06.17.21

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Virtual Injustice — Part 9: Heli, the EPO’s Nordic Ice-Queen

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously in the series:

  1. Virtual Injustice — Part 1: António’s Increasingly Wonky Legal Fudge Factory
  2. Virtual Injustice — Part 2: The ViCo Oral Proceedings of 28 May 2021
  3. Virtual Injustice — Part 3: All the President’s Men…
  4. Virtual Injustice — Part 4: Mihály Ficsor, the EPO’s Hungarian “Fixer”
  5. Virtual Injustice — Part 5: Benoît’s “Friends” in Budapest
  6. Virtual Injustice — Part 6: Best Buddies With António
  7. Virtual Injustice — Part 7: Musical Chairs and Revolving Doors
  8. Virtual Injustice — Part 8: A Well-Connected ‘IP’ Maximalist

Heli Pihlajamaa
Heli Pihlajamaa, Director of Patent Law in the EPO’s DG5.

Summary: Team Campinos is full of people who instead of grasping and working to promote innovation are boosting the agenda of litigation (scientists are not being employed)

We now turn our attention to the second-in-command on the legal team representing the President of the Office in the high-profile referral case no. G 1/21.

The person in question is the EPO‘s Nordic Ice-Queen, Director of Patent Law Heli Pihlajamaa, affectionately known to her underlings as “Ms Pyjamas”.

“During her time as a lawyer in the EPO’s Directorate of Patent Law, she was responsible for legal issues relating to search and examination procedure and acted as legal member for the hearing of witnesses in opposition proceedings.”Heli studied law at the University of Helsinki in Finland and completed her postgraduate studies at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition in Munich.

Before moving to Munich in 1996 to take up a post as lawyer in the Directorate of Patent Law at the European Patent Office’s Directorate of International and Legal Affairs (DG 5), she worked for the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and for a patent attorney’s office in Helsinki.

Finlandia hallHeli also taught Industrial Property Law at the Technical University of Helsinki and has published books and newspaper articles on patent law in Finnish.

During her time as a lawyer in the EPO’s Directorate of Patent Law, she was responsible for legal issues relating to search and examination procedure and acted as legal member for the hearing of witnesses in opposition proceedings.

Her current duties as Director of Patent Law include responsibility for “supporting EPO policy by developing, strengthening and promoting the EPC, including proposals for legal changes, compliance of operations with patent law-related norms and case law” and she “advises EPO higher management on policy issues and legal amendments”.

Despite her job title as Director of Patent Law, Heli doesn’t seem to do a lot of work on actual patent cases.

Heli Pihlajamaa on early certainty
Heli promoting the EPO’s “early certainty” initiative in 2018.

As a matter of fact she appears to spend most of her time on the global IP conference circuit, turning up as a speaker at various EPO-financed junkets to deliver pre-cooked presentations on the latest self-promotional gimmicks of the EPO’s senior management team, such as the “early certainty” initiative in 2018.

Heli Pihlajamaa on HEY HI
Heli giving the EPO spiel on “Patenting AI” (March 2018).

Apart from that she is in her element holding forth about the latest “hot topics” and buzzwords (warning: epo.org link) in the IP world such as “patenting AI” (software patents).

Whatever private opinions Heli might have had about the excesses of the Benoît Battistelli regime at the EPO she seems to have kept these to herself.

Helsinki CathedralLiving with a more powerful and at times aggressive and expansionist neighbour on their doorstep, history has taught the Finns how to keep their mouths shut in the interests of self-preservation.

Whatever about that, the fact of the matter is that Heli survived the Battistelli era and managed to come out unscathed at the other end.

Less charitable souls have been heard to suggest that she might not have had too much difficulty accommodating herself to the authoritarian regime of the Sun-King and his minions.

Heli Pihlajamaa and Bergot
In recent years, Heli (left) seems at times to have morphed into a clone of Elodie Bergot (right).

Finnish flagEPO insiders have observed that at times, during recent years, Heli has given the impression that she had morphed into a clone of Elodie Bergot – at least in terms of her outward appearance.

That concludes our look at the members of the legal term representing the President of the Office in G 1/21.

In the next part we will review the coverage of the oral proceedings of 28 May in the IP blogosphere.

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