22 July 2017

EU Patents Are Even More F%$#Ed up Than Ours

The EU has been moving toward a single patent court, but the European Patent Office, and in particular its President, Benoit Battistelli, is so profoundly screwed up that the constitutional court of Germany has ruled a European Patent Court to be illegal:
The freeze on long-held plans to approve a single patent court for Europe is a result of the actions of the president of the European Patent Office, according to German media reports.

The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) has been in progress since 2012, but last month Germany's constitutional court unexpectedly ordered a halt to legislation ratifying it. The German government's approval is essential for the court to move forward.

Beyond the fact that an unnamed individual had filed a complaint with the court arguing that the UPC broke German law, little was known about the argument itself and why the court had taken it so seriously.

Now details have emerged and the reason for the freeze appears to be controversial changes pushed through EPO president Benoit Battistelli, largely in order to enhance his own office's power.

The complaint argues that changes made to the EPO's Boards of Appeal have effectively undermined its independence, meaning that there are now insufficient checks and balances within the system to adhere to German law.

Those changes were forced through by Battistelli after the Boards of Appeal stood up to him by refusing to remove a judge he had fired over allegations of leaking embarrassing documents and posting anonymous criticism of Battistelli and his team.


As a result of this refusal to capitulate to Battistelli's demands, EPO management then drew up a raft of reforms that undercut the Boards of Appeal authority.

Among other things, these limited the power of the Board of Appeal's president over budget and staffing, and gave Battistelli as EPO President the right to decide who is appointed (or reappointed) in that role. Any reappointment would be subject to a "performance evaluation" carried out by the president.

Among other smaller changes, the independent boards would also no longer be able to adopt their own rules of procedure – they would be decided by, you've guessed it, the EPO President.


Now, however, it appears that Battistelli may finally face serious consequences, with his forced changes on the organization standing in the way of a major strategic goal of the EPO: the creation of a unitary patent court.

If the German constitutional court does decide that the Battistelli-forced changes to the Boards of Appeal undermine its independence to the extent that it contravenes German law, then Europe will either have to drop its five-year plan or demand that the EPO reverse the changes and remove the powers of the presidency that Battistelli has fought so hard to introduce.
Battistelli wiretapped his staff in an attempt to fine people who was leaking uncomplimentary information about him and retaliated against whistleblowers.

The EU being what it is, of course, he remains in office until the end of his term, because there are effectively no adults in charge.


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