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11.23.14

Vesna Stilin’s Remarks on Željko Topić: Part XI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: Vesna Stilin speaks about her confrontation with EPO Vice-President Željko Topić, who has criminal lawsuits against him in Croatia

THE Croatian link in the EPO is causing some serious problems for the EPO, based on E-mails that we have received and will say more about in the future. The corporate media has joined the campaign to reform the EPO (potentially by letting heads roll) and people who are the victims of Željko Topić, the man faces criminal charges in Croatia, also speak out. This is important because he is the EPO Vice-President and simultaneously he is in the midst of very serious abuses that can potentially land him in prison.

Writing to IP Watch under the heading “Right of Reply”, Vesna Stilin, a famous victim of Topić, published the following item. To quote IP Watch and to give Stilin a voice that she deserves:

I refer to the article “EPO Internal Strife Spills Over Into European Parliament, Human Rights Court”, published by Intellectual Property Watch on 15 May 2014 (IPW, European Policy, 15 May 2014) and hereby request to exercise my right of reply by way of publication of the following statement:

Although the article is to be commended for giving a useful overview of the controversy surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as Vice-President of the EPO, several of the statements attributed to Mr. Batistelli and to Mr. Topić contain factually incorrect and/or misleading information. Moreover, in at least some cases it appears to me that these statements are damaging to my reputation and good name.

The claim attributed to Mr. Batistelli and Mr. Topić in the published article to the effect that the allegations which I have raised about Mr. Topić amount to a “smear campaign” is incorrect. My efforts in this regard represent a legitimate attempt to obtain legal redress, inter alia by means of judicial review, with respect to matters concerning my statutory rights as a citizen and as a former employee of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). The legal actions which I have initiated in this regard have been widely reported on in the Croatian media in recent years and as far as can be determined, Mr. Topić has not made any request for a correction of the aforementioned Croatian media reports which he would clearly have been entitled to do under Croatian law if the allegations contained in these reports amounted to nothing more than a baseless and unfounded “smear campaign”.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which “Vesna Stilin was dismissed by the government of Croatia, not by me, from her position as my assistant at SIPO” is formally correct in so far as the power of appointment and dismissal of Assistant Directors of the SIPO lied with the Croatian Government. However, the statement is grossly misleading insofar as it obscures the key role which Mr. Topić played in the process of my dismissal from the SIPO. The fact of the matter is that the Government took its decision to dismiss me from my position based on Mr. Topić’s recommendation as set forth in two letters which he wrote to the former Croatian Prime Minister, Mr. Ivo Sanader: one of which was placed on the official record (abolishing Copyright and Related Rights Department, without any explanation, with less employees which has been contrary to the recommendation made by independent EU experts in field of Copyright and Related Rights and contrary of Topic’s statement in CARDS program No. 96022 and No. 60343 ) and a further version which was treated as “strictly confidential” with the evident aim of preventing disclosure of its contents to me (contrary to the Law on Access to Information) and which led to me filing a lawsuit for criminal defamation against Mr. Topić.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić concerning my unsuccessful candidacy for the position of Director-General of the SIPO and his comments concerning the legal proceedings which I subsequently initiated in relation to this matter, including the remarks referring to “absurd complaints” with the ECtHR, amount to an unacceptable misrepresentation and trivialization of the facts of the matter which may be summarized as follows:

I applied for the position of Director-General of the SIPO in 2008. My application was submitted after Mr. Topić had unilaterally, contrary to the legal procedure, abolished the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department and thus my post as Assistant Director in charge of that Department. If Mr. Topić had not engineered the abolition of my previous post – which was used to justify my dismissal from the SIPO – I would have had no reason to apply for the position of Director-General.

In the decision Us-4201/2008-6 from September 24th 2008, the Administrative Court rejected my complaint against Mr. Topić’s re-appointment as Director General stating inter alia that I could not apply for the position because there had been no public vacancy notice. In subsequent proceedings concerning the same matter before the Constitutional Court, I submitted evidence that the lack of a public vacancy notice, in concrete situation was contrary to the applicable statutory requirements and the practice followed by the previous Government.

In the same complaint filed with the Administrative Court (Us-4201/08 from April 21th 2008), I pointed out inter alia that, at the time of Mr. Topić’s re-appointment, the Government had not been properly informed about certain actions on the part of Mr. Topić which prima facie appeared to constitute criminal acts under Croatian law, including a covert agreement with the former Minister of Science (in charge of inspection under SIPO, who suggests appointment/dismissal of Director General of SIPO to the Government), for whose benefit Mr. Topić had apparently arranged provision of an Audi 6 vehicle at the expense of the SIPO.

Following the various allegations which I raised in this regard, the Government demanded an official inspection of the SIPO in January 2009. However, this official inspection was never carried out as has since been confirmed in writing by the competent Ministry of Economy and Enterprise to which supervisory responsibility for the SIPO had been transferred. In an official Memorandum of February 3th 2012 which was signed by Mr. Topić himself, the nonexistence of the inspection of SIPO since 2008 was confirmed. In the absence of a proper independent official inspection into these matters by the competent Government Ministry, the assertion attributed to Mr. Topić according to which the allegations which I raised “have been rejected after examination as entirely unfounded” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Following the dismissal of my complaint by the Croatian Constitutional Court, which is the final domestic instance, I proceeded to submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (filed August 20th 2011) in accordance with my statutory entitlement as a citizen of a signatory state to the European Convention on Human Rights. This action is still pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

The article also contains a statement attributed to the EPO President Mr. Battistelli according to which neither the AC nor Battistelli knew of the allegations against Topić at the time of his appointment “but since the charges have been made public they have all been cleared” and a further statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which “There are no civil proceedings or criminal charges against Topić in Croatia, and he has provided a required certificate showing no criminal record”. These statements are misleading because prior to Mr. Topic’s appointment to the EPO a second criminal lawsuit against Mr. Topic was pending in Zagreb. The evidence relating to this fact was communicated to the President of the EPO and the Administrative Council by the end of 2013 (Minutes of proceedings before the Criminal Court of Zagreb, May 4th 2010, No. K 163/09). This second criminal lawsuit against Mr. Topic was mentioned in two judicial decisions before the Criminal Court of Zagreb (May 31th 2010 No.K-163/09 and May 23th 2011 No.K-238/10) concerning the “defamation” version of my dismissal. Furthermore I also communicated the evidence of further criminal charges against Mr. Topić filed with the Croatian Public Prosecutor (January 9th 2013) to the President of the EPO and the Administrative Council. Under Croatian law, a criminal record is not registered until after a final court judgment has been made. As the aforementioned cases against Mr. Topić are still pending and have not yet reached that stage, this is the reason why he was in a position to provide the EPO with a certificate showing no criminal record.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which a private lawsuit which I initiated against him for alleged slander was dismissed with an order that I should pay all costs and legal fees is incorrect because suggests the issues underlying this lawsuit have been finally resolved before the Croatian courts which is not the case. The fact of the matter is that although the lawsuit in question was dismissed by the Appeal Court after being two times remitted back to the first instance from the Appeal Court, the decision of the Appeal Court forms the subject of a pending complaint which I submitted to the Croatian Constitutional Court on April 14th 2014. I have also lodged an appeal concerning the matter of costs which is likewise pending. Finally, there is a pending criminal complaint in which I challenged the veracity of the testimony provided by a witness who gave evidence in Mr. Topić’s favour and on which the impugned judgment relied. From these facts it should be evident that legal proceedings in relation to the above lawsuit are still ongoing before the Croatian courts and have not yet been resolved in a final manner contrary to what is implied by the above-mentioned statement of Mr. Topić.

I would be grateful if you could arrange for my response to be published in a suitable format and linked to the original article.

Stilin’s letter is framed as a rebuttal, but it actually serves to reinforce some of the other things published in the original article. Stilin preceded her article with the following words: “this letter is published under the legal right of reply of an individual referenced in a previous article published in Intellectual Property Watch. It is published upon her request.”

