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05.02.16

Not Just Benoît Battistelli and Willy Minnoye (EPO): Željko Topić Too Thinks He is Above the Law, Avoids the Judges and Courts

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Arrogance apparently runs deep inside EPO veins

Željko Topić article

Summary: The latest developments regarding some of the criminal complaints and civil lawsuits against Topić (above), who is now a Vice-President at the European Patent Office (EPO)

EPO management vainly disregards judges, it doesn’t just attack them (e.g. dismisses or suspends them if it does not think that they're loyal enough to Battistelli, in spite of complete independence).

More news from Croatia have landed on our lap and it’s quite revealing. It says a lot about Željko Topić as an individual, not just as a ‘professional’. Much like Willy Minnoye proudly proclaiming that he would ignore rulings from the highest Dutch judges, Topić apparently believes that he is above the law. He is not showing up in court (cases which he is losing) and based on additional information we have been given, this unacceptable behaviour continues to date. How can EPO stakeholders take seriously people who don’t believe in the rule of law (except when it suddenly suits them and they can distort the law to silence critics) if they’re trying to be granted patents which presumably would be enforced in a court of law?

“How can EPO stakeholders take seriously people who don’t believe in the rule of law (except when it suddenly suits them and they can distort the law to silence critics) if they’re trying to be granted patents which presumably would be enforced in a court of law?”“The origins of this story go back quite a long way,” told us a source, “as far back as 2007 in fact. This is a symptom of the Croatian legal system which is notoriously slow and where cases take many years to process (especially if there is some kind of political interference). It’s not that different from the EPO which may explain why Topić fitted in so well. He was probably able to give his boss some good tips on how to exploit a dysfunctional legal system to the detriment of EPO staff.

“The story begins back in November 2007 when the Croatian public sector union SDLSN (“Trade Union of State and Local Officials and Employees of the Republic of Croatia) reported on the “Bullying of ‘unwanted’ civil servants” at the State Intellectual Property Office.”

This was mentioned in an older article (with this translated 2007 report and suicide 'collateral damage' therein).

Our source continues: “The affair resurfaced in the Croatian press on 5 March 2012 when the newspaper “Jutarnji List” [shown above] published a short report which explained that SIPO employees who had been targeted by the “bullying” action in 2007 had filed a number of criminal complaints and a civil lawsuit against Topić.”

Here is an English translation of this article:

JUTARNJI LIST

5 March 2012

Team selected for culling: Željko Topić, head of the SIPO for years, pursued in court

He established a special unit with 10 officials selected for dismissal

Željko Topić, Director of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), who has been linked to numerous scandals like buying a luxury Mercedes at the expense of the Institute, is under suspicion of having abused his employees.

An invented and displaced department

The findings of the administrative labour inspectorate from 25 January 2008 confirm that that on 15 October 2007 Topić deliberately selected a group of ten employees at the SIPO for transfer to a professional unit which he had established and called “The extraction and storage of non-administrative mail“. It didn’t bother the Director that none of his ten officials were qualified for the task of archiving as they included among their ranks IT experts, a professor of French, a Master of Engineering, senior economists and administrative lawyers.

Due to the “urgency of the work” ten officials were moved from Vukovara Street [SIPO headquarters] into offices in Sava Street 118 where, confused and outraged, they languished for twenty days without work. It was not until November 13th that the first document arrived but even then they could not do their job because the computer was not connected to the database at the SIPO headquarters.

Realizing that their transfer was actually a downgrading and a prelude to dismissal, in October 2007 the employees reported Topić to the labour inspectorate.

It was determined that Topić was not authorised to set up new departments and that the ten employees were not qualified for archiving. Topić tried to justify his actions in front of the labour inspectorate by claiming that these were employees who had performed their work badly but the inspectorate found that the last assessment of their work from 2003 was “very successful”.

One official committed suicide

The inspectorate ordered Topić to return the officials to their previous jobs which he did. But then one of the transferred officials committed suicide. Three criminal charges were filed against Topić and one civil lawsuit was initiated. The procedures are still ongoing.

“No information is available about the status of the criminal complaints,” we got told, “but the civil lawsuit which was filed some time around 2008 is still pending in 2016! Welcome to the Croatian legal system! EPO employees may have a feeling of dejà-vu…”

“EPO employees may have a feeling of dejà-vu…”
      –Anonymous
We covered one such story only a day ago (this morning we published a Spanish translation).

Our source continues: “One of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against Topić is Jadranka Oklobdžija who was the Chairperson of the staff union at the SIPO at the time in question (2007). According to reliable reports from Zagreb, Topić has been summoned to appear before the court in the civil proceedings on four occasions but each time he has failed to turn up.

“The latest hearing in the civil action took place on 1st April 2016. Topić was in Zagreb on the day but despite having been summoned, he didn’t bother to turn up in court for the hearing.

“So it seems that a new summons will now be sent directly to Topić at the EPO in Munich.”
      –Anonymous
“The judge seems to have got wind of the fact that Topić was in town and she questioned a representative of SIPO about his failure to appear. The SIPO representative said that Topić had arrived in Zagreb the previous day (31 March) and was due to return to Munich the following day (2 April). It seems that the judge was not amused at being treated like an “April fool”. She requested SIPO to provide details of Topić’s address at the EPO so that the court could send a summons to him in Munich. The SIPO representative objected to this but the judge overruled the objection and made an order that Topić’s address in Munich should be disclosed to the court. So it seems that a new summons will now be sent directly to Topić at the EPO in Munich.”

It sure looks like the EPO is unable to escape Topić’s past, no matter how hard it attempts to deny it, even punishing those who ‘dare’ or are brave enough to speak about it.

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