More information to come out soon…
Summary: New trouble for Željko Topić in Strasbourg, making it yet another EPO Vice-President who is on shaky grounds and paving the way to managerial collapse/avalanche at the EPO
PRESIDENTIAL loyalists like Willy Minnoye (Vice-President of the European Patent Office), Ciaran McGinley and Lucy Neville-Rolfe are leaving and the Croatian gravy train (the 'Balkan Express') is close to crashing. We have received the following information from Croatia today. It looks plausible that one EPO Vice-President won’t just retire early but might actually end up behind bars like Ivo Josipović (former President of the Republic of Croatia). In the words of our source:
STRASBOURG – TWO CORRUPTION INDICTMENTS BROUGHT AGAINST ŽELJKO TOPIĆ
On 19 December 2016 the EU Court in Strasbourg received two indictments against Željko Topić, former Director General of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the Republic of Croatia in Zagreb and currently the right hand of Benoit Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. The indictments include a number of offences in support of corruption committed by Željko Topić as an accountable person during his DG office at the SIPO in Croatia. Namely, due to inefficiency of the Croatian justice and the political protection provided to Željko Topić in the Republic of Croatia, especially by the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH in Croatian) and the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK in Croatian), after more than 8 years of investigation, a party to the proceedings made a decision to seek legal protection within the international frameworks at the EU Court in Strasbourg. At any rate, Croatia has not been declared one of the most corrupt countries in the world for no reason according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International. The most tragic fact in the entire lengthy investigative proceedings in Croatia is that Željko Topić has never been called in for questioning by the police or the State Attorney’s Office. All this time Željko Topić has been receiving his pay from the EPO nonstop in the amount of EUR 18,000.- a month, and the parking space in the EPO car park in Munich has been adorned by his black Mercedes-Benz illegally appropriated from the SIPO in Zagreb, i.e. from the Republic of Croatia. The former President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, is listed as one of the potential political protectors of Mr. Topić. Using a possible criminal offence of influence peddling the former Croatian President has protected Željko Topić from criminal prosecution in investigative structures of the Republic of Croatia for a number of years for one reason only, which reason concerns the operation of the Croatian parafiscal musical association under the name of the Music Authors Rights Protection Office (ZAMP in Croatian). That is to say, by obstructing investigation and protecting Željko Topić the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović in fact has been protecting himself since there is a clear trail of corruption offences leading directly to him over the ZAMP and the SIPO. Moreover, the staffing of the SIPO of the Republic of Croatia is largely comprised of the ZAMP employees having disputable qualifications. The fear that Željko Topić might “squeal on him” during the investigation and the legal proceedings in fashion of the member of the Calabrian mafia has resulted in dropping of criminal charges against him, which in this particular case ended up in Strasbourg. The final act in this judicial play protecting the person and the action of corrupt Željko Topić was performed at the County Court in Zagreb and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia where the investigations against Topić were declared inadmissible. Therefore, and especially due to the unbearable stench of the judicial marshland, nobody in Croatia was surprised by the most recent statement given to the media by the new Minister of Interior saying that all judges of the Constitutional Court should hand in their resignations on account of corruption since they pose a direct threat to national security of the Republic of Croatia. In addition to the legal proceedings in Strasbourg, the party to the proceedings has also announced criminal prosecution against the leading persons in Croatian justice, and the DORH and the USKOK implicated in protection of Željko Topić. Those charges will also be brought in France, most probably at the Ministry of Justice in Albertville or Grenoble. Specifically, after Croatia joined the EU as a full Member State, the Croatian citizens also have a possibility to take criminal offences to courts beyond the Croatian borders. In conclusion, as learned off the record, there are at least 6 more criminal investigations carried out against Željko Topić in Croatia.
Yes, we already heard about those additional 6 criminal investigations against Željko Topić in Croatia. The man seems to be corrupt enough to match the job requirements of Battistelli and Bergot. And since he is so legally vulnerable they can probably better control him (e.g. by blackmail), too.
We shall post more information about the Strasbourg case in the coming days if not weeks.
The situation at the EPO is getting worse by the day. Published a few days ago by media in Luxembourg (looks like a French and German mix) was an article about the climate at the EPO. The purely automated translation (not edited) says:
The dispute between the President and the Suepo trade union, which represents the bulk of the 7,000-strong workforce, has been raging for more than five years. Minister Etienne Schneider is now responding to a parliamentary question by the LSAP deputies, Claudia Dall’Agnol.
The leadership style of President Benoît Battistelli, who took over this office in 2010, leads from escalation to escalation. Only recently did employees move through the streets of Munich and consulates. According to the statements of the trade unionists, Battistelli has for a long time sprawled the bow so far that the working climate is at its zero point. In the course of this year, three trade unionists from the Suepo were already set before the door. According to our information, the President has indicated very spurious causes of these cancellations, which are not to be attributed to the hair.
