12.23.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXX: The Idiosyncratic Italians

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:38 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. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXV: Slovakian Scruples
  36. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXVI: Serbian Sour Grapes
  37. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXVII: Stubbornly Independent Slovenia
  38. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXVIII: Ensnared in the Tentacles of the SAZAS Octopus
  39. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXXIX: On the Slippery Slope to Capture
  40. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Idiosyncratic Italians

Mauro Masi and Susanna Smit
Mauro Masi accompanied by actress Susanna Smit.

Summary: At last, Techrights takes a look at the person who represented Italy in the EPO for over 15 years

In this part we turn our attention to Italy, the last of the seven "abstentionist" states that decided to withhold their support from Benoît Battistelli‘s “Strike Regulations”.

Together with the Iberian nations Spain and Portugal, Italy was long considered one of France’s natural "Club Med" allies on the EPO‘s Administrative Council.

However during the Battistelli era Franco-Italian relations at the EPO were strained and when it came to the vote on the infamous “Strike Regulations” in June 2013, the Italian delegation abstained.

“Masi himself was not present in Munich for the vote. The acting head of delegation on that occasion was his deputy Loredana Gulino, a director of the anti-counterfeiting department of the Italian Ministry for Economic development.”As we shall see, Italy’s abstention on that occasion seems to have had more to do with tensions between Battistelli and the Italian delegation than any kind of concern for EPO staff and their fundamental rights.

Back in June 2013, the Italian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council was headed by Mauro Masi whose official title was “Delegate for Intellectual Property” at the Directorate General for Global Affairs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Masi himself was not present in Munich for the vote. The acting head of delegation on that occasion was his deputy Loredana Gulino, a director of the anti-counterfeiting department of the Italian Ministry for Economic development.

Mauro Masi and Loredana Gulino
The Italian representatives: head of delegation Mauro Masi and his deputy Loredana Gulino.

Masi has held the position of head of the Italian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council since 2006 and he continues to hold it to this day, although he is probably due to retire in the near future. However, despite being listed as the titular head of delegation in the EPO’s Official Journal, it seems that he rarely attends the meetings of the Council in person.

“Masi has held the position of head of the Italian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council since 2006 and he continues to hold it to this day, although he is probably due to retire in the near future.”As will become apparent in due course, Masi is a very busy guy at home in Italy and it would appear that EPO affairs do not rank very high on his list of priorities. He normally delegates such matters to his deputy Loredana Gulino, an official of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development who currently heads the department responsible for “Market, Competition, Consumer Protection and Technical Regulation”.

Mauro Masi (personal CV here [PDF]) was born in the Italian harbour town of Civitavecchia near Rome on 26 August 1952. After completing studies in law and economics, he began his professional career with the Italian Central Bank (known as “Bank of Italy”) in 1978.

Mauro Masi for Italian Central Bank in 1978
Masi began his career with the Italian Central Bank in 1978.

A decade later Masi entered the political arena when he joined the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Italian equivalent of the UK Prime Minister’s Office.

In the early 2000s Masi worked on a number of legislative reform projects in the areas of copyright, publishing and the sale of published products. For a number of years he was also a commissioner of the SIAE, an Italian society for the collective management of authors’ rights.

In the early stages of his political career Masi was reputed to be close to centre-left politicians of the Olive Tree coalition led by Romani Prodi. But when the prevailing winds changed in the volatile world of Italian politics with the rise of Silvio Berlusconi, Masi seemed to have little difficulty in transferring his allegiance to the Maestro of “Bunga Bunga”.

“In the early 2000s Masi worked on a number of legislative reform projects in the areas of copyright, publishing and the sale of published products.”The Italian media described Masi as the “Zelig” of Italy’s senior administrators (a reference to the “human chameleon” in the Woody Allen film of the same name).

During the 2nd and 3rd Berlusconi governments (between 2001-06) Masi held senior positions in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

In April 2009, he was appointed CEO of the Italian public broadcasting company RAI. In Italy the RAI appointment was generally perceived as a reward for his loyalty to Berlusconi.

Masi’s term at RAI was marked by a number of public controversies.

“Masi’s term at RAI was marked by a number of public controversies.”For example, in 2009 in order to encourage the early retirement of two RAI directors who had fallen out of favour, Masi came up with a plan to offer them “generous” severance agreements. The “generosity” of these agreements caught the attention of the Court of Auditors which considered that Masi had been responsible for offering “unjustified economic incentives”. The damage caused to the state budget was estimated to be of the order of € 680,000.

