12 October 2017
Munich
Reporter: Barney Dixon

SUEPO willing to work with new EPO president


A source close to the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has revealed it is always willing to work with whoever is elected to lead the European Patent Office (EPO), as long as there is a “respect by top management for the rule of law”.

On 11 October, EUIPO executive director, António Campinos, was elected as president of the EPO, succeeding Benoît Battistelli, who has been often been targeted as the source of controversy at the office.

SUEPO had criticised Battistelli’s attempts to change work practices at the office and held demonstrations challenging this and the unfair dismissal of several staff members, including senior official Laurent Prunier. Demonstrations at the office were then banned.

Earlier this year, SUEPO sought protection from Dutch courts in the form of an injunction to prevent the violation of EPO workers’ rights. But the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld the EPO’s immunity.

SUEPO has since brought the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights over the decision.

Technologia, an independent agency aimed at reducing risks for workers and approved by the French Ministry of Labour, conducted an enquiry into the psychosocial risks for SUEPO.

The agency revealed that of those surveyed 2649 of the office’s 6770 employees, 82 percent, stated that their working conditions have deteriorated over the past three years, with 58 percent perceiving a negative impact on their health.

The source close to SUEPO explained that the union would “like to see the end of a system based on the total distrust of all staff, this by a handful of top managers brought by Battistelli”.

“The EPO cannot continue to function by violating fundamental rights of its staff and disrespecting the rule of law. Anxiety and insecurity do not enhance sustainable business models,” the source said.

“SUEPO is professional. SUEPO looks forward not backward and hopes for better days where intelligence prevails over emotions, where the EPO is re-established as a respected international institution delivering the best patents for the public.”

The source commented: “Now António Campinos is elected. For him and all stakeholders (staff and the organisation) one can only wish for a better future."

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