back to article Euro Patent Office prez's brake line cut – aka how to tell you're not popular

Every CEO knows it's impossible to be universally liked. But when staff start cutting your brakes, maybe it's time to consider moving on. The president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, has already been on the receiving end of an official censure from his board, a series of strikes, several highly …

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  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Uplifting

    Battistelli is lucky that non of his staff have Vietnam war experience. The Viet Cong often used a booby trap based on a bullet being inserted into a suitably sized length of bamboo which would then be inserted into another tube with a nail where the primer would be, buried in the ground with a small amount of the bamboo above ground so that when trodden on the bullet would detonate resulting in nasty injuries.In Battistelli's case a device like that in the saddle stem (I remember reading about such a case) could have changed the working conditions at the EPO.

    I am amazed that the organisation hasn't been able to just sack the sod.

    1. Uffish

      Re: Sack

      There's a line in HHGG about "waiting for the right...price". I'd sack the whole board as well, they are supposed to ensure that situations like this never occur.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uplifting

      On the SF side, it's a "bang stick" with shotgun shell of choice.

    3. ZSn

      Re: Uplifting

      You do realise that the EPO staff are vastly overpaid for what they actually do? The same job in the national local equivalent is paid a fraction of what they get? Perhaps they should be just thankful for what pay they do actually get.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uplifting

        Why be thankful when you can be violent and still play the victim?

        1. craigb

          Re: Uplifting

          @Big John - are you South African by any chance?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uplifting

        The pool of people with the right education at the right level (about a third of the examiners have a PhD) who also speak English and German and French is tiny. That is the reason salaries are what they are.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uplifting

        How do you know that we're overpaid for what we do? Do you even know what we do? I'm assuming not.

        Comparing us to national offices is disingenuous to say the least, as we operate under very different circumstances. We work in three official languages, the national offices don't. Most of us live abroad, which brings all kinds of extra expenses, which people working for their own national office don't have.

        And if you had the slightest idea about what was really going on at the EPO, you would realise that it has very little to do with money and everything to do with basic human rights. But hey, why let the facts bother you?

        1. ZSn

          Re: Uplifting

          I've worked with some of the people from the EPO and two of my neighbours have worked there. So complaining about the language requirement while still doing a mediocre job while being overpaid is my analysis of you.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uplifting

        At the national office it is only required to work in your mother tongue, not in three languages of which none might be your mother tongue. Also in the national office you do not need to leave your home country.

        The point is that workers had a contract with the EPO. The EPO is not respecting that contract, and has changed the contract unilaterally (no agreement with personel representatives). This would be unthinkable in a national setting, but at the EPO this is common practice. Employees have no independent court to go to. The first two appeal steps are internal, and as such not independent. The final step is going to the ILO who generally upholds the decisions because there is no equivalent protection as granted by national laws. And that is where the problem lies. Employees of the EPO are European citizens, who in their home countries have civil rights, but find out after joining the EOO that they have far less civil rights there.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "Battistelli – who set up a special investigative unit to spy on his staff, suspended union officials, docked people's pensions, restricted sick leave and disregarded staff suicides"

    Sounds like they've got the right man for the job. I wonder if his "special investigative unit" can identify the budding murderer before (s)he actually murders someone.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      If you were going to deliberately sabotage with the intention to cause injury then a few seconds thought suggests to me that you'd be trying to do it in a way that wouldn't be easily detected before he started off on a journey.

      Like adjusting the brakes so the pads don't grip the wheel or by greasing the brake pads. Either would probably lead to an accident. That or by doing something like removing the bolts holding the seat or pedals on and then supergluing them in place so that at some point while moving the superglue will fail and the component would detach. Or cutting most of the spokes of the wheel with a hacksaw and filling them in with painted pollyfiller or similar to obtain the same result.

      What was actually done just sounds like petty vandalism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Peter2, I can tell that you are not a saboteur by trade.