Being a statement from Stilin herself, we deem it quite an accurate representation of the Željko Topić affair. In the coming weeks we are going to publish more material highlighting what happened in SIPO and the role played by Željko Topić.

11.16.14

Special Report: Many Criminal Charges Against EPO Vice-President Željko Topić

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The abuses of Željko Topić, who has gained notoriety in his home country, are rapidly becoming public knowledge across all of Europe

THE trend changes for the better as blind support for the EPO is ending. People now realise just how rotten the EPO has become and there are various actions being taken by the public and even EPO staff (more on that in the coming weeks). Quite importantly, evidence is now coming to light so as to bolster the stories we have broken over the past few months.

The latest Croatian press article on this topic (of Topić), published by tjedno.hr on the 18th of October 2014, says quite a mouthful. Our sources have been working on getting an English translation which we now have. The photo in the article shows Topić on his way to attend a recent hearing at the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb and the last paragraph contains a mention of “articles published on Internet portals across Europe during the last month,” which our sources understand to be a reference to the recent series of publications by Techrights.

For readers’ information we finally have an English translation of this most recent article from tjedno.hr [PDF]. Here it is in full, as plain text with rudimentary formatting:

ŽELJKO TOPIĆ AND HIS LIES IN MUNICH

Date: 18 October 2014

Six criminal lawsuits are pending in Croatia against the EPO Vice-President

Text: Portal Tjedno Research Team
Photography: Markus Wolf

According to publicly available information, “Master” Željko Topić, was appointed as Vice-President in charge of the EPO’s General Administration Department on 28 March 2012 with the vigorous support of the EPO President, Benoît Battistelli. At the time of his appointment, it is claimed that neither the EPO’s Administrative Council nor its President Battistelli were informed about certain interesting facts which have emerged in relation to Mr. Topić.

Nevertheless, according to an official statement by the EPO President, after the charges had become publicly known they were all clarified. Judging by the published photograph of Željko Topić accompanied by his lawyer from the Zagreb law firm Gajski – Prka – Saucha & Partners Ltd. which was taken in front of the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb on the morning of 29 September 2014, it would appear that things are not quite so clear.

A COURT APPEARANCE IN ZAGREB

In one of his recent public statements, published in May 2014 by a Geneva-based Internet portal specializing in intellectual property matters (www.ip-watch.org), “Master” Topić officially declared that there were no legal proceedings or criminal charges pending against him in Croatia. At the same time he claimed that he had presented the EPO with the required certificate of good conduct confirming there are no criminal convictions against him. Mr. Topić’s statements are, however, misleading for his employer. From the foregoing, it can be concluded that for whatever reason Željko Topić has grossly deceived his European employer in Munich by knowingly giving false information designed to obscure the truth.

We do not know how Željko Topić justified his absence from his workplace at the EPO in Munich on the day when he was caught by the photographic lens in Zagreb. We can only speculate as to whether he decided to take annual leave, sick leave or whether he may even have misled his employer perhaps by deliberately submitting a duty travel request for an official business trip to a meeting in Zagreb financed by EPO, knowing full well that his attendance was required at the Municipal Criminal Court. Judging by his publicly expressed claims that he is not subject to any criminal proceedings in Croatia, it is difficult to avoid the impression that he may have been economical with the truth concerning the real reasons for spending time in Zagreb on the Monday in question. Or, perhaps, he relied on the concept and plot of the movie “When Father Was Away on Business” by the famous director Emir Kusturica.

AT LEAST SIX CRIMINAL OFFENCES

For the time being we have no idea what the Municipal State Attorney General in Zagreb, Željka Pokupec, thinks about all this as she has been busy dealing with another matter falling under her jurisdiction, namely bringing a final indictment for the illegal procurement of a VW Touareg V6 against the person directly responsible for the supervision of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), Mr. Dragan Primorac, one of Ministers in the then Government of Mr. Sanader. In connection with criminal charges filed with Office of the State Attorney, a reasonable suspicion was expressed in the criminal complaint to the Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) in Zagreb that Željko Topić may have bribed the former Minister Primorac with an Audi A6 vehicle in order to secure the renewal of his mandate as Director of the SIPO. In the course of this state-funded “re-parking” of official cars, Željko Topić “re-parked” a Mercedes for his own personal use as has been previously reported on by many media. The aforementioned and third pending criminal charge against Topić in the Mercedes case, has been gathering dust for several years on the desk of Željka Pokupec’s deputy, Sunčica Blažević.

The fourth known criminal charge against “Master” Topic which has been filed with the District Attorney’s Office in Zagreb has proceeded from the stage of “pickling” into the “fermentation” phase and is currently in the hands of Sineva Vukušić. The criminal charges filed with the District Attorney’s Office in Zagreb relate to the matter of allegedly unlawful changes to the structure of the state administration in the field of Copyright and Related Rights. Under the Criminal Code of the Republic of Croatia, the charges against Željko Topić in this particular case carry a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison.

According to the latest information from the state administration of the Republic of Croatia, a preliminary investigation has been conducted into another potentially very serious criminal case dating from 2005 which concerns the “disappearance” of a significant amount of financial assets and which involves a feasibility study from a Swedish* foundation relating to the strengthening of institutions entitled “A Feasibility Study for Restructuring the SIPO as a Self-Financing Organization”. We have learnt unofficially that this appears to have been an attempt at project financing for the private advantage of the former SIPO Director with the ultimate aim of separating this institution from the Treasury of the State Administration and attaching it directly to the financial “udder” provided by the WIPO and EPO. All those who have seen the document referring to the planned privatization of the SIPO under the direction of Željko Topić have noted its similarity to the HDS-ZAMP scheme of President Ivo Josipović. This document is currently being withheld by four Ministries of the Republic of Croatia which are said to be ignoring written requests for its release [under the Freedom of Information Act].

[* Translator’s Note: The reference to a “Swedish foundation” seems to be incorrect because reliable sources have indicated that the document referred to is in fact a feasibility study carried out by the Danish Patent and Trademark Office in the context of an EU twinning project.]

Thus, along with two further criminal charges against Topić by private plaintiffs, there are at least six criminal proceedings pending against him in Croatia as our portal has already reported. However, according to other sources, the number of criminal charges which have been filed against “Master” Topić may in fact be significantly higher.

THE OUTCRY AT THE EPO IS GETTING LOUDER

As we learned from our sources in Munich, Topić’s suitability for the office of Vice-President is “a fairly contentious issue” within the EPO. Taking into account various outstanding allegations and apparently uncontested newspaper reports, the general opinion of EPO staff is that there are many unanswered questions about Topic’s appointment. As we learned unofficially, EPO employees are also extremely frustrated about the situation because they feel that there is no adequate official response and they believe that “some kind of independent investigation” is required.

The EPO’s Administrative Council has remained completely silent until now and has taken no official position with regard to Topić’s case, which is very strange because it carries direct responsibility for the appointment and it is also the sole official EPO body which is competent to carry out investigations and disciplinary proceedings against the President and Vice-Presidents.

In addition, the relationship between staff and senior management of the European Patent Office (EPO) which has already been badly strained due to conflict with the President Benoît Battstelli, has been further complicated by the continuing presence of Vice-President Topić in Munich. In the meantime the controversy about Topić’s suitability for his current position has also reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg and the Croatian NGO Juris Protecta (Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law) has filed a petition with the European Parliament in Brussels.

Furthermore, it has emerged that when his first term of office as SIPO Director was due to expire in 2008, Topić had allegedly been involved in a number of unlawful actions leading to the expectation that his mandate would not be renewed.

Professional experts close to the case claim that Željko Topić should not have been reappointed because of previously observed “irregularities” in his management of the SIPO. However, the relevant information appears to have been suppressed and was not properly taken into account, because if it had been, it would have resulted in him being deemed ineligible for public office in the Republic of Croatia and beyond. Allegedly unlawful actions during his two terms of office as Director of the SIPO in Zagreb have never been fully and transparently investigated, and the Croatian Government appears not to have been duly informed in accordance with the statutory requirements. His penultimate term of office at the SIPO was renewed by the former “anti-corruption” Prime Minister of Croatia, Ms. Jadranka Kosor, despite the fact that before signing the decision of her Government to re-appoint “Master” Topić she had been warned about his allegedly corrupt practices.

