|For some it's a game,|
for others a sad reality
But consider this riddle: what does a move to Vienna achieve that a move to Berlin will not?
One suggested answer is found in the EPO Service Regulations. Under Article 53, refusing to relocate to another country is a sackable offence. There is no direct provision for firing an employee who refuses to relocate to a different city within the same country.
Article 53Headquartering the Boards in a different country opens up the enthralling possibility of firing Board members, possibly even without the distasteful necessity of referring such decisions to the Enlarged Board. As Mr Battistelli has discovered in the last year, even getting one Board member fired is not as easy as one might think. The European Patent Convention and due process keep getting in the way.
Dismissal for other reasons
(1) The appointing authority may decide to terminate the service of a permanent employee if:
(a) the Contracting State of which the employee is a national ceases to be party to the Convention;
(b) the employee refuses to be permanently transferred to a country other than that in which he is serving; ...
Why move at all?
The drive to get the Boards out of Munich strikes Merpel as either deeply stupid or entirely cynical, and she doesn't believe Mr. Battistelli is at all stupid. The purported problem identified in Mr Battistelli's proposal to reform the Boards of Appeal was the "perception of independence". You couldn't, he argued, have Boards in the same building as other EPO employees whose decisions a Board might be reviewing -- which is an odd argument, since there are no Examining or Opposition Divisions based in the Isar building.
A rather more widespread perception around the EPO is that Mr Battistelli can't bear to have the Boards in "his" building (Merpel seems to recall that they were there first, though), and/or that he wanted to teach the Boards a lesson. Even having his own private express lift from car park to the sumptuously appointed presidential floor does not always exclude the chance that he might encounter one face-to-face during his working day.
|You can be on top|
and still be furious ...
Having established that the Boards had to get out of the current Munich headquarters, Mr Battistelli identified two options: find another building in Munich, or relocate the members of the Boards to Berlin (Vienna, which is now the front runner, appears to have been arranged behind the backs of the Administrative Council (AC) and of the Boards, since it never formed part of the formal proposal).
|Boards of Appeal are|
getting the message
Merpel wonders if there is a mathematical formula involved which governs the relationship between judicial independence and distance from those being judged? If so, then Merpel suggests that the AC really needs to think about packing the Boards off to Reykjavik - an unbeatable 2,676 km from Munich as the crow flies.