145th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 14-15 October 2015)

15 October 2015

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 145th meeting in Munich on 14 and 15 October 2015 with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.

After the Chairman's report on the most recent meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli, presented his activities report (to be published shortly on this website). The Council congratulated the President, his management team and the Office staff for excellent results achieved in the period under review.

Later, the Council heard a status report on the Unitary patent and related developments, given by the Luxembourg delegation, representing the country holding the EU presidency for the second half of 2015.

The Council further heard the reports of the Chairman of the Select Committee on its 16th meeting, held just ahead of the Council meeting, and of the Chairman of the Committee on Patent Law on the Committee's 45th meeting.

Concerning "Legal and International Affairs" the Council adopted a set of amendments to the Implementing Regulations to the EPC regarding handwritten amendments in opposition - Rule 82(EPC), on the one hand, and constitution, maintenance and preservation of files - Rule 147, on the other hand (the corresponding decisions CA/D 9/15 and CA/D 10/15 will be published shortly on this website).

The Council was informed of the results of a user consultation on the orientations for a structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal which had been presented to and endorsed by the Council at its 143rd meeting in March 2015.

The Council decided to initiate a review of the social situation at the European Patent Office after five years of reform setting and implementation.

Several measures could contribute to a possible progress in this context:

  • continuing the exercise aiming at staff union recognition, despite the difficulties met
  • aiming at the elaboration of a negotiation strategy preserving all the results already obtained
  • launching an independent external social study, in close co-operation with the President

The Council also dealt with the facts established by its Disciplinary Committee in a recent case involving a high-ranking EPO staff member having judicial functions. As to this case:

  • The Council took note of the assessment by the President of the Office of the seriousness of the misconduct at issue.
  • The Council observed that the Disciplinary Committee expressed the view that the relevant rules and general principles of law were correctly applied throughout the investigative and disciplinary procedure and assessed the facts brought forward during the investigation.
  • The Disciplinary Committee focussed on acts of unauthorised disclosure of non-public information and critical opinions relating to Board of Appeal activities outside the EPO, while using pseudonyms as well on activities of spreading accusations and attacks or threats against the EPO and its members, either directly or indirectly using anonymous statements and pseudonyms, both inside and outside the EPO. The Disciplinary Committee concluded that the appropriate sanction is dismissal pursuant to Article 93(2)(f) of the EPO Service Regulations.
  • The Council endorsed the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee that the appropriate disciplinary measure is dismissal. Pursuant to Article 23(1) EPC, the removal from office of a member of the Boards of Appeal is possible on a proposal from the Enlarged Board of Appeal. Such procedure can be initiated by the Administrative Council in accordance with Article 12a of the Rules of Procedure of the Enlarged Board of Appeal.
  • As a consequence, the Council requested the Enlarged Board of Appeal to make a proposal for the removal from office of said staff member.

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