12.14.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXV: Slovakian Scruples

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:58 pm 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. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League – Romania
  25. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXV: The Balkan League – Fresh Blood or Same Old, Same Old?
  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVI: A Trojan Horse on the Budget and Finance Committee
  27. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVII: Cypriot Complicity
  28. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVIII: Benoît and António’s Loyal “Habibi”
  29. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXXX: The EPOnian Micro-States – Monaco and Malta
  30. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXX: San Marino and the Perfidious Betrayal of Liberty
  31. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXI: The Abstentionists
  32. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXII: “Plucky Little Belgium”?
  33. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXIII: Swedish Scepticism
  34. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXIV: An “Extremely Dubious” Proposal
  35. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Slovakian Scruples

Luboš Knoth
Head of the Slovak delegation, Luboš Knoth. [PDF]

Summary: Today we examine the Slovakian vote on the unlawful “Strike Regulations”; Luboš Knoth used to work for the EPO, so he could relate somewhat to his former colleagues

As already noted in an earlier part of this series, Slovakia was the only member of the Visegrád Group that actively withheld its support from Benoît Battistelli‘s “Strike Regulations” proposal.

The delegations from Hungary and the Czech Republic did not bother to turn up for the vote and Poland voted in favour.

In June 2013, the Slovak delegation was headed by Luboš Knoth.

“A former EPO employee like Susanne Sivborg from Sweden, Knoth seems to have had a certain degree of empathy with his erstwhile colleagues at the EPO…”Knoth was head of the Industrial Property Office of the Slovakian Republic between June 2012 and October 2016 and prior to that he had worked at the Vienna branch Office of the EPO as a “project manager for administration of cooperation activities” between September 2005 and 2008.

A former EPO employee like Susanne Sivborg from Sweden, Knoth seems to have had a certain degree of empathy with his erstwhile colleagues at the EPO, unlike the majority of his peers on the Administrative Council who behaved in the manner of “absentee landlords”.

In this regard, Knoth and Sivborg acted in stark contrast to the San Marino delegate Bruno Cinquantini, a shameless opportunist who appears to have had no scruples about selling out his former colleagues at the EPO.

“The Slovak refusal to support the “Strike Regulations” is noteworthy because Battistelli had done his level best to co-opt this junior member of the Visegrád Group.”However, like Sivborg, Knoth’s criticism of the manifestly unlawful “Strike Regulations” was rather muted and timid and gives the impression that there were only minor problems with Battistelli’s proposal.

This can be seen from the statement of the Slovak position recorded under point no. 115 of the minutes of the 136th [PDF] Administrative Council meeting:

“The Slovak delegation commented on some of the detailed drafting. On balance, it felt that the proposal was a good faith one, but not ideal. Having said that, it shared the understanding that a legal basis should be set and rules established. It would favour a review of the policy and its results, should the Office’s proposal be adopted. It would like to see a fair and constructive, functioning social dialogue in the Office in future.”

The Slovak refusal to support the “Strike Regulations” is noteworthy because Battistelli had done his level best to co-opt this junior member of the Visegrád Group.

“The backdrop to this conference was the European Union’s plan for “the introduction of a unitary patent and litigation system”.”Already in June 2011 (warning: epo.org link) – that is to say, approximately one year after he had assumed the position of EPO President – Battistelli convened a conference of “the EPO and its member states” in Bratislava for the purpose of discussing “how to bring co-operation forward in a number of areas in order to improve the quality and efficiency of the European patent system, and thus better serve industry”.

The backdrop to this conference was the European Union’s plan for “the introduction of a unitary patent and litigation system”.

The official records show that Battistelli was accompanied on that occasion by his cooperation fund "bagman" François-Régis Hannart and his virtuoso of legal sophistry, EPO Vice-President Raimund Lutz.

Battistelli, François-Régis Hannart, and Raimund Lutz
Battistelli (r.) accompanied by EPO “bagman” François-Régis Hannart (l.) and EPO Vice-President Raimund Lutz (c.) at an EPO conference held in Bratislavia in June 2011.

The following year, in November 2012 [PDF], Battistelli sent a delegation headed by his “bagman” Hannart on a visit to the Slovak Industrial Property Office to discuss “bilateral cooperation” affairs. Hannart was accompanied by Georg Artelsmair from the EPO’s “European Cooperation Directorate” and Katarína Laššová, a cooperation projects co-ordinator.

François-Régis Hannart, Georg Artelsmair, and Katarína Laššová
EPO “bagman” François-Régis Hannart (c.) flanked by Georg Artelsmair (l.) and Katarína Laššová (r.) visiting the Slovak Industrial Property Office in November 2012.

In May 2013 just before the 136th Meeting of the EPO Administrative Council, Battistelli turned up in Bratislava in person. The ostensible purpose of this visit was to attend an event (warning: epo.org link) to mark the 20th anniversary of the Slovak Industrial Property Office.

“With hindsight it seems clear that as far back as 2013, Campinos was being carefully groomed as the “designated successor” of Battistelli at the helm of the EPO, a role which he ultimately assumed in July 2018.”Battistelli was accompanied by an “EPO delegation” which met with the Slovak Minister of Economic Affairs Tomáš Malatinský.

This “EPO delegation” included an “observer” in the person of António Campinos, who was at that time the head of EU trademark agency OHIM.

With hindsight it seems clear that as far back as 2013, Campinos was being carefully groomed as the “designated successor” of Battistelli at the helm of the EPO, a role which he ultimately assumed in July 2018.

Battistelli and Tomáš Malatinský
Battistelli meeting with Slovakian Minister of Economic Affairs Tomáš Malatinský in Bratislava in May 2013.
His “designated successor”, António Campinos, can be seen in the background.

Despite Battistelli’s attempts to turn Slovakia into one of his “captured states” on the EPO Administrative Council, the head of the Slovak delegation Luboš Knoth did not succumb to the blandishments of the Corsican despot and refused to endorse the liberticidal “Strike Regulations” at the 136th Meeting of the EPO Council in June 2013.

Slovakia’s abstentionist position was followed by two EPO member states from the Balkan region, namely Serbia and Slovenia.

In the next part we will take a look at the delegation representing the Republic of Serbia.

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