Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why would a patent office be afraid of bloggers? Only if it has something to hide. Like the EPO.

Over the years I've learned not to take things personally, but there are situations when it's hard. I did take it personally when I faced a shitstorm in 2012 after a totally erroneous decision by a judge who still doesn't correctly state the law on the copyrightability of declaring API code. And this morning I saw something that is just absurd. I'm talking about the last bullet point in the following quote from the EPO's official allegations against Elizabeth Hardon, a staff union leader they're now trying to fire:

"(1) actively cooperated with the campaign conducted by C [suspended in-house judge] against the EPO, members of the Administrative Council, and individual EPO staff members.

Specifically, the evidence demonstrates that she:

  • discussed with C the strategy for his campaign and provided instructions to him;

  • provided C, on at least one occasion, with non-public contact details for all delegates of the Administrative Council, which C used to send anonymous defamatory email messages;

  • was in personal contact with at least one blogger habitually attacking the EPO, Mr. FM of FOSS Patents, which resulted in the publication on FOSS Patents of attacks regarding alleged corruption of delegates of the Administrative Council;"

First, I don't disclose sources unless they wish to be disclosed. Also, I sometimes get messages from anonymous sources. Therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny any allegations of someone having been in contact with me, regardless of how truthful or untruthful an allegation is. As for "personal contact", I can generally say that no SUEPO (staff union) person has ever met me or even talked to me over the phone--I listened to some of their speeches at demonstrations in Munich, without approaching them. I only talked to two persons at an EPO demo. I asked one guy to let me take a picture of a banner, and I said hello to an EPO in-house judge I happen to know for a reason that has nothing to do with the labor dispute.

Second, I comment on the EPO situation from time to time (not even very frequently), but "habitually attacking the EPO" is really not the way I view it. On one major issue I even agreed with the president of the EPO (though an expert on suicides tends to agree with SUEPO).

Third, regardless of who my sources are, none of my sources even tried to persuade me to allege "corruption of delegates of the Administrative Council [of the European Patent Organization]." The closest thing to corruption--and "closest" is an overstatement--that I wrote about was that the EPO allegedly pays for the visits of its supervisors (especially those from relatively poor countries) to Munich doctors. I wrote about this because I heard it at a SUEPO demo. I remember that Mrs. Hardon was among the speakers, but I also remember with certainty that the thing about medical care was mentioned by a male speaker at a demonstration about a year ago. Apart from that, I merely mentioned that Administrative Council delegates often hope to become EPO president or vice president, and that this ambition appears to prevent at least some of them from doing their supervisory job right.

Actually, it's only after the above reference to "corruption" in an official EPO document that I start to wonder whether the EPO leadership's hypersensitivity may have a factual reason that I don't know about yet.

Getting back to the first point: even if one wanted to assume arguendo that Mrs. Hardon had communicated with me, there wouldn't be anything wrong about it. Managing Intellectual Property magazine put me on their list of the 50 most influential people in IP in five of the last ten years, and Canadian IP lawyers and blogger Barry Sookman once listed FOSS Patents among the top three patent law blogs in the world. SUEPO must have the right to communicate with someone like me, just like BMW or Allianz couldn't prevent their staff representatives from talking to the general press.

The EPO leadership is just paranoid about bloggers who criticize what's wrong with the way that organization is run. But those EPO folks don't appear to understand that they're only making things worse by the day. They threatened legal action on at least four occasions against TechRights author Dr. Roy Schestowitz, who is still the most prolific writer on the EPO labor dispute. Now they blame a staff representative for my commentary without a factual basis.

What do they have to fear? They must have something to hide.

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