back to article So what happened with the patent judge and the Euro Patent Office?

Despite having been repeatedly criticized for abusing his position amid the suspension of a patent judge, the president of the European Patent Office (EPO) is seemingly still using the organization's secretive nature to influence the affair. Benoit Battistelli was called out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) last …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has Battistelli thought of joining the Tory party...

    ...or maybe even Trumps team.

    He sounds like a great fit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has Battistelli thought of joining the Tory party...

      No he is already a member of Momentum he likes their head bashing with hate mailing, direct action style and to hell with the mess he creates.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has Battistelli thought of joining the Tory party...

      Ben Elton's up early I see. Mark Steel obviously made him a nice breakfast.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has Battistelli thought of joining the Tory party...

      He doesn't have the required level of incompetence for any of our political parties. It's not very well known but on joining the political parties you have to do a test where they show you two pictures, one of an arse and one of an elbow, if you can't tell them apart you're in.

    4. Jtom

      Re: Has Battistelli thought of joining the Tory party...

      Funny, Battstelli sounds like a member of Hillary's team or Corbyn's entourage to me

  2. Harry Kiri

    Every so often

    Someone comes along and just does exactly what they want and no-one stops them.

    Blair, Campbell, Putin, Blatter, etc, etc.

    Its strange how this chap seems to have immunity from real criticism and heads up a fairly important organisation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every so often

      That is because even contemplating what is actually patriotic in this case will get you 7 years in solitary confinement. With the exception of Blatter as his institution is not associated with a country.

      We can replace him with GoveNoccio, Dracula, The Quasi-Idiot and the Maybot. They fit the list too.

  3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    I would buy in some popcorn, but I suspect it will be stale before anything moves....

  4. Tom Melly

    How has he survived?

    Genuinely confused - who is supporting him and why?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: How has he survived?

      He's French - they're not going to relinquish the prestige of office regardless of the consequences. The same reason the European Parliament troops off to Strasbourg periodically against the wishes of almost everyone concerned.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: How has he survived?

        He's French - they're not going to relinquish

        They are also nowhere near as keen on surrender (especially as individuals) as the Anglo-Saxon tabloids and public opinion likes to depict them.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: How has he survived?

          so, they're not cheese eating surrender monkeys? Who'da thunk it?

          Yes, there is cheese in my pocket ;-}

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How has he survived?

      "Genuinely confused - who is supporting him and why?"

      He was hired to sort out and modernise a unionised institution full of German jobsworths. He has done that job exceedingly well, hence why he is still fully backed.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: How has he survived?

        modernise a unionised institution full of German jobsworths.

        Afer working in tech for 20 years, my SWMBO went to the dark side a few years ago and is now a proper Sith Lord (fully qualified EU patent attorney) (*). Based on her qualified perspective: "we should take the German jobsworths any day if the alternative is the utter sh*te called USPTO". Batistelli has tried and is continuing to try to make EU patents more like USA. NO THANKS. Bugger that idea sidewize gently with a chainsaw - we have seen where it leads.

        (*) In order to qualify as a Eu patent attorney you need two degrees - one tech to MSc level or above and one in Law as well as the endurance of a non-doped Tour De France finalist to even try. All exams are open book and they are along the lines of "here is a pile or reserarcher's notes" you have to understand them TECHNICALLY and draft a patent application in 3 hours. Same for opposition. Same for an examiner response and I forgot what the others were. All are 3-4 hours open book. Even taking the exams does not get you there - you still need several years of certified work experience.

        All of this invented by German Jobsworths by the way - they pretty much formulate the reqs. Thanks to them we have some resemblance of a working patent system.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: How has he survived?

          jobsworths

          Just to add - if anyone is a jobsworth it's Batistelli himself. His sole education is "A Professional Jobsworth" - École nationale d'administration.

          He is trying to lead an institution where pretty much everyone except the janitor have two degrees, one technical, the other one law and whose job is exactly that - to keep things legal and technical. Not to keep them "administrated".

        2. tybalt

          Re: How has he survived?

