10.26.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League – Romania

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part I: Let the Sunshine In!
  2. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part II: A “Unanimous” Endorsement?
  3. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part III: Three Missing Votes
  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IV: The Founding States
  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part V: Germany Says “Ja”
  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VI: A Distinct Lack of Dutch Courage
  7. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VII: Luxembourgish Laxity
  8. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VIII: Perfidious Albion and Pusillanimous Hibernia
  9. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IX: More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
  10. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part X: Introducing the Controversial Christian Bock
  11. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XI: “General Bock” – Battistelli’s Swiss Apprentice?
  12. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection
  13. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli’s Iberian Facilitators – Spain
  14. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIV: Battistelli’s Iberian Facilitators – Portugal
  15. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XV: Et Tu Felix Austria…
  16. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVI: The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper
  17. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVII: The Non-Monolithic Nordic Bloc
  18. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVIII: Helsinki’s Accord
  19. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXX: The Baltic States
  20. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XX: The Visegrád Group
  21. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXI: The Balkan League – The Doyen and His “Protégée”
  22. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXII: The Balkan League – North Macedonia and Albania
  23. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIII: The Balkan League – Bulgaria
  24. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Balkan League – Romania

Gabor Varga
Head of the Romanian delegation in June 2013: Gábor Varga.

Summary: Romania’s patent office has been in flux this past decade, occasionally led by people with no relevant experience, but rather political connections (like EPO President António Campinos) and sometimes forged documents and fake degrees

In this part we take a look at the Romanian delegation, which in June 2013 was headed by Gábor Varga, Director-General of the Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM).

Varga was a longtime acquaintance of Benoît Battistelli and their connections go back at least as far as 2006 when the French INPI concluded a bilateral cooperation agreement with the Romanian OSIM.

Battistelli and Varga
Varga was a longtime acquaintance of Battistelli and their connections go back at least as far as 2006.
Source: OSIM Annual Report 2006.

Unfortunately for Varga, shortly after he had assisted in the rubber-stamping of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” in June 2013, he was dismissed as head of OSIM, following his conviction by a Romanian court on charges of “causing a EUR 300,000 damage to the state agency via an acquisition contract for IT services”, as reported in the Romanian media.

OSIM's Alexandru Ghinea
With the complicity of his boss Gábor Varga, OSIM employee Alexandru Ghinea reportedly managed to obtain additional income of over € 40,000 using a forged diploma.

At the same time Varga also came under investigation on separate charges of having assisted in concealing the discovery of forged documents in an employee’s file.

According to Romanian media reports, Alexandru Ghinea had been recruited at the OSIM on the basis of his secondary education qualification. Later, however, he produced “proof” that he had graduated from the Law School of the Romanian-American University. On the basis of this bogus diploma, he was promoted in 2009 to head of OSIM’s Human Resources department. Subsequently, he managed to obtain a secondment to the EU trademark agency in Alicante.

“At the same time Varga also came under investigation on separate charges of having assisted in concealing the discovery of forged documents in an employee’s file.”Investigators claimed that Ghinea had used the bogus diploma to obtain additional income of € 25,000 from OSIM between 2009 and 2012 and a further € 17,000 from OHIM, during the short time that he worked at the EU agency. When the forgery was exposed, Ghinea was forced to leave OHIM and return to Romania where he found himself facing charges of falsification of official documents.

OSIM Director-General Varga was accused of complicity in the affair because of his failure to report the forgery to the law enforcement authorities.

Since Varga’s departure in the summer of 2013, OSIM has gone through an impressive number of directors and “acting directors”, a total of eight in all:

• Alexandru Cristian Ştrenc (ad interim);
• Ionel Muscalu (September 2013 to October 2014);
• Alexandru-Ioan Andrei (October 2014 to April 2016);
• Bucura Ionescu (May 2016 to March 2017);
• Adriana Aldescu (ad interim);
• Ionuţ Barbu (December 2017 to December 2019);
• Mitrita Hahue (ad interim); and,
• Marian Cătălin Burcescu (appointed May 2021).

