European Patent Office Management places itself outside of European legal order

(2 March 2015) Management of the European Patent Office stated that they would not respect the verdict of a Dutch court arguing immunity from the European legal order. This is not acceptable and EPSU has written to management in support of the unions demands.

Relations between the unions in the European Patent Office (represented by SUEPO, an affiliate of EPSU affiliated union USF) have not been well for sometime as management of EPO is blocking access of the union to negotiations, does not allow access to the email system and blocks the union's emails to members and workers and is threatening workers that want to engage in industrial action with repercussions. Staff representatives that speak out openly also fear disciplinary action. The branch of the union in The Hague brought its case to the attention of the Dutch Court. It ruled in favour of the union, referring to the European legal order of the European Court of Human Rights (and the Social Charter of the Council of Europe).

The Dutch Court ruled that the European Patent Office:
- Has to grant access to the email system to the union. Trade union representatives that use their work email address for trade union related activities can not be threatened with disciplinary action. The union should be allowed to send bulk mails to members and workers;

- Prohibits management of EPO to impose a maximum duration of possible strikes;

- Management of EPO should allow the union to participate in collective bargaining within 14 days after the ruling.

The Director Mr. Batistelli however issued an internal communication in which he argued that EPO has immunity being an international organisation of Member States, that the verdict of the Dutch court does not apply and that he therefore does not intend to grant the demands of the Court. A conservative minister in the Dutch government approved this vision. It is contested by experts in international law. EPSU has written to management of EPO to respect the verdict and questions have been raised in the European Parliament.

- The EPSU letters to management of EPO:




- The verdict of the Court (NL)






The questions in the EP (NL)




Media attention for the case (NL)









- Europäisches Patentamt: Präsident droht protestwilligen Mitarbeitern

- Read our article in Russian version:

More like this