          Few things wrong I'm afraid. No need for a law degree, and the EP exams are actually easier than the UK patent attorney exams (which are closed book, and horrible). No such thing as an EU patent attorney: it's EPA (European Patent Attorney).

          Agree that the USPTO is a shower of sh*t compared to the EPO.

          source: I am EPA, CPA (plus CEng, MIMechE)

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: How has he survived?

            No need for a law degree,

            While there is no need formally, it is nearly impossible to take it without two degrees. 90%+ of people people taking them have two degrees. Few start with law and add a technical later, most start with technical and add one of the specialized degrees such as offered by UCL, Queen Mary and a few other Russel group universities (not even all of them). While you can try to take it without the second degree, I wish you luck (while going to buy some popcorn).

            and the EP exams are actually easier than the UK patent attorney exams (which are closed book, and horrible) The joy of common law trying to make peace with Napoleonic law. Fully agree - I know people who have had to sit them 6+ times to get the grade. While the EPO exams are bad, the UK exam borders on the clinically insane.

            No such thing as an EU patent attorney: it's EPA (European Patent Attorney). I stand corrected, thanks.

            1. tybalt

              Re: How has he survived?

              I do not have two degrees: I took the foundation exams (all of them) after a year in the profession and passed them first time. The QM course (and others that are considered equivalent to the foundations) is not taken by everyone: my firm (and others) favour the foundation exam route. I personally don't think the QM course is a great substitute for the foundations and learning on the job (but people have a tendency to defend what they did as 'correct' so I am probably biased).

              People with a postgraduate law qualification are very much in the minority in my firm (of 50 plus attorneys). Doctorates are much more common (virtually required for biotech).

              I don't know of any UK patent attorneys who started with law. Quite a few trademark attorneys go this route though.

              1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: How has he survived?

                I took the foundation exams (all of them) after a year in the profession and passed them first time.

                You got a year in the profession (which is a requirement for sitting the exams) first somehow. That is getting harder and harder without the second (QM or similar) degree. You cannot sit the exams without the census requirement and getting the census requirement without a degree is fairly difficult. Not impossible, but quite difficult.

                people have a tendency to defend what they did

                I am just an observer on the sidelines and as an observer and consumer (I have worked on enough patents in different jobs in the past) I have the utmost respect to anyone who has managed to become a European Patent Attorney regardless of the route they took. I have worked with US PAs too - most of them are a joke.

                So from the perspective of a biased observer (I do not pretend to be unbiased) Batistelli can take his professional Jobsworth qualifications from École nationale d'administration and his reform ideas and stuff them where sun does not shine. Do not try to fix what ain't broken.

        3. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: How has he survived?

          Can we not have scientists or engineers in patent offices ? Once upon a time in Bern, they managed to hire an aspiring scientist ... none of this crap with those!

    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: How has he survived?

      Don't expect Mr. McCarthy to told both sides of the story.

      To sum it up, Mr. Battistelli made reforms to make EPO more efficient. These reforms didn't suit one of EPO union, which does not want people from EPO being held accountable for their work and started a war against Mr. Battistelli, making numerous complaints at the ILO. 95% of them were rejected. For an unknown reason, Mr McCarthy decided to side with this union and to talk uniquely about the 5% of the complaints won by the Union, and find whatever argument that he can throw against Mr.Battistelli. Maybe EPO union has a very efficient representative in San Francisco? Anyway, don't expect Mr McCarthy to have any objectivity on that subject.

      Mr. Battistelli is supported by the Administrative Council of EPO, which elected and re-elected him.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How has he survived?

        Benoît, there is no need to be shy: we all know it's you. There is no one else out there who shows such a total lack of respect for the employees of the EPO, and who has such problems with presenting facts in an accurate and balanced manner.

        Accusing SUEPO of "waging a war" against you is a total distortion of the facts. But that is nothing compared to your absurd allegation that SUEPO was somehow responsible for "making numerous complaints at the ILO". As you well know, the ILO only receives complaints from individuals and NOT from unions.