Moreover, during the term of office of the convicted former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Jadranka Kosor had served as the Minister in charge of the government department responsible for supervising the SIPO and its former Director, Željko Topić.

WAS MINISTER JOVANOVIĆ SACKED BECAUSE OF TOPIĆ?

Using the same corrupt templates as Sanader’s government, the final disputed re-appointment of “Master” Topić as Director of the SIPO was approved by the Government of Zoran Milanović [in 2012] on the recommendation of the then competent Minister, Željko Jovanović. Moreover, the official procedure relating to his final re-appointment as Director of the SIPO was tainted by a series of deliberate legal deficiencies and unlawful acts and a lack of proper institutional supervision. Based on the limited information available from government circles, there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the “Topić Affair” may have been one of the factors which contributed to the recent dismissal of the outspoken Minister Željko Jovanović. It can be concluded from the above that the HDZ and SDP have been playing the same long-standing personnel game in the civil service using the same deck of previously “marked” cards.

Whether by coincidence or not, the chef de cabinet of the Croatian Prime Minister – Tomislav Saucha – is the husband of one of the attorneys from the law firm of Gajski – Prka – Saucha and Partners Ltd. which represents Željko Topić in the pending criminal lawsuits in which he is involved. In addition to this detail, it is worth noting that an official of the Croatian Government – Mr. Milan Sentić, adviser to the Prime Minister for Co-operation with the Public – comes under the direct remit of Tomislav Saucha. Mr. Sentić would hardly have merited any attention here if it hadn’t been recently discovered that, instead of having been duly forwarded to the Prime Minister Milanović, citizens’ complaints concerning the case of Željko Topić have remained buried somewhere in the filing cabinet of this government advisor. It seems that the only person competent to determine whether or not the petitions against “Master” Željko Topić were hidden by Mr. Sentić on the orders of Tomislav Saucha (perhaps in response to verbal instructions coming from his wife – a lawyer on the team of legal “avengers” which represents the Munich-based “Master”) is the Prime Minister Zoran Milanović himself.

To conclude, the actions of Željko Topić referred to above appear to fulfil the definition of criminal acts under Croatian law. Who – and for what motive – has been successfully preventing his prosecution in Croatia for many years now? Answers to these serious and unresolved questions will hopefully be provided in the near future by some of the high-level EU institutions as has been suggested by numerous articles published on Internet portals across Europe during the last month.

Shortly after the above article we were contacted by Zagreb-based (Croatia) people who are familiar with this saga and sent us further information and some photos. These people were mentioned here before in a somewhat different context but a similar subject and they claim to be “an independent association called “No Corruption” [that] perform[s] monitoring of Croatian journalism.” These are real people with real names and they have shared their information with selected European groups, the European Commission, and journalism watchdogs. “Tracing your posts on the website techrights.org,” they said, “we are submitting you the following link [as above] from the Croatian Internet portal that talks about the same topic. However, what is more interesting than the text itself is the cover photo. On it, there is the incriminated person from your texts along with his lawyer who is from Zagreb. Why is this photo interesting? Let’s analyze this in the following order…

“Last year (2013) in June, the journalist Zeljko Peratovic published an article in English about Zeljko Topic entitled “A wrong man sitting at the EPO?” But the article has disappeared in March/April 2014 from the 45lines.com Web site.”

The reason, according to “No Corruption”, is that “Journalist Zeljko Peratović and corrupted Željko Topić was represented by attorney Mr. Janjko Grlic.

“There is a serious doubt that Mr. Željko Topić by the means of his lawyer Mr. Janjko Grlic had influence on his other client, journalist Zeljko Peratovic to delete (remove) the previously published article from the portal he is editing. There also remains a doubt with a very clear closed circle of indications that for the job of removing the article from the portal he received money, or a service of some kind in the form of past or future legal services by Mr. Janjko Grlic which were paid for by Mr. Zeljko Topic. The above-described actions can be considered corruptive, meaning it is a criminal offense.

“Given that this mentioned member of the Croatian Journalists’ Association is also a member of other international journalists’ associations, we are sending this letter to them as well because we believe that he should be dismissed from the ranks of professional journalists. At the same time we will ask for the whole of the EU and worldwide journalistic profession to be informed about this. It is interesting that Mr. Zeljko Peratovic in his work as a journalist presents himself as a great fighter for human rights and as an anti-corruption activist!?

“To conclude, the actions of Željko Topić referred to above appear to fulfil the definition of criminal acts under Croatian law.”“In addition, it is suspected that journalist Zeljko Peratovic by the means of the same lawyer for the purposes of corrupt Mr. Željko Topić “briefed”, meaning gave professional advice, on how to sue his colleague Mrs. Slavica Lukic at the Croatian Journalists’ Association Court. She is a journalist (“Jutarnji list”) who wrote very critically about Mr. Željko Topić’s criminal activity. The lawsuit was dismissed. It was observed also that on two occasions that journalist Zeljko Peratovic on his portal www.45lines.com, in a twisted and questionable manner, criticizes journalist Mrs Slavica Lukic. This negative writing by the mentioned journalist about Mrs. Slavica Lukic has a political background, and is the act of shallow and see-through retaliation against her husband, Mr. Milorad Pupovac.

“Finally, we wish to inform you about the perfidious way in which Mr. Željko Topić corrupts parts of the Croatian Justice (Commercial and High Commercial Court in Zagreb) where there are trials of high financial value within the scope of the rights of commercial property. We are enclosing photos with the names of judges. The photos were shot during the last year’s conference in EPO in Munchen. The invitation to the conference was sent by Mr. Željko Topić by means of EPO. The names of judges from the photos are associated with several lawyers and make up a sophisticated network of corruption in Croatia.

“Based on this, we believe that any further comment is superfluous.”

All the photographs are presented below for readers’ assessment.

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

How the EPO’s Executive Branch (Battistelli and Topić) Banned Scrutiny and Created Authoritarian Model of Control: Part X

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: A look at highly dubious moves by EPO President Battistelli and his right-hand man Topić, whose abuses are becoming hard to oversee or even report

EARLIER this month we asked European readers lodge complaints about EPO management that continues a long tradition of abuse. Some new sources have since come forward and provided us with more information about corruption, so this series will go on and on, lasting until next year. We welcome more whistle-blowers and informed sources to come forward if they know something that we have not yet covered and we, in return, promise anonymity.

Staff that has been involved in rogue practices would obviously like to prevent colleagues (and the public) from finding out about it. Today we would like to present Topić’s letter regarding data protection [PDF] and the accompanying body of text [PDF], signed by Benoît Battistelli, who himself has a lot to hide (for reasons we covered beforein numerous parts). An annotated document [PDF] is added, with highlighted text that reveals how Topić and Battistelli worked to prevent investigation of the EPO, essentially banning people from speaking to the press, conducting an audit, investigation, etc. Clearly, the Data Protection Guidelines at the EPO are of interest if one wishes to understand the lack of scrutiny and the lack of communication with the press. The corporate media largely abstained from covering very serious issues that are known but nobody really wishes to talk about. The EPO is corrupt. It’s a secretive institute, by design. Staff are actively discouraged from informing the public. Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all a little bit of legal background.

Under Article 33(2)(b) EPC, the legislative competence to amend the EPO Service Regulations (i.e. the set of rules governing conditions of employment etc.) lies with the Administrative Council (AC). To quote The European Patent Convention: “The Administrative Council shall be competent, in conformity with this Convention, to adopt or amend: [...] (b)the Service Regulations for permanent employees and the conditions of employment of other employees of the European Patent Office, the salary scales of the said permanent and other employees, and also the nature of any supplementary benefits and the rules for granting them”

In plain English, this means that any changes to the Service Regulations are supposed to be subject to the oversight and scrutiny of the AC.

What Battistelli has done during his presidency is an introduction of certain wide-ranging internal measures by means of “Circulars” which are basically unilaterally-enacted Presidential decrees that have never been subject to any scrutiny or oversight by the AC. Not surprisingly, Battistelli is again imposing an authoritarian code of conduct inside the EPO.

One of these measures was Circular No. 342, the so-called “Investigation Guidelines” which effectively give the EPO President dictatorial powers to unilaterally initiate so-called “investigative processes”. He can even initiate “investigative processes” against senior EPO employees who have been appointed by the AC under Article 11 EPC.

Refer to the European Patent Convention which covers this in more details. In such cases he doesn’t even have to inform the individual concerned or the appointing authority (i.e. the AC) that an investigation has been initiated.

Circular 342 was never presented to the AC for approval. It was unilaterally enacted by Battistelli. This is again the hallmark of authoritarian reign. Of course this action on his part is completely illegal or “ultra vires” to use the appropriate legal jargon. The fact of the matter is that the AC no longer exercises any effective oversight over the President.

Whether this is due to stupidity or corruption, or maybe a combination of both, is an open question which we will not attempt to answer. Furthermore, challenges to these measures by EPO staff have to go to the ILOAT in Geneva which is completely clogged up. The current time required to process a case at the ILOAT has been estimated as 12-15 years. So staff can complain all they like about what Battistelli does but there is no longer any effective legal redress available to challenge unlawful acts by the EPO President.

The system of legal redress has become completely dysfunctional.

This state of affairs has led to some national courts starting to call the EPO’s jurisdictional immunity into question.

New DPGs at the EPO

Now let’s get back to the DPGs.

The most recent amendment of the EPO DPGs was announced by Mr. Topić on 2 April 2014 (see the PDF above). By a curious twist of irony, these Guidelines entered into force on 1 April 2014.

Although the EPO DGs pay lip-service to EU Data Protection Regulations, they are in fact much weaker. Under the EPO DPGs, all power is ultimately concentrated in the hands of the President.

For example look at Article 8, “Transmission to recipients outside the European Patent Organisation”. According to Article 8(4): “In cases of doubt, the President decides on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the relevant country or international organisation.”

According to the DPGs there is a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who enjoys “independence”. But this “independence is only nominal, i.e. it only exists on paper, because the DPO is a normal member of EPO staff appointed by the President and thus de facto under the control of the President.

There is no independent supervisory entity such as the European Data Protection Supervisor which exists under the EU Data Protection framework.

But there is an even more sinister aspect to the new DPGs which doesn’t get any mention in Topić’s announcement.

The new DPGs include a number of clauses which state that they do not apply in the case of “investigative processes”.

What this means in practice is the following:

  1. The President can at any time – unilaterally and subject to no oversight whatsoever – launch an “investigative process”.
  2. The practical effect of this is to override the DPGs.

In other words, the DPGs are subordinate to the “Investigation Guidelines”.

We think that this doesn’t require further comment or explanation on our part.

Credit: anonymous source.

11.01.14

How to Complain About the EPO to National Delegations in Europe: Part IX

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: Contact details for national delegations to whom complaints can and should be made regarding irregularities and bad behaviour at the European Patent Office (EPO)

DAYS ago we covered some of the latest abuses at the EPO, which is no stranger to scandals. The EPO is hardly accountable, it eliminated oversight, and it is wasting billions of euros of taxpayers’ money all across Europe in order to protect corporations (at taxpayers’ expense) using patents, including patents of rogue, wide scope, potentially software patents and monopolies on genetics/life too.

To reduce oversight even further the EPO has made it harder to lodge complaints from the public. “There used to be e-mail addresses for the national delegations on the AC website,” tells us a source, “but Battistelli disabled these last year due to alleged “abuse” (i.e. he basically wanted to prevent members of the public from directly contacting their delegations).”

Thanks to some digging, today we can provide a list of E-mail addresses for the heads of delegation, for those among our readers who are interested in lodging a complaint electronically. We are also trying to compile a list of the competent Ministries, but this is hard to keep up to date as it is subjected to changes whenever there is an election. We will give some addresses at the bottom. These hardly change over time.

In case our regular readers or anybody else might be interested in complaining, here is a list of E-mail addresses for EPO Administrative Council members and their deputies (from the national IPOs). We also include a list with information about the Ministries that supervise the national IPOs. This listing is not complete, but it has details of the Ministries for about 18 of the more significant EPO member states (total member states around 38 at the last count). This information is in the public domain so we are free to distribute it.

There used to be email addresses for the AC delegations provided on the official EPO website but Battistelli had these removed allegedly due to “abuse”. Let’s not Battistelli to get away with even more of his abuses. According to our sources of information, people had been using these addresses to send in submissions about the controversial if not corrupt Topić, so it could be that Battistelli wanted to put a stop to that.


LIST OF EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL DELEGATES (& DEPUTIES) FROM NATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICES OF EPO CONTRACTING STATES

STATUS: 14 September 2014

Official website of the EPO’s Administrative Council:

http://www.epo.org/about-us/organisation/administrative-council/representatives.html

See also: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp

ALBANIA: elvin.lako@dppm.gov.al

elvanda.mece@dppm.gov.al

mailinf@dppm.gov.al

AUSTRIA: friedrich.roedler@patentamt.at

andrea.scheichl@patentamt.at

info@patentamt.at

BELGIUM: jerome.debrulle@economie.fgov.be

geoffrey.bailleux@mineco.fgov.be

BULGARIA: vbabaleva@bpo.bg

tnaydenova@bpo.bg

bpo@bpo.bg

CROATIA: ljiljana.kuterovac@dziv.hr

CYPRUS: skokkinos@drcor.mcit.gov.cy

eeleftheriou@drcor.mcit.gov.cy

CZECH REPUBLIC: jkratochvil@upv.cz

skopecka@upv.cz

posta@upv.cz

DENMARK: jko@dkpto.dk

arj@dkpto.dk

mlr@dkpto.dk

knj@dkpto.dk

pbp@dkpto.dk

pvs@dkpto.dk

ESTONIA: Matti.Paets@epa.ee

Margus.Viher@epa.ee

FINLAND: rauni.hagman@prh.fi

jorma.hanski@prh.fi

FRANCE: ylapierre@inpi.fr

fclaireau@inpi.fr

contact@inpi.fr

GERMANY: ernst-ch@bmj.bund.de

info@dpma.de

GREECE: ssta@obi.gr

kmar@obi.gr

info@obi.gr

HUNGARY: miklos.bendzsel@hipo.gov.hu

mihaly.ficsor@hipo.gov.hu

elnokseg@hipo.gov.hu

ICELAND: borghildur@els.is

elfa@els.is

IRELAND: gerard.barrett@patentsoffice.ie

ITALY: mauro.masi@consap.it

loredana.gulino@mise.gov.it

LATVIA: guntis.ramans@lrpv.gov.lv

sandris.laganovskis@lrpv.gov.lv

valde@lrpv.lv

LIECHTENSTEIN: Sabine.Monauni@llv.li

Esther.Schindler@llv.li

ute.hammermann@avw.llv.li

info@avw.llv.li

LITHUANIA: rimvydas.naujokas@vpb.gov.lt

zilvinas.danys@vpb.gov.lt

LUXEMBOURG: lex.kaufhold@eco.etat.lu

claude.sahl@eco.etat.lu

MACEDONIA: safet.emruli@ippo.gov.mk

irenaj@ippo.gov.mk

MALTA: godwin.warr@gov.mt

michelle.bonello@gov.mt

MONACO: ekheng@gouv.mc

expansion@gouv.mc

mcpi@gouv.mc

NETHERLANDS: derk-jan.degroot@agentschapnl.nl

p.h.m.vanbeukering@minez.nl

NORWAY: pfo@patentstyret.no

jsa@patentstyret.no

POLAND: aadamczak@uprp.pl

ematysiak@uprp.pl

glachowicz@uprp.pl

PORTUGAL: leonor.trindade@inpi.pt

marco.dinis@inpi.pt

ROMANIA: ionel.muscalu@osim.ro

alexandru.strenc@osim.ro

office@osim.ro

SAN MARINO: silvia.rossi.ubm@pa.sm

b.cinquantini@ngpatent.it

SERBIA: btotic@zis.gov.rs

bbilenkati@zis.gov.rs

zis@zis.gov.rs

SLOVAKIA: lubos.knoth@indprop.gov.sk

lukrecia.marcokova@indprop.gov.sk

urad@indprop.gov.sk

SLOVENIA: Vesna.StankovicJuricic@uil-sipo.si

Ales.orazem@uil-sipo.si

h.zalaznik@uil-sipo.si

sipo@uil-sipo.si

SPAIN: patricia.garcia-escudero@oepm.es

pedro.cartagena@oepm.es

SWEDEN: susanne.sivborg@prv.se

per.holmstrand@prv.se

SWITZERLAND: roland.grossenbacher@ipi.ch

christian.bock@metas.ch

info@ipi.ch

TURKEY: habip.asan@turkpatent.gov.tr

akocer@turkpatent.gov.tr

info@turkpatent.gov.tr

U.K.: john.alty@ipo.gov.uk

sean.dennehey@ipo.gov.uk


Just for information, the last quarterly meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council (AC) was scheduled to take place on the 15th October in Munich and the next one is scheduled to take place in December, also in Munich. This means that the more publicity that this stuff attracts in advance of that latter meeting, the more political pressure will be on the AC to react. To date it seems that they have decided to ignore the matter and make no public statement, probably in the hope that the problem would go away of its own accord. Here is the full list [PDF] of contacts again, with additional details:


COMPETENT MINISTRIES FOR NATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICES OF SELECTED EPO CONTRACTING STATES

STATUS: 14 September 2014

For other states refer to: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/

BENELUX

[Order of details:]

State
Patent Office
Competent Ministry
Current Minister
Email contact

Belgium

L’Office belge de la Propriété intellectuelle (OPRI)
SPF Economie, P.M.E., Classes moyennes et Energie
City Atrium C
Rue du Progrès, 50
B-1210 Brussels, BELGIUM
Ms. Sabine Laruelle

http://www.laruelle.belgium.be/fr/equipe-et-contact

http://www.sabinelaruelle.be/homepage

info@laruelle.fgov.be

Netherlands

NL Octrooicentrum
Ministerie van Economische Zaken
Bezuidenhoutseweg 73
postbus 20401
NL- 2500 EK, Den Haag
NEDERLANDS
Mr. Henk Kamp

http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/regering/bewindspersonen/henk-kamp

Assistant:
b.becker@minez.nl
Spokespersons:
b.visser@minez.nl
P.vanStrien@minez.nl
t.d.vanes@minez.nl

Luxembourg

Office de la propriété intellectuelle
Ministère de l’Economie et du Commerce extérieur
19-21, boulevard Royal
L-2914 Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG
Mr. Etienne Schneider

http://www.eco.public.lu/ministere/ministre/index.html

etienne.schneider@eco.etat.lu
minister@eco.etat.lu
Secretary:
catherine.lammar@eco.etat.lu

UK

Intellectual Property Office
Department for
Business Innovation & Skills
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET
UNITED KINGDOM
Dr. Vince Cable

https://www.gov.uk/government/people/vince-cable

enquiries@bis.gsi.gov.uk
cablev@parliament.uk

Ireland

Irish Patents Office
Department of
Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,
23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2
IRELAND
Mr. Richard Bruton

http://www.djei.ie/corporate/ministersoffice/richardbruton.htm

minister@djei.ie

France

Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI)
Ministère de l’Économie,
des Finances et
du Commerce extérieur
139, rue de Bercy
F-75572 Paris Cedex 12
FRANCE
Mr. Emmanuel Macron

http://www.economie.gouv.fr/le-ministere/emmanuel-macron

Italy

Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi
(UIBM)
Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico
Uffici del Ministro
Via Veneto 33
IT-00187 Roma
ITALIA
Ms. Federica Guidi

http://www.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&idmenu=3315

segreteria.ministro@mise.gov.it

Spain

Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas
(OEPM)
Ministerio de Industria,
Energía y Turismo
Pº de la Castellana 160.
ES-28046 Madrid
ESPAÑA
Dr. José Manuel Soria López

http://www.minetur.gob.es/es-ES/Ministro/Biografia/Paginas/CV_Ministro.aspx

secretaria.ministro@mityc.es

Germany

Deutsches Marken- und Patentamt (DPMA)
Bundesministerium der Justiz (BMJ)
Mohrenstraße 37
D-10117 Berlin
DEUTSCHLAND
Mr. Heiko Maas

http://www.bmjv.de/DE/Ministerium/Hausleitung/Minister/_node.html

mail@heiko-maas.de
poststelle@bmj.bund.de

Switzerland

Eidgenössisches Institut für Geistiges Eigentum
Eidgenössischen Justiz- und Polizeidepartement (EJPD)
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
SCHWEIZ
Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga

http://www.ejpd.admin.ch/ejpd/de/home/ueber-uns/dv.html

simonetta.sommaruga@gs-ejpd.admin.ch
simonetta.sommaruga@parl.ch

Liechtenstein

Eidgenössisches Institut für Geistiges Eigentum
Ministerium für Inneres,
Justiz und Wirtschaft
Postfach 684
9490 Vaduz
LIECHTENSTEIN
Dr. Thomas Zwiefelhofer

http://www.regierung.li/ministerien/wirtschaft/mitarbeitende-kontakt/

thomas@zwiefelhofer.net
Assistant:
Simon.Biedermann@regierung.li

Austria

Österreichisches Patentamt
Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (BMVIT)
Radetzkystraße 2
A-1030 Wien
ÖSTERREICH
Mr. Alois Stöger

http://www.bmvit.gv.at/

alois.stoeger@spoe.at

Hungary

Hungarian Intellectual Property Office
Ministry of Public Administration
and Justice
Kossuth Lajos tér 2-4.
HU-1055 Budapest
HUNGARY
Dr. Tibor Navracsics

http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-public-administration-and-justice/the-minister

info@kim.gov.hu
intcomm@me.gov.hu

Denmark

Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO)
Ministry for Business and Growth
Slotsholmsgade 10-12
DK-1216 København K
DENMARK
Mr. Henrik Sass Larsen

http://www.evm.dk/english/the-minister

evm@evm.dk
Press Secretary
smn@evm.dk

Sweden

Swedish Patent and Registration Office
Ministry of Justice
Rosenbad 4
SE-103 33 Stockholm
SWEDEN
Ms. Beatrice Ask

http://www.government.se/sb/d/7567

beatrice.ask@gov.se
Justitiedepartementet.registrator@regeringskansliet.se

Finland

National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR)
Ministry of Employment
and the Economy
P.O. Box 32
FI-00023 GOVERNMENT
FINLAND
Mr. Jan Vapaavuori
Minister of Economic Affairs

http://www.tem.fi/index.phtml?l=en&s=2297

jan.vapaavuori@tem.fi
Secretary:
jonna.sjogren@tem.fi

Norway

The Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO)
Ministry of Trade and Industry
P.O.Box 8114 Dep.,
N-0030 Oslo
NORWAY
Monica Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry

http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/nfd/about-the-ministry/minister-of-trade-and-industry-monica-ma.html?id=742948

postmottak@nfd.dep.no

Iceland

Icelandic Patent Office
Ministry of Industries and Innovation
Skulagotu 4
150 Reykjavík
Iceland
Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir
Minister of Industry and Commerce

http://eng.atvinnuvegaraduneyti.is/ministers/nr/6748

rea@althingi.is
postur@anr.is


To our dear European readers: If you have not been following our 2-month, 9-part series to date, now is a good time to familiarise yourself with it and issue an E-mail/letter to your local representatives. They ought to be informed of what goes on inside the secretive EPO. They can react to it and rectify matters.

