Undeterred by staff cutting his brakes, president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, has now enraged his organization's Boards of Appeal.
In a letter [PDF] leaked to The Register, the boards – which act as the EPO's judicial body – make a series of severe criticisms of Battistelli's proposed structural reforms that would in effect make him King.
Noting that the aim of the reform was to increase the autonomy of the boards, the association that represents all 28 global boards complains in a letter sent earlier this month that it would in fact "decrease the level of autonomy and independence."
The Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) also points out that the proposed reforms do not follow "the main internationally recognized principles of judicial independence."
As with an agreement that the EPO management has been trying to force on worker unions – leading to a series of strikes – one of the biggest complaints that AMBA has is that the new agreement gives the EPO President the ability to completely change the system at a future date.
"The delegation of powers is insecure in that it may be revoked by the President of the Office on his own initiative, without any safeguards," the AMBA letter notes.
The proposals also limit the power of the Board of Appeal's president over budget and staffing and, handily, the EPO President is given the right to decide on who is appointed (or reappointed) in that role, and any reappointment would be subject to a "performance evaluation" carried out by the president.
The independent boards would no longer be able to adopt their own rules of procedure – they would be decided by, you've guessed it, the EPO President.
There are a range of other changes that all point in the same direction, with the end result that "independence and autonomy are eroded," says AMBA.
As to how such changes ended up in the proposal without being challenged, well that's because Battistelli and his team didn't consult with the boards that it was seeking to reform. From the letter: "The Boards have been given little or no opportunity to comment on central aspects of the current proposal. Many of them have not been presented to the Boards at all."
The boards did make suggestions and proposals, but so far they have gone precisely nowhere. "The vast majority of our proposals, comments and concerns have not been taken into account in the proposed rules and are not reflected in any other way, for example in the explanatory notes or in the 'Alternatives' section, which is conspicuous by its absence."
In short, it's not just the EPO staff that the wildly unpopular president is trying to become king of, he's also trying to take over the very independent processes that are supposed to hold his organization's decisions to account.
All hail King Battistelli! ®