Full and accurate translation of the entire article will be appreciated. █
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Very convenient a guise
Whistleblower ist weder Datendieb noch Erpresser
Summary: Whistleblowers at the EPO cannot speak and surveillance reaches extraordinary levels, the excuse being security, stability, justice and so on (surveillance classics)
EARLIER this year we wrote about rumours of fraud at the EPO and not too long ago we became witnesses to the pretext of “fraud” as as exploited to spy on staff and grossly violate their privacy or data security (in a way that no member state would tolerate). The members of the GCC who are members of the CSC wrote the following text: “We obviously do not support fraud and so consider it perfectly legitimate that some controls (checks and balances) are introduced in order to detect and/or prevent fraud also in the field of the healthcare insurance. However, this raises an additional big concern linked to the new contract and its external administrator: fraud control measures and the possible involvement of the EPO’s Investigation Unit. We are completely kept in the dark as to how the EPO intends to put in practice these controls. What will be the role of Cigna who are obviously best positioned (access to the data) to detect fraud)? Are they bound to respect national laws? What will be the role of the Investigative Unit? How will the different parties cooperate? How will medical secrecy be preserved? Which laws will apply at which steps? Why does the Office not collaborate with (local) national prosecutors since this would be compatible with Article 20, EPC? Not only have none of these questions been answered, we have not heard about any safeguards. We fear that this is an area that may raise serious problems in the future with possible damage to the EPO’s reputation. Although we have not been required to give an opinion despite the blatant impact that this new contract will have on staff employment conditions, we nevertheless recommend that the President should not implement the planned modifications as long as a joint Committee has not been established.”
“The way things work at the moment is a recipe for disaster because the Office already fails to attract top talent — the very kind of talent which it takes to deliver a good service and justify the high fees associated with EPs (grant, renewal, search etc.).”We often wonder how many violations it would take for Eponia to finally come under proper scrutiny from member states (beyond a slap on the wrist, at the very least a fine). The way things work at the moment is a recipe for disaster because the Office already fails to attract top talent — the very kind of talent which it takes to deliver a good service and justify the high fees associated with EPs (grant, renewal, search etc.). To make matters worse, a lot of key staff has been leaving and continues to leave the Office (the growing numbers of departures that we see are irrefutable). A new comment in IP Kat asked: “What would the European Patent system look like in, say, 2 to 4 years?” Here is the full comment:
“Anonymous” from Saturday, 12 November 2016 is trying to change the subject, isn’t he/she? The facts are quite simple: Battistelli got instructions from the Council not to fire staff members before new regulations are passed and did just the opposite.
That is the real problem here.
Battistelli is not doing what the Council wants. I asked what the Council can do and apparently the Council cannot do much because of the 3/4 of the votes clause. I said Battistelli just needs 10 countries to stay forever and follow his plans and nobody raised a credible objection. I don’t see how a ministerial conference could solve that problem.
So let us imagine that Battistelli stays another few years to continue his plans. The Council cannot do much because of this blocking minority. What would the effect be? What would the European Patent system look like in, say, 2 to 4 years?
It will be morally — maybe also fiscally — bankrupt (it’s said to be operating at a loss), more so assuming Battistelli continues along the same trajectory which renders examiners redundant in just two years. Will it be folded onto EUIPO? Serious intervention is needed to ensure that the EPO doesn’t just become a relic or a fossil from the past. The way things stand, based on what we are hearing from insiders, there is no promising future for the EPO (if any future at all). █
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Distracting from the accusations
Summary: The USPTO is found to have been burning taxpayers’ money and the patent microcosm, which profits from this entire sort of ‘racket’, is trying to defend or belittle these findings
THE USPTO has been dealt a serious blow which we mentioned here very briefly the other day (billing fraud, similar to what's alleged to be happening at the EPO).
It is no surprise that examiner misconduct and fraud is defended by IAM ‘magazine’, but having followed their sources we are left worried. Here is what IAM wrote to excuse/dismiss it all (the headline is “accusations against USPTO staff may have less meat than reported”):
But according to Matt Levy, patent counsel with the Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the numbers from the OIG’s report should be put in context. Earlier this week, in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Levy claimed that the report exaggerated the scope of the problem. When broken down, he calculates that the waste amounts to an average of six minutes per examiner at the USPTO (he went into further detail in an IP Watchdog post here).
I reached out to Levy for a little more detail on his reasons for writing the letter. Here’s his response: “It seemed pretty clear that the OIG was making the problem look far worse than it was. I’ve written about the GAO’s report on quality, and I’ve been hopeful that it would garner some attention. Unfortunately, the scandal that the IG’s report created seemed likely to suck up all the oxygen. My goal was to bring a little perspective and, hopefully, help focus the conversation back on patent quality.”
Most patent owners would probably agree with Levy. That isn’t to denigrate the latest findings of the OIG but the more fundamental problem for the US patent system is the quality of the grants that it makes. That was certainly one of the main findings of IAM’s most recent benchmarking survey which was elaborated on by a more recent piece of research by Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University
Putting aside that last paragraph which is IAM's self-promotion (of propaganda), watch who they’re using to support their position. Remember which companies are behind CCIA, never mind Watchtroll (IP Watchdog) and other USPTO friends/buddies. It’s like a sort of coverup attempt because a lot of the above piggybacks Matt Levy from CCIA. It is a man whose wife works for the USPTO, i.e. his household receives a salary from the USPTO — something that should probably be mentioned (he personally asked me not to mention this again, but it’s hard given these circumstances and given that Levy gave away this potential conflict of interest himself, in his own blog). Watch what he wrote in response to the original piece (filed under “opinions”). His wife works for the USPTO, yet he does not disclose this in his letter to the editor (regarding the USPTO). How is one supposed to simply ignore this? The echo chamber in defense of fraud isn’t something that’s a minor detail that can be trivially overlooked. Found via this tweet are some vicious attacks on Florian Müller for bringing up the issue. A former IP Kat writer is slamming him for stating the obvious and he responds with: “Doesn’t matter due to fee diversion. Ultimately it is taxpayers’ money anyway.” Patent law firms too are against taxpayers now [1, 2, 3, 4]? Or implicitly in defense of billing fraud? How would that make them look? It is hard to explain to the patent microcosm its unwanted role (as it relates to practicing developers) [1, 2], but Müller did try and at the end he wrote a summary of his position as follows [1, 2, 3, 4]: “Some patent folks are being too emotional about USPTO fee diversion to think things through correctly. Let’s enlighten them now: Question was: if employees steal from USPTO, are taxpayers the ultimate victims? Yes. There are 2 independent ways to prove this. First, every $ less that the USPTO can send to Treasury (fee diversion) is a $ more that taxpayers have to contribute to pay for something. Second, fee diversion goes both ways: if theft contributed to a USPTO deficit, taxpayers would have to close the gap.”
“Slamming the watchdog isn’t easy (shooting the messenger which is independent) and if nefarious tactics are used to belittle the problem itself, what does that tell us about the accused (collectively) or their spouses?”I have exchanged quite a few E-mails about this subject since (Müller expressed some views) and it’s saddening to hear that patent law firms implicitly threaten alienation in retaliation for stating of the obvious. By doing so they probably risk only isolating themselves even further, turning software developers like myself and Müller into a foe.
For those who want to hear opinions from sites not run by software developers, consider reading “Patent office employees steal millions from American taxpayers”. To quote: “A new report from an independent watchdog found that employees of the Patent and Trademark office billed the government (AKA, the taxpayers) for 300,000 hours they never worked, costing the American people $18.2 million.
“Many employees work from home, and the report found numerous instances of time logged without any work being completed.
“The amount of wasted man-hours that could have been spent reducing the patent backlog is astounding, not to mention the millions of taxpayer dollars that were wasted paying employees for work they were not doing,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told the Washington Post.”
Working from home for the USPTO is something which Levy’s wife has been doing. It’s a shame that he did not disclose that in his letter of response to this piece from August 31st (“Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds”).
Slamming the watchdog isn’t easy (shooting the messenger which is independent) and if nefarious tactics are used to belittle the problem itself, what does that tell us about the accused (collectively) or their spouses? █
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Benoît Battistelli has a lot to fear if people actually get such protections
Whistleblower ist weder Datendieb noch Erpresser
Summary: EPO scandals are not publicly accessible or known to many people and not many such scandals are known at all because people are afraid of Battistelli’s Fabius Maximus strategies
THINGS at the EPO may seem to have calmed down (there are court proceedings for representatives to focus on, having prepared for a while), but there are many stories that still ought to be told. Some cannot be told. Some cannot be told just yet. Some just need further corroborating evidence. Publishing these in the form of rumours and presenting them as such is clearly permissible.
“Publishing these in the form of rumours and presenting them as such is clearly permissible.”Some time ago we learned from a reliable source (with track record of accuracy) about fraud at the EPO. We are talking about financial fraud here (like payment orders), but people are afraid to speak about it directly to the public, to the authorities, or to journalists. Having witnessed how Battistelli and his circle treat even the gentlest of critics, who can blame them? Battistelli engages in managerial terrorism. He created an atmosphere of so much fear that even people who have truly credible arguments and evidence to back it up with dare not speak to anyone about it.