In 2012, Masi got off relatively lightly when he was ordered to pay € 100,000 for the fiscal damage caused by his actions. He appealed the decision of the Court of Auditors but this was upheld by the Italian Supreme Court in a judgment which was delivered almost a decade later in 2018.

As the CEO of RAI, Masi gained particular notoriety as Berlusconi’s “media enforcer”.

Silvio Berlusconi and Mauro Masi
As CEO of the state broadcaster RAI between 2009 and 2011, Mauro Masi acquired an unsavoury reputation as Silvio Berlusconi’s “media enforcer”.

In April 2009, it was reported that Vauro Senese, one of Italy’s most popular cartoonists, had been fired by RAI for a satirical anti-government cartoon which appeared on the leading current affairs programme AnnoZero.

“As the CEO of RAI, Masi gained particular notoriety as Berlusconi’s “media enforcer”.”In addition to firing Senese, Masi ordered the program’s anchorman Michele Santoro to “re-balance” his coverage of current affairs, complaining that the programme was too “left-wing” and that it was guilty of a priori bias against members of the government on “ideological grounds”.

Santoro – described by the Guardian as Italy’s equivalent of Jeremy Paxman – was a veteran journalist who had also been involved in politics. He had previously served as an MEP for Southern Italy with the centre-left electoral alliance known as the “Olive Tree”. As might be expected, Santoro was not impressed by what he perceived as an attempt by Berlusconi and his cronies to censor his journalistic work.

It was inevitable that the dispute between Santoro and Masi would escalate and by late 2010 foreign media were reporting on “fears for press independence” in Italy and “censorship late-Berlusconi-style”.

“As might be expected, Santoro was not impressed by what he perceived as an attempt by Berlusconi and his cronies to censor his journalistic work.”Santoro accused Masi of trying to sabotage the AnnoZero programme by refusing to sign contracts for his contributors and co-authors. During a live broadcast, he described Masi as incompetent and euphemistically told him to “take a walk” (“vaffanbicchiere”). Masi responded by issuing Santoro with a two-week suspension from the broadcast.

The affair turned out to be highly embarrassing for both Masi and his political padrone when the Italian media published transcripts of wiretaps which had been recorded by a public prosecutor investigating allegations of irregularities involving Berlusconi.

The wiretaps revealed Berlusconi haranguing Giancarlo Innocenzi, the head of the nominally independent broadcast regulation agency, over what he deemed to be politically hostile programming.

“What the f**k are you doing with all this?” the irate Prime Minister shouted at the commissioner, Giancarlo Innocenzi. In another call Mr Berlusconi demands that a show looking into his alleged Mafia connections be muzzled.

Mauro Masi also featured in the wiretap transcripts where he appeared to say that RAI was “doing all it can” to placate the Prime Minister. Masi told Innocenzi that he had “a strategy in operation” that would resolve the “problem of Santoro, who is a particular type of problem”.

One particularly interesting wiretapped conversation was between Masi and the shadowy figure Luigi_Bisignani, a political lobbyist and reputedly a member of the notorious P2 masonic lodge.

The main topic of discussion between Masi and Bisignani was the letter of suspension that Masi intended to deliver to AnnoZero anchorman Michele Santoro after the latter had insulted him “on air”. The plan was for the letter to be drafted by Bisignani and signed off by Masi. After the details had been agreed, Masi could hardly contain his excitement:

“We won, he’s dead, we’re going to bust his ass. I am horny as a beast”.

(Original: “Abbiamo vinto, è morto, gli stamo a spaccà il culo. Sò arrapato come una bestia”).

During his time at RAI, Masi was also implicated in a controversy involving the Bulgarian actress Michelle Bonev who described herself as a “writer, scriptwriter, actress, film director and entrepreneur”. At the time, Bonev was a virtual unknown in her own country but she managed to acquire a certain degree of fame – or perhaps more accurately, “notoriety” – in Italy as a result of her connections to Berlusconi.