        I imagine turning the lights off in the building for a couple of minutes to provide cover of darkness is all that is needed.

        In the men's room with the lead pipe by Colonel Mustard.

      2. John Tserkezis

        I downvoted you, not because I don't agree, it's that your suggestions won't work.

        "Like adjusting the brakes so the pads don't grip the wheel"

        He would notice right away - I press my brakes early on to stop the bike from rolling off whereever. You would feel the lever distance and pressure right away.

        "then supergluing them in place"

        You do realise that a form of superglue is used as a threadlocker? And a loose seat would be immediately obvious by twisting? Would be a good idea otherwise..

        "cutting most of the spokes"

        Going on what spoke setups I've seen, it would become really obvious by the wheels becoming bent.

        "What was actually done just sounds like petty vandalism"

        The basis of that would be ideal: Don't make it look like vandalism, and lean towards making it look like an accident. Because accidents happen you know...

  3. Bronek Kozicki

    It is worth explaining that EPO has been granted sovereignty status by the European Comission, hence no local laws apply and its president has status almost equal to that of a head of state (totalitarian one). More on this here

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      ....granted sovereignty status by the European Comission,.....

      Which neatly illustrates why my "red line" for staying in the EU would be the removal of the commission, its replacement with an elected upper house and the transfer of legislative initiation rights to the parliament.

      As that's never going to happen, because totalitarian oligarchs don't give up their power easily, I'll be voting out.

      It's precisely this sort of "unsackable" post that's above the law, nepotism and old boys' club back-scratching that makes the EU look more and more like a banana republic as time wears on.

      1. theModge

        Ironically it's our unsackable, senile, old boys who provide the sanity the UK's political system....

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Totalitarian oligarchs don't give up their power easily

        So why do you expect the governments of individual European states to voluntarily relinquish their power to appoint Commission members?

      3. CrazyOldCatMan

        > nepotism and old boys' club back-scratching that makes the EU

        You really think the UK/England/Scotland/Wales/NI is any better? It's pretty intrinsic to the nature of power that these things are going to happen.

        1. Chronos
          Holmes

          That's no reason to have two layers of nepotism, and old boys' clubs.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The EPO is not an EU institution but a separate intergovernmetal institution. If it was part of the EU the EU laws would apply, employees would have access to a real court and the situation would not be such a mess.

    2. JohnG

      "It is worth explaining that EPO has been granted sovereignty status by the European Comission, hence no local laws apply"

      This is the norm for international public organisations of this type. Typically, the Director General will have full diplomatic immunity, other staff members enjoy some immunities (notably, from local tax/fiscal law) and even contractors may have certain immunities when working at/for one of these organisations. Staff members and their family members are given special identity cards (Sonderausweiss in Germany) which can be shown to police, immigration or customs officials and the like.

      Premises will normally have a status like that of a foreign embassy i.e. inaccessible to local national authorities, police, etc. without permission from the ruling council or DG and each organisation will have their own legal system. Of course, this means that staff and contractors are subject to the law of the institution, whilst on the premises. However, as the institutions need to be able to sue their contractors after they have left, their contracts are typically under local national law, unlike those of staff members.

      1. JohnG

        Here is the PROTOCOL ON PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES OF THE EUROPEAN PATENT ORGANISATION

        http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/1973/e/ma5.html

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's worth pointing out that the EPO's status was NOT "granted by the European Comission", and in fact the EPO has nothing to do with the EU at all, although the EU does have observer status on the Administrative Council. The EPO has more member countries than the EU, and its status was defined by the original member countries. Unfortunately, they did not see the need for means to reign in the excesses of the appointed President, something which we as employees are coming to regret...

    4. jimbob111

      what are you talking about? the European Commission and the EPO are two totally separate organisations.

      The Commission has no powers over the EPO, and vice versa.

      more brexit disinformation....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SIX bodyguards?

