EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.28.16

The EPO’s Balkan Express Keeps Chugging Along Despite Predictions of Derailment

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Balkan Express crossing the Isar in Bavaria
Balkan Express crossing the Isar in Bavaria

Balkan Express

WELCOME TO RS

Summary: The latest part in the series regarding the reappointment of the two Vice-Presidents, Casado and Topić

THE EPO‘s management makes things worse before it makes things any better. The reappointment of two Vice-Presidents, Casado and Topić, is quite revealing. We already wrote about Casado; see part one (photos addendum) and part two (photos addendum). Today we deal with Topić, having published a leaked letter this morning and a teaser with accompanying photographs.

The latest official Communique issued by the EPO Administrative Council on the 14th of October 2016 confirmed that “on a proposal from the President” the Council had decided to extend the appointment of Željko Topić as Vice-President of Directorate-General 4 until the 31st of December 2018.

Topić’s contract was due to expire in April 2017 and in June of this year rumours were already circulating that there was strong opposition inside the Administrative Council to a prolongation. But after persistent and intensive lobbying on behalf of his “winning team” it appears that “Il Duce” was ultimately able to prevail against his opponents. The news that the EPO Balkan Express is now scheduled to remain in service until the end of 2018 probably came as an unpleasant surprise to those who had expected this particular “gravy train” to be decommissioned at the end of its current term.

“Topić’s contract was due to expire in April 2017 and in June of this year rumours were already circulating that there was strong opposition inside the Administrative Council to a prolongation.”To mark the occasion it seems like a good idea to revisit this controversial “Topic” (if you’ll excuse the pun) and to provide Techrights readers with an update concerning Battistelli’s “Balkan Connection”.

Topić originally comes from Banja Luka which is in the Republic Sprksa region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. After the former Republic of Jugoslavia split up it seems that he moved to Zagreb some time in the early 1990s and pursued a career in the Croatian civil service where he eventually became Director General of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and head of the Croatian delegation to the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Although he is officially a Croatian national for EPO purposes it is rumoured that he also claims Bosnian-Herzegovinian citizenship by virtue of his roots in Banja Luka. Nobody can say for certain whether or not he has declared any additional citizenships which he might hold to the Administrative Council of the EPO (which is his appointing authority).

“Although he is officially a Croatian national for EPO purposes it is rumoured that he also claims Bosnian-Herzegovinian citizenship by virtue of his roots in Banja Luka.”EPO insiders say that the “Balkan Connection” forms an important link in Battistelli’s pan-European political network. It seems that the links between Battistelli and Topić go back at least as far as 2008 when as heads of their respective national IP Offices they signed a bilateral agreement between France and Croatia [PDF] (see photograph in our “teaser” article).

Topić also appears to have long established links to the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) which was involved in two EU-sponsored twinning projects with the Croatian SIPO between 2003 to 2005 and again in 2009 to 2010. Sources include the DKPTO’s own site (more here). In our “teaser” we showed Topić a decade ago (2006), meeting the DKPTO for the twinning project [PDF]. The head of the DKPTO is now the Chinchilla Man of the Administrative Council, Mr. Kongstad.

Back in 2014 Techrights reported about an alleged "Protection Triangle" involving Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić.

“The head of the DKPTO is now the Chinchilla Man of the Administrative Council, Mr. Kongstad.”In his current position as a key member of “Team Battistelli” at the EPO, Topić is said to be useful for drumming up support amongst the delegations from the territory of the former Jugoslavia and its neighbouring states. He seems to be an old hand at this kind of political lobbying game. The source is Wikileaks diplomatic cable 07ZAGREB597, which reveals that he previously assisted the efforts of the US to unseat Kamil Idris as the Director General of the WIPO in 2007. To quote from the Wikileaks cable: “Topić said he would raise the issue there and urge those states that are also EU members to lobby the other EU member states to take a firm position on Idris at the September WIPO General Assembly.”

Background to the Kamil Idris affair is in Wikipedia.

Following his appointment as EPO Vice-President, Topić is said to have maintained close links to the Croatian delegation on the Administrative Council which is now headed by Ljiljana Kuterovac (see the leaked letter we published this morning), the current Director General of the Croatian SIPO. Kuterovac is reputed to be Topić’s protégée having previously served under him at the SIPO as an Assistant Director.

According to sources in Croatia, during Topić’s time as Director General from 2004 to 2012 Kuterovac was one of five Assistant Directors. From among the group of five, Kuterovac seems to have been the Director General’s favorite Pet Chinchilla and she is reported to have regularly accompanied him on official trips to the WIPO and other IP “junkets” around the globe. It is further alleged that an upmarket Skoda Octavia Combi 1.9 TDI limousine which was acquired by the SIPO in 2007 as one of three luxury cars for its official fleet was placed at the exclusive disposal of Kuterovac. Apparently she was the only one of the five Assistant Directors to receive such perks. It has been reported from Zagreb that a long overdue audit of the SIPO which was belatedly completed by the Croatian Ministry of Finance in March 2016 confirmed that, as has long been suspected, the luxury cars used by the SIPO during Topić’s term of office were acquired in breach of the applicable official budgetary regulations.

