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. Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  2. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  3. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  4. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  5. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  6. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  7. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  8. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  9. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  10. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  11. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  12. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  13. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  14. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  15. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  16. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  17. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  18. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  19. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon



  21. Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

    The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty



  22. Links 13/5/2019: ExTiX 19.5 and GNU Radio Conference 2019

    Links for the day



  23. The Microsoft Guide to the Open Source Galaxy

    Thou shalt not...



  24. Microsoft Would Kill the Goose for Money

    Microsoft is just 'monetising' Open Source by using it as 'bait' for Microsoft's proprietary software; those who we might expect to antagonise this have effectively been bribed by Microsoft



  25. Links 13/5/2019: Nanonote 1.2.0, OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, and GNUnet 0.11.4

    Links for the day



  26. Professionally Incompetent EPO Management

    The EPO remains an awful employer, with top-level management largely responsible for the loss of talent and even money



  27. Links 12/5/2019: Linux 5.1.1, GDB 8.3, KStars 3.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  28. Did Battistelli 'Steal' ~$100,000,000 Euros From the EPO?

    While enjoying diplomatic immunity the thug from CEIPI (who is back at the EPO as a jurist) passed millions if not billions (over the long run) in liabilities; this was done with total and inexcusable impunity, no effective oversight



  29. The Biased EPO Does Not Want to Hear From Anyone Except Those Who Pay the EPO

    The EPO's corruption and violations of the law are a threat to everyone in the world; the EPO only ever listens to those who pay for "access" or those who embrace the "religion" of the EPO



  30. Team UPC Has Run Out of Arguments, So Now It's Just Writing Anti-Brexit Rants With Testicles in the Headlines

    Nothing has worked for firms that crafted and lobbied hard for the Unified Patent Court (UPC); after necrophilia a new low is being reached


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