        So, if there are a lot of complaints, the real truth is that there are a lot of INDIVIDUALS filing those complaints... meaning that there are a lot of individuals at the EPO who are so aggrieved by the way in which they have been treated under your tenure that they are prepared to submit themselves to an "appeal" system that is structured in such a way as to make it virtually impossible for the complainant to secure a "just" outcome.

        The fact that the EPO has "won" 95% of complaints at the ILO is therefore nothing to boast about. The ILO merely checks whether the international organisation has followed its own rules ... which can be (re-)written to suit the organisation at any time. Thus, what a 5% "loss" rate at the ILO ACTUALLY shows is that, even with the odds stacked overwhelmingly in its favour, the EPO has shown a lack of respect for its own rules in a worryingly high number of cases.

        It is also important to remember that the EPO's internal rules, ESPECIALLY those relating to "disciplinary" actions, are far more draconian than would be permitted under EU law. So presiding over a management culture that cannot even following those rules is certainly nothing to be proud of.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: How has he survived?

          It is also important to remember that the EPO's internal rules, ESPECIALLY those relating to "disciplinary" actions, are far more draconian than would be permitted under EU law.

          That summarizes the whole affair. I personally find it difficult to reconcile the concept of law and order (in intellectual property) being enforced by an organization which is not following law and order in its residence jurisdiction and looking to find excuses to do so.

          While the stance of "we do not comply with labor law because we are international" may be allowed by legal theory, it is morally wrong for an international institution responsible for something in the Europe.

      2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: How has he survived?

        @Potemkine! I think you are onto something, but you are also missing important part: 5% upheld complains from a large number is still something to consider. Also, the way the Administrative Council of EPO works, it does not really take much interest in the workings of EPO (as it should). Unfortunately.

      3. chivo243 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: How has he survived?

        @Potemkine!

        Face it, this guy is a turd, my friends at the EPO will attest to this (two in Rijswijk, and one in Munich), examiners of 15-20 years are considering taking an early retirement as the work environment is toxic, that puts it mildly...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How has he survived?

        Gosh to write a post like this you must be a management stooge of Battiselli or really alone, with no life, no friends.

        If you believe that because EPO staff do not support Battistelli's actions, it is the proof they are good ones, then sorry mate: undergo a reality check asap

        As to the alleged efficiency : the EPO was always efficient long before Battistelli (EPO was self-financed for decades). The only thing to put at Battistelli's credit is that he managed to have tons of weak patents granted whilst claiming this is efficient.

        What a joke

      5. kierenmccarthy

        Both sides to the story

        It's very simple: there is no "both sides" when you abuse your power to target and discipline people that criticize you or oppose your position. Battistelli has literally ruined people's lives because he was in a position to do so.

        That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is completely unrelated to the reforms that he has sought to impose, except perhaps in his head. The fact that a majority of the Administrative Council has been willing to turn a blind eye to such abuse as a matter of expediency is also a black mark on the EPO and demonstrates the dangers of insufficient accountability.

        Now, if Battistelli hadn't gone this direction and the issue was simply about whether the EPO needed reforming (and there is no doubt that in some respects it did), then there would be plenty of space for back-and-forth arguments.

        But that's not what this story is about. It's about abuse of power and a lack of accountability.

      6. AdamWill

        Re: How has he survived?

        "To sum it up, Mr. Battistelli made reforms to make EPO more efficient."

        This is only the case if you define "more efficient" as "approve more patents". But that's not actually the job of a patent office. If we just wanted to approve all patent applications, we wouldn't need a patent office at all - just a big red APPROVED stamp and a conveyor belt to run the applications past it.

  5. Eguro

    On the document count

    I could easily imagine some earlier points in the meeting simply having additional documents added, which then shifted the numbering of the documents, in order to preserve a progression from 1-X instead of going 1-15, then 22-26, then 16-21.

    So if that's the only evidence of personal tampering - in this particular instance - then I find it somewhat lacking.

    That being said, I hope Battistelli is punished and the EPO brought back to some semblance of sanity.

