EPO Staff Calls General Strikes To Protest Presidential Reform Plans27/06/2017 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.European Patent Office employees, fed up with a series of reforms proposed by President Benoît Battistelli, have called “Respect Staff” strikes on 30 June and 3 July in all European Patent Office locations – Munich, The Hague, Berlin and Vienna. Their “most prominent and urgent reasons for discontent” include the president’s lack of respect for the rule of law and employees’ fundamental rights; and the “disastrous consequences” of the reforms for the health of the staff, quality of EPO services and the office’s reputation, the Staff Committee said in an open letter to Battistelli and the Administrative Council (AC), which meets on 28 and 29 June. They are also angry about the EPO chief’s attempt to boost his authority over the patent granting process. The EPO didn’t immediately comment.The letter is available here.The EPO buildings, MunichThe EPO-FLIER team, which identifies itself as a “group of concerned staff who wish to remain anonymous due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of the rule of law” at the EPO, notified the AC of staff concerns. The AC is the office’s supervisory body, made up of representatives of the EPO member states.In EPO FLIER No. 31, published on 27 June, the team criticised Battistelli’s continuing “reform marathon.” In March 2016, the EC instructed the president to propose revised guidelines for investigations and disciplinary procedures, but Battistelli “has failed several times to provide a draft revision that met the expectations of the delegations,” it said. A current proposal (CA/58/17) solves some of the problems but is flawed because of the lack of independence of the Disciplinary and Appeals Committee and a new fast-track procedures for judging an employee’s professional incompetence, it said.The flier summarises key aspects of the planned reforms and points out their likely impacts on staff. In addition to concerns about the disciplinary and appeals panels, employees worry that under the planned reform, there is “leeway for arbitrary use of the regulation and abusive punishment,” it said. Battistelli’s investigative process plan would still allow the investigative unit to take, access and search mobile electronic devices, including private ones, it said. There are also continuing concerns that employee rights at the EPO aren’t secured by an independent judiciary, but only by the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, which can’t legally enforce its judgments.In a 15 June FLIER No. 30, the team slammed “another reform à la Battistelli that only benefits Battistelli,” – his decision to merge two office hubs into one which would be responsible for the entire patent granting process, from filing to publication.This was one option set out, but not recommended, in a January 2017 Boston Consulting Group report on future scenarios for the office’s operation and support areas, the flier said. Instead of increasing efficiency and productivity, the end-to-end patent granting process, which Battistelli plans to begin implementing on 1 July, will likely negatively affect the quality and harmonisation of patent administration services delivered to the office’s external users, the team wrote. In addition, the creation of a direct reporting line between the newly created chief operating officers and the president “will give him even more control over the patent examination process” while marginalising the role of newly established vice-presidents, it said.The fliers are available at http://www.epostaff4rights.org and http://www.epostaff4rights.org/openletters.html although these do not work for all browsers. Image Credits: EPOShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedDugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."EPO Staff Calls General Strikes To Protest Presidential Reform Plans" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.