back to article Effort to fire Euro Patent Office president beaten back – again

A determined effort to take action against the president of the European Patent Office, Benoit Battistelli, has faltered again thanks to some strategic maneuvering by his defenders. In the lead-up to a two-day meeting of the organization's Administrative Council in Munich this week, a number of European countries made a …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Joke

    time for battiselli to file a patent application

    Methods and Procedures for continuing employment.

    I'm sure he'd make sure it to be approved then he'd make a killing off the royalties.

  2. Commswonk Silver badge

    Trusted Literary Device

    "With one bound he was free..."

  3. Raumkraut

    Sleeping with the Battistelli

    If the situation is so bad, why are the ordinary staff still working there? Can't they quit? Is the EPO also immune to constructive dismissal suits?

    I'd love to see how he and his management cronies would cope with having to do all the actual work themselves, or trying to find replacements skilled and willing (and uninformed) enough to take up the jobs.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Sleeping with the Battistelli

      Cant they quit? Its not like there are lots of Patents offices in the city. Even if they could get other jobs with the hope of returning there would be serious interruptions and changes to T&C and pensions. I'm guessing Battistelli can walk away with the ball as far as the staff are concerned. The 'management' probably think this is a good time to ask for a pay rise due to 'difficult times'.

      1. Mk4

        Re: Sleeping with the Battistelli

        I live in the Hague and I know people who work for the EPO. They pay no income tax, although that is partly taken into account when setting salaries, subsidised private schooling for the kids and other very nice benefits. I'm not sure about this pressure on staff not to take sick days and then get home inspections. I know someone who went officially sick for more than a year, spending at least half of that working less than half a day a week during "reintroduction".

        Bluntly - all the people I know who work for the EPO are in single income families who live in large houses in (very) nice parts of the Hague (which is an expensive city to live in).

        I can imagine that there is some reluctance to leave, despite the bad working conditions reported. Sort of carrot and stick - the stick is the difficulty of finding another job in the same line or work, the carrot is the money.

  4. Lotaresco Silver badge

    I've started a timer...

    To see how long it is before the first knee-jerk pro-Brexit comment appears.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: I've started a timer...

      I need a faster timer, five Brextards appeared in microseconds.

  5. Your alien overlord - fear me

    What I don't understand is why they claim to be an international organisation and therefore immune to local/EU laws (re labour abuses etc.). Surely that could be used by banks etc since they are international?

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      I think the difference is that the EPO is an organisation created by international treaty between governments and so has a form of diplomatic immunity, whereas a bank is a private company that happens to trade in multiple countries.

  6. 's water music Silver badge

    truth or dare?

    Given the mans tenacity in digging into what is presumably a comfortable niche, one wonders why Battistelli simply doesn't behave like such a massive disk to his staff. Is he simply such a massive arsehole that behaving like that is the reason that he likes the position or is it some sort of unintended consequence of whatever he is up to? Could it be just a socio-pathic version of bogies?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not work around the issue

    The EU (or whoever funds this ramshackle department) withdrawals funding for the European Patents Office and instead gives it to the newly founded Patent Office of Europe?

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Why not work around the issue

      Patent Office of Europe

      Ha, Splitters!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not work around the issue

      The EPO is self funded and is not an EU organisation. Please leave Brexit out of this.

  8. Potemkine

    Not taken for granted

    We keep reading in El Reg once or twice a week how it is horrible to work at EPO, or how EPO is broken, or how everything is wrong at EPO.

    I asked then myself: if EPO is so broken, then there should be consequences on granted patents, right? I checked then how many requests were made and how many patents were granted by EPO since 2010, when the current president who is so despised came to office:

    (source: https://www.epo.org/about-us/annual-reports-statistics/statistics.html)

    2010: 58,117 - 235,731

    2011: 62,108 - 244,995

    2012: 65,655 - 258,500

    2013: 66,707 - 265,918

    2014: 64,613 - 274,367

    2015: 58,419 - 279,002

    2016: 95,940 - 296,227.

    In 6 years, numbers of fillings grew by 25%, granted patents grew by 65%.

    If EPO is such a mess, why does it work better in term of results?

    1. englishr

      Re: Not taken for granted

      "In 6 years, numbers of fillings grew by 25%, granted patents grew by 65%. If EPO is such a mess, why does it work better in term of results?"

      Granting patents is easy - it's rejecting patents that's hard.

