09.01.17

EPO Silencers of the Media – Part III: EPO Vice-President Topić Takes Association of Writers and Journalists to Court

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO civil lawsuits

Summary: Acting at a personal capacity, EPO Vice-President Topić is attacking Croatian media and we have the details

THE general subject dealt with herein was introduced in part 1 and part 2. There has been a clear pattern that can best be described as “war on the media” and there are ongoing cases that make it abundantly clear that the EPO‘s management ‘deals’ with reporting by SLAPPing journalists. We saw similar things in WIPO.

The more the public knows about the EPO, the more can be done about it. And the more the public knows about EPO management, the more things will change, including people. Lots of top-level managers (almost all the top-level ones) have already gotten the boot or stepped down… but some might even get arrested.

“There has been a clear pattern that can best be described as “war on the media” and there are ongoing cases that make it abundantly clear that the EPO’s management ‘deals’ with reporting by SLAPPing journalists.”The free flow of information is essential for justice. When the media itself gets attacked it’s often indicative of the fact someone is afraid of justice.

“Disgusting” (or even utterly disgusting) is how we can describe the EPO’s (mis)use of money against the media (bribing the media, threatening the media etc.), not only because the money was paid by stakeholders; if it is being wasted on SLAPP actions and payments to journalists, what would stakeholders think? Those are serious questions and big issues that need to be raised with stakeholders. They ought to be aware of how their money is being handled.

The Zagreb SLAPP lawsuit will be the subject of the remainder of this series; it’s not the only SLAPP case attributed to the EPO, but it’s one case we have plenty of information about.

“The Zagreb SLAPP lawsuit will be the subject of the remainder of this series; it’s not the only SLAPP case attributed to the EPO, but it’s one case we have plenty of information about.”Shown above is a filing of court. It’s two years old, but the case is still ongoing. With the help of locals, we have managed to get access to copies of some documents relating to the SLAPP lawsuit currently being conducted by the EPO Vice-President Topić against the portal Tjedno.hr.

A redacted copy of the first page of the civil complaint filed on behalf of Topić is shown above.

A summary of the contents of the complaint follows below. The respondent, “Udruga Pisac i Novinar” which is the publisher of the portal “Tjedno.hr”, submitted its response to the complaint on 20 May 2016. We are still in the process of analysing the response and will publish a further summary of this when we are finished.


The lawsuit was registered at the Municipal Civil Court of Zagreb on 19 January 2015 under the case number Pn-195/15.

The plaintiff is Željko Topić and he is represented by a lawyer from the Zagreb law firm Gajski, Grlić, Prka and Partners.

The respondent is “Udruga Pisac i Novinar” (Association of Writers and Journalists) the publisher of the portal “Tjedno.hr”.

Topić makes a claim for “compensation due to the publication of information” and is seeking damages in the amount of HRK 200 000 (two hundred thousand Croatian Kuna) plus the award of his legal costs.

The substance of the complaint relates to an article entitled Laži  Željka Topića u Munchenu” (“The Lies of Zeljko Topić in Munich”) which was published on 18 October 2014 on the Internet portal Tjedno.hr with the subtitle “Six criminal proceedings against the EPO Vice-President in Croatia” and a photograph of the plaintiff accompanied by lawyer Janjko Grlić.

According to the complaint the Tjedno.hr article refers to a statement made by the EPO President where it was said that neither the Administrative Council nor Battistelli knew of the allegations against Topić at the time of his appointment “but since the charges have been made public they have all been cleared”. Referring to the photograph of “Željko Topić, accompanied by his attorney … taken in front of the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb on 29 September 2014 in the morning” the article stated that “it seems that things are not so” (i.e. not as claimed by Battistelli) thereby insinuating that Topić was being prosecuted.

Topić states that on the date in question he was attending a hearing before the Municipal Criminal Court in the capacity of a plaintiff against a person charged with having been producing and disseminating falsehoods against him for the past several years primarily through the portal Tjedno.hr.

[Note: The person referred to here seems to be Vesna Stilin, the former Assistant Director of the DZIV.]

Various other claims made about Topić in the disputed article are challenged.

For example, reference is made to the allegation that “there is a completely justified suspicion expressed in the criminal report at USKOK that Željko Topić has bribed the former Minister Primorac with an Audi 6 Quattro to renew his mandate”.

According to Topić this claim was investigated by the competent institutions which found no misconduct in this regard. Topić was appointed to his previous position (i.e. Director of the DZIV) four times by three different Prime Ministers, which is said to disprove the allegation of bribery in order to obtain a mandate.

Reference is also made to the allegations about the private acquisition of an official car, (i.e. an official DZIV Mercedes which was later privately acquired by Topić). Here it is claimed that Topić bought the vehicle from the leasing company and paid the normal price. He used a bank loan for this purpose, and the vehicle was registered in his name and he acted in a legitimate and transparent manner.

