02.15.15

Gemini version available ♊︎

The Case of Rikard Frgacic Versus the Croatian SIPO: Allegation of Corruption in Relation to Trademark Reassignment Under Željko Topić’s Watch: Part XVI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LH-Angebot-2008
Click for full-sized version

Summary: The EPO branch and the authorities in Germany are facing increased pressure to take action against Željko Topić as German newspapers cover the unprofessional background of Topić and more information about his dodgy behaviour is gradually becoming public knowledge

LAST year, before Željko Topić lost his defamation case (much to the regret of Benoît Battistelli, who blindly defended him), a source had passed us interesting information about Topić’s dirty affairs in his home country, where he he faces many criminal charges. The loss of this latest case serves to legitimise many of the allegations against him, some of which are very serious (bribery for example).

We are worried about the EPO’s management not just because today’s EPO promotes software patents in Europe but because it is deeply corrupt and it attacks its own staff, even breaking the rules in the process. There is also alleged coverup that mirrors what was seen in SIPO, which Topić came from (see the Ivan Kabalin story). As more German papers and some of the English press pick up and grasp these stories we are likely to see increased pressure for Topić to resign (or be ousted). Almost everyone in Europe can read English and Topić works in Germany.

“As more German papers and some of the English press pick up and grasp these stories we are likely to see increased pressure for Topić to resign (or be ousted).”Today we wish to share more stories about SIPO, the Croatian authority responsible for patents and other monopolies. This story relates directly to Germany as well, so there are plenty of reasons for the German press to cover it.

“In case you might be interested,” wrote a source to us, “here’s a sub-story of the Topić saga which concerns allegations of irregularities and corruption at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in relation to trademarks during Topić’s time as Director General there. The story has a “David versus Goliath” aspect which makes it interesting.

“Unfortunately, most of the source material is in Croatian or German but you can find a short report in English.”

To quote part of this report from the Croatian Times:

Croatian entrepreneur Rikard Frgacic is suing German air carrier Lufthansa for illegal use of his brand for the last 12 years.

Frgacic, a former owner of a travel agency, filed suit against Lufthansa at Zagreb Commercial Court this week.

The daily Slobodna Dalmacija has reported that Frgacic has sued “Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH” for using his brand illegally since 1998.

“To put you in the picture,” wrote our source, “here’s a summary: Rikard Frgacic is a Croatian entrepreneur who is involved in a number of legal actions against Lufthansa and the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). According to our information, the actions relating to the SIPO include criminal charges against Topić (some sort of corruption or abuse of official authority charge).

“Frgacic, who is involved in the air travel business, claims that he had registered the trademark “AirPlus” with the Croatian SIPO some time around 1996. He became involved in a dispute with Lufthansa over the use of the trademark by its wholly-owned subsidiary AirPlus International.

“At some point in 2009 or thereabouts he discovered that his trademark rights had been cancelled by the SIPO and the contested trademark had been re-assigned to AirPlus/Lufthansa with remarkable speed in response to a request from that quarter.

“The “David versus Goliath” aspect of the affair captured the popular imagination in Croatia. There was even a website entitled “We are all Rikard Frgacic” (“svi-smo-mi-rikard-frgacic”) which can be accessed here. [It's all in Croatian but it's possible to get the gist using Google Chrome in translation mode]

“Obviously, we are not in position to judge the merits of Frgacic’s claims but the information which we have from our Croatian sources about the current state of play is as follows: In the case relating to the disputed reassignment of the trademark, Frgacic seems to have won a partial victory insofar as a Croatian court ruled that the matter should be remitted back to the SIPO for re-examination where it is still pending.

“Concerning his proceedings against AirPlus/Lufthansa in Germany, these are effectively stayed pending resolution of the disputed reassignment matter which was remitted back to the Croatian SIPO. The problem for Frgacic here is that in the German case some kind of statute of limitations is due to kick in around 2016.

“So if the Croatian SIPO blocks (e.g. due to political pressure and/or corruption) that would basically have a knock-on effect which could screw him as far as the proceedings in Germany are concerned.