      1. Potemkine

        Re: Not taken for granted

        Granting patents is easy - it's rejecting patents that's hard.

        If "rejected = filled - granted", then rejected patents count grew by 12% in 6 years.

        1. englishr

          Re: Not taken for granted

          'If "rejected = filled - granted", then rejected patents count grew by 12% in 6 years.'

          Since we're looking for a measure of efficiency, you need to include "waiting to be processed"

          rejected = filled - (granted + waiting)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not taken for granted

      On that measurement the US patent office is doing a much better job, yet even they suffer the occasional critical word.

      1. Potemkine

        Re: Not taken for granted

        On that measurement the US patent office is doing a much better job,

        To know that, one should take the respective number of employees into account.

        Such a comparison should be interesting, if anyone has the data...

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre
        Trollface

        Re: Not taken for granted

        It even feels like the USPO may grant more patent than it receives applications!

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Not taken for granted

      I don't understand why you would imagine that the number of patents approved in any way diminishes the fact that the EPO management is mistreating its employees.

      That's what the stories and the strikes and the public rebukes and the critical reports have all been about: the president is trying to force through changes that he believes will make the EPO more efficient and when he's met with anything but compliance, he reacts very aggressively.

      Battistelli created an investigation team that carried out surveillance of union workers that is illegal under the laws in the countries where they are based. He has run disciplinary hearings that have been criticized by all arms of the EPO and by politicians, and other staff unions and even the ILO. His own administrative council ordered him to stop - and he ignored it.

      Each time the EPO's checks and balances have been invoked, Battistelli has responded by changing the rules to award himself greater power. And when he is faced with increasingly angry people around him, he responds by diminishing them and by using the EPO's resources against them. Or, in the case of his personal bodyguards, using the EPO's funds to benefit himself.

      The EPO management team is well aware that increasingly the number of patents processed is likely to result in lower quality but rather than work hard on making that work, or facing up to the issue and recognizing a likely drop but arguing it will rebound (and providing targets and metrics for recover), it has done what every bad management team in history has done: fixed the results.

      The new quality standards have been specifically designed to allow management to hide any drops in quality.

      Now if, after all that, you feel you can simply point at the number of patents granted and say: wow, they're doing a terrific job, then you are either willfully ignorant or painfully short-sighted. Unfortunately you would not be alone: a large number of the administrative council members also appeared to be persuaded that so long as the numbers look good, you can ignore the day-to-day workings of the organization.

      1. Potemkine

        "Help, I'm being repressed"

        Is there a crisis at EPO? Yes. What is the reason? Several possible explanations.

        1. The boss is an ugly bastard who wants to break people for the pleasure of breaking them, because he is a sadistic dictator. This is the explanation you uses at length.

        2. The boss tries to make changes and to implement a merit system. As a result, he faces a caste who wants to defend its privileges and absolutely refuses to be judged on merit and being held accountable.

        Because we have only words from one side or another, it's hard to tell. Nothing being totally black or white, I guess the truth is in between - shade of grey.

        However, trying to convince us that EPO is a sweatshop is laughable. Are they underpaid? Do they work extra hours, have no holidays, no benefits?

        There are many, many wage slaves in Europe and around the World who are much more harassed, exploited, subjects to moral or physical violence. It seems to me this is a total lack of respect to them to describe EPO as Hell on Earth.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Help, I'm being repressed"

          It seems potemkine has never heard of fundamental human rights. Battistelli has no respect for fundamental human rights, the rule of law, even not for the European Patent Convention, and the dignity of each and every person. He has shown that he has no idea what IP is. He has no idea how to manage a patent office. The payment and other conditions, holidays, European school of the EPO are not the problem. Mr.Battistelli tells the world outside the EPO that everything is going well in the EPO. Quality and production are top. Most of the EPO personel like him and his decisions are all right and not in conflict with any law. No decision of him is against human rights. His values are democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person. But why does Battistelli not accept that independent persons analyse the situation in the EPO and confirm that Battistelli is right and doing everything well. Than the problems are solved. If not......Is there something Battistelli has to hide?.

    4. Bakker

      Re: Not taken for granted

      Number of applications is a dodgy statistic which includes some formal applications in China which never proceed due to no fee being paid. You need the lower figure of applications which ever come to the EPO. Granting more doesn't mean better performance. The Americans used to grant almost all and that was criticised (rightly) for being too easy. There is a balance between rejecting some and granting some based on whether they meet the criteria. The danger is to too easily drop standards to grant more.

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