    Also I can't help wondering what's in document 18 (now 23), since it seems like it must be relevant to the case, but apparently isn't? Perhaps it's a sign that the linear progression I speak of above isn't actually relevant...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    People need to go, yet the flawed system remains...

    You see this happening so many times and the reason for it can easily be traced back to the hierarchy of power which many involved secretly lung for, even if they don't admit to that or appear to be really in for fair play and democratic behavior.

    See: the problem I often have with stories such as these is that every single time when you read about someone abusing their power or their position within a hierarchy then this news is often leaked. 9 out of 10 times people surrounding the culprit leak information hoping that the press catches on and that the wheels of justice (?) start spinning.

    When there's enough foul play going then people get relieved from their positions or also not uncommon: they get transferred to another position and/or job so that they can basically continue doing what they do best but at a position where this is less taxing. Everyone happy, all is well again right?

    Well, no. Because has it never occurred to anyone that no one ever seems to bother about the system, the very hierarchy, which led to this abuse of power in the first place? Sometimes it's not just the people which need to go, but the very system itself which allowed for the power abuse to occur in the first place also needs to be addressed and improved. Yet that's something you hardly see happening.

    Which makes it really hard for me to take any of this too seriously. For me it's all the same: a pissing contest, with the major difference that we all get to suffer from this because obviously all of this is paid for from the taxpayers money.

    I'll even go one step further: at least the African dictators don't make a secret about it where their main priorities lie: themselves. In Europe dozens of people within the political hierarchy easily claim to serve the democratic process but reality shows something quite different. And there's nothing you or I can do because failsaves are something most politicians never heard off.

    And even if they did it would be something which is usually undesirable. After all: some day it might be you who gets into that position of power, and you certainly don't want to take actions which could "negatively" affects that, do you?

    Meh, time for the beer icon :P

    1. ardj

      Re: People need to go, yet the flawed system remains...

      @SheILuser

      a) your rather discursive, not to say meandering, objections do not really stand up here, as the people criticizing Battistelli have also offered various suggestions on how the organization could work better.

      b) "many involved secretly lung for" ?

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It's the But... but... but... defense

    We're an international org, your laws aren't applicable... Wait while I update our side of the story(behind closed doors). Wait while I make up the new rules, which, by chance don't apply to us, only you...

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Accountability

    Maybe part of the issue is that ( in Europe and the USA) we've pushed accountability and responsibility further and further down the food chain and given the job of policing that to the bureaucrats at the top, who ought to be the ones held accountable.

    So nurses, doctors, teachers, (maybe even patent officers), etc. have to be so accountable that they spend their lives drowning in paperwork and never know when the rules will change on the whim of a higher up. And will be to blame when something goes wrong. But the higher-ups can do pretty much what they like, as long as they can show that they are in line with their masters' political agendas and be safe to enjoy their nice secure niche for as long as they want.

  9. Frank Bitterlich
    Terminator

    Do a little experiment.

    1. Copy and paste the whole article (or any article recently about the EPO) into your favourite text editor.

    2. Do the following search-and-replace pairs:

    Benoit Battistelli => Vito Corleone

    EPO => Legitimate Businessman's Social Club

    Administrative Council => Capodecina Conference

    3. Read the updated article again.

    Suddenly, it makes much more sense...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Do a little experiment.

      You missed one.... 3a. Play appropriate background music, something with a violin.

  10. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Holmes

    #define FRENCH_POLITICIAN "corrupt"

    Actually, all standard C libraries should have that constant set, it is as constant as pi, e etc

    Note that we can probably drop "FRENCH_" from the name, though, I am not exactly sure we should ... generalizations and such ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He's French, but not really a politician, rather a professional bureaucrat (which obviously does involve politics, but little actual democracy).

      His only claim to politics is his presence on the Saint Germain en Laye city council, which is rather anecdotal. Only the head of the list (who gets to become mayor) matters, and even though it is comparatively rich, St Germain is a small city.

  11. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    The beatings shall continue until morale improves.

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