian management style and four suicides since 2012. Translation are available in English, German and Dutch by scrolling through the document

    The article was published online on 6 April 2015 and then in the paper edition of 7 April 2015. Reader comments can be found here.

  • IAM Magazine, "No ifs, no buts - it is time to shine a bright and permanent light on the full workings of the EPO"

    (01/04/2015)

    IAM Magazine comments on the government crisis at the EPO and the joint declaration proposing the formal recognition of trade unions within the office’s legal framework. It concludes that:

    "Those on both sides of the argument might see this as the beginning of the end of what has undoubtedly been a destructive dispute. But if they also believe that it means thing scan go back to normal, hopefully they are very wrong. What observers and users of the EPO have learned over the last few months is how little they know about the ways in which it works and what lies behind the decisions that it takes. And that is just not acceptable."

    "As the EU unitary patent regime and Unified Patent Court regime fast approach – and with them a much more important role for Europe in the patent world - it is time for the governance of the European patent system to embrace the modern age."

  • Administrative Council offers 'formal recognition of the trade unions within the EPO's legal framework

    (29/03/2015)

    FOSS Patents comments on the joint statement by Benoît Battistelli and Jesper Kongstad calling for a social dialogue, and publishes the reaction of SUEPO Munich (also published by IPKat). Florian Mueller writes:

    "So they say they're going to do something that happened in major EPOrg member states like the UK and Germany almost 150 years ago: to formally recognize trade unions. (Granted, EPO employees have always had the right to strike, so the current rules aren't medieval in all respects, but with recent changes that would require a strike to be approved by the president, the right to strike had also been effectively vitiated.)"

    IPKat comments on the outcome of the meeting of the Administrative Council "which will certainly not be to everyone's liking". "Essentially, what is needed now is for the President and all the other parties involved to make sure that their first concern is the running of the Office, not the ruining of it." The reaction of SUEPO The Hague can be found in the comments.

  • Questions posed by a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg (Claudia Dall Agnol - LSAP) to the President of the Chamber

    (25/03/2015)

    Claudia Dall'Agnol, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg, has posed questions to the President of the Chamber under the title "Social conflict at the European Patent Office".
  • This week's EPO Administrative Council meeting: revolution unlikely, progress badly needed

    (24/03/2015)

    FOSS Patents comments on the issues at stake for the Administrative Council meeting of 25 and 26 March 2015. These are also addressed in the SUEPO flyer announcing the coming demonstration. Florian Mueller analyses the governance crisis as follows:

    "The national government delegates on the AC have reasons for backing Mr. Battistelli's controversial decisions and plans. The EPO is, indirectly, a cash cow for national patent offices (through renewal fees). Germany alone receives about 140 million euros per year in annual renewal fees for the German parts of patents granted by the EPO. National patent offices are given lucrative opportunities in the form of cooperation projects with the EPO, which the president controls. And AC members have frequently been (and some current AC members are rumored to be) given high-level posts at the EPO, where they usually get a much bigger paycheck than at home. More than enough reasons to favor stability over everything else.

  • Open letter of IPKat to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation

    (24/03/2015)

    IPKat has sent an open letter to the Administrative Council of the EPO. The letter concludes that:

    "It is the function of the Administrative Council to hold the President and senior management of the EPO to account, and Europe is watching to see signs that [the delegations] are doing this. Members of the EU are also watching with concern since the EPO is crucial to the future success of the Unitary Patent."

  • European Patent Office under fire over 'reign of terror'

    (24/03/2015)

    Dutch News, a website for expatriates in the Netherlands, summarises the articles of NRC Handelsblad and de Volkskrant published on 21 March 2015.
  • NRC Handelsblad, "Ik ben geen zonnekoning"

    (23/03/2015)

    NRC Handelsblad published an interview (printable version) titled "I am not a Sun King" with Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office.
    Benoît Battistelli considers that, the judgment of the Court of Appeal in The Hague is "a Dutch interpretation of International Law." "The Court had made a legal mistake [...] In addition to that, the Court has made a wrong interpretation of the facts."

    Regarding the suicide of an employee who jumped out the window at the workplace in The Hague in 2013, Benoît Battistelli says that "There was no reason to assume a connection with his work. The Dutch police investigated and found out that it was clearly a suicide. We have no reason to do more. The Labour Inspectorate in the Netherlands has no reason to intervene in such a case. We are not a Dutch agency."

    Regarding social dialogue, Battistelli concludes "I'm open. But we also have troublesome unions. A mix of French unions with German efficiency: a dangerous cocktail."

    The interview was also published in the paper version of 21 March 2015. Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document.

  • De Volkskrant, "Baas van Europese octrooiorganisatie voert schrikbewind"

    (23/03/2015)

    De Volkskrant (printable version) reports on the "reign of terror" conducted by Benoît Battistelli over the European Patent Organisation.
    The article points out that "the social conflit at the EPO has gone out of hand". "A suicide at the workplace was not investigated by the Dutch Labour Inspectorate which was not allowed to enter the EPO premises."

    Concerning the governance issues, the article quotes that "Battistelli controls the flows of money, so [the delegations of the Administrative Council] would be crazy to contradict him." "Characteristic of the behaviour of Benoît Battistelli is the renovation of the tenth floor of the ISAR building which is said to have cost millions of Euros".

    The article was also published in the paper version of 21 March 2015. Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document.

  • NRC Handelsblad, "De arbeidsinspectie komt er bij het Europees Octrooibureau niet in"

    (23/03/2015)

    NRC Handelsblad published an article (printable version) titled, "The Labour Inspectorate cannot enter the European Patent Office".
    The article reports that "In 2013, an employee committed suicide by jumping out the window in Rijswijk. Also in Germany there were two suicides." "The Dutch Labour Inspectorate was not allowed to enter the premises and this has led to parliamentary questions."

    Translations in English, German and French are available by scrolling through the document.

  • EPO human rights issues and EU patent (litigation) reform: questions and concerns

    (22/03/2015)

    FOSS Patents considers that, "the EU institutions should take a closer look at the current situation before the EPO starts to grant the EU unitary patent".

    There are two key areas of concern:

    • the impact of the future UPC's rules of procedure on the tech industry, particularly companies that have to defend themselves against patents that wouldn't survive an invalidity challenge, and
    • the human rights conflict at the European Patent Office (EPO), which has recently escalated because EPO staff won a ruling form a Dutch appeals court but the Dutch government won't allow it to be enforced against the EPO for immunity reasons.

  • Letter to Ministers of Member States of the European Patent Organisation

    (21/03/2015)

    Pr. Liesbeth Zegveld, legal counsel of SUEPO The Hague has sent a letter to all member states' Ministers in charge of IP matters.
  • Questions posed by a Dutch member of the European Parliament (Agnes Jongerius - PvdA) to the European Commission

    (21/03/2015)

    Agnes Jongerius, a Dutch member of the European Parliament has posed questions (fr,de) to the European Commission under the title "Abuses at the European Patent Office in The Hague".

    In a communiqué (en,fr,de) published by the European Federation of Public Service Unions, Agnes Jongerius asks, "Does Europe apply double standards?".

  • Actions continue at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (20/03/2015)

    The governing body of the EPO will meet on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 March in Munich (Germany). On the agenda is a reform that allegedly should improve staff health. In practice it will seriously weaken the position of sick staff vis à vis the Office. Amongst others, the new regulations would oblige staff to remain at their place of employment during at least 10 years of full incapacity to work, before the Office will consider recognizing their invalidity. During this time they will need to request permission from their employer for every absence. According to SUEPO this is an impermissable infringement of their privacy.

    On Wednesday 25 March 2015 a demonstration will take place in Munich in front of the EPO Isar building (Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1) starting at 12.30h.

    The demonstration aims in particular at the German delegation in the Administrative Council. As the representatives of a host country and of one of the founding Member States, the German delagation has a special responsibility towards EPO staff.

    Staff of the EPO reproach the German delegation that it has thus far uncritically supported all previous reforms that in various ways infringed staff’s fundamental rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, inviolability of the home and other.

  • Pierre-Yves Le Borgn', "Office Européen des Brevets : à quand la sortie de crise ?"

    (15/03/2015)

    Pierre-Yves Le Borgn', member of the French Parliament, has published an article (printable version) on the "deleterious social climate" and the "governance crisis" at the EPO.

    In his view, the judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal "would merit, at the very least, with regard both to its expectations and its consequences, a debate between the Member States within the Administrative Council" but Mr Battistelli has already "announced to the staff that the organisation would not be submitting to the ruling by the Court". "When one has lost immunity from jurisdiction, it is futile to invoke despairingly immunity from enforcement."

    Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' also makes a series of proposals to emerge from the cricis. These include an independent social audit, a conference of the ministers every two years (none took place since 2000), and that the exercise of the Chairing of the Administrative Council becomes incompatible with candidature for the Presidency of the EPO.

    Translations in English, German and Dutch are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Intervention of James Carver (MEP) at the European Parliament

    (13/03/2015)

    James Carver, a British member of the European Parliament made an intervention on 11 March 2015 titled "European Patent Office breaches human rights and claims immunity".

    The intervention is available on YouTube. A transcript is available here.

  • What actually happened at the December Administrative Council meeting?

