The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Time for a Haar-cut - please do not relocate the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office

The President of the EPO wants to move the Boards of Appeal to Haar.  “Where?” Merpel hears you ask.  Precisely.  Haar is a municipality on the outskirts of Munich, most famous (not that it is famous at all) for housing the largest mental hospital in Germany.  Is this just a sick joke on the part of M Battistelli?  Because there is nothing else that could justify this – excuse Merpel – insane idea, which is to the detriment of applicants and patentees, opponents, professional representatives, and the Board of Appeal members themselves.

The official justification for the move is to increase the perception of independence of the Boards of Appeal.  But in the consultation of users carried out by the EPO itself, the geographical location of the Boards was overwhelmingly not considered an important factor to their independence. An earlier proposal to move the Boards to another city or country completely (which would have destroyed the Boards as we know them) has thankfully been dropped.

The idea put forward that members of the Boards of Appeal might be influenced in their decisions by the possibility that they might encounter in the canteen an examiner disgruntled because they have been over-ruled is ludicrous in principle, and not borne out by the actual experience of the EPO over the last four decades, even when first instance examiners worked in the same building as the Boards of Appeal.  They no longer do.  First instance divisions are located in other buildings in Munich, or in The Hague, or in Berlin.  The person who does however share the Isar building with the Boards of Appeal is, of course, the President of the EPO, and Merpel gets the impression that he wants those pesky Board members as far away from his domain as possible.

At the June meeting of the Administrative Council, reforms to the structure, management, and career structure of the Boards of Appeal were pushed through in haste, despite opposition from both the Praesidium and AMBA (see also Merpel's post here).

Merpel suspects that the rush to change the constitutional position of the Boards of Appeal was to change the legal and factual framework from that which pertained at the time of decision R19/12, so that the challenges currently pending in the German constitutional court to the legitimacy of the Boards of Appeal as a judicial instance could be thwarted.  The decision in those cases is still awaited, and it is quite possible that this objective has been achieved.

Merpel understands that the Boards of Appeal have also objected to the move to Haar, as the premises are unsuitable, there is not enough room for the Board of Appeal members and for sufficient rooms for hearings, there are security issues, and the location is inconvenient.  Patent attorneys representing their clients at hearings will also be seriously inconvenienced.

Merpel suspects that for many Board of Appeal members, many of whom are not far from retirement anyway, this will be the last straw, and they will resign.  They are particularly incentivised to do so before 1 January 2017, when new restrictions on the post-retirement work of EPO employees including Board of Appeal members comes into effect.  This could have a catastrophic effect of depleting the composition of many Boards, already below full strength despite a recent resumption of new appointments, to below a functioning level, with resulting loss of institutional memory and competence.

With all the earnestness and seriousness that she can command as a mere fictional feline, Merpel beseeches and implores the Administrative Council – please do not approve the relocation of the Boards of Appeal, to Haar or to anywhere else. Keep them where they are in the Isar building.


90 comments:

Glad to be out of the madhouse said...

The question is: if it is necessary to separate physically the premises of the BoA from those used by the upper management of the EPO, why not relocating the latter to Haar instead? It would be far less inconvenient to all parties external to the EPO, Monsieur le Président would no longer need bodyguards to watch over his bicycle, and if the premises in Haar turned to lack space to accomodate the increasing amount of people working in said upper management, I'm sure that a nice white, padded room could be found for him in the nearby hospital...

Tufty the Cat said...

I can't see the issue myself. Haar is only a few stops away on the S4 from the Ostbahnhof, so would be easy to get to from the centre or from the Airport. The proposed building is only a short walk away from the station. Obviously there will be grumbles about room layout and space, but there will surely be some reorganising to do anyway. Perhaps there is such a level of animosity that any suggestion, however, sensible, will always be objected to?

Old man said...

Tufty,
How many parties go straight from the airport to a BoA hearing?
In any case, it is primarily symbolic and designed to be irritating. Oral proceedings before DG1 in the city, before DG3 in the suburbs. I'd be curious about how many legal bodies meet in areas outside cities. Isn't the UPC court in London to be in Aldgate rather than Hounslow (next to Heathrow for non-local readers)?

MaxDrei said...

So, the President will take over the Isar Building while DG3 is shunted off to the building out on the edge of town next to its hospital for the mentally sick.

I wonder now, how many international visitors to the EPO turn up, every working day of the year, to visit the EPO President?

And how many come to Munich for a Hearing before one of the Boards of Appeal, their professional interest and reason for visiting Munich being to find out whether a patent survives or falls, in one fell swoop, in anything up to 38 Member States and 600+ million consumers.

The justice which the EPO dispenses, at DG3 level, is of pan-European shareholder interest to all the world's Global Titans. Yet, in a fit of vindictive pique, the EPO's increasingly out of control President runs it out of town, making it sit like a vagrant on the edge of town, next to the hospital for the town's mentally sick.

Given the amount of schmoozing BB does, in Davos and other places, with the World's Top People, you would think the EPO's current President would want for DG3 (the jewel in his crown) a smart and efficient place of business right in the heart of impressive Munich, where pan-European justice is dispensed efficiently and expeditiously.

Unless, that is, a majority of AC members want to see the EPO decline. If this attitude is representative of the mainland Europe of today, no wonder the UK wants out!

Anonymous said...

I think it has already been approved. See CA/88/16 (23.09.2016)
https://www.epo.org/modules/epoweb/acdocument/epoweb2/232/en/CA-88-16_en.pdf

Anonymous said...