“One interesting detail in this whole affair is that back in January 2008 Airplus/Lufthansa tried to settle with Frgacic for EUR 1000. There is documentary evidence of this in the form of a copy of a letter making the offer which is [shown above] (it’s in German). The fact that they made such an offer seems to indicate that Frgacic’s grievance is not completely unfounded. Otherwise why would they have tried to buy him off like that?

“We can provide an e-mail contact for Frgacic if anyone is interested in contacting him. The problem is that we don’t know how good his language skills in English are although we understand that he knows German.

“Rikard Frgacic’s e-mail address is as follows if anybody is interested in getting more details about his side of the story: rikard.frgacic@zg.t-com.hr

“However, as we mentioned, we are not sure to what extent he can communicate in English (although we believe that he has a knowledge of German). According to our information, Frgagic spoke to German journalists from the Süddeutsche Zeitung in October 2013, but in the end they did not publish anything about the alleged trademark corruption affair involving Lufthansa. It seems to be another case of “self-censorship” by the corporate media.

Next week my wife and I fly with Lufthansa (to Singapore), so this story leaves us with a bad taste. Indeed, as Frgacic was offered money by Lufthansa (see the letter at the top, click for a larger version thereof) we can assume that his case has merit and Lufthansa is just using its weight to get its way.

Thankfully, some of the Germany press is no longer passive or apathetic. An article was published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the 21st of November (just over 3 months ago) and we asked our source for an explanation of it.

“Just for your information,” said one of ours sources at the time, “the Munich-based “Süddeutsche Zeitung” finally decided to break its silence on the Željko Topić affair at the EPO.

“In the context of a long article about current social unrest and a strike at the EPO, they included a brief mention of the controversy surrounding Topić’s appointment.

“No translation available yet, but here’s what they wrote in the original: “Zudem kursieren seit mehr als zwei Jahren üble Gerüchte über den kroatischen EPA-Vizepräsidenten Željko Topić: Kroatische Zeitungen berichten über Vorwürfe, die sich vor allem auf seine Vergangenheit an der Spitze des kroatischen Amtes für Geistiges Eigentum beziehen. Topić bestreitet sie. Und Battistelli ist gegen jegliche Kolportage vorgegangen. In einer Mitteilung an alle Mitarbeiter machte er im Februar 2013 deutlich, dass alle Anschuldigungen jeglicher Grundlage entbehrten.

“Kritiker wunderten sich über diesen pauschalen Freibrief – den der Präsident Monate vor Abschluss einer internen Untersuchung ausstellte.“

Again we kindly asked any of our German- (native) speaking readers to provide an English translation so that we can publish it here, making it accessible to a broader audience.

“We obviously can’t say for certain,” said our source, “but we have a very strong suspicion that it was the recent extensive coverage of these matters by techrights.org that finally prodded them into putting something into print (after being informed in detail about what was going on for the last two years).

“So, we really have to say “Well done!” to all at techrights.org.”

In the midst of our articles about Željko Topić a source told us that it “looks like Battistelli is gearing himself up to take on the “muckrakers”.” (citing this now-unpublished 2014 job ad)

“Better watch out in 2015.”

The ones who ought to watch out in 2015 are Battistelli and Topić, not people who complain about them. Topić may even end up in prison.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. [Meme] Job Ethics

    Ethical development jobs may not be easy to find; some ethical jobs can turn immoral after many years and then it’s time to leave (there’s no turnaround when HR gravitates towards immoral business and chronically relies on deceit)



  2. The Morality of Your Clients and Suppliers Should Matter (It No Longer Matters in Sirius 'Open Source')

    One very important (and perhaps lifelong) lesson learned in my last job is that clients and agenda can change rapidly as a result of rotation in management and a loss of moral compass; it's critical to check not only what employer one works for but who the upstream and downstream entities are (their nature can change for the worse when the employer becomes desperate and neglects ethics in pursuit of money)



  3. Links 02/12/2022: Fedora Gets Sway Spin; Samsung, LG, Mediatek Certificates Compromised

    Links for the day



  4. [Meme] Sirius Open Wash Ltd.