10.31.14

The EPO Is More Corrupt Under Battistelli Than Under Alison Brimelow: Part VIII

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The huge scandal that the corporate media seemingly refuses to cover

Alison Brimelow

Summary: After Brimelow (shown above), with all her flaws and her scandals, an even worse President is installed who then abolishes oversight and seemingly brings his old friends to the EPO, creating a sort of subculture that is impenetrable to outsiders

THE EPO is no stranger to scandals (including some involving Alison Brimelow, as we noted before). We have covered them for years, but these days we are stunned by the degree of inherent corruption inside the EPO (this is the eighth part among many). The chin drops to the floor when one realises the lack of oversight. With no oversight comes great abuse, as revelations about the CIA and NSA, for example, serve to show.

Weeks ago we showed how EPO oversight got dismantled (related original documents are here) and below again is a quick walk-through (original documents):

  • CA-140-08-EN – 2008 – Audit Committee: possible models
  • CA-32-09-EN – 2009 – EPO Audit Committee: draft terms of reference
  • CA-33-09-EN – 2009 – Draft decision setting up an Audit Committee
  • CA-D9-09-EN – 2009 – Establishing an Audit Committee of the Administrative Council
  • CA-100-11-EN – 2011 – Internal appeal against CA/D 4/11
  • CA-D4-11-EN – 2011 – Decision of the Administrative Council
  • CA-55-11-EN – 2011 – Disbanding the Audit Committee

Today we would like to tell the much longer story of the EPO’s Audit Committee. “In 2008,” tells us an anonymous source, “possible models for an “Audit Committee” were discussed in the proposal document CA/140/08 presented to the Administrative Council.”

Quoting the relevant document: “The present document follows on from the governance workshop in Ljubljana on 7-8 May 2008, the results of which were summarised in CA/62/08 dated 30.05.08.

One of the priorities emerging from the workshop was “Audit Committee and independence of Internal Audit”. The present document outlines in detail the compelling case for an Audit Committee. Three models are analysed and assessed. The Budget and Finance Committee and the Administrative Council are requested to give their opinion. Thereafter the Office will submit a proposal for the terms of reference of the Audit Committee.”

That was quite a long while back.

CA/140/08, as above, noted the following problems with the existing “Internal Audit” (emphasis added):

B. PROBLEMS RELATED TO INTERNAL AUDIT

a) Independence of IA

22. At the EPO, the internal audit function is separated from operational areas.

IA reports directly to the President and should remain a tool in the hands of the President.

This notwithstanding, an independent mechanism (such as an audit committee) would provide further assurance of the correct functioning of IA, particularly in view of the fact that even at the highest management level situations can occur that call for the independence of IA.

Such an independent mechanism should exist:

• to ensure that IA is equipped with a sufficient budget and resources for the adequate performance of the audit work;

• to prevent any undue limitation of the status of IA within the framework of its audit mission;

• to prevent any unjustified deletion of the proposed audit plan;

• to review the appointment, transfer and dismissal of the head of internal audit and internal auditors;

to ensure that the supervision of IA does not rely entirely on the President.

As we have shown in previous parts, the President, Battistelli, seems to have gone out of control and is now acting like a tyrant with executive orders, potentially also appointing friends of his for positions of power.

“In June 2009,” explained our source, “the then-EPO President Alison Brimelow (former Director of the UK-IPO) presented the AC with the proposal documents CA/32/09 (“EPO Audit Committee: draft terms of reference”) and CA/33/09 (“Draft decision setting up an Audit Committee”).”

CA/33/09 (available above) proposed the establishment of an Audit Committee as a subsidiary body of the Administrative Council and said:

The present document is based on consultations between the Office and the Board of Auditors and presents a draft decision based on the outlines of the terms of reference for an EPO Audit Committee (cf. CA/32/09) as a subsidiary body of the Administrative Council pursuant to Article 14 of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation.

CA/33/09 was approved by the AC in June 2009 as decision CA/D9/09.

Now, here is the best bit. At that point in time, Battistelli, Director of the French INPI, was the Chairman of the AC. Yes, no kidding. In July 2010, Battistelli was appointed to succeed Alison Brimelow as EPO President!

In May 2011, in his new role as EPO President he submitted a proposal to the AC to abolish the Audit Committee “for reasons of efficiency”. See CA/55/11, “Disbanding the Audit Committee”, which says: “The present document proposes that the Administrative Council’s June 2009 decision establishing an Audit Committee (CA/D 9/09) be repealed for reasons of efficiency.”

CA/55/11 was approved by the AC in June 2011 as decision CA/D4/11. The decision of the AC to abolish its Audit Committee was appealed by EPO staff representatives (see CA/100/11) and this appeal is currently pending before the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO (ILO-AT) in Geneva.

The letter from the Chairman of the Audit Committee is worth reading. CA/100/11, in pages 13 and 14, states (emphasis added): “The role of the Audit Committee is not an overlap with the internal and external audit but a key component of a balanced auditing and governance structure of the Office as it is in most international organisations.

What a colossal mess.

A further parallel “thread” to this story concerns the EPO’s external audit mechanism, the so-called “Board of Auditors” which is established under Article 49 EPC. According to Article 49(1) EPC: “The income and expenditure account and a balance sheet of the Organisation shall be examined by auditors whose independence is beyond doubt, appointed by the Administrative Council for a period of five years, which shall be renewable or extensible.”

Again, what an utter joke!

The most-recently appointed member of the EPO’s three-man “Board of Auditors” is Mr. Frederic Angermann.

To quote this page from the EPO (under Munich, 13 December 2013, the 138th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation):

The Council appointed Frédéric Angermann, Senior Auditor at the French Court of Auditors, as member of the Board of Auditors, with effect from 1 January 2014. Mr Angermann will succeed Michel Camoin, to whom the Council paid tribute.

Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council heard the status report on latest developments concerning the Unitary patent, given by the Head of the Lithuanian delegation, representing the country holding the EU presidency for the second half of 2013. The chairman of the Select Committee (set up by the 25 EPC contracting states participating in the enhanced co-operation on unitary patent protection to supervise the EPO’s activities related to the tasks entrusted to it in the context of unitary protection) reported then on the committee’s 5th and 6th meetings (see Communiqué on the 6th meeting of the Select Committee, to be published shortly on this website). The Council thereby noted that a number of EPC contracting states not taking part in the enhanced co-operation had been granted observer status on the Select Committee. Other EPC contracting states not taking part in the enhanced co-operation will henceforth also be automatically granted observer status upon request.

What the EPO communique doesn’t tell us is that Angermann was previously a senior official at the French INPI. Battistelli must know him. This cannot be treated as merely a coincidence. In other words, he previously worked under Battistelli who was the Director of the French INPI, just prior to his EPO appointment.

Now refer back to Article 49(1) EPC: “auditors whose independence is beyond doubt

Everyone can see the problem here. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Battistelli may be bringing in cronies.

In summary, the Audit Committee which was established in 2009 as an independent subsidiary body of the EPO’s Administrative Council (and thus independent from the EPO President) was subsequently abolished in 2011 “for reasons of efficiency” (by Battistelli) after barely two years of existence.

The Audit Committee was established by the AC under Battistelli’s chairmanship of that body and the proposal for abolition came from Battistelli in his new role as EPO President (where he would have been subject to the oversight of the Audit Committee).

The consequence of this abolition was to return to the “status quo” prior to CA/140/08: Internal Audit at the EPO is once again completely under the control of the EPO President (i.e. in the hands of one person).

Apart from this, one of the EPO’s external auditors appointed under Article 49 EPC has a previous close professional connection to Battistelli.

All of this indicates that there is no effective independent internal audit mechanism at the EPO. Battistelli killed it.

Furthermore, the integrity of the external audit mechanism under Article 49 EPC has been compromised by Battistelli’s cronyism.

When you consider that the annual budget of the organisation is around 2 billion euros, that should be a cause for public concern. There is no excess of money in Europe right now (Britain is furious this month over demands for a payment of an extra £1.7 billion to the EU) while staff at the EPO is grossly overpaid with virtually no oversight, as we showed in previous parts and demonstrated with strong exhibits of authority.

As readers can see, especially if they follow European media, this is another story that the mainstream media has completely ignored. Unbelievable perhaps, but more likely there is fear of covering it, if not some certain complicity (depending on the media owners).

Once again, German journalists have been fully informed about these matters but haven’t written a single line about them despite the fact that according to the German Press Codex [PDF], “accurate informing of the public” is supposed to be one of the overriding principles of the Press (see preamble to Section 1). Perhaps the German media is preoccupied with other agenda.

10.20.14

The EPO’s Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jesper Kongstad
Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.

Summary: Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO’s management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO’s management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time

KONGSTAD was the subject of our coverage before. We mentioned him in previous parts of exclusive EPO scandal stories. Mr Jesper Kongstad had already been mentioned in several past posts because he’s suspected to have played a role in an inadequate appointment, potentially motivated by nepotism. The suspicion is not a one-man whisper campaign. Staff at the EPO too seems to be concerned. The EPO is not new to scandals.

As we showed some weeks ago, the EPO’s management had oversight dismantled (related original documents are to be found here) and later on we were told about a letter to Kongstad from Cobus de Swardtz [PDF], the Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), which calls itself a “global coalition against corruption”.

There was a lot more to come, but we chose to sit aside for a while, letting things take their natural course without publicising anything in particular. The silence needed to be broken when the letter was circulated internally. The following document was published some weeks ago, which basically means that its contents are freely available to quite a lot of people. We too received a copy. At the time, Transparency International had already waited a few weeks (after it sent a letter to the Chairman of the Administrative Council) and the Administrative Council did not respond. As far as we know, Kongstad never responded. Administrative Council seems to prefer to just keep quiet about it. The interesting thing is that Transparency International was invited by the EPO staff representatives to examine the governance of the EPO. This is public knowledge. Kongstad must either be very arrogant or he has something to hide.

In the future, in order to facilitate public pressure on the Administrative Council, we are going to reveal for our European readers some contact details so that they contact their national representatives on the Administrative Council in relation to the various issues concerning EPO governance. Details of the national delegates can be found in the EPO’s Web site. They are mostly the heads of national patent offices who are subject to instructions from the competent government Ministry. Any kind of public campaign should also target the corresponding government Ministries and/or Prime Ministers as that is where the buck really stops at a national level.

The following is a portion from a letter we got hold of. The letter provides some background and contains references:

EPO & Transparency

Summary

Transparency International (TI) critically examines how national political systems all around the world address corruption risks and foster integrity. They publish and encourage best practice in integrity and expose the effects of conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Recently, TI also assessed how the EU institutions deal with ethics, how they ensure transparency and accountability, and how they ultimately prevent corruption. The Central Staff Committee suggested to the EPO Administrative Council that a similar study be done for the EPO. TI has signaled its interest in the matter. But until now the Council cloaks itself in silence.

The governance of the EPO

The EPO still has the governance system that it was created with. Oversight is in the hands of the Administrative Council. The Heads of the national delegations in the Administrative Council are almost without exception heads of national patent offices. The delegates are in a situation of conflict of interests since the EPO is at the same time the main competitor and a major source of income for the national patent offices. The meetings of the Administrative Council and the majority of its documents are not open to the public. Maybe significantly the Office has started to publish the salaries of its staff, but the salary and benefits of the President are not disclosed, not even to the Administrative Council.

The European Patent Organisation sets its own financial regulations, independent from national or European law1. Adherence to these rules is controlled by a Board of Auditors of consisting of three individuals who are appointed by and reporting to the Administrative Council, on 5-year renewable contracts. Their reports (CA/20/yy) tend to be rather mild and the (few) critical comments are routinely ignored by the Office. The most recently appointed auditor is a close co-worker of Mr Battistelli from his time in the French patent office. Maybe not surprisingly, the most recent Audit report (CA/20/14) is even milder than usual. An attempt by the Brimelow administration to strengthen the audit system through the creation of an Audit Committee2 was supported by Mr Battistelli in his function of Chairman of the Council, but annulled by him as soon as he became President of the Office3. Note that the Organisation’s immunity blocks third parties from effectively challenging its financial decisions. The Staff Committee challenged the decision of the Office to use a direct placement procedure in favour of an external consultancy. The Board of Auditors even agreed that an invitation to tender would have been justified. Even if clearly justified, the complaint was recently dismissed by ILO-AT as irreceivable4.

______
1 Article 50 EPC
2 Bossung, Otto. “The Return of European Patent Law in the European Union”.
IIC 27 (3/1996). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
3 CA/140/08 «Audit Committee: possible models», resp. CA/55/11, «Disbanding the audit committee»


Immunity, or impunity?

The lack of transparency and the lack of truly independent financial and political control would seem to pose a serious risk for the integrity of the EPO and consequently for the European patent system. This is particularly worrying at a time that the EPO is to be given the additional responsibilities for the Unitary Patent. The staff representation has repeatedly requested a discussion on, and a modernisation of, the governance of the Organisation5, thus far to no avail.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organization that aims at stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society6. TI has developed a methodology to assess how well national governments ensure the integrity of their institutions. The beauty of the methodology is that it is systemic. It does not rely on leaks and/or scandals but assesses whether the necessary legislation and mechanisms are in place to prevent, detect and combat corruption, and abuse of power. They check how well these mechanisms function in practice. An adapted version of this methodology has been used to assess various EU institutions. For the EU institutions Transparency International found that the EU has done a lot to put their house in order in recent years, but that strong foundations are being undermined by complex rules, complacency, and a lack of follow-up7.

What is the Council waiting for?

With a letter dated 6 June 20148 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) again raised the issue with the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The CSC drew the attention of the Council to the report of Transparency International on the EU Institutions and suggested that a similar study be done for the EPO. We note that the EU institutions cooperated with the Transparency study. Transparency International has reacted to the letter of the CSC9. It has offered its support and experience in promoting a culture of integrity and good governance in the EPOrg. Just recently Transparency International sent a reminder of its letter to the Council.

[...]

_____
4 ILO-AT 3343
5 CA/93/07 «Governance of the EPO: a staff perspective»,
6 http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo?gclid=CJWu5eC5tsACFa7KtAodXRoA2A
7 http://www.transparencyinternational.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/EUIS_press_release.pdf
8 http://www.epostaff.org/archive/sc14139cl.pdf
9 see annex

The Transparency International story has been reported via another channel. The investigation was ignored. To quote WIPR: “A staff committee at the European Patent Office (EPO) has said its requests for the office’s governance to be assessed by a corruption specialist have been ignored, WIPR can reveal.

“The office’s central staff committee (CSC) said it had recommended to its supervisory body that anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) carry out a study on the everyday running of the office, to ensure accountability.

“The CSC said its own attempts at convincing the Administrative Council (AC) were ignored, and has revealed that a letter sent directly to AC chairman Jesper Kongstad from TI has also yet to receive a response.

“TI’s letter, seen by WIPR, was sent in July this year and said the EPO’s governance has at times come under criticism.”

That basically sums up how the EPO’s management behaves; the modus operandi is to ignore or destroy any regulatory apparatus or oversight, External ones are ignored, internal ones are brutally (but almost silently) squashed.

There is probably no harm in waiting for while as there may be a follow-up by Transparency International. For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council. Jesper Kongstad doesn’t appear to have made any response.

“For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council.”Curiously enough, as also reported by WIPR just a few weeks later, there was a “[m]ysterious departure for EPO communications chief” (i.e. PR). “According to sources,” says the article, “a recently uncovered trademark application at the German Patent and Trademark Office in Schröder’s name bearing the words “f**k the US” may have been a contributing factor.”