    (13/03/2015)

    IPKat reveals the minutes of the Administrative Council meeting of December 2014 in two posts:
    • Part I deals with the "house ban" controversially imposed on a member of the Boards of Appeal,
    • Part II deals with the "new career system" at the EPO.

    "Readers from European Patent contracting states may wish to note how their own delegations responded to the EPO at this critical time. Bearing in mind that the delegations to the Administrative Council are effectively the legislature of the EPO and their primary constitutional function is to act as a check on the executive (namely the President and his management structure)."

  • Philip Cordery, "La politique antisociale de l'Office Européen des Brevets condamnée par le Tribunal de La Haye"

    (11/03/2015)

    Philip Cordery, member of the French Parliament, has published an article (en,de) criticising the "antisocial policy of the EPO" recently condemned by the Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague.

    In his view, Benoît Battistelli "has once again distinguished himself by rejecting a court decision from a democratic State, on the pretext that this would be contrary to the principle of immunity which the EPO enjoys". "It is now a matter of urgency for the management to realise that the EPO cannot be an area where law does not prevail, and that it must respect international working standards and the European Charter on fundamental rights."

    In this spirit, Philip Cordery has called upon Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO (Letter to Guy Ryder (en,de)) and the European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska (Letter to European Commissioner (en,de)), to intervene.

  • Letter to Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection

    (10/03/2015)

    A SUEPO lawyer addresses Heiko Maas and informs him of the latest reforms and developments at the EPO. A copy of the letter and a translation in English are available.
  • Questions posed by a Dutch member of the European Parliament (Dennis de Jong - SP) to the European Commission

    (08/03/2015)

    Dennis de Jong, a Dutch member of the European Parliament has posed questions to the European Commission under the title "Rights of staff and ethical standards at the European Patent Office".
  • Guidelines on Freedom of Expression

    (06/03/2015)

    The Council of the European Union has adopted on 12 May 2014, Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline.

  • Accountability of international organisations for human rights violations

    (05/03/2015)

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has proposed a number of measures to increase the accountability of international organisations. These include holding States responsible for the actions of international organisations that they assist, contribute to, or of which they are members.

    The Assembly invites all Council of Europe member States, and international organisations of which they are a part to formulate clear guidelines regarding the waiv er of immunity by international organisations or otherwise limiting the breadth of the immunity they enjoy before national courts, in order to ensure that the necessary functional immunity does not shield them from scrutiny regarding, in particular, their adherence to non-derogable human rights standards.

    The Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights from Mr José María BENEYTO is available here.

  • European Patent Office Management places itself outside of European legal order

    (03/03/2015)

    The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) which represents more than 265 unions has issued a communiqué.

    The General Secretary of EPSU has directly addressed Benoît Battistelli and the Administrative Council.

    Members of the European Parliament have posed questions.

  • Questions posed by members of the Tweede Kamer of the Netherlands (Van Nispen and Ulenbelt - SP)

    (03/03/2015)

    Members of the Dutch Social Party (SP) have posed questions (en,fr,de) to the Dutch Minister of Justice on 2 March 2015.

    These questions serve as a complement to earlier questions (en,fr,de) posed by Kerstens and Maij (PvdA) on 27 February 2015.

  • Setting the record straight on immunity and enforcement

    (02/03/2015)

    On 26 February 2015, Mr Battistelli published a laconic note to EPO staff referring to the "Aanzegging" of the Dutch Minister of Justice.

    The Aanzegging is an admonition to the Court Bailiff. The Bailiffs may not enter the EPO premises to try and enforce the judgment, more specifically by (trying to) confiscate property and assets of the Organization.

    SUEPO sets the record straight on immunity and enforcement in the publication available here, .

  • The Dutch Ministry of Justice interferes in the enforcement

    (28/02/2015)

    The Executive branch of the Dutch government is trying to prevent "physical enforcement" of the terms of the judgement of the Dutch Court of Appeal. The Dutch Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten, sent an admonition to the Court Bailiff stating that the Bailiffs may not enter the EPO premises.

    Coverage from the Dutch and German press

    De Volkskrant (cover page of paper edition of 26 February 2015) (en,fr,de), De Telegraaf (en,fr,de), Joop and NRC Handelsblad covered the controversy that the executive interferes in the judiciary, and that immunity prevails over human rights.

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Recht haben und recht bekommen" (en,fr) (27 February 2015) reports that a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that the EPO exerted pressure on the Dutch authorities to defend its position that it enjoys immunity from execution of the judgement.

    "The European states, including Germany, should never have ratified the Convention relating to the European Patent Office," says Siegfried Broß, a former judge of the German Constitutional Court, "because it places the fundamental and human rights of EPO employees at the disposition of the Office Administration."

    IPKat and HR Praktijk also report on these events.

    The Dutch Socialist Party reacts

    The Dutch Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij, SP) published an article (English version): "Government must no permit human rights abuses" (printable version).

    Questions posed by members of the Tweede Kamer of the Netherlands

    Members of the Labour Party (PvdA) have now has posed questions on 27 February 2015 to Ivo Opstelten, Dutch Minister of Justice (printable version) (en,fr,de). The Labour Party (PvdA) currently forms a coalition government with the Liberal Party (VVD).

    In July 2014 they had posed the earlier questions referred to in Question 2. The answers (printable version) (en,fr,de) of the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour confirmed the problem of the immunity of the EPO when trying to run an investigation on the working conditions and the respect of the rights of the employees. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labour did seem to agree, referring to Article 20 PPI that the EPO should comply with relevant Dutch legislation. However, the Labour Inspection could do nothing without permission of the EPO's president.

  • What did EPO management say before the judgment?

    (28/02/2015)

    Back in November 2013, Raimund Lutz (VP5) published a reader's letter (en,fr) in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and commented on articles about the social conflict at the EPO after the entry into force of the new strike regulations and the limitations on union emails.

    "Der in den Artikeln vermittelte Eindruck, der Rechtsschutz für EPA-Beamte sei unzureichend und entspreche nicht europäischen Menschenrechtsstandards, ist abwegig." said Raimund Lutz, Vice-President Legal and International Affaires (DG5).

    Translation in English: "The impression given in the articles, that the legal protection for EPO staff is insufficient and does not accord with European human rights standards, is incorrect".

    In the joint interview published in Managing IP:

    "There is absolutely no doubt that any proposal that would not fit with any international standards on human rights and worker rights would never have a chance to go through our process." said Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPO.

    "EPO respects all principles on human rights and worker rights and applies the best possible international standards." said Benoît Battistelli, President of the EPO.

  • Judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal

    (26/02/2015)

    The Office has progressively and severely eroded a number of fundamental union rights. Having tried unsuccessfully to protect them through all other avenues, SUEPO The Hague (VEOB) and the EPO-wide umbrella organisation SUEPO Central (SUEPO) sought an injunction against the EPO with the Courts in The Hague.

    The judgment can be found in the database and a printable version is available here.
    Translations are available in English, French and German.

    The outcome of the judgment and its consequences are detailed in this publication (fr, de).

  • Battistelli forbids demonstration

    (25/02/2015)

    The right to demonstrate is guaranteed by Article 8 of the German constitution. Nevertheless, Mr Battistelli issued threats against the organizers of the demonstration planned in front of the British consulate in Munich.

    The German press largely covered the events:

    "Betroffene appellieren an die deutsche Politik, sich endlich einzumischen. Sie müssen dabei aber vorsichtig sein, weil Battistelli Beschäftigten auch Kontakte mit deutschen Behörden oder Volksvertretern untersagt. „Für den deutschen Staat sollte nun endlich die Schmerzgrenze erreicht sein,“ sagt ein Patentsamtsmitarbeiter und bittet zugleich um Anonymität. Vor allem Bundesjustizminister Heiko Maas dürfe vor dem Gebahren Battistellis nicht mehr die Augen verschließen."

    "Nur ein Richter dürfe Demonstrationsrechte beschneiden, nicht Herr Battistelli, sagte Paul Arlman, ehemaliger Chef der Organisation Transparency International in den Niederlanden. Das Patentamt stelle sich gegen international anerkannte Rechtsprinzipien."

    IPKat also reports on the cancellation of the demonstration and asks for a reaction from the Minister for Innovation (UK), Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

  • Demonstration cancelled

    (23/02/2015)

    The demonstration planned for Wednesday 25 February in front of the British consulate had to be cancelled for reasons outside SUEPO's control.

  • Actions continue at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (19/02/2015)

    On Wednesday 25 February 2015 a demonstration will take place in Munich (Germany) starting from the EPO Isar building (Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1) at 12.10h and ending at the British consulate (Möhlstrasse 5).

    The United Kingdom is represented in the Administrative Council by Mr John ALTY (Chief Executive and Controller General of the UK IPO) and Mr Sean DENNEHEY (Deputy Chief Executive UK IPO). Mr Dennehey is also member of the Board of the Administrative Council ("Board 28") which is currently discussing the future of the EPO Boards of Appeal. Mr Dennehey was recently re-elected Chairman of the Patent Law Committee. Mr Dennehey apparently supported the Office in trying to suppress public discussion about the suspension of a Member of the Boards of Appeal while at the same time leaving space for Mr Battistelli to express his view of the events.

