05.17.19

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

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

See part one, part two and part three for more background about this brewing European Patent Office (EPO) scandal

William Faulkner

Summary: 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?

AS the Kötter Group commemorates its 85th anniversary it seems rather petty-minded to rain on their parade.

But despite the best efforts to maintain a festive mood, some mean-spirited party-poopers have pointed out that the official Internet pages contain little or no information about the Group’s early history.

“It’s a bit like those gaps in a person’s CV that can lead to awkward questions at the job interview…”As a matter of fact, there is a rather conspicuous lacuna between 1934 when it was founded as “Westdeutscher Wach- und Schutzdienst Fritz Kötter” and 1966 when it started to operate as a provider of security technology in the post-war Federal Republic of Germany.

Koetter services 85

It’s a bit like those gaps in a person’s CV that can lead to awkward questions at the job interview…

As a matter of fact, back in 2008 some awkward questions were already being asked by the Federal Association of Prison Officers in Germany (Bundesverband der Strafvollzugsbediensteten Deutschlands).

“The BSBD pointed out that Kötter had been founded in 1934 as a family business under the name “Westdeutscher Wach- und Schutzdienst Fritz Kötter” and that state approval for establishing such an enterprise would most certainly have been required at the time in question.”The BDSD is, as its name suggests, an organisation which represents the interests of officials working in the prison sector. It was reacting to an announcement from the Baden-Württemberg Justice Ministry about the results of a tendering procedure for the “outsourcing” of services at the Oldenburg state pentitentiary. On that occasion Kötter submitted the most competitive bid and was awarded the contract.

The BSBD pointed out that Kötter had been founded in 1934 as a family business under the name “Westdeutscher Wach- und Schutzdienst Fritz Kötter” and that state approval for establishing such an enterprise would most certainly have been required at the time in question.

It should be remembered that we are not talking about any old state here. This particular state had succumbed to totalitarian control just one year previously and its new leader proceeded to ruthlessly eliminate many of his domestic opponents during the infamous “Night of the Long Knives” at the end of June 1934

“Let’s have a guess: all the records went missing because there was a war on at the time? How convenient!”The BSBD concluded that “it would be interesting to find out what protective and security tasks the private company was entrusted with from that time until today.”

That is a question which has so far remained without a satisfactory answer.

The late Friedrich Karl Kötter (+ 2015), the son of the founder, wasn’t giving much away in a puff-piece published in the online industry journal Vernetzte Kompetenz im Sicherheitsmanagement (Veko online) in 2012 when made the following evasive comments about the company’s origins: “I was born on 27 February 1937 in the heart of the Ruhr area, in Wanne-Eickel, where I also spent my youth. Three years earlier my father Karl Friedrich had founded the company Westdeutscher Wach- und Schutzdienst Fritz Kötter, which was active not only in Germany but also in Holland. What exactly the field of work comprised at that time is no longer known.”

“You would think that the Kötters could have afforded to engage the services of a professional historian or two to properly research the Group’s corporate history for the occasion of its 85th anniversary.”Well fancy that now. Let’s have a guess: all the records went missing because there was a war on at the time? How convenient!

“Westdeutscher Wach- und Schutzdienst Fritz Kötter … was active not only in Germany but also in the Netherlands from 1934 onwards” …

For anybody familiar with 20th Century European history, particularly the occupation of the Netherlands during WWII, this should be enough to trigger the alarm bells and signal the proximity of a potential minefield!

Minen Mijnen

You would think that the Kötters could have afforded to engage the services of a professional historian or two to properly research the Group’s corporate history for the occasion of its 85th anniversary.

“Their gut instincts may have told them that there were some skeletons in the family cupboard that were best left to rest in peace.”On the other hand, it could be that the experiences of other German companies, such as the Bertlesmann Group back in 2002, made them wary about digging too deep into the history of the family business.

Their gut instincts may have told them that there were some skeletons in the family cupboard that were best left to rest in peace.