Four of these appointees, namely Alexandru Cristian Ştrenc [PDF], Bucura Ionescu, Adriana Aldescu and Mitrita Hahue were longtime career civil servants at the OSIM with credible qualifications in legal and/or administrative affairs.

However, the other four were openly political appointees – and in most cases the individuals in question have been affiliated with more than one party over the course of their careers.

Alexandru Cristian Strenc, Bucura Ionescu, Adriana Aldescu, and Mitrita Hahue
From l. to r.: Alexandru Cristian Ştrenc, Bucura Ionescu, Adriana Aldescu and Mitrita Hahue, all longtime career civil servants at the OSIM without political connections.

Ionel Muscalu, Alexandru-Ioan Andrei, Ionut Barbu, and Marian Catalin Burcescu
From l. to r.: Ionel Muscalu, Alexandru-Ioan Andrei, Ionuţ Barbu and Marian Cătălin Burcescu, all party political hacks who were rewarded with the top job at the OSIM.

No less than three of the aforementioned “political appointees” come from Giurgiu, a town in the south of Romania near the border with Bulgaria and each of them was strongly involved in local politics.

The individuals in question are Ionel Muscalu, Alexandru-Ioan Andrei and Ionuţ Barbu.

“However, the other four were openly political appointees – and in most cases the individuals in question have been affiliated with more than one party over the course of their careers.”In the case of Muscalu, his involvement in local politics began in 1997 with the Giurgiu branch of the National Liberal Party (PNL), the largest centre-right political party in Romania, variously described as “conservative-liberal” or “liberal-conservative”.

In 2014, Muscalu switched his political allegiance to the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats (ALDE), a minor liberal political party which brands itself as “social-liberal”.

Muscalu
Ionel Muscalu started his political career with the PNL but switched his allegiance to ALDE in 2014.

More recently, Muscalu has returned to his original political “home” in the PNL. In the December 2020 elections he was an unsuccessful PNL candidate for a seat in the Romanian Senate.

Ionel Muscalu
In December 2020, Muscalu was back on the PNL ticket in an unsuccessful bid to get elected to the Senate.

Like his predecessor Muscalu, Alexandru-Ioan Andrei started his political career with the Giurgiu youth branch of the PNL. However, around 2014 he switched his allegiance to the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the largest “post-communist” left-wing political party in Romania.

Andrei’s new-found PSD affiliations secured him the top job at the OSIM in October 2014 under the PSD-led government of Victor Ponta.

According to an article published by the satirical magazine Catavencii, Andrei lacked the necessary academic qualifications for the position and his tenure at the OSIM was characterised by cronyism, nepotism and extravagant spending for his own personal comfort and benefit.

“…Andrei lacked the necessary academic qualifications for the position and his tenure at the OSIM was characterised by cronyism, nepotism and extravagant spending for his own personal comfort and benefit.”Andrei left the OSIM in April 2016, apparently to focus on his political career and other interests. In December of the same year, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies – the lower house of the Romanian Parliament – on the PSD ticket for Giurgiu.

In the Romanian media, Andrei has been described [PDF] in unflattering terms as a “Nabob” – or a “conspicuously wealthy” person – with an impressive real estate portfolio and diverse “business interests”, most of which involve lucrative contracts with county councils in the Giurgiu region.

Alexandru-Ioan Andrei
Party-hopper Alexandru-Ioan Andrei: In 2016 the message was “On Sunday vote for the PSD!”. A few years later in 2020, it was “Vote for the PNL”…

In February 2019, Andrei announced that he was resigning from the PSD. For some months thereafter he operated as an independent deputy before (re-)joining the PNL in June 2019.

Together with Muscalu, he stood as a candidate for the PNL in the December 2020 parliamentary elections. Muscalu was unsuccessful but Andrei managed to get elected to the Chamber of Deputies for a further term – this time on the PNL ticket.

Alexandru-Ioan Andrei in PNL
Andrei turned up on the PNL ticket for Giurgiu together with Muscalu in December 2020.

The next “political appointee” at the head of OSIM was Ionuţ Barbu who started his political career with the youth branch of the Giurgiu PSD.