    Staff of the EPO reproach the governing body of the Organisation for:

    • its failure to exercise due oversight over the President of the EPO,
    • its failure to fulfill its duty of care towards EPO staff,
    • its lack of transparency towards the EPO's users and the general public.

    For further information see the SUEPO publication What does EPO staff want? (also in French and German) and Governance of the EPO.

  • The Dutch Court of Appeal lifts the immunity of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (19/02/2015)

    In a judgment, dated 17 February 2015, the Gerechtshof den Haag (appellate court based in The Hague) lifted the immunity of the EPO and ordered it to rescind several recent amendments to the organisation's staff regulations. The action was brought by SUEPO against the EPO and the court has ruled that the EPO:

    • must stop blocking emails from @suepo.org within 7 days,
    • may not dictate the length and type of industrial actions and,
    • within 14 days, must allow SUEPO to enter into collective bargaining.

    IPKat reports on this decision.

  • How many patents does Europe need?

    (19/02/2015)

    FOSS Patents considers that staff of the EPO asks a good question: How many patents does Europe need?. The question was raised in the SUEPO flyer announcing the coming demonstration in front of the British Consulate.

    "SUEPO's concern [about patent quality] is understandable in light of an official document (minutes of May 2009 of Board 28 meeting), which says that Mr Battistelli as well as the Chairman of the Administrative Council (AC) shared the following philosophy: "Priority on increased output should be the leading consideration.""

    Florian Mueller considers that "the leaderhsip of a patent office, should, as a matter of principle, always view patent quality as the number one priority, with efficiency being a close second if there are objective indications of inefficiencies and a distant second if benchmarking and other types of analysis suggest that any further efficiency gains would be limited or, if overreaching, come at the expense of patent quality."

    "One of the structural problems (which in turn is the root cause of other structural deficiencies) is that the EPO basically mints money for national patent offices by putting out many patents, and only by granting (not by rejecting) applications -- otherwise there's no money to be made for national patent offices."

  • The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) addresses the Administrative Council (AC)

    (18/02/2015)

    Jim Boff, Chairman of the Patents Committee of CIPA (the UK's Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys) has sent a letter to Mr Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the EPO's Administrative Council (AC).

    In this letter, CIPA is urging the AC to take interim measures to increase and copperfasten the independence of the Boards, while noting that these measures are not a substitute for amending the EPC itself: "Given the experience with ratification of EPC2000, amendment to the EPC will take too long to deal with the immediate problem, but should not be ruled out, particularly given that the Article 4a EPC conference of ministers is long overdue and the above mentioned proposal for autonomy was made over 10 years ago." A copy of the letter can be found in this post of IPKat.

    IPKat concludes that: "Whether in the short term (with rule changes) or in the longer term (with an amendment of the Convention), the aim would be to set in stone the separation of powers which has been overwhelmingly demanded by the users of the EPO, Europe's patent judiciary, the EPO staff, and the members of the Appeal Boards themselves. Everyone, that is, except the management of the EPO which appears hellbent on bringing the Boards under its nurturing and protective wing."

  • Reform of the governance and structure of the Boards of Appeal

    (13/02/2015)

    IPKat reports on the discussions concerning the reform of both the governance and the structure of the Boards of Appeal.

    The proposals of the Board 28 of the Administrative Council (AC) are said to "enhance the visibility of the independence and autonomy of governance". No amendment of the EPC is foreseen. Regarding the speculation that the EBoA is to be moved to Berlin, Mr Kongstad's response until now is a diplomatic "no comment".

  • Raging war at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (11/02/2015)

    The Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten published an article (printable version) titled "Raging war at the European Patent Office" which reports on the governance problems at the EPO. The text is als available in English, French and German by scrolling through the document.

    Jyllands-Posten is the Danish magazine which published in 2005 editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad. These cartoons were later published by Charlie Hebdo. Both magazines defend "freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of the press".

  • Cyberattack on SUEPO server

    (10/02/2015)

    The SUEPO websites were unreachable on Thursday 5 February 2015 because of a cyber attack (of the Denial of Service type). The attackers also attempted an SSH brute-force attack to take control of the server. Such attacks constitute a violation of law and SUEPO has filed criminal charges against unknown and will cooperate with the German and Dutch authorities, who are now investigating the matter.

  • The Future of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office

    (06/02/2015)

    Next week, on 11 February 2015, Board 28 of the European Patent Office will meet. Board 28 is the sub-group of the Administrative Council that is envisaged under Article 28 EPC. IPKat reports that new arrangements are proposed for the administration of the Boards of Appeal, "they are likely to be implemented very quickly and with no consultation. Users have certainly not been consulted, and Merpel understands that until now, neither have the Boards of Appeal themselves."

    The new Career System adopted by the Administrative Council in its meeting in December 2014 (CA/D 10/14) already has "a number of elements that have serious consequences for the independence and impartiality of the Boards of Appeal".

    "This decision of the Administrative Council is in clear contradiction with its own declaration at the end of the December 2014 meeting, reiterating its full endorsement of and support for the principle of independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal, as specifically set out in Article 23 EPC and generally embodied in internationally recognized principles of judicial independence. While formally support is expressed of the Boards’ independence, in reality measures have been put into place that go directly in the opposite direction. One can only wonder what purpose it might serve to strengthen the influence of the executive over the judiciary, with all the possible severe international consequences."

  • EPLAW Patent Blog, "The independence of the Boards of Appeal"

    (03/02/2015)

    EPLAW Patent Blog recently published an open letter of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) to the Delegations of the Administrative Council (AC) of the EPO. EPLAW joined the chorus of patent professionals expressing their concerns about the temporary removal of a member of the Boards of Appeal (BoA) from office, as ordered by Mr Battistelli, President of the EPO, and confirmed by the AC. In addition to public discussions among patent professionals, further developments regarding the status of the BoA have taken place "behind the scenes". These are detailed in the article available here.

    The article also reports on the public concern expressed in many letters and in numerous discussions about the recent actions and considers that:

    "Co-operation between the AC and the EPO is in many situations the best choice. However, for the sake of safeguarding the independence of the BoA, simply avoiding independent and critical assessment of obvious flaws for the sake of the appearance of 'business as usual' is not good enough and is not in the long-term interest of the EPO users. [...] Transparency is of crucial importance and the AC should try to regain the lost confidence of the users of the EPO, e.g. by seeking external advice from judges, users and last but not least by members of the BoA before taking far-reaching decisions."

  • First demonstration of 2015 - Actions continue

    (24/01/2015)

    On Wednesday 21 January, approximately 1,000 EPO employees took the streets in Munich and went to the Danish consulate. The Danish consulate was chosen because a Danish public servant, Mr Jesper Kongstad, is the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation and has always aligned with controversial president Benoît Battistelli.

    FOSS Patents reports on the demonstration and publishes a SUEPO flyer

  • Judicial Independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal

    (23/01/2015)

    IPKat reports on a reaction from a Vice-President of the European Patent Office (EPO) to the letter of Sir Robin Jacob addressed to Mr Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPO. This letter protested the treatment of a member of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO, and reiterated the importance of the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal.

    FOSS Patents analyses the on-going situation and considers that "opacity has its limits, and the EPO is simply too important for people like Sir Robin (and so many others) to ignore what is going on there":

    "The bottom line is that reform is needed. The Administrative Council has been part of the problem, not part of the solution. Sir Robin and others were too polite to address someone other than the Administrative Council. They should have contacted politicial decision-makers and members of different parliaments. The Administrative Council appears to be the fox in charge of the henhouse, though it would be great if it could prove its critics wrong in the months and years ahead and bring about meaningful change, rather than endorse and rely on meaningless sophistry."

  • Actions continue at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (17/01/2015)

    On Wednesday 21 January 2015 a demonstration will take place in Munich (Germany) starting from the Kurt Haertel passage at 12h and ending at the Danish consulate.

    Staff of the EPO reproach the governing body of the Organisation which is the Administrative Council chaired by Mr Jesper Kongstad (DK) for:

    • its failure to exercise due oversight over the President of the EPO,
    • its failure to fulfill its duty of care towards EPO staff,
    • its lack of transparency towards the EPO's users and the general public.

    Simultaneously, in The Hague (Netherlands), EPO staff will demonstrate in front of the Dutch Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.

    For further information see the SUEPO publication What does EPO staff want ? (also in French and German) and Governance of the EPO.

  • The Unitary Patent and the Rule of Law at the European Patent Office

    (16/01/2015)

    Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna is a Rechtsanwalt in Düsseldorf, practicing patent infringement law.

    On his website, Dr. Stjerna published an article in English and German about the Unitary Patent and comments on the adequacy of the legal protection at the European Patent Office especially in view of the recent events culminating in the suspension of a Boards of Appeal member by the President (see pages 3 and 4): "The incident of 3 December 2014 shows that the situation at the EPO has very serious deficiencies with regard to the Rule of Law".

  • Unrest at the European Patent Office

    (15/01/2015)

    Dennis de Jong, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, wrote an article about the unrest and the problems of governance at the European Patent Office. Mr de Jong mentions the attacks on the "legal means of redress" for employees and the introduction of a "culture of intimidation".

    Translations in English, German and French are available by scrolling through the document.

  • The Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office are to be reformed -- but how?