“It has been reported from Zagreb that a long overdue audit of the SIPO which was belatedly completed by the Croatian Ministry of Finance in March 2016 confirmed that, as has long been suspected, the luxury cars used by the SIPO during Topić’s term of office were acquired in breach of the applicable official budgetary regulations.”Between Topić and Kuterovac there appears to be a “synergy” comparable to that which has been recently noted in the case of the Spanish Vice-President Alberto Casado and the head of the Spanish delegation, Patricia Garcia-Escudero. In both cases the head of an Administrative Council delegation got appointed to a position as EPO Vice-President and his successor as head of delegation was his former subordinate and deputy. As with Casado and Garcia-Escudero, this is another case in which an EPO Vice-President appears to be in a position to exert an inappropriate level of influence over an individual member of the oversight body because of the previous professional relationship.

Shortly before the Administrative Council met in Munich on the 12th and 13th of October and decided to renew Topić’s contract, sources in Croatia reported on an interesting development in a civil lawsuit which is being pursued in Zagreb against the Croatian SIPO and its former Director General by former SIPO employees as previously reported by Techrights. See our earlier report on this.

The lawsuit which concerns claims of harassment and other SIPO management misconduct was filed a long time ago in 2008 and it is still working its way through the painfully slow Croatian legal system. The good news for those affected is that the last hearing took place on the 10th of October 2016 when one of the lead plaintiffs, Jadranka Oklobdžija, was heard as a witness. Ms Oklobdžija was the Chairperson of the staff union at the SIPO at the time in question. Now that the court hearings are finished a judgment is expected fairly soon. People who have been following the case say that this is not likely to be in Topić’s favour.

“Due to these developments it now seems that Topić no longer enjoys the high-level political “protection” that he is once reputed to have had in his adopted homeland.”At the same time other sources in Croatia have pointed out that a number of criminal complaints against Topić are still sitting on the desk of the Public Prosecutor in Zagreb. It is rumoured that during the time when Ivo Josipovic was President of Croatia (January 2010 to January 2015), he colluded with the then Chief State Attorney Mladen Bajic to obstruct the processing of criminal charges against Topić. However Josipovic failed to secure re-election in 2015 and he has since faded from the political scene in Croatia. Due to these developments it now seems that Topić no longer enjoys the high-level political “protection” that he is once reputed to have had in his adopted homeland.

Following the recent snap parliamentary elections in September 2016 a new Croatian government is expected to be formed soon.

It remains to be seen how effective the new government will be in clearing up the various messes left behind by previous administrations but many people in Croatia are hopeful that a new and less corrupt era may finally be dawning in Croatian politics. It could be that the Public Prosecutor finally starts to take action in relation to certain cases concerning alleged irregularities in the management of the SIPO which appear to have got stuck in the legal pipeline over the last decade.

“Only time can tell whether Team Battistelli will ride off intact into the sunset in 2018 as planned or whether it is in danger of being prematurely “balkanised at sunrise” by the slow but inexorable grinding of the mills of the Croatian legal system.”In view of these developments observers of the EPO are recommended to keep a watchful eye on Team Battistelli’s south-eastern flank over the coming months.

At the moment it is too early to say whether the Balkan Express will continue to chug along on its merry way until its recently rescheduled end of service or whether it might not be suddenly derailed if the prevailing political winds in Croatia happen to shift in an unfavourable direction.

At this juncture we will not risk making any predictions either way. Only time can tell whether Team Battistelli will ride off intact into the sunset in 2018 as planned or whether it is in danger of being prematurely “balkanised at sunrise” by the slow but inexorable grinding of the mills of the Croatian legal system.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Demonstration Against Unitary Software Patents, Thursday 12 Dec in Brussels

    FFII's call to demonstrate against the UPC



  2. Links 9/12/2019: China on GNU/Linux, Canonical Wants Help to Improve Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  3. Links 9/12/2019: Linux 5.5 RC1, EasyOS Buster 2.1.9

    Links for the day



  4. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 08, 2019

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 08, 2019



  5. Mandatory Education for Those Who Use and Misuse Buzzwords Would Go a Long Way

    In an age of substitution — where marketing terms replace meaningful words and concepts — it has gotten more difficult to have honest debates, for example about the scope of patents



  6. Once Upon a Time Banter Was Allowed on Mailing Lists

    Hours ago Torvalds announced RC1 of the next Linux (kernel) release; it has been a while since he last said something ‘controversial’ (following his month at the penalty box); free speech deficit can make us weaker, not stronger (advantage to those who work in the dark)