“The main topic of discussion between Masi and Bisignani was the letter of suspension that Masi intended to deliver to AnnoZero anchorman Michele Santoro after the latter had insulted him “on air”.”In 2010 Berlusconi came under investigation by the Italian Court of Auditors following claims that he used as much as €400,000 in state funds to fly Bonev to the Venice film festival to receive a fabricated “Action for Women” award for her movie Goodbye Mama. On that occasion Bonev was accompanied by an “entourage” in the form of a 40 member delegation headed by the country’s culture minister, Vezhdi Rashido.

Shortly afterwards, Goodbye Mama was sold to RAI for the price of €1 million. According to the Italian media, Masi personally instructed the administrative director of RAI Cinema, Caterina D’Amico, to purchase the film.

When questioned about the matter, Masi denied any responsibility and implied that the purchase was the result of pressure from the Bulgarian government:

“I am not responsible, I simply gave a signal to RAI Cinema that there is a recommendation from the Bulgarian authorities”.

Masi left RAI in May 2011 when he moved to a new position as CEO of Consap SpA, a company responsible for managing various insurance and “social solidarity” funds under concession from the Ministry of Economic Development. In December 2020, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Consap.

“According to the Italian media, Masi personally instructed the administrative director of RAI Cinema, Caterina D’Amico, to purchase the film.”In the meantime, in addition to his duties at Consap, he managed to find enough time to pursue a parallel career path with Igea Banca SpA where he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in October 2018.

In 2019, Igea Banca SpA was involved in a merger operation with the financially compromised Banca del Fucino which suffered from a negative equity of € 1.9 billion. Under the terms of the merger, Banca del Fucino became the parent company of the new Igea Banca banking group and controlled its subsidiary Igea Digital Bank SpA which specialises in lending to SMEs and professionals.

Following the successful conclusion of the merger, Masi became Chairman of the Board of Banca del Fucino and also Chairman of Igea Digital Bank SpA.

Igea Banca and Banca del Fucino next to Masi
During his time as CEO at Consap SpA, Masi successfully managed to pursue a parallel career in banking with Igea Banca and Banca del Fucino.

There is no doubt that Mauro Masi is a colourful larger-than-life figure in comparison to most of his peers on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

“There is no doubt that Mauro Masi is a colourful larger-than-life figure in comparison to most of his peers on the EPO’s Administrative Council.”He also appears to have the good fortune to be one of the most highly remunerated members of the Administrative Council.

For example, back in 2010 his annual salary as CEO of RAI was a mouth-watering € 715,000.

In 2012, his annual salary as director of Consap SpA was reported to be € 473,768. That seems to be somewhat lower than what he was getting at RAI, but appears to be a “basic salary” figure which excludes any bonuses that he might be entitled to. In any case, having regard to his parallel activities at Igea Banca and Banca del Fucino, his salary from Consap is unlikely to be his only source of income.

Masi’s track record back home in Italy gives the impression that he was a faithful servant of the powers-that-be. In particular, during his time at RAI he showed himself to be an obedient lapdog of his political master Berlusconi.

“Masi’s track record back home in Italy gives the impression that he was a faithful servant of the powers-that-be.”Based on that track record, one might be inclined to think that Masi would have been an enthusiastic ally of the EPO alpha-male Battistelli and that he would have relished the opportunity to assist the Corsican tyrant’s efforts to “bust ass” at the EPO.

However, that turns not to have been the case. As a matter of fact, relations between Masi and the French EPO President were “strained”, to put it diplomatically. This resulted in a situation where the Italian delegation frequently adopted a critical stance on measures proposed by Team Battistelli.

This rupture in the traditional Franco-Italian alliance can be traced back to the manner in which Battistelli is reputed to have duped the Italians into supporting his bid to become EPO President in 2009/2010.

According to EPO insiders, the Italians were cajoled into supporting the Corsican pretender on the basis of a promise that when the spoils were to be divided out afterwards they would be rewarded with one of the soon-to-be-vacant Vice-President posts.

“According to EPO insiders, the Italians were cajoled into supporting the Corsican pretender on the basis of a promise that when the spoils were to be divided out afterwards they would be rewarded with one of the soon-to-be-vacant Vice-President posts.”But when the time came to deliver in 2012, Battistelli reneged on his promise and forced the Council to accept his Croatian nominee Željko Topić rather than the Italian candidate.

The Italians never forgot this “betrayal”. It is worth noting that subsequently, in 2017, Italy was the only EPO member state to nominate a rival candidate to Battistelli’s anointed successor António Campinos.