    (09/01/2015)

    The current organisation of the Boards of Appeal is to be reformed, but how to achieve this is still a mystery. IPKat reports that the Board 28, a subcommittee of the Administrative Council (AC) according to Article 28 EPC, is discussing this reform. However, the composition of the Board 28 is shrouded in secrecy and the minutes of such meetings that have limited circulation do not record attendance and contain no detail.

    A rumour is that the Boards of Appeal might be moved to Berlin, to make them physically distant and so give implied independence by geographical separation. It is not clear whether this would accompany greater, or less, actual independence and separation of their judicial function from the administration of the EPO.

  • Pressure mounts on EPO president and administrative council over suspension of patent judge

    (08/01/2015)

    Following the scandal caused by the suspension of a member of the Boards of Appeal, FOSS Patents considers that the EPO suffers from structural issues and that: "The Administrative Council plays a key role in the "reign of terror" that tries to discourage EPO staff, including judges, from fighting for basic human rights and one of the most fundamental values of the civilized world: judicial independence. [..] "Instead of exercising oversight, that body is largely responsible for the banana republic that the EPO has become."

  • Judicial Independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal

    (07/01/2015)

    The Intellectual Property Judges' Association (IPJA) expresses in a letter to Mr Jesper Kongstad (Chairman of the Administrative Council) "the extreme concern of European Patent Judges" to the order of Mr Battistelli, acting on his own initiative, to physically remove a member of the Boards of Appeal from his office and to take possession of his computer. IPJA is the representative association of European National Patent Judges and their letter has near unanimous support and no objection by anyone. IPKat publishes a copy of the letter.

    According to IPJA, the events "threaten the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal [...] Not tolerating that should be the common interest of all Member States of the EPOrg". A copy of the letter will be sent to EPLAW, IPKat and Managing IP. Managing IP is the magazine which published the controversial interview of Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad on 19 December 2014.

    Further concerns are raised by IPKat following a study of the "Business Distribution Scheme for the Technical Boards of Appeal". This document is issued at the beginning of every year by the Enlarged Presidium of the Boards of Appeal and it sets out ("designates”) how the various Technical Boards of Appeal are to be made up, namely with the Chairman, the technical members and the legally qualified members. The scheme for 2015 is only stated to be for the period ending on 31 March 2015. Usually plans have been for the whole calendar year. In addition to that, some Boards have no Chairman, some are understaffed and re-appointments are still pending.

    IPKat concludes that "A worrying but plausible conclusion is that it is to make the Members concerned more biddable as their term comes up. Any such pressure, whether subtle or overt, would of course completely conflict with accepted principles of judicial independence."

  • Parliamentary oversight and lack of it

    (06/01/2015)

    IPKat reports on the latest developments at the EPO. The European Parliament rejected a petition to investigate the EPO and declared itself incompetent.

    The Member of Parliament for Cambridge, Dr Julian Huppert had tabled a question to ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills "What steps he is taking to proect the independence of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO". There has been a response: "It is the UK Government position that the Boards of Appeal should be independent of the executive of the EPO, and be seen to be so. This view is shared by other EPO member states and we expect proposals to make this clearer to be considered by the Administrative Council, the Office’s supervisory body, in March 2015."

    Finally, IPKat reports on the latest threats of disciplinary action from Mr Battistelli to SUEPO officials.

  • Letter of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) to the Administrative Council

    (29/12/2014)

    EPLAW is the association of European lawyers specialized in patent matters. In a letter sent to the delegations of the Administrative Council (AC), this association takes note of the decision of the President to temporarily take the computer of a member of the Boards of Appeal and to order a house ban on him.

    EPLAW is of the opinion that judicial independence (Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) is guaranteed only when the power to suspend or remove a judge is with his peers and not with an executive body. Article 11 EPC currently gives the power to the AC to exercise disciplinary authority over members of the BoA.

    EPLAW urges the Council to propose an amendment to Article 11 EPC and in any event to critically review the Guidelines for Investigation.

  • IPKat Blog, "What is eating the EPO ?"

    (24/12/2014)

    IPKat publishes a summary of the recents events at the EPO and outlines the issues now facing the EPO: "The current unrest is not only at the level of the Examiners and regular employees, but even within the exalted ranks of the Boards of Appeal and Enlarged Board."

    The interview of Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad (Chairman of the Administrative Council) in Managing IP and, in particular, their statements concerning "transparency and openness" attracted angry rebuttals in the IPKat comments: "the staff representatives have been excluded from the two previous Administrative Council meetings; the introduction of a new system of election of staff representatives by the really-not-very-democratic single non-transferrable vote; the reference to the "codex of staff regulations" which is 1,200 pages long and actually not available publicly".

    The comments of Mr Battistelli on his blog caused yet more anger, in particular "I would also urge all commentators, especially those having a legal background, to be mindful in their public expression on a case which is still under investigation, in order to protect the rights of the defence and to guarantee the impartiality of the investigation under the supervision of the Administrative Council which is the decision making body." Many have seen this as a threat, and an unwelcome one.

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Staat im Staate"

    (22/12/2014)

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports on the strikes and demonstrations of EPO staff defending their fundamental rights. The article was published in the section Wirtschaft report of the weekend edition (20/21 December) of the newspaper. Translation in English and French are available by scrolling through the document.

  • Jean-Yves Leconte, "J'interpelle E. Macron au sujet de l'Office européen des brevets lors de la discussion budgétaire"

    (12/12/2014)

    Jean-Yves Leconte is a member of the French Senate and represents French expatriates. He made an intervention on 8 December 2014 in the French parliament and interpellated Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Economy. The Senator explained that the social climate in the Office was dramatic and asked the government to react. The Minister acknowledged that he was aware of the situation and that the French Ambassador in the Netherlands recently met staff representatives. The Minister added that he shared these concerns and would remain alert with respect to this topic.

  • Les Echos, "Tensions à l'Office Européen des Brevets"

    (12/12/2014)

    Les Echos reports on the social tensions in the Office. The reactions of the IP judges against the suspension of a DG3 member show that the Office might lose the trust of its users, namely the industry and the attorneys.

  • FOSS Patents, "Government delegates express 'concern at an incident unique in the history of the EPO': suspension of a judge"

    (12/12/2014)

    The Council Secretariat made an announcement on the EPO website concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee (namely, the suspended DG3 member). FOSS Patents makes an in-depth analysis of this announcement.

  • "Die letzte Diktatur auf deutschem Boden"

    (11/12/2014)

    OVB online (printable version) reports on the demonstration in front of the ISAR building on Wednesday 10 December and the current atmosphere in the Office.

    Similiar articles are published by the Münchner Merkur, Frankfurter Rundschau and Stuttgarter Zeit.
  • The Enlarged Board of Appeal and Patent Judges criticise Battistelli's actions

    (11/12/2014)

    IPKat reports on a letter of the Enlarged Board of Appeals (EBoA) to the delegations of the Administrative Council. This is unprecedented in the 40 year history of the EPOrg. The letter strongly argues that the recent suspension of member of DG3 was not validly imposed and that "The actions of the investigation unit on the orders of the President also appear to be a clear challenge to the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal." A copy of the letter can be found here.

    Two highly respected IP judges, Sir Christopher Floyd (Court of Appeal, England and Wales) and Robert van Peursem (Advocate General, Supreme Court of the Netherlands), took position against the house ban on a member of the Boards of Appeal (see IPKat). Their letter references the earlier letter from the Enlarged Board of Appeals (EBoA) members and expresses support for the position taken. They argue that the Board of Appeal members are judges and that interference by the President infringes basic principles of judicial independence, which the EPO cannot disregard.

    Their position has then received the support of six additional national IP judges, all of whom also serve as external members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. IPKat provides a link to the email sent by the Registrar of the Enlarged Board of Appeal to the delegates of the Administrative Council. Attached to the email are facsimiles of the original letter from Sir Christopher and Robert, as well as the supporting letters from Per Carlson and Ari Wiren. A copy of the document can be found here.

  • IAM Magazine, "The EPO must embrace transparency and move into the 21st century world"

    (11/12/2014)

    According to IAM Magazine, "The EPO is not structured to deal with the realities of a modern world that demands transparency and public accountability."
  • Intellectual Property Watch, "EPO Supervisory Body To Face Fears Over Patent Quality, Judicial Independence"

    (10/12/2014)

    IP Watch reports on the concerns expressed over patent quality with the new performance-related career system and the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal after the suspension of one of its members.

  • Battistelli suspends a member of the Boards of Appeal

    (09/12/2014)

    The decision of Mr Battistelli to suspend a member of the Boards of Appeal is well covered in the IP blogs (IPKat, JUVE and FOSS Patents).

    Noticeably, FOSS patents and IPKat report on a letter sent to Christoph Ernst, Head of the German delegation and Federal Ministry of Justice, by Dr. Mueller-Stoy who worked for Microsoft, Amazon and major automotive companies.

    In this letter, Dr. Mueller-Stoy urges the national governments controlling the EPO "to take measures which are appropriate for safeguarding the independence of the Boards (i.e., the EPO-internal courts)" in light of measures of President Battistelli that "ultimately discredit" the patent system as a whole. The penultimate sentence of the email describes the current situation at the EPO in drastic terms:

    "In addition to these described developments at the Boards of Appeal, there seems to currently prevail an 'atmosphere of fear and terror' which results in numerous disciplinary procedures against unwelcome staff members of the EPO."

  • Examiners fear they won't be able to ensure appropriate quality standards

    (08/12/2014)

    FOSS patents reports on an open letter sent by EPO employees to delegations of the Adminstrative Council and their ministries. The letter stresses that "EPO examiners will no longer be able to ensure appropriate quality standards" if the so-called New Career System (NCS) was put in place.

    Those staff members oppose an "entirely performance-based career proposal" and say it runs counter to core European Union policy positions. For example, the European Commission's Industrial Property Rights Strategy for Europe of 2008 document noted that "[h}igh quality rights are an essential requirement for all aspects of the system – support for business including SMEs, facilitation of knowledge transfer and effective enforcement of rights to combat counterfeiting and piracy."

  • Strike and demonstrations at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (05/12/2014)

    Strikes at the EPO continue. On Wednesday 10 December, additionally, a demonstration will take place in Munich. Staff will gather at 12h in front of the Isar building (Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1).

    The strike and demonstrations underline staff's claims to respect for

    • The Rule of Law,
    • Freedom of Association,
    • Honest negotiation of reforms.

    More details can be found in the SUEPO publication What does EPO staff want ?.
    Translations in French and German are available.

  • IPKat Blog, "In suspense about the European Patent Office? You're not the only one ..."

    (04/12/2014)

    IPKat reports on the suspension of a member of the Boards of Appeal who has been escorted from the building. Apparently, the grounds of suspension is alleged misconduct and the EPO's Investigation Unit has been instructed to examine the matter.

  • Demonstrations at the European Patent Office

    (03/12/2014)

    On Tuesday 2 December, in The Hague some 600 employees demonstrated in front of the French embassy. From there they marched towards the Danish embassy. On the same day in Munich an overwhelming 1350 employees, some with their families, gathered in front of the Pschorrhöfe building, making this the largest demonstration ever in the history of the Office. The demonstrators then marched peacefully to the local Palace of Justice.

    Radio Bayern 5 made a brief report on the Munich demonstration (podcast available here), starting at about 2:40). FOSS patents published an extensive report together with an analysis of governance issues in the EPO.

    World Intellectual Property Review (articles of 02.12.2014 and 03.12.2014) and IPKat (posts of 02.12.2014 and 03.12.2014) also reported on the demonstrations.

  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Revolte an der ISAR"

    (02/12/2014)

    The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in its article of 23 November 2014 on the continuing social unrest at the EPO and the demonstration in the streets in Munich.

    Translations in English and French can be found by scrolling through the document.

  • Strike and demonstrations at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    (30/11/2014)

    Strikes at the EPO continue. On Tuesday 2 December, additionally, demonstrations will take place in The Netherlands and Germany in support of two colleagues who are facing disciplinary procedures for their work as staff representatives.

    In The Netherlands EPO staff will demonstrate at 11.00h in front of the French Embassy in The Hague (Anna Paulownastraat 76, next to the Vredespaleis). From there staff will march towards the Danish Embassy (Koninginnegracht 30 in The Hague). This demonstration is meant to support their two threatened colleagues, respectively French and Danish, and to defend EPO staff's basic rights.

    It is worth noting that the two organs of the European Patent Organisation, the EPO and the Administrative Council (AC), are respectively under the lead of French and Danish nationals: Mr Battistelli (EPO President) and Mr Kongstad (AC Chairman).

    In Germany EPO staff will gather at 13.00h in front of the EPO Pschorrhöfe buildings in Munich to march to the local Palace of Justice (Prielmayerstraβe).

    The strike and demonstrations underline staff's claims to respect of the Rule of Law, Freedom of Association and to good faith negotiation of ongoing reforms.

  • Social conflict at the European Patent Office

    (27/11/2014)

    General information on the EPO and the present social conflict can be found in this document.

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Aufstand gegen den Sonnenkönig"

    (21/11/2014)

    The social unrest at the EPO continues as described in the article of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Aufstand gegen den Sonnenkönig".
    A similar article was published in the paper version of this newspaper. A translation in English can be found by scrolling through the document.

    On Thurday 20 November, 700 employees of the EPO marched in the streets in Munich and demonstrated in front of the French consulate.

  • The staff of the EPO want: The Rule of Law, Freedom of Association, Honest negotiation of reforms

    (19/11/2014)

    The staff of the EPO has voted in a strike ballot organised by the office with a majority of 85% and an overall 52 % participation. Staff of the EPO will therefore be on strike in November and December 2014 for

    • The Rule of Law,
    • Freedom of Association,
    • Honest negotiation of reforms.

    More details can be found in the SUEPO publication What does EPO staff want ?.
    Translations in French and German are available.

  • Strikes at the EPO - Information to Patent Attorneys

    (19/11/2014)

    SUEPO has addressed patent attorneys and recommended them to ask for a postponement of the Oral Proceedings if any are scheduled on one of the strike days. A sample letter which has been addressed to them can be found here.

  • Jean-Yves Le Conte, "Gouvernance et stratégie de l’Office Européen des Brevets"

    (13/11/2014)

    Earlier this year, Mr Jean-Yves Le Conte, member of the French Senate, published in his blog the letter he addressed to French Ministers in France.
    In his letter, Mr Le Conte expresses his concerns regarding the problems of governance and stategy at the EPO: "The level of the remunerations for the personnel of the EPO cannot serve as justification for the degradation in their working conditions, in the exercise of employees’ rights, and the protection of the private lives of individuals, which are currently under attack."
    A copy of the document can be found here as well as translations in English, German and Dutch by scrolling through the document.

  • UN Commissioners address WIPO

    (10/11/2014)

    Following the suspension of Mr Kateb, President of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) staff council, United Nations commissioners sent a letter addressed to Mr Gurry, President of WIPO. The UN commissioners speak in their capacity as Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

    In its article of 11.11.2014 titled "Gurry urged to reinstate axed WIPO staff representative", World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) reports on this letter.

  • "EPO suspends former staff committee member"

    (05/11/2014)

    World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) published an article on 04.11.2014 about the suspension of a former member of the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC). The IAC is the body that oversees disputes over decisions that affect staff members. But in recent months, management at the EPO and staff have disagreed on the way it should be run.

    It is not known what the exact reason for the suspension is but it is "linked to the former activities" of the staff member in the IAC.

    "As a reward for hard work and his commitment to justice and a fair appeals system, Mr Battistelli has now suspended him in what looks like an act of revenge." says SUEPO.

  • Philip Cordery, "Office européen des brevets : renouer avec le dialogue social"

    (05/11/2014)

    Philip Cordery, member of the French Parliament, has published an article about the new policy of Mr Battistelli concerning staff unions at the EPO and especially the confiscation of the Office rooms used by unions.

    In his view, this decision is a severe attack against the rights of staff unions and asks the EPO administration to reconsider its decision and enter transparent and construtive dialogue with union representatives.

    Until now, Mr Battistelli has refused to talk to SUEPO and rejected a conciliation procedure in Court.

  • EPO union hits back in defamation row

    (23/10/2014)

    In an exclusive interview with World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) at the AIPPI World IP Congress in Toronto on September 17, President Battistelli said the EPO’s staff union has mounted a defamation campaign against him.
    SUEPO has answered to these accusations in an open letter sent to WIPR.

    In this article, WIPR reports on the rebuttal of SUEPO.

  • IPKat Blog, "Apples and Oranges in the IP5 Statistics, or how to make your patent filing statistics look more fruitful"

    (17/10/2014)

    The IPKat Blog analyses in its post of 17.10.2014 the EPO’s annual report which shows that the office bases its filing statistics on the number of direct European patent applications PLUS the number of international-phase PCT applications (EPs + PCTs). This is the case whether or not these PCT applications subsequently enter the European regional phase.

    Technically, of course, a PCT application that designates the EPO is equivalent to a regular European application (according to Article 153(2) EPC). However, it is also clear that many PCT applications are filed by applicants who ultimately have no interest in entering the European regional phase.

    IPKat concludes that "this seems a perverse basis on which to calculate the total number of European filings [...] as this is not a true gauge for actual desire for European patent protection" [...] It is troubling that statistics such as these may be relied upon by [IP5] stakeholders when it comes to important decisions on the patent system.

  • EPO staff call for more strike action as unrest with Benoît Battistelli

    (10/10/2014)

    World Intellectual Property Review published an article about the new call for strike "Unity - still!". In this petition, staff claims that they want timely access to justice, freedom of communication for unions and other staff members, changes with respect to the investigation guidelines and the strike regulations. They also express concerns relating to the alterations to starting salaries and career prospects.

  • Head of WIPO staff association fired in retaliation for whistleblowing

    (18/09/2014)

    Some 10 days ago the Chairman of the Staff Union at WIPO was suspended without pay. Last Friday 19 September he was summarily dismissed in retaliation for whistleblowing.
    For background information, see the article of IP Watchdog, Will Scandal Cost Francis Gurry a Second Term at WIPO?". Needless to say, Mr Gurry was nevertheless re-elected.

    Please find a statement of the person concerned and his letter of defence. More information can be found in this article of the UNOG Staff Cooordinating Council. Staff unions of the UN system around the world wrote a letter of support.

