Administrative Council backs latest EPO suspension

Administrative Council backs latest EPO suspension


The European Patent Office’s (EPO) supervisory body, the Administrative Council (AC), has supported a decision to suspend a board of appeal member despite two letters asking it to limit president Benoît Battistelli's power.

In a communiqué published today (December 12), the AC said it reiterated its “full endorsement of and support for” board of appeal members’ independence but nevertheless accepted the decision to suspend a member on alleged misconduct grounds.

“As a precautionary and conservative measure without anticipating any further steps which may ensue, the council unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty on full salary until March 31, 2015,” the AC said.

The AC added that it requested an investigation to be completed as soon as possible, to allow it to decide on the next steps, and said it expressed concern at a “unique” incident in the office’s history.

The news comes after two letters—signed by internal and external Enlarged Board of Appeal members, including European judges—called on the AC to set “a clear limitation on the executive power” of the EPO.

They asked the AC to recognise that, despite board of appeal members not being above disciplinary proceedings, Battistelli does not have the authority to suspend them.

According to sources, there are unconfirmed rumours that the disciplining of all signatories to the letters who are also members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal was suggested at the meeting.

Meanwhile, according to workers 1,488 people were on strike on Wednesday (December 10), the same day a demonstration was held in support of the suspended member. Sources said 891 workers were on strike all day and 597 for half the day. The figures apply to the EPO’s three offices in Munich, Berlin and The Hague.

Staff are nearing the end of their “incremental” five-week strike, which will culminate with workers at all three sites—Munich, The Hague and Berlin—walking out every day next week.

The communiqué is the AC's initial comment following its meeting held on December 10 and 11.

(Source: WIPR)

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