Mental health is a serious disease. Sufferers are know to throw themselves out of buildings, including those of the EPO.

Don't trivialize it with puerile, insensitive comments.

Kant said...

Indeed, mental health problems should not be trivialized but it nevertheless remains that to a resident of Munich, the phrase "nach Haar schicken" does have the meaning of having someone detained in the mental health hospital there.

Anonymous said...

Tufty the Cat presents the workaday, utilitarian view. It is a fallacy.

An Appeal Court on an industrial estate - how modern. Lunch at the kebab van. Taxi to and from the Airport Hotel. Nothing to see here, and it should get the expense bill down too. That'll wash well at the next IPO conference in the US. Trebles all round.

If you look a little more deeply, the change should worry all EPAs.

The BoA will lose intangibles like the proximity to cultural venues, nice Restaurants, proximity to academic and judicial communities like the Max Planck IP law Institute, the LMU / TUM, the Munich courts. If you think that these points of Judicial sociology are details, don't forget that 17th century judges mixed in London with people like John Locke, and perhaps that helped them to realize that the idea of a sovereign monopoly might just be put to good use in defence of the product of human minds. So the location of the Judges is important.

For Attorneys, what about the nice Restaurants and Hotels? many American clients love the chance to see Munich on their visits to BoA hearings...). Is a stay at the Airport Hotel and a taxi rise to and from quite the same thing? A Price cannot be put on such intangibles, and the EPO/AC Management only have the blunt managerial Tools of timeliness, total Appeals filed, total Appeals disposed. The intangibles don't matter to them.

But what is explicitly happening, by design of the senior management, is a demotion of the BoA in the European legal order. In ten years, will the best minds apply to work there? Will seats in the BoA increasingly be filled by people who at one time wouldn't have stood a chance? Will the BoA just become a glorified second examination instance in an industrial estate?

Once this happens, it will filter down to affect the reputation of EPAs. Our solicitor colleagues get to advocate in the nice city centre venue. EPAs will be left with a tin shed in a windy car park, and not forgetting the kebab van.

What would be the point in bothering anymore? Just file nationally.

And this is by design. BB is thinking 6 steps ahead of everybody else - you have to hand it to him.

It's tempting to follow Tufty's utilitarian approach, but the way that a society publically treats its judges illustrates the importance that society places on them. That is why, in the UK, they are so well paid. They cannot return to the free profession afterwards.

We need to view the move from the Isar building to Haar as a demotion of the calling of all IP professionals.

Bottom_feeder

Anonymous said...

Hair in my soup said...
As the local saying goes, "Lieber ein Haar in der Suppe als Suppe im Haar".

Anonymous said...

Please remember that Bonn was the West German capital for quite a long time. It is in the middle of nowhere and it did work quite well nevertheless. The German Federal Court for Patents also does not have a premier location in Munich and does good work.

In light of this, Haar is not too bad and a physical separation is necessary in my opinion.

Tufty the Cat said...

In response to "Old man", I have in one case gone straight from the airport to a hearing (though this was not the original intention), and in almost all cases go straight from the hearing back to the airport. A hotel for the night before is usually chosen for convenience of travel to the hearing in the morning, so either a hotel in Haar or Munich central would suit the new location. For applicants and their representatives at least, I don't see the location as being a problem, or at least no more of a problem than it is already.

Tufty the Cat said...

By the way, I find the denigrating of Haar due to it being the location of a mental hospital somewhat disturbing and in poor taste. If it was any other type of hospital I am sure it wouldn't even be mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Tut tut IPKat, you are not doing yourselves any favours by the tone you are using in this report. The downward slide of the quality of writing on IPKat continues.

Your comment that: "Haar is a municipality on the outskirts of Munich, most famous (not that it is famous at all) for housing the largest mental hospital in Germany" is ill-advised, and you should retract it.

Besides, there's nothing wrong with Haar. It's going to be a lot easier getting to Haar from Munich airport than to anywhere in the centre of the City.

Beelzebub said...

Glad to see that Tufty is at one with the president on this. Well done. And with all your appeals not to denigrate Haar, in Munich (and probably the rest of Bavaria, "sending someone to Haar" has the meaning desrcibed above - and you can't change that! Just nice to see that the EPAs like you will also be sent to Haar in future

Anonymous said...

Are there any suitable hotels in Haar ? I sincerely doubt it ...

Anonymous said...

Bringbackalib. Says...

B oards of Appeal bit the hand that feeded
A Haar of the dog now urgently needed
N ot only exiled out to the sticks
I t's a ramshackle,depleted unit,a bit short of chicks
S uch wanton destruction at one man's whim
H is cup runneth over,it's looking grim
E benezer Scrooge said'What the Dickens?' Giving a shrug
D oubtless Batters retorted with 'Bah,Humbug!'

I'm a robot said...

The new building in Haar is farer (you must take the S6 in addition to the S8) and there are no hotels close to it.

It is clearly a punishment for the BoAs, which affects also all EPAs. Fewer and smaller rooms for OPs too.

Anyway Haar is still nicer than Rijswijk.

I'm a robot said...

This is the place anyway: 8inone.de ("AUSGESPROCHEN ARBEITNEHMERFREUNDLICH")

Anonymous said...