    The parallels with the EPO are striking. SUEPO is doing what it can to support our colleague at WIPO. In the mean-time we will continue our efforts to introduce some measure of accountability for Heads of International Organisations.

  • "Battistelli accuses EPO union of defamation"

    (17/09/2014)

    In an interview (printable version) with World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) at the AIPPI World IP Congress 2014, Mr. Battistelli accused the trade union of a defamation campaign. In addition to that, Mr Battistelli claims that he is transparent. However, the terms of the extension of the mandate of Mr Battistelli remain unknown and the call for an investigation by Transparency International is still unanswered.

  • Transparency International - Calls for EPO investigation 'ignored'

    (15/09/2014)

    Transparency International critically examines how national political systems all around the world address corruption risks and foster integrity. They publish and encourage best practice in integrity and expose the effects of conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Recently, TI also assessed how the EU institutions deal with ethics, how they ensure transparency and accountability, and how they ultimately prevent corruption. The Central Staff Committee suggested to the EPO Administrative Council that a similar study be done for the EPO. TI has signaled its interest in the matter. But until now the Council cloaks itself in silence.

    World Intellectual Property Review reported on this matter in its article of 15.09.2014 (printable version).

  • Questions posed by members of the Tweede Kamer of the Netherlands (Kerstens and Maij - PvDdA) with the responses of the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Labour

    (15/08/2014)

    Members of the Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) posed questions to Lodewijk Asscher, Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Labour on 1 July 2015.
    The answers given on 15 August 2015 confirm the problem of the immunity of the EPO when trying to run an investigation on the working conditions and the respect of the rights of the employees.

    The questions and answers are also available in this document as well as translations in English, German and French by scrolling through the document.

  • The controversial appointment of Mr. Zeljko Topić as vice-president of the EPO

    (09/08/2014)

    An article titled "Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO)" describes the controversial appointment of Mr. Topić as vice-president of the EPO. Since his appointment in March 2012, Mr. Topić has become the subject of a number of critical news reports in the Croatian media: Mr. Topić appears to have a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption.

  • IPKat Blog, "Eponia: a State of mind?" with ""7,000 EPO employees in DE, NL, AT & BE ... plus one in FR?""

    (31/07/2014)

    The IPKat Blog has published a post on 27.07.2014 describing in a literate and historical way the problems of governance at the EPO and the extension of the mandate of the Mr. Battistelli. In the post of 31.07.2014, it even questions the lack of transparency of the negotiation of Mr. Battistelli's original contract as well as the conclusion of the terms of the extension.

  • De Telegraaf, "Personeel Octrooibureau 'monddood gemaakt'"

    (10/07/2014)

    The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf published an article describing how the employees of the EPO are currently silenced. The text is also available in English, French and German by srcolling through the document.

    The website of De Telegraaf contains the same text with a different title "Terreur op de werkvloer onder Franse despoot".

  • Mediapart, "Tension sociale maximale au sein de l'OEB" et "Des droits sociaux violés en toute impunité."

    (02/07/2014)

    Mediapart is a French information website edited by former journalists of Le Monde. In its article of 24.06.2014, Mediapart describe the tensions among the employees and the request from the French Minister Arnaud de Montebourg to conduct an independent social audit. The text is also available in English, German and Dutch by scrolling through the document.

    Mediapart also published a tribune written by the French deputy Philip Cordery who represents the French expatriates in the Parliament. Philip Cordery criticises the fact that employee rights are violated with complete impunity at the EPO. The text is also available in English, German and Dutch

  • Questions raised by a deputy in the French Parliament

    (01/07/2014)

    The French Deputy Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' raised questions in the French Parliament on the problems of governance at the EPO and the lack of social dialogue. The text is also available in English, German and Dutch. See also his blog.

  • Süddeutscher Zeitung : "Machtfülle, die es in Europas Behörden sonst kaum gibt"

    (28/06/2014)

    The Süddeutscher Zeitung published an article on the extension of the mandate of Mr Battistelli and his changes to the service regulations which increased his power over the employees.

  • Letter of the lawyers of SUEPO addressed to the Administrative Council

    (20/06/2014)

    William Bourdon, Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld, Javier Ledesma and Alexander Holtz addressed a letter to the delegations of the Administrative Council of the EPO.

  • The salary of Mr Battistelli remains secret

    (20/06/2014)

    Mr Battistelli has not replied to the questions of SUEPO on his earnings raised in a letter sent to him.

  • President refuses mediation proceedings

    (18/06/2014)

    The Munich Employment Court proposed mediation proceedings in the ongoing dispute, but Mr Battistelli refused. Full details are available here.

  • IPKat Blog, Strikes and demonstrations forbidden at the EPO

    (18/06/2014)

    The IPKat Blog has published a post on 18.06.2014 reporting on Mr Battistelli's interference with the right to strike and demonstrate, and the suggestion from the staff representation that Transparency International makes an assessment on the EPO's integrity.

  • President Battistelli endangers the European Patent System

    (15/06/2014)

    On the occasion of the upcoming celebration of the Inventor of the Year, SUEPO asks if the EPO has a reason to celebrate. (English, German)

  • Governance of the EPO - Document submitted to the Administration Council

    (17/06/2014)

    The document CA/xxxx/14 was drafted for submission to the Administrative Council's session of March 2014.
    In this document, the Central Staff Committee turns to the Administrative Council as the supervisory body ultimately responsible with overseeing the European Patent Office for support with re-establishing a proper balance in the Organisation’s governance and to restoring a better working environment within the Office.

    Mr Battistelli refused to transmit the document to the Administrative Council.

  • DG3 partiality saga continues

    (05/06/2014)

    Press interest in the impartiality debate following R 0019/12 continues, with a piece on awapatent's blog about stricter ethics in IP and yet another take on the conflict-of-interest between VP3's management role and his chairmanship of the EBA over at EPLAW Patent Blog.

  • WIPR: "EPO facing more strike action"

    (05/06/2014)

    A few days ago, World IP Review published an article entitled EPO facing more strike action ; yesterday, they followed it up with the news that the President refuses to let the strike ballot go ahead.

  • Unified Patent Court and the independence of the Boards of Appeal

    (03/06/2014)

    The IPKat reports on the surprising growth of support for Europe's Unified Patent Court.

    Meanwhile, the EPO's Wikipedia entry has been updated to take account of the recent developments with regard to the independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal.

  • IPKat Blog : More news of EPO unrest reaches the IPKat

    (27/05/2014)

    The IPKat Blog has published a post (printable version) reporting on the latest developments regarding the problems of governance at the EPO. First is the call for a strike named the Unity Initiative, and the second is the stripping of the chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of his administrative functions following decision R 0019/12.

  • New translations available

    (23/05/2014)

    French parliamentarian Philip Cordery's letter about the social situation at the EPO is now available in Dutch, Italian and Spanish (as well as the English, French and German translations already published).

    Also, Pierre-Yves Le Borgn's blog article is now available in German, English & Dutch as well as the original French publication.

  • Landmark DG3 decision on partiality

    (23/05/2014)

    In interlocutory decision R 0019/12 , the Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (at the same time Vice-President of DG3, VP 3) had to be replaced by his alternate because a party's suspicion of partiality was found to be objectively justified since VP 3 was too closely involved in the Office's administration, e.g. in the MAC or in the GAC.

    The story has been picked up by German legal-issues website juve.de, the French Blog du Droit Européen and the EPLAW Patent Blog

  • Question by a member of the European Parliament to the Commission about the situation in the EPO

    (07/05/2014)

    Nikolaos Chountis, a Greek member of the European Parliament, posed this question to the Commission on the current situation at the EPO and what they can do about it.

  • Questions in the Italian Parliament

    (30/04/2014)

    A group of Italian politicians filed written questions to ministers on the current situation in the EPO; the reply is not yet available.

  • IPKat Blog: The EPO Rules on Strikes Revealed to Merpel (Post of 24.04.2014)

    (28/04/2014)

    The IPKat blog has published a post on the EPO's strike rules

  • Letter to the Danish Business & Growth Minister

    (23/04/2014)

    The SUEPO chairs sent this letter to Henrik Sass Larsen, the Minister of Business and Growth in Denmark

  • General information upon the EPO

    (22/04/2014)

    General information on the EPO and the present social conflict can be found in the following document:-
    English original
    German translation
    French translation
    Dutch translation

  • Friday miscellany

    (11/04/2014)

    A paper just published by a Member of the French Parliament, Mr P.- Y. Le Borgn', who reports on the worrying social situation at EPO. He claims in particular the convening of a Conference of the ministers of the EPO Contracting states (Article 4a EPC) that would task an independent authority to audit the governance of the European Patent Organisation with a view to make concrete proposals to fix the governance crisis the EPO is going through. (only available in French for now)

    International press:

    Aufstand gegen den Sonnenkönig - Die Berliner Zeitung

    Ambiance délétère et président contesté - RTL.be

    or, if you prefer Libération... Ambiance délétère et président contesté

    Der verhasste 'Sonnenkönig' - Frankfurter Rundschau

    www.marchiebrevettiweb.it

    And finally, a new blog article from the Parti Socialiste Saint-Germain en Laye

  • The IPKat Blog : Unrest at the EPO

    (03/04/2014)

  • Press releases on the deleterious atmosphere at the EPO

    (31/03/2014)

    The French news agency (Agence France Presse - AFP) published an article (printable version) describing the deleterious atmosphere at the EPO during the current presidency of Benoit Battistelli.
    This press release was then published by Liberation and Boursorama (printable version).

