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On the use of pseudos’ in this blog

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I have no problems whatsoever if people publish comments using a pseudo. This is quite normal and as such not objectionable in the slightest.

However, considering the association of two pseudos as a breach of confidentiality, as it happened on this blog cannot be taken seriously. No person is endangered in any way. It is at best unpleasant, but does not harm anybody.

On the contrary, associating a pseudo with a real person by giving its name is a clear breach of confidentiality. It cannot be taken as joke as it directly and unambiguously might harm the person named.

It is getting worse, when the threat is expressed to divulge further pseudos, what has actually happened. This is clearly going too far and by no means acceptable. What is going on in the head of those people? Have they such a dislike of my person and my ideas, or have they simply lost their marbles?

Could all those having come up with the stupid idea of associating my name, or any name, with a pseudo try to reflect seriously on the possible consequences of their behaviour?

I see in associating my name, or any name, with a pseudo the clear intention to harm myself, or any other person named. It also shows a total lack of respect towards my person, or any person named. Would some people want me to give up my blog, or to silence any commenter on a blog, they would not act differently!

I did not start a blog in order to get harmed. I wanted the blog to be a forum of discussion, even harsh discussions, but with mutual respect. That pointing on some problems is taken as criticism, so be it.

Having spent most of my professional time at the EPO, I feel a deep loyalty towards the EPO as an organisation. This does however not mean that everything happening at the EPO or at the boards is to be given unreserved approval or even applauded.

Having left active service for more than ten years, I consider having gained sufficient distance to allow myself to have a differentiated view on what is happening at the EPO and at the boards.

I do not wish to see anymore disparaging comments on how the boards apply certain decisions of the EBA, or comments about secondary, actually unimportant, aspects, but only about substantial matters related to the topic.

It was never my intention to only publish comments after moderation as it is standard on all other IP blogs I know off, but if it continues, I see no chance to avoid moderation.

I do also not oblige anybody to read what I publish. If they disagree, they can say it politely, even firmly, but with respect, not just for my person, but for all persons appreciating what I publish.

That we might, at times, disagree between us, or the way boards apply procedural rules or decisions of the EBA, is quite normal and part of life’s rich tapestry.

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3 replies on “On the use of pseudos’ in this blog”

Doubting Thomassays:

Mr Thomas, I would like to echo my previous comments that you deserve praise for your contribution to the profession, by way of reporting and commenting upon an interesting selection of decisions of the Boards of Appeal. That is no small feat and is greatly appreciated.

I can also agree with you that publicly associating two pseudonyms is not a breach of confidence (or principles under the GDPR). This is because the poster remains pseudonymous. I therefore have no problem with you associating me with Proof of the pudding. As it happens, I tend to agree with the comments posted under that pseudonym. I therefore also do not see your public association of me with that pseudonym as an attempt to harm me in any way.

On the other hand, I believe that it is NOT acceptable to engage in doxxing, which according to Wikipedia is “the act of publicly providing personally identifiable information about an individual or organization, usually via the Internet and without their consent”. The prefix to an individual’s email address could very well represent “personally identifiable information”, especially when combined with information that is publicly available via other sources. Therefore, whilst I can see that you do not believe that you have done anything wrong, I believe that you should seriously consider apologising to the individual who posts under the pseudonym “Kant”.

You may well argue that Kant “started it” by associating your name with a particular pseudonym. However, whilst airing their opinion on that point was perhaps ill-advised, it represented nothing more than their OPINION, and one that they most likely arrived at by taking note of striking similarities in both writing styles and opinions expressed. Indeed, I have no doubt that you chose to associate me with another pseudonym for very similar reasons. On the other hand, the prefix to an email address is not a matter on which one can have an opinion, but is instead information that should not be publicly disclosed without the consent of the individual concerned. In my view, this represents a crucial difference that explains why others have reacted so negatively to your decision to breach your data protection obligations.

francis hagelsays:

I do not understand why there has been such an argument about @Kant. My personal practice is to use my name. I see this as a discipline regarding the style and content of my comments.

When I note that comments under a pseudo are written in the unmistakable style of somebody I know, I smile and that’s it. I will do no « outing ». I assume the person writing under a pseudo has his/her personal reasons and I respect that.

Doubting Thomassays:

Francis, I think that the point is that those operating the website are data controllers that have obligations to maintain confidentiality (especially in view of the statement above the comment box that “Your email address will not be published”).

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