    I assume that means he has 24x7 protection and more than one bodyguard much of the time. Apparently they're worried about a team coming after him, not a single disgruntled individual.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kevin Costner???

    I'm trying to figure out why there's the big bold "Kevin Costner" in the middle of the page. What does he have to do with this??

    1. zanshin

      Re: Kevin Costner???

      I imagine it's because Costner starred in the movie "The Bodyguard".

  6. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Coat

    Good job no one tried to kill the VP

    That would be going off Topic

  7. Mage Silver badge

    Can't we give him to the USPTO?

    See title.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

      What did us Americans do to deserve that? Besides, we've got enough power-mad public officials over here, what with Trump on the ballot

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

        Tsk. You can say a lot about Trump, but 'power-mad?' Get real, that's Mrs. Clinton's schtick. Don is all about himself. I doubt that the prospect of presidential power over a lot of lesser people excites him that much. I mean, if you aren't concerned about others, why should you care about ruling over them to the point of madness?

        It's the insecure folks who lust for power, so as to feel less insecure. That's Hillary!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

          It's the insecure folks who lust for power, so as to feel less insecure. That's Hillary!

          Whereas Trump is buying power to make himself feel more important. I don't see that as being any more laudable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

            You really should learn the facts before posting. The fact is, Trump has spent very little on this race so far, so how is it he's 'buying' power? Again, that would be Mrs. Clinton spending the big bucks and trying to buy power.

            In fact, Trump may actually be short of the needed funds to compete with Clinton at all.

      2. chivo243 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

        @Marketing Hack

        "Going Postal"

        The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were gunned down by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

        That's what we did... or rather other Americans. I rather like the term... Don't make me go postal! It stops a lot of useless arguments ;-}

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Can't we give him to the USPTO?

          "Going Postal"

          Don't use that term in most offices here in the States. I've been in several companies where it's considered a "threat" and is a firing offense.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do the bodyguards have bikes too and how exactly would that work?

    Do they flank him either side? Follow from behind at a safe distance?

    I mean if he needs bodyguards surely a bicycle isn't an option.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge
      Coat

      From now on, he'll probably use a bullet proof bicycle.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        The difference between genius and stupidy?

        Genius has limits.

        Bullet proof bicycle already patented.

        1. Schultz
          Thumb Up

          Bullet proof bicycle already patented.

          Gotta love the quoted patent from 1997: "However, peace officers are now using a new form of transportation, the bicycle, which has greatly enhanced their ability to perform their duties."

          (1) Lawyers discover that the police discover a new form of transportation.

          (3) Make money.

          (did I miss something?)

        2. Ken 16
          Devil

          Does that Patent apply in Europe?

          Who can we ask?

        3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: The difference between genius and stupidy?

          Indeed genius has it's limits - the patent they filed has lapsed, presumably because the 'bicycle' the specified includes a frame but no wheels ... doh!

      2. DropBear
        Devil

        "From now on, he'll probably use a bullet proof bicycle."

        Just a moment, our legal department would like a word with you. Didn't you know "proof" is now an un-word, and nothing is allowed to be declared more than "resistant"...? Are you trying to bankrupt us in liability suits?!?

    2. ideapete

      Pluss

      Add chauffeur and butler to formation and gaggle of bikes with no brakes but that will not stop them , isn't this Inspector Jacques Clouseau scenario

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      in Ireland

      When the Greens were in (coalition) government, the minister always cycled. The garda (police) driver in the Mercedes followed 100m behind with his documents.

    4. J P

      I now have a lovely mental image of him trying to cycle up hill with 4 bodyguards hanging off the corner mounted footplates of his bicycle (a la Presidential Lincoln)

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        He wouldn't be pedaling. The chauffeur would be doing the hard work.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    Talk about can't take a hint

    See title.

  10. seacook

    The local sysadmin/security bod needs to disable all his staff access badges.

    Ahh the noise at the trough!!

  11. Me19713
    Mushroom

    Where is the BOFH when you need him?

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