Tufty thinks that "any suggestion, however, sensible, will always be objected to" but I wonder what exactly is sensible about moving the boards from a properly-appointed well-functioning building to one which is less well-appointed and downright inconvenient for all. This is not to mention the disruption to the boards and their staff.

There is nothing sensible about any of this and it has nothing to do with independence since only the wilfully blind would think that geographical distance = judicial independence. No, instead it (relocation and the freeze on new hires) has everything to do with (a) punishment and (b) deliberate downgrading of the boards, as Bottom Feeder has suggested above.

What will happen in future years - with oppositions dumbed-down (sorry "expedited" - but why by the way, since it won't decrease the number of pending applications?) and the boards seriously weakened and seen as second rate, out in the sticks? Well of course there will be the shiny new UPC to send our revocation work - no need to bother with the quick-and-dirty expedited opposition and the appeal which will take 5 years. No sir - straight to the UPC. Is this one possible endgame?

Salvatore

arthurdent said...

I find it difficult to get really worked up about this, at least compared to the house arrest for sick and invalid EPO staff, firing of union officials and the de facto firing of the DG3 judge without approval of the EBA. While BB's insistence on the removal to Haar appears to be retaliatory, in the end it is within the competence of the AC to decide on the location of the Boards. Haar is not located in Siberia but a mere 20min trip by commuter train from the Isar building, and can be reached within comparable travel time from the airport as the city center of Munich. While it is true that Haar is known among the Munich suburbs mainly for its mental hospital I find it somewhat tasteless to denigrate the city for that reason, the hospital has to be located somewhere. Overall it would probably be preferrable to leave the Boards in the Isar building but moving them to Haar is not the end of the world or the EPO.

Suppe in Haar said...

Those who hope that Haar is better connected to the airport may be in for a bad surprise in one of the notorious traffic jams on the Autobahnring A99.

But this is not the point.

Locating the German government in Bonn had historical reasons which we all know.
Locating the newly created Federal Patent Court in a new suitable building (which by the way is shared with some departments of the German Patent Office without impairing the independence of the Court) was also a sensible decision.

Moving the Boards from their present location to a building which is unsuitable (the reduction in space and hearing rooms can hardly contribute to eliminate the backlog) and is going to cost a lot of money (ultimately paid by the users) is not motivated by any sound reason.

Daniel said...

Even though it might be misplaced in this thread, the continuing downward spiral in staff rights and the resulting atmosphere makes me wonder if applying for an examiner job was a mistake?

What I gathered from this blog and other sources is that BB will probably ride out his term and continue his reforms. From what I understand cuts in the pension system are on the agenda for 2017 and the AC will want him to follow through with it.
But how is the situation of a "regular" examiner right now? Has the BB style of management trickled down to the team leaders? Oris there a sense of community among the the staff below "top management"?

And what is the outlook for the EPO after 2018? Is there any reason to believe it will get better? Are there obvious candidates? (in a way that maybe after a German and a Frenchman now someone from Spain or Italy will be chose or something like this).

Greetings from Germany,


Curious said...

Any indication what the empty rooms in the Isar building will become?

Hair ball said...

@tufty: there is no straight connection from Haar to the airport. Taking the S4, you need to change. Good luck with the ever delayed and overfilled trains with your luggage accompanying you. That is not a realistic option at all. The only possibility is a taxi. Btw, the association of Haar with the hospital it has is as old as the situation and a normal fact in Munich. The references do not convey any insensitivity, just a fact.

Anonymous said...

BB unplugged says...

@ Curious

" Any indication what the empty rooms in the Isar building will become?" the rooms will be populated with the new Chief Security Officer, Chief of Protocol, Chief of Hairdressers, etc currently the EPO is organising the recruitment process for all those maverick positions. Apparently BB's bodyguards are drafting the profile descriptions for the HR departments, they seem to have a lot of spare time.

Kant said...

In one of the AC docs, there was mention of bringing some examiners back to the Isar building and letting out office space which would then become vacant. Seems a crazy idea to me, though.

Nostradamus said...


empty space in Isar? no worries

1- Battistelli has a family to provide for

2- Battistelli's family members have friends to provide for, who have family to provide for

3- Battistelli's support from many unsignificant delegations in the administrative council has obviously a price: many delegates have needs, families, friends all need to be provided for

conclusion: the empty isar space will not suffice.

Anonymous said...

Amicus Curiae

The EPO is moving in a very strange way. The root is, is my opinion, that the AC is not able to supervise the EPO, let alone decide what the AC wants and how this aim should be reached. A political question.

The Boards of Appeal move is, excuse the expression, simply insane. The only proper way is a change to the EPC. The documents were worked out back in the '90, but never implemented. In the "recent" revision 1999, the Boards were not taken up, likely because the location of the Boards would not have been sorted out. A political question.

Now, the EPO has a President not respecting any orders. That should not have come as a surprise, considering the track record. The President very early publicly stated that getting elected is very difficult, but getting thrown out would require an earthquake "un tremblement de terre". Wise words indeed.

Whether the facilities in Haar are suitable - they are not - is irrelevant for the discussion. The President threatened the Boards, intervened in their functioning and exerted such pressure as to infringe their judicial independence. A strong signal, as Merpel says, would be needed to put the President back in his place. The AC will not send such signal, and if the AC did, the President would ignore it. A political question.

Considering all facts, it is evident that the Boards shall be punished by moving them out of the Isar building. Cost, usability, impact on representatives/applicants, etc.: this is not relevant. It is a demonstration of power, period. The fact that Haar is known for its mental asylum fits quite nicely.