A source tells us a slightly different story however. Some believe that Battistelli is planning to maneuver another French “crony” (Vincent Bénard, formerly of Airbus) into this key PR position, meaning that the previous occupant of the position, Oswald Schroeder, had to be “eliminated”. Whether he was set up or fell into a trap due to his own stupidity one cannot say for sure. “Oswald Schröder left “by mutual consent” on October 10,” says the article. It seems like he got pushed out. One just need to put some of the details found within the article together.

Battistelli’s regime can now tighten its grip and surround itself with more cronies that can perhaps push out challenges, such as Transparency International’s.

10.14.14

The EPO’s Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public

THE scandals at the EPO are numerous and longstanding. Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about. In this part of the series we wish to focus on Mr Jesper Kongstad. He is not quite what it seems on the surface. As we are going to show in later parts (weeks ahead), Kongstad became a target of interest in an ongoing investigation from the outside (Battistelli has already eliminated inside overnight).

“Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about.”The Kongstad situation will today be mentioned in brief. It will be covered without yet mentioning that investigation (intentionally unnamed) as there are some ongoing developments that would be better off covered when it’s all finished and concluded. There is no longer a problem in mentioning the Kongstad situation as the information about earlier links to the Croatian SIPO is publicly accessible. Kongstad’s close links to Battistelli have also been mentioned on the IPKat blog which said three months ago: “Back in 2010, when Benoît Battistelli was first appointed as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), there was a certain lack of transparency in the election process. As a blog post by IAM Magazine reported at the time, mischievous rumours quickly emerged from the EPO staff union newsletter (PDF link) to fill the vacuum of information regarding the circumstances of Mr Battistelli’s appointment.

“Battistelli’s original contract was negotiated in secret with Mr Jesper Kongstad, the then Acting (and now actual) Chairman of the Administrative Council. It was rumoured, intriguingly, that the contract specified that Mr B’s place of employment was the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye (the town of which he was deputy major, the spiritual home of football team Paris Saint-Germain and the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun-King), and that it contained an annex granting him full pension rights at the end of his five-year contract. While Merpel, whose nine lives invariably make any sort of pension annuity unaffordable since the pension must last so much longer than expected, can see the attraction of having full pension rights after a relatively short employment stint, she wonders what advantage or reason could lie behind deeming Mr Battistelli’s place of employment to be 700 km west of where his office is actually located, if there is any substance behind that improbable rumour. The union newsletter, SUEPO Informs, also reported that Mr Kongstad refused to show the final contract negotiated with Mr Battistelli to the Administrative Council (‘AC’), despite repeated requests by its apparently quite powerless members.”

The EPO’s staff representatives have initiated contact with investigators by now. This was mentioned very briefly in the print version of the article published in “Die Welt” on the 24th of August (entitled “Stress at the Munich Kremlin”). We covered this before, so it’s not completely secret that outside investigators may be starting to show an interest in the EPO’s mysterious conduct (or misconduct).

Our sources have more to say about this. Their research indicates that the EPO President Benoît Battistelli, formerly the Director of the French INPI, and the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, who is the current Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, have long-standing professional connections with Topić. This gives rise to the suspicion that Battistelli and Kongstad are putting professional and/or personal loyalties before the public interest in this matter and are colluding to prevent any independent investigation of Topić’s appointment.

The 2009 annual report of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office records details of a study visit of senior Croatian officials of the authorities for the enforcement of intellectual property rights to the partner Danish institutions in Copenhagen and a return visit by Danish officials to the partner Croatian institutions in Zagreb. It also includes this mention of a “twinning project” between the Danish Patent and Trademark Office and the Croatia SIPO which took place in the context of a European Union Assistance Project [PDF].

The Web site of the Danish PTO confirms the existence of the Croatia twinning project. The Danish PTO website also provides evidence of co-operation between the Danish PTO and the Croatian SIPO going back as far as 2004.

A further spicy detail in this saga is the fact that Topić’s former deputy at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Romana Matanovac Vučković, has been working as a consultant on an EU-funded project co-administered by the Danish PTO.

According to her personal Web site: “Since 2013, she has been cooperating with Pohl Consulting & Associates GmbH from Berlin and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as a consultant in the project of legal assistance in the field of intellectual property at Kosovo, also funded by the European Union.”

The EU Kosovo project has a budget of ca. 1 million Euros [1, 2]. Ms. Matanovac Vučković was previously a deputy Director of the Croatian SIPO under Topić (ca. 2005-2008). During that period, she was also Croatia’s “alternate representative” to the EPO’s Administrative Council as confirmed by the following extract from the EPO Official Journal 2008: “During her time at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Matanovac Vučković acted as head of an official body under the SIPO’s remit which was called the “Council of Experts on Remunerations for Copyright and Related Rights”. This appointment was controversial in Croatia and it was alleged to be unlawful due to a “conflict of interest” because Ms. Matanovac Vučković had previous worked for the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS) and the private company “Emporion” which was involved in managing musical royalty payments. According to informed sources, her previous employment should have disqualified her from an appointment to the Council of Experts. It was claimed in the Croatian press that Ms. Matanovac Vučković only secured the position due to her connections with the Croatian President Ivo Josipović.”

Sources (in Croatian) can be found here and the English translation was published by us last week.

More information is to follow next week, reinforcing the allegation that the EPO’s abuse goes all the way to the very top.

Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 3:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gavel

Summary: It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States’ USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?

YESTERDAY we wrote about the measurably huge decline in the number of patent lawsuits in the US. There is some more good news in the form of figures.

Andrea Peterson, writing for the Bezos-owned Washington Post, says that “Software patent approval rates sink in months following Supreme Court case”. The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this. They spent so much time attacking the decision or trying to characterise it as anything but a game changer. We gave dozens of examples at the middle of this year. Here again are a couple of patent lawyers using a straw man: “it is doubtful that all software, computer-implemented and business method inventions will be affected by Alice. For example, software inventions that improve the functioning of a computer, or improve other technical fields, may still be eligible for patent protection. Still, while the full effect of Alice is yet to be determined, entities seeking to patent inventions directed to software, computer implementations, and business methods, need to ensure that inventions are sufficiently innovative and directed to concrete ideas.”

“The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this.”Mike Masnick already caught the news from the morning and wrote: “The impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank continues to reverberate around the industry. We’ve already noted that courts have been rapidly invalidating a bunch of patents, and that related lawsuits appear to be dropping rapidly as well. And, now, a new analysis from a (pro-patent) law firm suggests that the US Patent Office is rejecting a lot more software patents as well.”

Software superpower India does not have software patents, but after meeting executives from Microsoft (which has enormous influence over the Indian government), Amazon, Facebook and other patent aggressors it looks like things may change. According to this article about Modi’s trip to the US:

The US-India Joint Statement signed during Modi’s visit to the US has opened the doors for two Indian laws that have been passed by the Indian Parliament. One is on patents – the Indian Patents Act – that contain some measures to keep drug prices low for the people, which the US and its pharmaceutical industries have been trying to change for the last decade. The second is on nuclear liability, again anathema to the US nuclear industry.

Here is a little something about privacy too: “The Modi visit is also important for what he did not raise with the US government. There was no mention of the NSA spying in India, which included the BJP as well. There were six political entities in the world that the NSA spied upon officially, and one of them was the BJP. India is also one of the 33 countries that have signed a 3rd Party agreement with NSA giving it access to our telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. That means India not only allowed NSA to spy on any entity or any person in India but also provided them the physical access required for such spying. Modi not only did not utter one word of protest against such spying against his own party, but also made clear his intention to continue such relationship under Defence and Homeland Security clauses of the Joint Statement.”

It is sad to say this, but India seems to be assimilating to the US system when it comes to patents and also when it comes to militarisation and surveillance.

As we showed before, the corrupt EPO is bringing Europe closer into alignment with the corporations-run USPTO while the USPTO itself is moving away from software patents these days. We covered this aspect of the situation several weeks ago.

Our next post will focus on some more scandals from the EPO.

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