• First demonstration of 2015 - Actions continue


    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


    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)


    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


    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


    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?


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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 ?"


    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"


    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.

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


    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"


    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"


    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"


    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


    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"


    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"


    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


    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


    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)


    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 ..."


    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


    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"


    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)


    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


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

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Aufstand gegen den Sonnenkönig"


    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


    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


    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"


    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


    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"


    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"


    In his blog, Philip Cordery (member of the French Parliament) talks 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


    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"


    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


    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


    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"


    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'


    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, with the responses given by the Government


    A series of questions were asked at the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) of the Netherlands. The answers of the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour 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


    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?""


    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'"


    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."


    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


    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"


    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


    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


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

  • President refuses mediation proceedings


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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"


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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, 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


    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


    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)


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

  • Letter to the Danish Business & Growth Minister


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

  • General information upon the EPO


    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


    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 -

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

    Der verhasste 'Sonnenkönig' - Frankfurter Rundschau

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

  • The IPKat Blog : Unrest at the EPO


  • Press releases on the deleterious atmosphere at the EPO


    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


    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


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

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


    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


    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?"


    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


    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


  • Streit eskaliert - SZ Article


    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 (Süddeutsche Zeitung Content).

  • Letter to the French Ministry from Philip Cordery


    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


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

  • Draft Proposal for "Framework Agreement"


    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


    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"


    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


    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 (Süddeutsche Zeitung Content).

  • Administrative Council approves CA/57/13


    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


  • Press Coverage of the Demonstration 26 June 2013 in Munich


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.