I would be very surprised if the move to Haar were stopped.

Dissenting Opinion said...

Well, they are lucky. There are less sexy addresses close to Munich, or would you want to have Dachau printed on your business card? The hearing room situation will be alleviated by bringing the appeal fees to a reasonable level,with drastically dropping numbers in appeals. The present rate is far too low. With the insane jurisprudence of the Boas to allow very late amendments and auxiliary requests and remitting them to the first instance, the appeal fee is a boon. For a thousand or so bucks you buy some 5 - 10 years in which you keep the applicafion alive without having to reply to pertinent but burdensome letters from examiners which might find their way into parallel proceedings in really important patent jurisdictions like the US. An appeal is much cheaper than a divisional und you may still file a divisional throughout the appeal even if it goes wrong, another BOA absurdity.
Once the fees are increased the appeals stemming from examination will dwindle. This would also increase the quality of granted patents when applicants could not be sure to get a second chance, despite the high fees. They would have reason to be more cooperative before the first instance or simply renounce to thrash applications which are the vast majority,
The boards are really redundant. There is no reason to provide a second level administrative review . With the UPC the European Patent Courts should not only deal with infringement and nullity but also appeal on examination and opposition. The higher cost would avoid abuse in either case. A "court" which is not even able to publish their own verdicts other than on Wikipedia and ipkat does not deserve a more prestiguous location. Afterall Karlsruhe, a rather modest place, is good enough for Germany's constitutional court and a dreary place like Brussels good enough for the EU.

Tout va très bien Madame la Marquise said...


EPO Grandeur et décadence : http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2016/11/19/debate-in-dutch-parliament-about-deteriorating-social-climate-at-european-patent-office/

ZBrox said...

All this reminds me of the debates between Trump and Clinton....Trump having bold and populistic statements (human rights infringed at the EPO) that nobody takes seriously but sound great. Clinton trying to bring good arguments (Prunier harrassed a staffrrep into resigning) that sound reasonable but nobody wants to hear. SUEPO has the popular message: more money and more rights now because it has worked so far. Battistelli has the careful message: less money and more duties now for better future. SUEPO is using the internet as publicity weapon, Battistelli has made enough mistakes to be vulnerable.
And yet.....I supported Clinton.
Examiners earn over 100.000 euro per year, tax free, with yearly automatic inflation correction. They have 35-40 days paid leave per year. A subsidised canteen where alcohol is served. Permanent contracts for life. Full health insurance. Excellent sports facilities at work. Children daycare centers. Part-time home working up to 3 days per week. Working overtime is not allowed, working during weekends not possible.
Trump wants higher salaries, cheaper canteen, more time at home......
Who do you support?

Endangered Species said...

It is tale telllng that Ms Esther Ouwehand from the Dutch Animal Party has to take up the cause of the endangered species - the officials of the EPO. They are beyond hope, like the elephants

real estate broker said...

If this is good enough for the constitutional court
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Bundesverfassungsgericht_karlsruhe_2.jpg

Why would this not do for them?
http://www.immobilienreport.de/uploads/images/8inOneAufmacher.jpg

Anonymous said...

Big Freeze Out says...

@ZBrox

Wait until your "Clinton" builds his wall around the Isar building and puts armed guards in place, thats in the pipeline, if in doubt ask his body guards they are very approachable.

an epo prisoner said...


Anonymous @ ZBrox said...

you are free to apply to this paradise since EPO is hiring.

A salary and good working conditions are not a compensation for violation of fundamental rights or unhealthly management methods, and union bashing, denial of justice, bolchevik trials etc.

Hoi polloi said...

@ZBrox, @real estate broker, @Endangered Species

Exactly, which part of "in the consultation of users carried out by the EPO itself, the geographical location of the Boards was overwhelmingly not considered an important factor to their independence." you don't understand?

Anonymous said...


"Keep them where they are in the Isar building".

I am surprised that the usually forward thinking Merpel does not consider that there is an even more applicant friendly option: let the BoA members work at home, keep a few hearing rooms with video conferencing capability and let's stop the whole anachronism of attorneys flying in (exhausting significant CO2 in the process) and meeting physically with the BoA for a day, or sometimes even longer.
At a time where administrations and industries worldwide are closing office buildings and moving to conducting their activities electronically, the EPO is again behaving like a dinosaur by asking the question Haar v Isar. The BoA are a second instance in a purely administrative procedure before the EPO, and there is no reason for any physical meeting in such an administrative procedure, where even courts (i.e. judicial procedures, not administrative) around the globe are moving to virtual/videoconf hearings.
That would really save costs for applicants and save the environemnt: don't buy or construct a new building in Haar, rent out (or sell) the Isar building, eliminate travel time and costs for attorneys and reduce CO2 footprint.

But I am sure that would not be very popular amongst the Kat's team or readership, which seems to comprise to a large extent the middle men and women of the patent system, patent attorneys and lawyers, who can charge a significant amount to their clients for hearings before the BoA, so of course they have an interest in maintaining hearings at the EPO.

I would be interested in the EPO publishing some statistics about the number of hearings (in first and second instances) at the EPO, the duration of those hearings and the distance of travel of attorneys attending the hearings on behalf of their clients.

By the way, I would propose the same solution for patent examiners, but I have been told that this is not acceptable because it would endanger things like expatriation allowances, privileges and immunities, etc...

FormerExaminer

Dissenting opinion said...