    The Berliner Zeitung (printable version) gave an overview of the social unrest.

  • Blog article from Pierre-Yves Le Borgn : Governance at the EPO

    (01/04/2014)

    Please find a post from a French Member of Parliament (printable version) on the social situation at the EPO and his actions in front of the French Ministry

  • Battistelli: consistently inconsistent

    (27/03/2014)

    On overview of how the President commented the reasons for the unrest in the press.

  • "Social Democracy" in Saint Germain en Laye (FR)

    (27/03/2014)

    Please find here a publication about the participation of Mr Battistelli's in the town elections of 23rd and 30th of March 2014.

  • Open letter from USF to Administrative Council chair

    (26/03/2014)

    The Union Syndicale Federale has sent an open letter (in French only) to the chairman of the Administrative Council, Mr. Jesper Kongstad

  • Die Zeit "Was bewegt Benoit Battistelli?"

    (24/03/2014)

    The newspaper "Die Zeit" published on the 20th of March an article (printable version) about Benoit Battistelli and what motivates him and his policies

  • The IPKat reports on the current dispute

    (21/03/2014)

    Popular intellectual property blog IPKat reports on the ongoing unrest at the EPO

    Content reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

  • Mr Battistelli's Inner Circle - EPO staff demands

    (20/03/2014)

  • Streit eskaliert - SZ Article

    (14/03/2014)

    Streit beim Europaeischen Patentamt eskaliert - Please see the original German article from the Süddeutsche Zeitung or our trilingual translated version (DE/EN/NL)

    ©Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, München. Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von http://www.sz-content.de (Süddeutsche Zeitung Content).

  • Letter to the French Ministry from Philip Cordery

    (05/03/2014)

    Please find a letter from a French Member of Parliament to a French Ministry on the social situation at the EPO
    A French/English/German version is available here

  • Letter to EPO from USF

    (05/03/2014)

    Please find a letter from USF to EPO (English version)

  • Draft Proposal for "Framework Agreement"

    (12/02/2014)

    In a recent letter to the President, SUEPO made a draft proposal for a "Framework Agreement" to serve as a basis for future discussions.

  • January miscellany

    (29/01/2014)

    Six new publications related to the ongoing disputes at the EPO:-

    A Dutch press report on the blocking of SUEPO mails by the EPO

    Trias Politica - beyond the problems, the way out. A "Feuille de Route" for Social Democracy by SUEPO

    Report on the EPO Internal Justice System

    The recent Dutch court judgement relating to EPO immunity

    AGORA Magazine article about the apparent repeal of fundamental rights at the EPO

    A SUEPO paper on the lack of governance over intergovernmental organisations

  • SZ article "Beschäftigte begehren auf"

    (27/11/2013)

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung has published a further article by Christopher Schrader on the ongoing unrest at the EPO. (English translation here)

  • SZ article on EPO strike

    (17/10/2013)

    In the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Thursday, 17.10.2013), Christopher Schrader's article "Im Niemandsland"* outlined why staff at the EPO were on strike on the day of the official celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the EPC.

    Another article, Streik zum Jübiläum appeared online on 18.10.2013.

    * © Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, München. Mit freundliche Genehmigung von http://www.sz-content.de (Süddeutsche Zeitung Content).

  • Administrative Council approves CA/57/13

    (2013/07/02)

    On 27 June 2013, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has approved document CA/57/13. With it, the European Patent Organisation has joined the ranks of the countries in which the employer decides whether employees are allowed to go on strike.
    Lawyer Ulf Weber has assessed the conformity of these dispositions with respect to fundamental rights (in German).

  • Administrative Council approves CA/56/13

    (2013/07/02)

  • Press Coverage of the Demonstration 26 June 2013 in Munich

    (2013/01/07)

    On 26 June 2013, staff in Munich have been demonstrating in Munich before the Administrative Council of the EPOrg for Access to Justice, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.
    The media coverage (in German) includes the Süddeutsche Zeitung (archive), Stern (archive), the Abendzeitung München (archive), the Berliner Kurier (archive) and many others (to be added soon).

  • Result of the ballots on continuation of industrial Actions

    (2013/06/27)

    Between the 17 and 24 June 2013, the local SUEPO committees in Munich, The Hague, Berlin and Vienna have organised ballots to decide on the the continuation of the industrial actions. Here is the result of these four ballots. The continuation of the industrial actions has been massively decided by SUEPO membership in all four duty stations.

  • Letter to the governements of the Member States June 2013

    (2013/02/07)

    The Central Executive Committee of SUEPO has sent a letter to the governements of the Member States on 14 June 2013 drawing the attention on the EPOrg trying to limit freedom of association. The letter can be consulted.

  • Letter to French governement June 2013

    (2013/01/07)

    The Central Executive Committee of SUEPO has sent a letter to the French governement on 13 June drawing the attention of the French governement of the situation in the EPO. The letter (in French) can be consulted.

  • PSI letter re the ILO-AT

    (03/04/2013)

    The Global Union federation - Public Services International - lobbies the ILO Governing Body to address serious problems with the Legal Protection of international civil servants

  • Interview with Paul Ernst

    (20/09/2011)

    In its June meeting the Administrative Council of the EPO decided to abolish its only recently created Audit Committee (see below). Mr. Paul Ernst, Member of the Audit Committee, comments in a SUEPO interview

  • Meeting of the Administrative Council (29-30 June 2011)

    (17/06/2011, updated 02/07/2011)

    With an annual operation budget of close to 1.5 billion Euros the European Patent Organisation needs a strong governance mechanism to guarantee good practice and transparency.  This is particularly important since due to its immunity the EPO is not subject to the checks and balances common in most  national systems. 

    In order to improve the existing governance, the previous President, Ms  Brimelow, proposed the introduction of an Audit Committee (see CA/140/08). 

    The Administrative Council, at the time chaired by Mr Battistelli, approved the proposal (see CA/D 9/09).

    As President of the EPO, Mr Battistelli recently proposed to abolish the Audit Committee (CA/55/11).

    The Council, once again, approved.

    The Staff Union of the EPO considers the abolition of the Audit Committee premature and instead argues that further measures to strengthen good governance such as the introduction of a whistle-blower policy and a Code of Conduct are necessary before removing existing mechanisms. 

  • Employment disputes at the EPO continue

    (08/05/2011)

    During the last decade the EPO has increasingly hired contract staff. This practice has been criticized by the staff representation of the EPO for circumventing its statutory rights for consultation and for putting the staff concerned in a legal vacuum. Following an internal appeal, the ILO Tribunal has instructed the Office in July 2010 to submit its out-sourcing policy for statutory consultation within 60 days. This has not yet happened.

    In the mean time two external staff members whose contracts were not prolonged filed a complaint against the intermediary (MBA) at a German court. Further information can be found in articles that appeared in Spiegel and SZ.

    A hearing at the second instance, the Landesarbeitsgericht München, took place on 18 May. The hearing lasted less than an hour. The presiding judge, Mr. Taubert, exerted extreme pressure on the complainants to settle the dispute rather than pursue their complaints. When this was refused the judge dismissed one of the complaints without giving any reasons and without hearing the complainant. Judge Taubert then turned to the second complainant and repeated his question whether the complainant would not rather settle. Visibly irritated by the continued refusal, he then stated that in this case her actual employment relation when working in the EPO could have been dependent and would require further investigation. A second hearing is to be scheduled to which two key witnesses from the EPO will be invited.

    Another complaint concerning the employment practices of the EPO is pending at the European Court of Human Rights (see FTP).

  • 127th Meeting of the Administrative Council

    (31/03/2011)

    The Administrative Council met on 29th & 30th March in The Hague.

    The agenda can be found here.

    The discussions of the first day centered around the (confidential) Deloitte Finance Study commissioned by the President of the EPO, Mr. Battistelli.

    A topic of interest on the second day was CA/24/11, the first report of the newly established Audit Committee. In a short intervention (English version, German version), the staff representation expressed its appreciation for the work done by the Audit Committee and the positions expressed in the report, in particular concerning the necessity of a Code of Conduct and an anti-fraud policy supported by an effective whistle-blowing policy.

  • L'état, c'est moi

    (16/02/2011)

    For employees of international organisations their employer is at the same time legislator and judge. In an interview with SUEPO Mr. Matthew Parish comments on this situation.

    Mr. Parish is an International lawyer specializing in sovereign and international dispute resolution. He is also the author of the book "Mirages of international justice" (preorder at Amazon)

  • Interview with Jesper Kongstad

    (24/01/2011)

    The series of SUEPO interviews continues with an interview with Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council and Director-General and CEO of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

    From the interview: "A more personal goal for me is that working with the new President of the Office, we will be able to create a much closer cooperation between the AC and the management of the Office, between the AC and staff, and indirectly between management and staff..."

  • 126th Meeting of the Administrative Council

    (17/12/2010)

    The Administrative Council of the EPO met on 14 and 15 December in The Hague. The agenda (CA/146/10) was dominated by financial issues such as the budget for 2011 and questions concerning the financing of staff pensions and health insurance. Two documents were also presented (CA/155/10 and CA/156/10) which reported on the results of staff surveys held during the last months of the previous presidency. The Administrative Council noted with approval that discussions between the new administration and the staff representation about how to address these issues are ongoing.
  • Interview with Prof. Peter Drahos

    (01/12/2010)

    In the series of SUEPO interviews Peter Drahos takes a critical view at the functioning of the global patent system. Peter Drahos is Professor in Law and Director of the Centre for the Governance of Knowledge and Development at the Australian National University Chair in Intellectual Property at Queen Mary, University of London. His latest book entitled "The Global Governance of Knowledge" is based on a detailed study of the patent systems of forty-five rich and poor countries.

    A citation from the interview: "The challenge for patent offices in the 21st century is whether they will take on more of a leadership role in networks made up of civil society, health departments, competition authorities and patent offices becoming champions of a people's social contract or whether they will spend their time handing out customer satisfaction surveys to their multinational clients and hoping for lots of ticks of approval. The latter, I predict, will do little for the morale of their examiners."

  • Employment disputes at the ILO

    (12/11/2010)

    As reported previously, the staff representation at the EPO has criticized the Organisation for not respecting the rights of external staff employed within the Organsation. This week the staff representation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) issued a press release in which it also demands decent working conditions for their colleagues on flexible contracts. SUEPO sent a letter of support to the ILO Staff Union.

  • 125th Meeting of the Administrative Council

    (21/10/2010, updated 29/10/2010)

    The Administrative Council of the EPO met from 26 to 28 October in The Hague. The agenda (CA/106/10 Rev. 1) was relatively short. The appointments of new Vice-Presidents for DG1 (search and examination) and for DG5 (legal matters) were amongst the more important internal matters. The successful candidates are Mr. Minnoye (BE) and Mr. Lutz (DE).Topics of interest for the external stakeholders include the amendments to the Implementing Regulations to Rule 71 EPC (CA/81/10 Rev. 1) and Rule 161 EPC (CA/134/10 Rev. 1 f). As expected, the proposals were approved by the Council.
  • The accountability of international organisations

    (14/10/2010)

    Over at the Social Science Research Network, Matthew Parish has a fascinating essay on the problem of accountability of international organisations. Political oversight, Parish suggests, is generally weak, yet most international organisations seem to operate in a legal vacuum as well, with wide-ranging immunity from national legal proceedings. Parish's analysis concludes that the legal immunities enjoyed by international organisations are in need of review.
  • "The Quality Factor in Patent Systems" - Bruno van Pottelsberghe

    (20/07/2010)

    Bruno van Pottelsberghe's latest paper, "The Quality Factor in Patent Systems" puts forward a new methodology that aims at comparing quality across patent systems.

    Quality is defined as the extent to which patent systems comply with their own patentability conditions in a transparent way. This definition makes it possible to gauge quality using a two-layer framework: the first layer is composed of the legal standards that describe the patentability conditions of a national patent system (subject-matter, novelty, inventiveness, fees). The second layer is characterised by the operational design put in place to meet those legal standards.
  • Employment disputes at the EPO

    (12/07/2010, updated 27/07/2010)

    The staff representation has regularly criticised recruitment practice at the EPO. After numerous attempts to discuss the matter internally, last year the staff committee submitted a document (CA/174/09) on the employment conditions for external staff to the Administrative Council of the EPO. The document was ignored. Since then a number of complaints have been submitted to national courts. The press (Spiegel and SZ) has reported on these complaints.

    In the mean-time an internal appeal filed 4 years ago has matured into a judgment: ILO-AT 2919. The Tribunal ruled that the EPO's General Advisory Committee (GAC), in which the staff representation holds half of the seats, should have been consulted on the Office's outsourcing policy. This is not the only recent judgment on recruitment procedures filed by staff representatives in which the Tribunal found in favour of the complainant, see ILO-AT 2819, ILO-AT 2762, ILO-AT 2919, ILO-AT 2791 and, in the same session ILO-AT 2920 and ILO-AT 2921.

    It is noted, however, that the amount of damages and costs awarded to the complainants is diminishing. In the 2919 judgment the three complainants were awarded 300 Euros in costs, together. This represents about 1% of the real costs. The Tribunal further carefully avoided entering into the substance of the case. This means that if the EPO, after GAC consultation, decides to maintain the current practice a new appeal will have to be filed, on which a judgment can then be expected in 4 years.
  • The 124th meeting of the AC, part 3.

    (30.06.2010)

    The 3rd day continued with topics to be discussed in closed session, amongst which further nominations and the level of compensation awarded to delegates. A decision on the Vice-President posts is only expected in October. The open part of the session resumed with a discussion on "Fee reform and sustainable financing of the European patent system" as outlined in CA/91/10, CA/82/10, CA/39/10, CA/38/10, CA/36/10, CA/34/10 and CA/33/10. Interestingly, only the representative of epi was critical of the Office's implicit position that major problems are caused by a large proportion of applicants "gaming" the system.

    The last day of the Council is traditionally the day on which staff matters are dealt with. True to form the proposal on reform of the financing of the sickness insurance, CA/66/10 Rev. 1 and Corr. 1, was the last item on the Council's 3-day agenda. The document was dealt with together with the Central Staff Committee's document CA/94/10 on the same topic. In a series of questions the Chairman of the Central Staff Committee highlighted the deficiencies of the proposal and the administration's failure to demonstrate clearly the need for such fundamental reform. Despite these interventions, 26 of the delegations, including France and Denmark, voted in favour, with 10 delegations abstaining and 1 voting against. With that the decision was passed.
  • The 124th meeting of the AC, part 2.

    (29.06.2010)

    The most important point of the second day of the 124th Council meeting was the election of the new Chairman of the Administrative Council. Mr. Kongstad (DK) was the only candidate. Mr. Kongstad has in the past expressed himself strongly in favour of decentralisation. His view of the European Patent Network was one wherein the EPO would serve as a "back-office" to the national patent offices.

    Otherwise the meeting was largely uneventful. Amongst the documents on the agenda were CA/84/10 ("Progress report on the trilateral and IP5") submitted by the President and CA/93/10 ("Work-sharing from an examiner's perspective") submitted by the Central Staff Committee. Both were passed without a comment.

    The day ended with the selection of a new VP1 and VP5 in closed session, i.e. without the usual observers from industry (BusinessEurope) and the patent profession (epi), and without the Staff Committee or other Office staff. At the time of writing the outcome was not yet known.
  • The 124th meeting of the AC, part 1.

    (28.06.2010)

    The first half day of the 124th meeting of the Administrative Council was relatively uneventful.

    The outgoing President, Ms. Brimelow, presented the 2009 activities report (CA/44/10). The efforts made by the Office to limit expenses and increase productivity have paid off. This has led to a positive operational result under IFRS and to a decrease in unit costs. In contrast positive results from the SPP project (Single Patent Process) would have to wait for her successor. The Office presented for the first time a document (CA/79/10 rev.1) on current trends of activity in the national patent offices and the EPO.

    The day ended with a discussion about the procedure for the upcoming selection of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Administrative Council, itself scheduled for tomorrow. Most delegations intervened in favour of more transparency.
  • 124th Meeting of the Administrative Council

    (22/06/2010)

    The Administrative Council of the EPO will meet from 28 to 30 June in Munich. The agenda (CA/71/10) numbers about 60 points and a roughly equal number of supporting documents. The election of a new Chairman of the Administrative Council and the appointments of new Vice-Presidents for DG1 (search and examination) and for DG5 (legal matters) are amongst the more important internal matters to be dealt with. Topics of interest for the external stakeholder include those concerned with fee reforms, and with co-operation at European and at global level.
  • EU Patent legislation - Accession of the European Union to the European Patent Organisation

    (13/05/2010)

    The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) has recently sent a letter to the Members of the European Parliament pleading for accession of the European Union to the European Patent Organisation.
  • "Europe should stop taxing innovation" - Bruno van Pottelsberghe

    (12/04/2010)

    Bruno van Pottelsberghe has just published a policy brief entitled "Europe should stop taxing innovation". In this paper he argues the 'enhanced' patent system proposed by the Competitiveness Council in December 2009 may actually weaken the patent system in Europe.
  • Richard Yung on the AC

    (16/03/2010)

    Richard Yung's views on the composition of the Administrative Council in the light of the recent Presidential election.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of the community patent

    (15/01/2010)

    In December last year the EU Council has agreed on a number of conclusions on the main features of the Community Patent and the EU Patents Court. In the same month Jérôme Danguy and Bruno van Pottelsberghe published a working paper analysing the costs and benefits of the Community Patent. The main conclusion of the paper is that with a sensible level of fees the Community Patent should be beneficial for the business sector, the European Patent Office (EPO) and most of the National Patent Offices (NPOs), mainly due the abolition of translations and the avoidance of paralel litigations. Patent attorneys, lawyers specialised in patent litigation and translators would stand to lose part of their income, whereas both the EPO and the NPOs would risk to lose some of their power. According to the authors this provides an explanation for the observed resistance to the Community Patent.