  7. Links 8/12/2019: Debian Init Systems GR, NomadBSD 1.3

    Links for the day



  8. Can We Quit Celebrating DRM in GNU/Linux?

    Over the past couple of days various news sites and "Linux" sites expressed great satisfaction [1-5] over the passive embrace of Disney's DRM ploy (Disney+), even when Disney itself rejects DRM, seeing the harms practically caused by it [6,7]



  9. You Know WSL is Bad for GNU/Linux Because Anti-Linux People, Microsoft and Its Propagandists, Want People to Use That

    Microsoft and its boosters (and media partners) haven’t grown tired of spreading falsehoods to stigmatise and take control of GNU/Linux by creating their own versions and traps for it



  10. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 07, 2019

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 07, 2019



  11. 5 Years Ago the Linux Foundation Turned Linux.com Into a Non-Linux Site

    One can leverage the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to better understand how, over time, the Foundation called “Linux” deviated or diverged away from its mission statement for the sole purpose of raising corporate funds and selling influence to corporations (passing the community’s hard work to them — a form of tacit privatisation)



  12. Microsoft Redefining Ownership and Identity of GNU/Linux

    The idea that “Microsoft loves Linux” is as insane as it gets; but the lie which is “Microsoft loves Linux” is a powerful enabler of Microsoft entryism, e.g. if Greg steps down, does a Microsoft employee become the deputy of Linus Torvalds?



  13. Things That Cannot Be Said

    The limits on what we can say are mostly defined by what sources permit us to say publicly (for the sake of source protection)



  14. Fake European Patents (on Algorithms) Leading to Fake Embargoes

    Law firms have gotten their way in Germany; instead of supporting the productive workers the patent system is nowadays promoting the litigation 'industry' and it ought to be corrected



  15. From Moderate Advice to FUD and Misinformation: The Case of a VPN Vulnerability (CVE-2019-14899)

    What should have been a trivial bugfix in a variety of operating systems and bits of software — both proprietary and Free software — somehow became anti-Linux FUD, clickbait and worse



  16. Dangerous Thinker

    Society oughtn't be alarmed by people who say unusual things; it should be wary and sceptical of those corporations ever so eager to silence such people



  17. Unitary Patent (UPC) Died Along With the Credibility of Managing IP and the Rest of the UPC Lobby

    It is pretty astounding that Team UPC (collective term for people who crafted and lobby for this illegal construct) is still telling us lies, even in the absence of underlying supportive facts, and pressure groups disguised as "news sites" latch onto anything to perpetuate an illusion of progress (even in the face of a growing number of major barriers)



  18. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 06, 2019

    IRC logs for Friday, December 06, 2019



  19. Links 7/12/2019: Fedora 31 Elections Results, Lots of Media Drama Over VPN Bug

    Links for the day



  20. Links 6/12/2019: DRM in GNU/Linux and Sparky Bonsai

    Links for the day



  21. The EPO Rejects Innovation

    The EPO ceased caring about the needs of scientists whose work involves invention; instead, EPO management crafts increasingly lenient guidelines that yield illegal European Patents (not compatible with the EPC) that heavily-besieged EPO judges are unable to stop



  22. Startpage CEO Robert Beens in 'Damage Control' Mode, Trying to Get Startpage Relisted After Selling to a Massive Surveillance Company

    PrivacytoolsIO is being lobbied by the CEO of Startpage to relist Startpage, based on no actual refutations at all



  23. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 05, 2019

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 05, 2019



  24. Links 5/12/2019: qBittorrent 4.2.0, Expensive Librem 5 and OpenBSD Bugs

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft Staff Repeatedly Refuses to Tell How Many People Use WSL, Defends Patent Extortion and Blackmail of Linux Instead

    The people who develop WSL (mostly Microsoft employees) get easily irritated when asked how many people actually use this thing; but more interestingly, however, they reveal their disdain for GNU/Linux and support for Microsoft blackmail (for 'Linux patent tax')



  26. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 04, 2019

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 04, 2019



  27. Links 4/12/2019: Tails 4.1, UCS 4.4-3 and Proxmox VE 6.1

    Links for the day



  28. Google Tightens Its Noose

    Now it’s official! Google is just a bunch of shareholders looking to appease the Pentagon at all costs



  29. Europeans Still Need to Save the European Patent Office From Those Who Attack Its Patent Quality

    Patent quality is of utmost interest; without it, as we're seeing at the EPO and have already seen at the USPTO for a number of years, legal disputes will arise where neither side wins (only the lawyers win) and small, impoverished inventors or businesses will be forced to settle outside the courts over baseless allegations, often made by parasitic patent trolls (possessing low-quality patents they don't want scrutinised by courts)



  30. We Never Accepted and Will Never Accept Corporate Money

    Corporate money is a unique problem because of its magnitude and the fact that it's impersonal; shareholders can only ever accept its supposed justifications if they're receiving something in return (of proportional worth to the payment/transaction)


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