09.07.21

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EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XVI – A Promising Start Followed by an Unfortunate Cock-Up

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part I – More Captured Delegates?
  2. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part II – Old Wine in New Bottles…
  3. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part III – Introducing the Finnish “Facilitator”
  4. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part IV – Martti Enäjärvi and His “Good Brother” Networks
  5. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part V – A Man With a Conviction…
  6. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VI – “A Good Friend of Estonia and a Steady Cooperation Partner”
  7. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VII – A Self-Appointed “Select Committee”
  8. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VIII – Pulling for the Portuguese Pretender?
  9. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part IX – António’s Faithful Acolyte in Alicante
  10. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part X – A Pan-European “Good Brother” Network Celebration?
  11. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XI – With a Little Help From My Friends…
  12. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XII – Battistelli and His Baltic Fiefdoms
  13. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XIII – Out With the Old, in With the New?
  14. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XIV – Business as Usual in Tallinn
  15. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XV – Worse Than “a Backward Kolkhoz”…
  16. You are here ☞ A Promising Start Followed by an Unfortunate Cock-Up

Arūnas Želvys sitting
Arūnas Želvys got off to a promising start but was brought to a halt in 2019 due to an administrative cock-up.

Summary: A look at the Lithuanian EPO delegation, which was an enabler of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos over the past decade or so

In the last part we saw that Arūnas Želvys was appointed as the new Director-General of the Lithuanian Patent Office in March 2015.

Želvys studied law at the University of Vilnius and finished up with a masters’ degree in 2006. He later completed a Ph.D. in 2011 with a doctoral dissertation on the subject of “Problems of Trademark Licensing”.

Arūnas Želvys, Vilnius University Ph.D.
Želvys completed a Ph.D. in 2011 with a dissertation [PDF] on the subject of “Problems of Trademark Licensing”.

His career at the Lithuanian Patent Office began in 2006 [PDF], when he started out as a “Chief Specialist” in the Law and International Affairs Division.

Between November 2012 and February 2014, Želvys was seconded to Brussels as an Attaché for Industrial Property and Civil Law matters at Lithuania’s Permanent Representation to the EU.

He returned to Vilnius in March 2014 to head the Law and International Affairs Division of the Lithuanian Patent Office.

When Rimvydas Naujokas was put out to grass in June 2014, Želvys applied for the top job and was appointed as Director-General in March 2015.

Arūnas Želvys and Battistelli
Arūnas Želvys signing a bilateral cooperation agreement with Battistelli in March 2017.

As the new head of delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council, Želvys basically continued the established tradition of deferring to the line “proposed” (i.e. dictated) by the Office management. Similar to his counterpart Margus Viher in Estonia – he was not noted for asking any ‘awkward’ questions.

“Želvys seemed to have got off to a promising start as Director-General of the Lithuanian Patent Office. However, his career progression was blighted by an unfortunate administrative cock-up.”In March 2017 he posed for the obligatory photo-op with Battistelli in connection with the signing of a bilateral “cooperation agreement”.

Želvys seemed to have got off to a promising start as Director-General of the Lithuanian Patent Office. However, his career progression was blighted by an unfortunate administrative cock-up.

In March 2019, it was reported in the Lithuanian media that he had been reappointed for a further term of five years.

However, some months later in June 2019 it was revealed that his re-appointment had not been in conformity with the law governing civil service appointments which had been amended at the end of 2018.

According to the regulations in force until 31 December 2018, the director of a state institution such as the Patent Office could be appointed for a second term without a competition.

From 1 January 2018, there was no longer any possibility for such direct reappointment and the appointment had to be made on the basis of an open competition.

In the case of Želvys, he had been directly reappointed in March 2019 [PDF] without a competition because someone in the supervising ministry had overlooked the fact that the law had changed.

“From 1 January 2018, there was no longer any possibility for such direct reappointment and the appointment had to be made on the basis of an open competition.”As soon as the flaw in his reappointment was discovered [PDF], Želvys reacted by resigning on 4 April 2019.

However, between May and August 2019 he remained as a “Senior IP Advisor” and “Acting Director” of the Lithuanian Patent Office until the new competitive reappointment procedure had been conducted.

When Želvys spoke to the press in June 2019 he stated that he was unsure as to whether or not he wanted to run for another term as Director-General. His final decision in this regard remains unclear and it is not known whether he actually took part in the selection competition.

In any case, whether he was a contender or not, the position was awarded to someone else.

As we shall see later in the concluding part of the series, Arūnas Želvys made a brief foray into the private sector and finally ended up as a Liaison Officer in EUIPO’s Brussels Liaison Office.

Irina Urbonė
Irina Urbonė started her term as director of the Lithuanian Patent Office on 24 September 2019.

On 24 September 2019, it was announced on the official website of the Lithuanian Patent Office that the new Director-General Irina Urbonė [PDF] had started her term.

Želvys’ successor [PDF] at the Lithuanian Patent Office is a bit of a dark horse.

The only information available on her LinkedIn page [PDF] is that she was a “lawyer” at a “state institution”. According to Latvian sources, before taking up her position at the head of the Patent Office she was in charge of the Legal Department of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. She doesn’t appear to have any identifiable background in “IP” matters, whether trademarks or patents.

“More recently it was announced that the Lithuanian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council would from now on be headed by Lina Mickienė, the current Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Patent Office.”Compared to her predecessor, Urbonė seems to be rather publicity shy and tends to avoid photo-ops.

All that is known about her track record at the EPO so far is that she signed off on an agreement about “search co-operation” in December 2020. [PDF]

Irina Urbonė and Campinos
Irina Urbonė signed off on an agreement relating to “search co-operation” between the Lithuanian Patent Office and the EPO in December 2020.

More recently it was announced that the Lithuanian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council would from now on be headed by Lina Mickienė, the current Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Patent Office.

“In the absence of any further information it’s anybody’s guess what exactly is going on behind the scenes at the Lithuanian Patent Office these days.”It is not clear what has occasioned this change. It could be a sign that Urbonė is preparing to jump ship and getting ready for a handover to Mickienė. But it might just as well be a routine delegation of responsibility.

In the absence of any further information it’s anybody’s guess what exactly is going on behind the scenes at the Lithuanian Patent Office these days.

Lina Mickienė
Lina Mickienė new head of the Lithuanian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

In the next part we will turn our attention to the third “IP” office of the Baltic trio – the Latvian Patent Office – to see how this has fared since the departure of Zigrīds Aumeisters in 2010.

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