Skeleton in the closet

If this was the case, then their reliance on those gut instincts was not misplaced. According to informed sources, a preliminary trawl has confirmed that there are some rather disturbing cans of worms waiting to be opened in the relevant archives.

“…it would appear that he used the proceeds of his business activities for the purpose of acquiring a significant shareholding in at least one “aryanised” company in the retail sector.”Hopefully Campinos and his management team are able and willing to look beyond the managerial bottom line and to realise that, to quote William Faulkner, “The past is never dead.”

Insiders confidently predict that if a rigorous in-depth UXO Risk Management Analysis isn’t carried out before a final decision is taken on this matter, then Campinos and his team could end up being well and truly blown out of the water.

Explosives in water

The evidence gathered so far suggests that the company founder made a small fortune for himself in the occupied Netherlands due to a close association with the military-industrial complex of the Third Reich. And it would appear that he used the proceeds of his business activities for the purpose of acquiring a significant shareholding in at least one “aryanised” company in the retail sector.

But what’s the point in doing all the homework for Campinos and his generously remunerated managerial dweebs? Surely it’s not too much to expect them to do a bit of “due diligence” for themselves?

“EPO staff, especially the large Dutch contingent among them (almost 500 at the last count), are unlikely to be favorably impressed if the deal goes ahead as currently planned.”Before making any further revelations on this front let’s just sit back and see what they are able to come up with off their own bat between now and the BFC meeting later this month or at least before the Administrative Council takes the final decision at the end of June.

After the farcical “Nazi witch-hunts” of the Battistelli era, wouldn’t it be the height of irony to see the new EPO President signing off on a contract worth EUR 30 million which goes to a company having such a “flawed pedigree”?

EPO staff, especially the large Dutch contingent among them (almost 500 at the last count), are unlikely to be favorably impressed if the deal goes ahead as currently planned.

The writing is on the wall for everyone to see. If no effective pre-emptive action is taken on this one as a matter of urgency, then there is a very real danger that what started out as a routine tendering exercise will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot for Antonio the Unready and his loyal retainers.

Charlie Foxtrot

Let us hope that things do not come to such a sorry pass. But if they do, then he can’t say that he wasn’t warned in good time.

Nobody told me

On that note we conclude the Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia. An update in the form of an end-of-term report is planned for June.

Watch this space, folks…

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

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 27/11/2020: Jolla is 7, Diffoscope 162, MNT Reform Production

    Links for the day



  2. The Time Coronavirus Helped EPO Management Prevent Staff From Protesting and Going on Strike (March 26th)

    "In view of the spreading of the New Corona Virus, the planned General Assemblies have to be cancelled," the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) wrote in the wake of the crisis across Europe back in March (weeks ahead of a planned strike)



  3. Guarding Your Privacy With E2EE: Primer

    "As with all security, there is assumed risk no matter how careful you are. There are no security guarantees but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."



  4. Links 27/11/2020: Systemd 247 and Cockpit 233

    Links for the day



  5. A Free Speech Deficit Harms Software Freedom

    Free software and Software Freedom cannot possibly succeed if we keep accepting or even just tolerating systematic censorship of opinionated people in our community; failing to speak out on this matter (for fear of supposedly offending someone, risking expulsion) is part of the problem — complicity by passivity



  6. Perception of Difficulty

    New poem by figosdev



  7. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 26, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 26, 2020



  8. Cartoon: After Gambling With Workers' Savings the EPO Can Do Real Estate

    New EPO cartoon from EPO insiders (the one on the right certainly looks a lot like António Campinos and the one on the left can be his EUIPO ‘import’ or Benoît Battistelli‘s INPI ‘import’)



  9. Free as in Freedom Should Not be Associated With Cost

    It's important to remind people that so-called 'free' services (Clown Computing, centralised spaces that 'farm' their so-called 'users') aren't really free; we need to advocate freedom or free-as-in-freedom alternatives



  10. [Meme] UPC's Pyrrhic Victory

    Contrary to what Team UPC says, what happened earlier today is hardly a breakthrough



  11. Many Thanks to Free Software, the Demise of Software Patents (in Europe and the US), and So Much More

    On a positive note we're heading into the end of November, one month before Boxing Day; we take stock of patent affairs that impact software developers



  12. Links 26/11/2020: PHP 8.0, Proxmox VE 6.3, UNIGINE 2.13

    Links for the day



  13. 29,000 Blog Posts and Recent Site Improvements

    Over 29,000 blog posts have been posted here, but more importantly we've made the site a lot more robust and resilient, accessible in more formats and protocols (while improving transparency, too)



  14. [Meme] Trump is Out. Now It's Time to Pressure the Biden Administration/Transition Team on Software Freedom Issues.

    The Biden transition is in motion and tentative appointments are underway, based on news reports (see our Daily Links); now is the time to put pressure, e.g. in the form of public backlash, to ensure it's not just another corporate presidency



  15. Boycott ZDNet Unless You Fancy Being Lied to

    ZDNet's Catalin Cimpanu continues to lead the way with misinformation and lies, basically doing whatever he was doing to land that job at ZDNet (after he had done the same elsewhere)



  16. The UPC and Unitary Patent Song

    On goes the UPC symphony, as the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is almost here, always coming "real soon!"



  17. Open Letter to the German Greens on UPC and Software Patents: Don’t Betray Your Voters and Your Promises, or You Will Regret it

    Dear Members of the German Greens in the Bundestag. By Benjamin HENRION.



  18. [Meme] One Step Away From Replacing Patent Examiners With 'Hey Hi' (AI)

    If it's not legal for 'Hey Hi' (AI) to get a patent, why should it be legal for patents to be granted by those who are invisible (and sometimes in de facto house arrest)?



  19. European Patent Office (EPO) Reduced to 'Justice Over the Telephone' and Decree by E-mail

    The EPO is trashing the EPC and everything that the Office was supposed to stand for, as it wrongly assumes demand for monopolies (typically from foreign corporations) comes before the rule of law and Europe's public interest



  20. Making Free Software Work for Users

    The latest reply to a non-developer concerned about software freedom; guest post by figosdev



  21. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 25, 2020



  22. Links 26/11/2020: AV Linux 2020.11.23 and Blender 2.91 Release

    Links for the day



  23. Links 25/11/2020: GamerOS and Biden Transition in Motion

    Links for the day



  24. An Orwellian December

    With December around the corner and states tightening the screws on the population (or employers on employees) at least we can look forward to spring



  25. The Non-Technical (or Lesser Technical) Software User That Wants Software Freedom

    Assuming that Free software should care about what users — not only developers — really want (and need) it’s important to understand how they view the current situation (with growing waves of corporate takeover and compromises, even expulsions)



  26. The European Patent Office Should be Run by Patent Examiners (Scientists), Not Politicians

    Europe would be better off (and patent quality much improved) had people with an actual grasp of science and reality were in charge of the EPO, not a money-chasing kakistocracy (which is what we have now)



  27. Member of the EPO's Boards of Appeal Explains Why VICOs (or ViCo/Video Conferences/Virtual 'Hearings') Are Not Suitable for Justice

    It's interesting to hear (or see/read) what people inside the EPO have to say about the "new normal" when they enjoy a certain level of anonymity (to avert retribution)



  28. Open Source Initiative (OSI) Co-founder Bruce Perens: Open Invention Network (OIN) is Protecting the Software Patent System From Reform and OSI Approves Faux 'Open' Licences (Openwashing)

    Richard Stallman was right about the OSI and the fake 'movement' that claims to have 'coined' the term "Open Source" (it wasn't a new term at all; it had been used in another context and the Free software community spoke of things like "Open Hardware" years earlier)



  29. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 24, 2020



  30. Making JavaScript Suck Less

    "Other than that, the first rule of JavaScript is: Do not use JavaScript. But this article is for people who break the first rule."


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