And so it came to pass that when the Administrative Council voted on the infamous “Strike Regulations” in June 2013, the Italian delegation withheld its support and expressed a well-founded concern that the measures proposed by Battistelli would lead to “a limitation of the right of staff to strike”.

The statement of the Italian position, recorded under point no. 119 of the minutes of the 136th meeting [PDF] of the Administrative Council, reads as follows:

The Italian delegation welcomed a clear legal framework, which was important to promote sound social dialogue. But it feared that some proposals might lead to a limitation of the right of staff to strike. It encouraged to review some parts of the draft.

Notwithstanding his personal antipathy towards the perfidious Battistelli, Masi – in common with most of the other “abstentionists” on the EPO’s Administrative Council – was extremely cautious about criticising the EPO President in public.

“Masi – in common with most of the other “abstentionists” on the EPO’s Administrative Council – was extremely cautious about criticising the EPO President in public.”In May 2016, when the Italian state broadcaster RAI produced a report on “La guerra dei brevetti” (“The war of patents” [PDF]), Masi was asked to comment on Battistelli’s controversial “methods” at the EPO.

Mauro Masi has been a member of the EPO’s Administrative Council since 2006.

What does he think of the President Battistelli’s methods?

MAURO MASI – ITALIAN REPRESENTATIVE, EPO ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL

Battistelli acts properly, he respects all the formal rules of the EPO. The issue is whether those rules are still valid or whether they should be changed. In my opinion they should be changed.

Battistelli and Masi
Despite his personal antipathy towards Battistelli, Masi appeared to rally to the defence of the controversial EPO President in 2016: “Battistelli acts properly, he respects all the formal rules of the EPO.”

Masi’s response on that occasion is revealing because he declined to take issue with Battistelli’s “methods” as such. As far as he was concerned, Battistelli respected “all of the formal rules of the EPC”.

According to Masi, the problem was not with Battistelli but with the rules which “should be changed”. But he didn’t go into specifics, so it’s impossible to know what rules he considered to be in need of change.

Moreover, changing the rules is a matter for the Administrative Council or, in the case of the EPC itself, a diplomatic conference of the contracting states. Masi’s superficial and evasive response to the RAI journalist appears to have overlooked – perhaps deliberately? – the role of the Council in this regard and its responsibilities as the organisation’s governing body.

One wonders whether Masi’s views have changed in the meantime.

“…changing the rules is a matter for the Administrative Council or, in the case of the EPC itself, a diplomatic conference of the contracting states.”In particular, it would be interesting to hear what lessons – if any – he has managed to draw from the ILOAT judgments that overturned Battistelli's Vichyite "Strike Regulations".

Unfortunately, despite the fact that he still remains in position as head of the Italian delegation, Mauro Masi has so far remained eloquently silent on these matters.

Given that his 70th birthday is approaching – in August 2022 – it’s quite likely that Masi will have sailed off into the sunset of a gold-plated retirement with his partner, the RAI presenter Ingrid Muccitelli, before we get a chance to hear his opinion on what needs to be done to tackle the long-standing and still unresolved governance crisis at the EPO.

Ingrid Muccitelli and Mauro Masi
Mauro Masi will probably have sailed off into the sunset of a gold-plated retirement with his partner Ingrid Muccitelli before we get a chance to hear his opinion on how to tackle the EPO’s governance crisis.

With that we have finally arrived at the end of our in-depth survey of the national delegations on the EPO’s Administrative Council and how they acted when Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” were put to the vote at the 136th meeting in June 2013.

As has already been noted in an earlier part of the series, the official record shows that delegates from 28 states – including six out of seven of the EPO's founding states – allowed themselves to be mesmerised by the “spin” of Team Battistelli and proceeded to give their unreserved endorsement to this liberticidal proposal.

Seven other states had reservations and withheld their approval by “abstaining”.

“We will also see how neither the Administrative Council nor Battistelli’s successor Campinos have bothered to take any action to address these unresolved issues.”However, among the 38 member states of the organisation, not a single delegation could be found with sufficient moral courage and integrity to vote against this "extremely dubious" proposal.

In the final two parts of the series, we plan to take a closer look at how this affair has highlighted the serious governance deficits at the EPO which were ruthlessly exploited by Battistelli during his time as Office President.

We will also see how neither the Administrative Council nor Battistelli’s successor Campinos have bothered to take any action to address these unresolved issues.

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