Topić also takes issue with the allegedly “false claim” systematically repeated by Tjedno.hr that he has a bogus master’s degree certificate.

“This systematic defamation has created the need for official validation of the diploma by the EPO, thus completely rejecting all publicly asserted claims of a counterfeit diploma, but the claimant has been subject to irreparable damage.”

The evidence submitted here includes the announcement of the EPO President to EPO Staff on 26 February 2013 and the Communique of 20 June 2013 from the EPO’s Internal Audit Director, Mr. Florian Andres. A request is made for the hearing of John Martin, the current Director of Internal Audit.

The complaint also challenges the following statement which was made in the disputed article:

“As our source in Munich informed us, Topić’s suitability for the position of Vice-President is a “fairly controversial issue” within the EPO. Taking into account the various accusations and obviously controversial news coverage, the general opinion of EPO’s employees is that there are unanswered questions about Topić’s appointment.”

The hearing of the EPO’s Principal Director of Human Resources (Elodie Bergot) is requested in relation to these allegations!

The complaint goes on to claim that the article in question is “conceived as sensationalist news and contains a number of untruthful, defamatory, offensive and compromising allegations, thus causing an extraordinary non-material injury to the plaintiff.”

According to Topić this journalistic “persecution” has been systematically repeated over an extended period of time.

The disputed article is not the only “offensive” article of the Tjedno.hr portal concerning the personal and professional activities of the plaintiff and a list of such articles is presented:

  • “Falsified patents at the Intellectual Property Office” – 7.02.2012
  • “OLAF deals with Topić” – 31.03.2012
  • “Six lawsuits pending against Topić” – 11.04.2012
  • “Is Željko Topić’s master’s certificate fake?” – 20.06.2012
  • “A Billion Kuna ZAMPed” – 4.9.2012
  • “Two different years on Topić’s degree certificate” – 30.03.2013
  • “None of the billions for Croatian patents” – 16.10.2013
  • “Željko Topić’s formerly official and now private Mercedes” – 24.03.2014
  • “In addition to the Touareg, the A6 used by the former Minister is disputed” – 01.04.2014

It is claimed that the article of 18 October 2014 as well as the other articles mentioned above have been systematically translated into the official EPO languages ​​and distributed as anonymous postal items and as electronic publications to the management and employees of the EPO (7000 employees), members of the EPO Administrative Council, governments and parliaments of 38 EPO member states, relevant professional and diplomatic circles around the world. This is said to have caused irreversible damage to the professional reputation of the plaintiff and to have violated his personal rights.

A claim is also made that anonymous people from the EPO were in direct contact with the portal Tjedno.hr and its editor-in-chief Dražen Stjepandić from February 2013 onwards and that they distributed their “defamatory writings” to other portals.

In this context a reference is made to an article published in English on 16 November 2014 by the portal Techrights under the title “Special Report: Many Criminal Charges against EPO Vice President Željko Topić”.

The complaint concludes with a long list of self-serving claims about how extremely successful and appreciated Topić is in his professional field and that this is confirmed by the fact that he has been a longtime director of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and has held senior positions in the international Intellectual Property system.

For example: He was the Chairman of one of the standing committees of the World Intellectual Property Organization Geneva (WIPO), Vice-Chair of the Diplomatic Conference on International Trademark Law (STLT), held in Singapore in 2006, and was appointed WIPO expert for the implementation of professional studies of that organization, etc.).

The EPO Administrative Council, composed of representatives of 38 Member States, appointed the plaintiff as a Vice-President of EPO following an open competition and the plaintiff considers his appointment to this position as an international recognition for his work and achievements in regional and European cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property protection, as well as for the development of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV) and the active participation and contribution of the DZIV to the work of EPO.

It is claimed that the publication of the aforementioned articles is likely to cause a negative attitude on the part of his colleagues and immediate superior which could affect his further professional development, especially in view of the persistent insinuation of unlawful conduct on his part.

In conclusion Topić claims that these publications have caused serious disruption to his private life and family stability and that he has had to make great efforts to create a different image to the one presented to the public in the media. The claims made about his allegedly unlawful conduct have caused serious repercussions in the functioning of his family because all members of his immediate family feel the consequences of the published information in the form of discomfort and the need to justify themselves, etc.

The respondent, “Udruga Pisac i Novinar” which is the publisher of the portal “Tjedno.hr”, submitted its response to the complaint on 20 May 2016.

According to available information, the case has been assigned to Judge Sanja Krovinović of the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb and the procedure is still ongoing.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2017/09/01/croatia-slapp-epo-part-3/

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