@hoi polloi
They have not asked me where to locate the tax office. Mine is in the middle of nowhere. So why should we ask "the users" where they want to spend their day trips paid by their clients? For sure the applicant's don't care, it 'sonly the attorneys, spoilt brats like the examiners, in first and second instance.

Their clients pay for their attorneys, they don't pay the office. The attorneys don't pay anyone.
The attorneys' clients are not the office's clients, in the same manner convicts, plaintiffs etc. are not their judges clients.

Procedural fees are still fees and not prices. Most administration is deficitary. Teachers, army, judges....
And for a good reason, being deficitary is the ultimate sign of independence. Don't want anyone acquitted so we don't have to pay for his jail, nor anyone sentenced to make use of excess jail capacity.

Donald the Trump said...

@Zbrox You supported Clinton, now you support Battistelli. Just means you are wrong twice. And it means there is hope, Clinton lost, so might Battistelli.

DtT said...

@zbrox as to being wrong. It is not only wrong on thr moral merit, what you are writing, but also on the facts. A SR resigned. Evidently he did not feel harassed, as he did NOT file a disciplinary complaint which he could have done. Someone else did for him.

Old man said...

Former examiner,
Of course the only reason there are oral proceedings is because the parties ask for them. They could continue in a written form, if they so chose.
With regard to 1st instance, oral proceedings are available already by video conference. My experience is that the attorneys tend rarely to request them and, if they do, tend to change their mind. But factually they are both possible and encouraged by the EPO.
With regard to examiners, many do work from home but that is a cost to them as they have to provide space for their own work station. Whether they are in DE or BE or U.K. would not be an issue for the applicants and many staff would like to but are not allowed to by EPO policy that limits home working to the country of employment. That is partly dictated by the seat agreements whereby, for instance, x% of staff must be in NL etc. You can blame the examiners if you like, but the facts are somewhat different. Many staff do work from home, but that is only allowed on a win-win basis I.e. staff must produce more.

Zbrox,
Your facts on the LP case are interesting. Please quote your (independent or documentary) source.
Your characterisation of Suepo as Trump and BB as Clinton is equally incredible. Not least since BB is part of the right-wing party in France. Suepo, by the way, have not linked any of the current issues to more money or rights, contrary to your statement.

Pangur Bán said...

To Daniel,

It really grieves me to say it after many happy years in the EPO as an examiner, but I can't recommend that you pursue your application. It is wishful thinking to hope that the badness is all at the top, and the lower management and staff join together to ignore as much as they can what BB and co. are doing. Anyone who can is leaving: early retirements are skyrocketing. You can see from the information in this blog and in the comments that BB's power is completely unfettered, and is called a "reign of terror" without exaggeration.

You would not receive adequate training. Production pressure is so high that examiners are no longer willing or able to help one another with the benefit of their experience, as was always the case in the past. During the probationary year your targets will be unrealistic, such that you will have to violate your conscience many times in order not to fail.

Anyone brave enough to stand up to BB, such as staff representatives, or even senior managers, can be eliminated without any recourse to law. In this climate it is a miracle that any solidarity survives. It does, but it is hanging on by its fingernails.

It is difficult to see how the situation might improve. Unless and until there are some hopeful signs I would steer well clear.

Anonymous said...

Amicus Curiae

@Zbrox:

The EPO was found guilty of infringing Human Rights by a second instance Dutch court. The case is now pending at the highest court.

You mention money, working conditions, etc. Do you really believe this entitles the EPO to infringe on Human Rights?

@Dissenting Opinion:

You somehow missed the point that moving the Boards is pointless.

Increased appeal fees will render the European Route very unattractive and pave the way for abuse from the part of the EPO/the examiners. The future of the UPC is uncertain, and certain EP member states are not and will probably never be members of the UPC (e.g. Switzerland, Turkey).


Please, cool down your emotions and consider carefully what you intend to post.

BBrox said...

@Amicus...
What human rights are infringed?
Strike is forbidden at the EPO? There was a strike this year. What is indeed no longer possible is the SUEPO-organised abuse of the right to strike which they called `flexi strike` or even `strike a la carte`. During the school holidays they declared that anyone could go on strike whenever they wanted, which was cheaper than taking unpaid leave. Years ago people died in Europe to defend the right to strike, SUEPO insulted their legacy and lost the moral right to use it.
SUEPO is not allowed to send emails to all staff? Indeed, unwanted email is spam. They do however have the right to an RSS feed which enters directly the Outlook inbox of any employee who so desires. Plus they have direct links to the SUEPO website from their own EPO intranet pages. Resources supplied by the EPO. They can thus communicate all they want.
Freedom of speech? There is another demonstration planned for Nov 24th in The Hague. Posters announce this all over the building. They can print and publish everything they want, but the EPO is not paying for the paper it`s printed on anymore. And not paying for the internal mail distribution.
The internet public is being misled by a massive SUEPO publicity campaign. Some fact checking would be advisable.

@ Daniel...According to the `staff changes` reports which are published monthly, this year about 85 examiners left in the first 10 months. There are in total 4300 examiners who each work about 30 years at the EPO. There should therefore be about 140 examiners leaving per year, but there are not. Quite the contrary, much less. Also here propaganda sounds nice but fact checks show something else. This year already 150 new examiners started because working at the EPO is MUCH better than anywhere in industry.

Don`t believe everything you read...check the numbers and facts I gave, but also those given by others!