    Limited openness or pure openwashing; the company formerly known as SIRIUS CORPORATION LIMITED (03633198) and now known as SIRIUS OPEN SOURCE LTD (11014042) is not what it says on the tin



  5. Sirius Open Source is No Longer Open Source and It's Simply Unethical to Stay There

    The company where I've worked since my twenties is going under; now it's trying to find excuses to deny compensation to staff while failing to pay very basic bills and liabilities; there are many other issues that deserve the light of day



  6. Links 02/12/2022: GNU/Linux Growing Fast in Steam, Twitter Crumbling

    Links for the day



  7. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 01, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 01, 2022



  8. Links 02/12/2022: RawTherapee 5.9 and Camerctrls

    Links for the day



  9. Links 01/12/2022: NixOS 22.11 Released and Genode OS 22.11 is Ready

    Links for the day



  10. The Outdated Microsoft Worldview (Mindframe of Post-Mainframe Era): A Mindset of Windows Being Ubiquitous in the Market (and Where It Cannot be Avoided)

    It's mostly incorrect to describe Windows as something that cannot be avoided in technical occupations or something that's worth learning (or actively using)



  11. Condé Nast (Owner of Reddit and Many Other Microsoft-Funded Sites) Promoting Software Patents

    SoylentNews is boosting Condé Nast fluff, including glorification of software patents which ought not be granted at all after 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice



  12. Twitter: Not a Platform for Activism But for AstroTurfing and Manipulation by States and Plutocracy

    More people are finding out that social control media is all about control; it is controlled by states and oligarchs, it's not a grassroots tool



  13. Links 01/12/2022: Release of Arti 1.1.0, Date for Red Hat Summit 2023

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 30, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 30, 2022



  15. Links 30/11/2022: Mesa 22.3, EuroLinux 9.1, and Texinfo 7.0.1

    Links for the day



  16. Links 30/11/2022: Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11

    Links for the day



  17. Links 30/11/2022: More Twitter Trouble and Tor Browser 11.5.10 (Android)

    Links for the day



  18. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 29, 2022



  19. Nat Friedman: Frauds, Software Patents, and Mass Surveillance

    The con man who helped Microsoft promote .NET/C# (inside GNU/Linux) after he had worked at Microsoft, and who later helped Microsoft engage in mass plagiarism via GitHub, is not what the innocent face seemingly projects; Nat Friedman is a very dangerous and sinister person



  20. Links 30/11/2022: Gaming on GNU/Linux With Mac PCs, onak 0.6.2 Released

    Links for the day



  21. Links 29/11/2022: Proxmox 2.3 "Backup Server" and wayland-protocols 1.31

    Links for the day



  22. Links 29/11/2022: Bodhi Linux 7.0.0 Coming

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Monday, November 28, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, November 28, 2022



  24. Links 29/11/2022: Whonix 16.0.9.0 and SalixLive Xfce 15.0

    Links for the day



  25. António Campinos Could Not Possibly Choose a Worse Time to Show Solidarity With Communist China

    The Unified Patent Court or "Unitary Patent" gets promoted in the same blog post or news item that celebrates dictatorship; that seems appropriate given the nature of the Unified Patent Court, which is a gross violation of laws and constitutions in a high-level institutional way



  26. Blogs Are Better and Gemlogs (Blogs Over Gemini) May be Best

    There seems to be a growing and already-widespread realisation that Twitter sucks and some people rightly suggest that we pivot back into blogging (Twitter is often blamed for the demise of blogs)



  27. Links 28/11/2022: Snal Linux 1.24 and Thunderbird Android Update

    Links for the day



  28. Links 28/11/2022: OpenRGB 0.8 and Introduction of KIO AFC

    Links for the day



  29. Links 27/11/2022: Linux 6.1 RC 7

    Links for the day



  30. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, November 27, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, November 27, 2022


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts