Suspended Irish patent judge appeals to Government for help
European Patent Organisation had accused judge of defamation
An Irish judge at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) who was accused by his employers of bringing weapons and Nazi memorabilia to work and defaming the organisation’s president has written to the Irish government urging them to assist in his case.
Patrick Corcoran is a judge on the EPO’s board of appeal in Munich, which is responsible for ruling on European patent applications. In December 2014, he was suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he made defamatory statements about the EPO president Benoît Battistelli using a pseudonym.
Other allegations against Mr Corcoran included that he disclosed private aspects of EPO appeal decisions, that he had stored items in the workplace which qualify as weapons under German law and that he possessed “extremist material [including examples of Nazi memorabilia]”.
On Sunday, Mr Corcoran’s solicitor said he denies the accusations and that they were based on “assumptions and assertions, but not on evidence”.
Last week the Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a body which rules on employment disputes within international bodies, released two judgments relating to the case in which it largely sided with Mr Corcoran and ordered he be reinstated in his job immediately.
It also ordered he be paid €35,000 to cover lost wages, legal costs and “moral damages”.
The tribunal ruled that the EPO president, Mr Battistelli, had a conflict of interest and had improperly involved himself in the decision to suspend Mr Corcoran.
The tribunal ordered its judgment be implemented immediately. However, when Mr Corcoran went to the office last Thursday afternoon he was refused admission and was told the ILO’s judgments had not yet been implemented.
Mr Corcoran has now written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, stating that, as a member of the EPO, Ireland has a “solemn and compelling international obligation” to ensure it upholds the rule of law.
In a letter seen by The Irish Times, he asked Ms Humphreys to ensure “that the Irish delegate to the [EPO] Administrative Council is duly and properly instructed by his supervising Ministry.”
Mr Corcoran said if the EPO is seen to refuse to carry out the ILO’s order it could risk “bringing the Organisation into further serious public disrepute”.
He said Mr Battistelli acted with speed to suspend him from work in December 2014 when the allegations first came to light. Mr Corcoran said he hoped he would act with similar speed to implement the judgment reversing this action.
He wrote that he hopes the “lamentable charade and travesty of due process which has been going on inside the EPO in the present case is finally brought to its long overdue end”.
Mr Corcoran’s central complaint before the ILO was that Mr Battistelli played a key role in the decision to suspend him and to later continue the suspension. He argued that Mr Battistelli was not a “neutral and disinterested party” because he was the subject of the alleged defamatory attacks.
According to documents disclosed to the ILO tribunal, the EPO’s internal investigative unit alleged Mr Corcoran had, using a pseudonym, made defamatory statements that Mr Battistelli had attempted to “buy votes” by hosting delegates.
It alleged Mr Corcoran also sent a letter to the deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France, where the president was a town councillor, accusing Mr Battistelli of abuse of power at the EPO.