BBrox

Headache said...

@BBrox: the distribution of the examiner age is not even, as twenty to ten years ago the office expanded heftily, therefore the examiners are on average younger then if every year the same number had been hired....

Anonymous said...

Push me panic button! says..

@ BBFox

"The internet public is being misled by a massive SUEPO publicity campaign" what you read is "wisdom of the crowds" and this is not SUEPO driven or do you believe they have produced all the comments above? Go and talk to the people instead of starring at your facts and numbers. Eponians are fed with BB's flawed policies NOT with the EPO.

Old sad observer said...

I am appalled at the tone of some of the comments I have read here. The top is by BBrox today at 15.16 GMT. I am surprised that it came out as it bears no relationship with the topic at stake. That SUEPO has made mistakes is one thing, but it bears no relation with the relocation of the boards.

By the way, when the actual president came into the office, the boards were already relocated. As he wanted to benefit from the nice view on the 10th floor, he made the boards move down in the Isar building, and instead of being in the upper floors, the boards are now in floors which are closer to the hearing rooms. That was the pretext given at the time.

What is sad is that the question raised by Merpel has been completely lost in some stupid comments.

R 19/12 was a bad a decision, as it was taken just in order to annoy the president by some members of the boards. It was just the pretext the president needed to start bashing the boards. One of the aspects of this bashing is the relocation, another one is the new salary system for the board members: a fixed salary for 5 years and an increase only if the member is renewed

Any move of the Boards of Appeal will have a cost. The only question which matters is: are those costs justified? I have great doubts that those costs are justified, other than by anything else than a will to retaliate and bash the boards of appeal. It is not acceptable that the costs, not only for the office, but also for the users will increase due to the bad location.

The independence of the Boards is not shown by the fact that they are in a different building. Anything else is a fallacy. Among all the empty office spaces available in Munich, why was it only a building in a notoriously not nice area which has been chosen. This is independent from the hospital in Haar.

What is the problem is that the whole system is going into the wall due to people who have either no interest in a good functioning system or who simply want to exacerbate their will for power.

The Dog ate my homework said...

@BBrox
"The internet public is being misled by a massive SUEPO publicity campaign."

Why of course they are! ... and so are the Judges of the Court of Appeal in The Hague, the Munich Public Prosecutor, the Judges of the ILO, Joff Wild, etc. etc. - right?

It's always the fault of the others ...


"abuse of the right to strike which they called `flexi strike` or even `strike a la carte` ".

... but you definitely have a point here - touché.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a matter of principal foremost, but in terms of assessing any hardship, it is hard to sympathise. They get to cut out the commute into Munich as most BoA live that side of Munich and they will still be raking in 0.5mill a year tax free, with a pension for 10 people. There is room here just to be grateful and to thank your lucky stars.

Dissenting Opinion said...

@Amicus
...will render the European Route very unattractive

If the EPO draws its attractivity from not applying the regulations as viguourosly as its "competitors" - what an absurd notion - it probably does not serve its purpose.

Second level administrative review, even just the right to be heard at the administrative level, let alone oral proceedings before the administrative instance is more than what you get with the "competitors", and probably more than what you deserve.

Pretending amiable locations for these oral proceedings with attractive spouse programmes, culinary and cultural offerings etc is - well - kuzpa. Evidently the geographic division was found purposeful, for whatever purpose, by those who have the power and duty to decide on both locations and fees. This does not include the boards themselves and less so "the users". Fees have a regulatory purpose, they may be cost covering or not or even exceed costs. I doubt, it costs more than a hundred bucks to issue a passport, still I don't contest the fee, which - again - is not a price.

Anonymous said...

'Sarkò is gone' said:
Thanks BBrox & zbrox for your revealing comments. Glad to know that the recent job openings for a 'press officer' and a 'communication expert' have been filled at the Epo.
.

Don't TRIPS yourself up said...

@Dissenting Opinion

"Second level administrative review"

Be careful what you say here ...

In your enthusiasm to break a lance for PEO management you may end up being hoist with your own petard ...

The Boards of Appeal were officially conceived of by the legislator as a judicial instance. It's in the Travaux Preparatoires - go look it up if you don't believe me.
Pacta sunt servanda ...

The story line that they are really only a "second level administrative review" instance is a favorite part of BB's denigratory Board-bashing narrative.

What he fails to understand however is that if they are really only a "second level administrative review" instance, then the EPO system offers no means of judicial review.

And that spells trouble on two fronts:

1. On a national level - for example the constitutional complaints pending in Germany.

2. On an international level - the EPO system is not TRIPS compliant.

And don't come to me with your precious UPC fairy tale.

Even the UPC won't allow you to contest a decision of the EPO to reject your application. Ergo, no judicial review of those administrative decisions.



AA said...

@BBrox

Ah, yes, the classical "examiners are well paid and have a lot of perks" argument ...

The President violated judicial independence?

But the "examiners are well paid and have a lot of perks".

The Munich Prosecutor dismissed the complaint for defamation of the Office?

But the "examiners are well paid and have a lot of perks".

The President ignored the request of the AC not to dismiss any further SUEPO representatives?

But the "examiners are well paid and have a lot of perks".

The move to Haar seems completely illogical?

But the "examiners are well paid and have a lot of perks".

And I guess that your point that alchool is served at the EPO canteen is for you only a further proof of the debauchery of said examiners ...

Forensic Accountant said...

I know this is a matter of principal foremost, but in terms of assessing any hardship, it is hard to sympathise. They get to cut out the commute into Munich as most BoA live that side of Munich and they will still be raking in 0.5mill a year tax free, with a pension for 10 people. There is room here just to be grateful and to thank your lucky stars.

Who exactly is supposed to be raking in 0.5 mill a year tax free ?
Maybe you should check your facts.
Or have you confused Board of Appeal members with the President (whose contract for some reason is a closely kept secret)?

Just for the record: in March of this year the EPO President claimed publicly to the Dutch newspaper that he "only" receives a salary of 300k per annum and no bonus.
https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2016/03/04/ik-verdien-300000-euro-per-jaar-1594385-a113650

So why spread LIES that Board of Appeal members receive salaries of "0.5 mill a year tax free" ?

And more to the point, why does IPKat permit such blatant falsehoods to be published here ?



Anonymous said...

"Kant said...
Indeed, mental health problems should not be trivialized but it nevertheless remains that to a resident of Munich, the phrase "nach Haar schicken" does have the meaning of having someone detained in the mental health hospital there."


That's ok then. As long as such comments are acceptable in Germany, it must be ok to make jokes at the expense of the mentally ill.

Old man said...

0350 Anon,

0.5 mill per year? Really?? Strange that my salary scales don't say that. Nowhere near that - that's a multiple of the actual amount and a lot more that the President is getting (according to him) and he's off the scales. I think your calculator may need new batteries.

Monday said...

@BBrox
"The internet public is being misled by a massive SUEPO publicity campaign."

It does not seem to be only the internet public to be misled: it appears that even Dutch parlamentaries now believe that there is something wrong at the EPO and will have a Debate in Dutch Parliament about deteriorating social climate at European Patent Office

These simpletons ...

Anonymous said...

We are the Office said
@BBrox, ZBrox, Gsox

Besides plenty of actions that are not ok and partly illegal this President fired three elected staff representatives and degraded several others in secret proceedings.
I don't know where you live. If it is anywhere in Europe, I am sure that this would not be possible there.
Why? Because the Rule of Law prevails and it is not a totalitarian regime.

Brit said...

Anon 1159,
I'm not sure that a joke was intended or made. If the UKIPO was transferred to Broadmoor, I think every Brit would recognise the location's notoriety and would explain the cultural significance to any non-Brit.

Since you object , I will leave it to readers to work out for themselves what Broadmoor is famous for.

Et sinon je reprendrais bien des croquettes said...

@Forensic Accountant

why does IPKat permit such blatant falsehoods to be published here ?

Dear Accountant,
because the Kat is certainly not aware of all the details of the work conditions at the EPO, but mostly relies on people like you to correct comments that are blatantly false.

The fact that some people have to post false informations to obviously try to divert the attention of the readers of this blog from the subject of the discussion tells you a lot about what is happening at the European patent Office.

wee wullie wollass said...

If BB was a Scotsman he'd send them all off to Carstairs ...

Taffy the Welshman said...

@Brit

Have ye never heard of St. Cadoc's in Newport ?

weicheijk said...

Fallout from Euro Patent Office meltdown reaches Dutch parliament


ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant said...

THE VOTE IN THE LAST BFC ON THE REMOVAL OF THE BoA TO HAAR

13 YES: MC, RO, CY, DK, LT, FI, LU, AL, BE, BG, LV, SE, HR;

8 NO: IT, CH, IE, NL, AT, PL, NO, FR;

15 ABSTENTIONS: ES, SM, SI, RS, GB, CZ, GR, MT, IS, PT, MK, HU, DE, EE, TR;

2 DID NOT ATTEND: SK, LI

broad moron said...

https://www.broadmoor.com/
"The Broadmoor is a AAA Five-Diamond resort in Colorado Springs, CO featuring an award winning spa, championship golf, meeting facilities, and much more."

The Great Ba Di Di, Prince of Toilets said...

THE VOTE IN THE LAST BFC ON THE REMOVAL OF THE BoA TO HAAR

... which tells a lot how Battistelli maintain himself in power.


15 "abstentions"? Really? Like "I was not there, and if I was there I was sleeping" ?

Blatteristelli said...

THE VOTE IN THE LAST BFC ON THE REMOVAL OF THE BoA TO HAAR

It's just like FIFA.

John Bradshaw said...


Euro Patent office staff call again for King Battistelli regicide

Anonymous said...

“Where there’s life, there’s hope.” says...

Maybe there is a Triumvirate in the making with 3 President's, e.g. BB for protocol matters, a new one for the executive EPO part and one for the BoA. The advantages would be that its suits BB's royal ambitions and he can focus on his visits to Monaco, etc and high state visits according to protocol. Furthermore the AC can appoint somebody that really knows how an organisation with social partners works. Finally the story with BoA we all know. (Remark: to whom it may concern there is also a HR make-over in the pipe line, basically masking the social mess with a perfume of new PwC business clichés)

Anonymous said...

"I am a Berliner" says..

The German AC delegation will perk its ears again when the Berlin EPO staff will be moved to Munich, this following the removal of the BoA to Haar. Why has this option not been mentioned in the AC document, bit of money saving...?

un pion said...


"I am a Berliner" says..

heard from the Isar building last week that this is exactly what Battistelli has in mind once the "haar-cut" is done: Berlin should be (des)integrated into Munich.

Officially (usual lullabies) this is to increase efficiency (in reality this is to retaliate on the Berlin sub-office which has refused to submit since the beginning)...

