back to article European Patent Office dragged to human rights court – by its own staff

The staff union of the European Patent Office on Tuesday applied to the European Court of Human Rights in an effort to force greater accountability on the organization and its president, Benoit Battistelli. The EPO has carried out a years-long campaign of surveillance, intimidation and disciplinary hearings against staff who …

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Vive la republic.

    sans text

    1. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      Above the law

      No organisation, and certainly no individual, should ever have that much power. It's utterly obscene, especially given that the organisation in question is just a glorified business operation, not some life-or-death public utility.

      Not only does the totalitarianism of the EPO urgently require intervention, but the whole concept of "immunity" from any sort of accountability, due to some bogus and outmoded diplomatic protocol, needs to be not just reviewed but summarily abolished.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Above the law

        "No organisation, and certainly no individual, should ever have that much power. It's utterly obscene, especially given that the organisation in question is just a glorified business operation, not some life-or-death public utility."

        Totally agree. It's a massive issue in public utilities too - we need to get rid of some of the UK unions to deal with similar problems here ...Especially the train / tube drivers.

        1. Oh Homer
          Headmaster

          Re: "Get rid of the unions"

          Unions provide the collective bargaining power required to defend otherwise powerless individual members of the working class majority against exactly the sort of unaccountable tyrants the EPO typifies.

          Conflating the two is highly disingenuous, since the former actually redistributes power to resolve social injustice, whereas the latter abuses power to cause it.

  2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Dissemble?

    I think you mean "disassemble"; although I've no doubt there's a fair bit of dissembling going on too...

  3. imanidiot Silver badge

    And the circus continues...

    I just don't get how this Batistelli is still in charge. Even if he did nothing wrong and his staff is just out to get him, his position has become unsustainable. Announcing now that he won't be attempting to renew his position in 2018 would already be a step in the right direction.

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: And the circus continues...

      Piggy's had his snout in the trough for too long. There'll be no budging him without outside intervention.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: And the circus continues...

      "I just don't get how this Batistelli is still in charge"

      From TFA:

      "a majority of the 38 representatives from Europe's countries would have to agree to fire Battistelli"

      1. Oh Homer
        Big Brother

        Re: And the circus continues...

        From the "failed to achieve" link in the article:

        closed-door meetings between government representatives
        There's your problem, right there.

        Frankly, no official meeting between any democratically elected representative and anyone else (or for that matter a meeting between any parties where the outcome directly influences the public interest) should ever be behind closed doors, as a matter of democratic principle. I don't care if it's supposedly a "matter of national security", one of those sinister "trade deals", or in this case a glorified vending machine for state-protected monopolies, operated by white-collar gangsters with "diplomatic immunity".

        Public servants do not get to keep private secrets with public money. Period.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the circus continues...

      "I just don't get how this Batistelli is still in charge"

      Because he was hired to modernise the place and get rid outdated German style unionised working practices - and is apparently making great progress...

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: And the circus continues...

        Benoit, is that you?

      2. localzuk

        Re: And the circus continues...

        Germany is the 7th most productive country in the world, so I don't really understand how their Union practices can be seen as bad... They obviously do something right!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And the circus continues...

          "Germany is the 7th most productive country in the world"

          Bit misleading to quote total productivity. If you quote the more useful GDP per person, then Germany are 17th below the UK on 13th.....

          http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD

          1. asdf

            Re: And the circus continues...

            >If you quote the more useful GDP per person, ... below the UK on 13th.....

            With the UK also lower than the US state of Oklahoma (only 13 other states are lower, most of whom are the most hostile to unions coincidentally) per capita that might not be the best measure to use.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    On a practical level

    With all these shenanigans going on, how does anyone in the EPO find time to actually review any patent applications?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On a practical level

      This.

      I can't imagine it's being very productive in the past couple of years, and for an EU body, must be reaching new lows in productivity!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On a practical level

        Its not an EU body, that's why it can get away with all this. The EPO is way past it's sell-by date and the governance model needs reform. Jobs for the boys???

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: On a practical level

      Quote from OA

      "The situation has grown so bad that the ILO's management felt obliged to warn its governing body earlier this year that the backlog of complaints it had against the EPO was impairing its ability to function. No less than 73 per cent of the hundreds of cases it was reviewing resulted from EPO actions."

      I thought that as well. Any situation where a relatively tiny organisation is causing a bottle neck in an important international conflict resolution org needs sorting out.

  5. John G Imrie

    vote in a suitable replacement

    could interfere with plans to vote in a suitable replacement for Battistelli when his term runs out in 2018:

    By which time Battistelli wil have re written the rules so that only people whose surname starts with a B and have been approved by the current President can stand.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    They're doing it al wrong!

    Considering Batty's telly has little interest in the law,and correct procedure, I can recommend a couple of blokes in a pub I know, who, for a small consideration and a couple of air tickets, could go and have a word in his shell like. They could point out how easily things can get broken and encourage him to do, he right thing.

    There was something about a hedgehog as well.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: They're doing it al wrong!

      Ah, you mean a visit to Spiny Norman? That will fix him...

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: They're doing it al wrong!

      It looks like the only serious attempt to remove him from the EPO that had any chance of succeeding, was the tampering with the brakes on his bike.

  7. Bronek Kozicki

    I do not have high hopes ...

    ... but I wish them well. If not for other reason, then simply because this farce with Battistelli stopped being amusing some time ago.

  8. Mk4

    Time to bin the EPO and create a replacement

    I think it's clear that the EPO is horribly injured and should be humanely euthanised.

    Like people on a poorly led open source project, if the staff in the EPO were given the option to move to a new organisation I imagine they would take it.

    I can see the talk in capitals around Europe being along the lines of "well, whatever we do let's not setup another supranational organisation like the EPO".

    1. technewsjunkie
      Devil

      Re: Time to bin the EPO and create a replacement

      >I can see the talk in capitals around Europe being along the lines of "well, whatever we do let's not setup another supranational organisation like the EPO"."

      It's outside of Europe, but I still have the same feeling of dejja vu:

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/09/icann_latest_screw_up/

  9. ma1010
    Coat

    Battistelli's fallback position

    If he gets ousted at EPO eventually, I'm sure he'd be welcome to join ICANN's board.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Battistelli's fallback position

      And if he ever goes to hell and gets ousted from there (because "Way to evil!" [the Devil]), he can always join FIFA.

  10. Hatchoo

    Bike

    hmm, as far as I know even the UK is continueing with ratifying the UP-agreement, which would set up another of these international organisations (the Unified Patent Court)...

    Although it is debated whether the UPC is voluntary part of the EU (and thus only accedeable by EU members)...

    Also, regarding the bike: from what I last heard, the bike brake pads were simply totally worn out and thus did not brake anymore. No tampering detected by the expert, despite the insistance of the upper management.

    No apology towards staff either, but that would destroy the narrative that BB is the victim, which needs to be upheld in front of the CA.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bike tampered? - No.

    hmm, as far as I know even the UK is continueing with ratifying the UP-agreement, which would set up another of these international organisations (the Unified Patent Court)...

    Although it is debated whether the UPC is voluntary part of the EU (and thus only accedeable by EU members)...

    This all despite the WIPO and the EPO debacles.

    There is something about power in an environment meant to create monopolies....

    Also, regarding the bike: from what I last heard, the bike brake pads were simply totally worn out and thus did not brake anymore. No tampering detected by the expert, despite the insistance of the upper management.

    No apology towards staff either, but that would destroy the narrative that BB is the victim, which needs to be upheld in front of the CA.

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