“Andrei left the OSIM in April 2016, apparently to focus on his political career and other interests.”Barbu’s political connections helped him to secure the top job at the OSIM at the tender age of 28 in December 2017 under the short-lived PSD-led administration of Mihai Tudose.

Tudose was forced to resign soon afterwards when his own party, the PSD, retracted its support for the government. Two years later in October 2019, the next PSD-led government headed by Viorica Dăncilă also collapsed and the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis designated Ludovic Orban from the PNL as Prime Minister.

The new PNL-led government under Orban decided to embark on a purge of PSD appointees in senior civil service positions. Barbu who had remained loyal to the PSD was one of the victims of this purge. [PDF]

Ionut Barbu
PSD loyalist Ionuţ Barbu was “purged” by the PNL-led government of Ludovic Orban in December 2019.

Mitrita Hahue, a longtime career civil servant at the OSIM, took over on an ad interim basis pending the appointment of a successor to Barbu.

“Mitrita Hahue, a longtime career civil servant at the OSIM, took over on an ad interim basis pending the appointment of a successor to Barbu.”It was not until May of this year that a new Director-General was finally installed by the PNL-led government of Florin Cîțu. It’s no surprise that the new incumbent is another “political appointee”, this time from the PNL camp.

Marian Cătălin Burcescu is a native [PDF] of Drăgănești Vlașca, a commune in Teleorman County in the south of Romania beside Giurgiu County. He was 36 years old at the time of his appointment and, according to his curriculum vitae, he is a graduate of the Faculty of Cinematography [PDF] of the obscure “Media University of Bucharest”.

In the local media, Burcescu has been described as a “political turncoat” – which seems to be a rather common species in contemporary Romania.

“It’s no surprise that the new incumbent is another “political appointee”, this time from the PNL camp.”He began his political career with the Democratic Liberal Party (DLP), a liberal-conservative party which officially merged with the PNL in November 2014.

In 2016, he was elected as a county councillor on the PNL ticket. However, not long afterwards in June 2018 he resigned from the PNL and joined the smaller “social-liberal” party ALDE, a move which caused a lot of irritation and resentment among his former PNL colleagues.

Burcescu ran on the 2019 election ticket for ALDE where he stood as a candidate for the European Parliament. By a curious coincidence, Ionel Muscalu also appeared on same ALDE ticket as a candidate for the national parliament. Neither candidate was successful.

Marian Catalin Burcescu
Burcescu ran unsuccessfully on the ALDE ticket for the European Parliament in 2019.

Following the poor performance of ALDE in that election, both Muscalu and Burcescu appear to have decided that their political future would be more secure if they returned to the PNL fold, which they duly proceeded to do some time in 2020.

“Following the poor performance of ALDE in that election, both Muscalu and Burcescu appear to have decided that their political future would be more secure if they returned to the PNL fold, which they duly proceeded to do some time in 2020.”From Burcescu’s perspective, this turned out to have been a smart move because in May 2021 [PDF] he was awarded with the top job at the OSIM by the PNL-led government of Florin Cîțu.

His appointment was criticised, in particular due to his lack of appropriate academic qualifications and the fact that he had no prior experience in “IP”-related matters.

According to Romanian media reports, the Director-General of the OSIM is a senior civil service position which carries the same grade as a Secretary of State and comes with a gross monthly salary of 16,600 Romanian Leu – about € 3,350 at current exchange rates.

“His appointment was criticised, in particular due to his lack of appropriate academic qualifications and the fact that he had no prior experience in “IP”-related matters.”It’s not quite in the same league as the salary of an MEP or the head of an international “IP” Office like the EPO or EUIPO. Nevertheless, by Romanian standards, it’s a respectable income which is no doubt supplemented by various perks such as allowances for duty travel, for example to the WIPO in Geneva, the EPO in Munich and the EUIPO in Alicante.

In the next part we will conclude our examination of the EPO’s “Balkan League” states with some observations about the new delegates who have replaced the “old guard” that endorsed Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” in June 2013.

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