Joyeux noel à tous :o(((((

Anonymous said...

It's a shame said:

Haar. It's decided. Oh no.

Just Desserts said...

They have only themselves to blame for being such a bunch of "poesjes".
Not a whimper of protest ... like lambs to the slaughter ...

Anonymous said...

Result of the AC voting on moving the BoA to Haar:

Yes 21 BE DK MC PT AL BG GR ES HR IS MK RO SM CY MT LT FI LU LV SE RS
No 7 GB IE LI CH FR ML NO
Abstain 7 CZ EE IT PL SI DE HU

It´s good to have so many countries who hardly ever see a patent deciding the fate of the EPO.

Das Teurste Maas said...

Also nice to see the host state Germany taking a principled position ...
BA ABSTAINING !!!

Thank you Mr. Ernst.

Proof of the pudding said...

What a disaster! What chance reversing the proposed fee increases for appeals?

If changes such as this can be waved through by the AC, despite being totally contrary to the wishes of the users (and all common sense), then one has to wonder why there is an AC at all. If Monsieur le President can always get the AC to rubber-stamp his proposals (no matter how insane), then why not cut costs by getting rid of the requirement for their approval?

And still no attention from the mainstream media... especially in Germany. Looks like the AC is not the only thing that BB controls!

Kant said...

Are we going to see the EPO pay for the installation of a lift at the Haar S-bahn station to allow representatives in wheel chairs to reach the new building?

Anonymous said...

Kant, why? After all, the Isartor S-Bahn station does not have a lift either!

Headache said...

If the big ones complain about being outvoted by the small countries, why did neither UK, FR,... request a weighted vote?
This has a financial impact, so they have a right to request it...

Now they are complicit too. Referring to "we voted no and lost" is not sufficient anymore!

Anonymous said...

An ever so slight amount of googling will reveal that there IS a lift at the Haar S-Bahn station. Never let truth get in the way of a good rumor/story... Anybody remember Neuperlach and oral proceedings there...? Big fuss for nothing...

Kant said...

Anon - not if you want to leave the exit on the northern side, only steps there.

Anonymous said...

@ Headache said...

If the big ones complain about being outvoted by the small countries, why did neither UK, FR,... request a weighted vote?
This has a financial impact, so they have a right to request it...

What about INCOMPETENCE? why should EPO's admin council be better staffed than the EU? Bureaucracy is spreading like cancer cells. Those who dispose upon expertise are mobbed until they shut up so that minions and accolytes of the tyran concentrate all power to serve the will of the chosen one...

If you could see them live you would not believe it ! pathetic, sad, and of course self-destructing

Kant said...

An article in today's paper states that construction of a ramp on the northern s-bahn exit will start in January to provide improved facilities.

Looking at things said...

By no means I approve the transfer to Haar. But one thing has to be clear: it is mere retaliation, not only from the president but also from the AC.

Both have never accepted that the EBA has not acted in the way they wanted in the case of the suspended member.

It therefore remains a disgrace if the legislative and the executive try to interfere with the judicial. Separation of powers is a fundamental guarantee which should not be tampered with.

One of the members of the EBA who participated in the decision Art 23 has retired. Normally when a chairman of a BA retires, there is an article in the internal journal of the EPO (the Gazette). For this chairman, there is nothing. Is this a mere coincidence? I doubt it.

sotoret said...

@Looking at things
When people retire, it is up to them whether they want an article in the censored Gazette. This chairman would not be the first one to leave without it.

Looking at things said...

@sotoret

Your comment is certainly correct, but in the present instance, the contrary is true. An article was prepared, but not accepted by the editorial board of the Gazette.

It is not known whether the board received precise instructions from above or decided on its volition not to publish it. It might well be that the board asked for permission to publish it, but the result is the same in all three occurrences.

There is thus no coincidence.

stores said...

@ looking at things:

I did say "the censored Gazette", didn't I? I did so for a reason.....

Cynic said...

May to say that UK will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? Surely that means no UPC?? And does that mean no EU patent before reformation of the agreement? Germany may hold the key but others may challenge the location of courts, the fee structures etc. All in all, the fading away of DG3 may not be happening just yet. In which case, is Haar still a good idea...

Kant said...

How likely is a legal challenge to the ability of a board of appeal to sit in Haar?
I am sure an enterprising attorney will request a question be submitted to the enlarged board pointing out that under Art. 6 EPC it is required that the EPO be located in Munich (with a branch at the Hague) and under Art. 15, the boards of appeal shall be set up "within" the EPO. Since Haar is not in Munich but "Landkreis München". If so, what is the betting that the members of the EBA, who presumably are not in favour of moving, would agree that under the EPC, they must be located in the city of Munich rather than be shunted out.

Rechtsbeugung said...

How likely is a legal challenge to the ability of a board of appeal to sit in Haar?
I am sure an enterprising attorney will request a question be submitted to the enlarged board pointing out that under Art. 6 EPC it is required that the EPO be located in Munich (with a branch at the Hague) and under Art. 15, the boards of appeal shall be set up "within" the EPO. Since Haar is not in Munich but "Landkreis München". If so, what is the betting that the members of the EBA, who presumably are not in favour of moving, would agree that under the EPC, they must be located in the city of Munich rather than be shunted out.


Surely the President could intervene to prevent such a decision relying on the assistance of those London barristers from Essex Street who have come to his aid in the past ...


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