EPO Begins Process For New President, Administrative Council Head 12/07/2017 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)The European Patent Office is seeking a successor to President Benoît Battistelli, whose term ends in June 2018. Will a new chief and new Administrative Council (AC) chairman be able to resolve the never-ending turmoil between management and staff? Job candidates must have a university diploma and proven high-level management experience, says the 3 July EPO job announcement (here: https://www.epo.org/about-us/jobs/vacancies/other/president.html). Their prior experience in the public or private sector must show they have in-depth understanding of the needs of an international organisation; and thorough knowledge and proven practical application of modern management methods, “including an outstanding ability to establish and foster social dialogue.” Other job requirements are a “genuine aptitude for communication, negotiating skills and the ability to make their opinions count,” and an excellent command of at least one of the EPO’s official languages – English, French and German. Practical patent experience and a deep understanding of the patent system and the EPO “would be an advantage,” the notice says. Applications are due by 14 September. The new president will be appointed by the AC, the office’s governing body, for a term of five years, starting 1 July 2018. AC Chairman Also Changing The successful applicant’s contract terms will have to be negotiated with the AC chairman, the vacancy notice said. Christoph Ernst, a member of the AC for Germany, was elected at the 28-29 June AC meeting to replace current chair Jesper Kongstad of Denmark in October, a Kluwer UPC News blogger posted on the Kluwer Patent Blog on 6 July. It cited a comment by German legal website JUVE that Ernst is a moderate critic of Battistelli who has questioned several of the president’s reforms. Kongstad on the other hand, has been branded “Battistelli’s protector” by one critic. Kongstad is stepping down as director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office at the end of September, a press release said (here, in Danish). MEP Pushes EC on EPO Problems The text of the vacancy notice makes it “obvious” that the “controversial Battistelli … has no chances to stay on,” the Kluwer Patent Blog said. The president has been in constant conflict with employees, whose latest strike actions took place at all EPO office locations on 30 June and 3 July (IPW, Europe, 20 June 2017). The extent to which management-staff relations at the EPO have continued to sour is evident in a question to the European Commission from Member of the European Parliament Marc Tarabella, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and Belgium. The question and response are posted on the website of the Staff Union of the EPO. Tarabella noted that Battistelli dismissed three elected staff representatives, and “aggressively demoted” three others. “Over the past four years five staff members of the EPO have committed suicide,” he wrote. “Sheltering behind its immunity,” the office has refused an independent inquiry into the deaths, he said. Given that the EC has entrusted the EPO with producing the unitary patent, that all 28 EU countries are represented on the AC, and that the EC sits as an observer, “is it not high time” the EC made its views known and backed the European Parliament in condemning the “problematic” situation at the office? In her 30 June response, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EC internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs commissioner, said the EPO is an independent international organisation “without any organic link with the EU per se.” The EC has observer status but isn’t involved when personnel, disciplinary, appointments and other human resources matters are being discussed, she said. Nevertheless, given the EPO’s role in the administration of the unitary patent, the EC “has a direct interest in the social situation,” notably for fundamental social rights and “serene social dialogue.” She pointed to “positive” signs such as the 16 March AC meeting where Battistelli drew specific attention to efforts under way since 2016 to improve the social situation, and the office’s 2017 social agenda focus on more directly involving staff at various stages of projects. The EC will continue to urge the EPO, and in particular its EU members, “to ensure true and balanced social dialogue,” she wrote. Image Credits: EPO Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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) Related Dugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."EPO Begins Process For New President, Administrative Council Head" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.