In the case of fraud, there is a criminal nature to it and one’s ability (or courage) to step forward would typically depend the severity of the fraud and certainty of prosecution (vindicating the messenger). Under Battistelli’s terrifying regime it takes a lot of courage to speak out about such things. Maybe it’s just a matter of time. Typically, whistleblowers are protected by the law itself, but in Eponia lawlessness prevails (Battistelli and his minion even brag about it!). These whistleblowers should not really need any protection from the employer but from anticorruption entities (the EPO's press spokesperson came from one, effectively defecting); but what anticorruption entities are there inside Eponia? None. It’s just absurd. The EPO conveniently ignores national laws but at the same time it enforces employment embargo/sanctions on EPO staff after their departure from Eponia. It also legally threatens people outside Eponia, myself included.
We are pretty certain that there is fraud going on, but at this stage we have to classify this “rumour” (however strong) and revisit the claim if or when this becomes public knowledge. █
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What next on the agenda? Fake polio vaccination CIA style?
Summary: “Theranos may have put as many as 890,000 lives per year in jeopardy with its fake technology,” to quote one source, but the EPO’s Inventor of the Year propped up this dangerous scam or, in the words of another, this is “how you get to be worth $9 billion on a “technology” that was nothing but fraud.”
THERE is not much sense of employment pride among examiners (i.e. scientists) working for Battistelli. The EPO is so full of abuses at so many levels (usually behind a cloak of secrecy as there’s no true transparency) that it has become an abundant gold mine for disappointing if not outrageous news where people are routinely incentivised to cheat and defraud, including last year's 'Inventor of the Year' award finalist Elizabeth Holmes.
Elizabeth Holmes, as we noted here before, turns out to have allegedly run a dangerous scam and for the EPO to affiliate with her proved to be an expensive political exercise (costing several millions of euros and corrupting the media in the process, just as Holmes had done).
Below are some quotes summarising the story and recent events concerning last year’s ‘Inventor of the Year’ star Elizabeth Holmes. These have been circulating among EPO staff (the first article is from Wednesday), so they help demonstrate just how negatively EPO staff views this ‘Inventor of the Year’ charade:
From $4.5 billion to $0: Forbes revalues Elizabeth Holmes’ worth
“Theranos founder: From billionaire to ‘nothing’“
[ http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/01/technology/elizabeth-holmes-theranos-forbes/index.html ]
From Billion Dollar Baby [ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2783675/Meet-college-dropout-self-billionaire-fear-needles-inspired-invent-new-way-test-blood.html ]
To nothing [ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-18/elizabeth-holmes-admits-theranos-technolgy-fraud-restates-voids-years-test-results ]
“Elizabeth Holmes Admits Theranos’ “Technology” Is A Fraud: Restates, Voids Years Of Test Results”
“In the process of commiting fraud and building up her valuation, Holmes repeatedly gambled with people’s lives, sending them clearly wrong results. As a result some patients have received erroneous results that might have thrown off health decisions made with their doctors, the WSJ reports. All this is needed is one death and there is a criminal case.”
This story is from the June 30, 2014 issue of Fortune:
“Elizabeth Holmes founded her revolutionary blood diagnostics company, Theranos, when she was 19. It’s now worth more than $9 billion, and poised to change health care.”
“In the fall of 2003, Elizabeth Holmes, a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford, plopped herself down in the office of her chemical engineering professor, Channing Robertson, and said, “Let’s start a company.”“
““When I finally connected with what Elizabeth fundamentally is,” he [Channing Robertson] says, “I realized that I could have just as well been looking into the eyes of a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates.””
“The company has performed as many as 70 different tests from a single draw of 25 to 50 microliters collected in a tiny vial the size of an electric fuse, which Holmes has dubbed a “nanotainer.” Such a volley of tests with conventional techniques would require numerous tubes of blood, each containing 3,000- to 5,000-microliter samples.”
“Precisely how Theranos accomplishes all these amazing feats is a trade secret. Holmes will only say–and this is more than she has ever said before–that her company uses “the same fundamental chemical methods” as existing labs do. Its advances relate to “optimizing the chemistry” and “leveraging software” to permit those conventional methods to work with tiny sample volumes.”
““The first time I heard about this, I thought it was snake oil and mirrors [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil],” says David Helfet, the chief of orthopedic trauma at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. But after reviewing voluminous validation studies supplied to him by the company, he has become a believer and is urging his hospital to consider adoption.”
““It takes at least 10 times–and maybe 100 times–less space for doing the same thing,” says Laret of UCSF Medical Center.”
“What do incumbent players in the blood-diagnostic space think about all of this? The most frequent criticism is that Theranos is using purportedly breakthrough technology to perform tests that are relied on for life-and-death decisions without having first published any validation studies in peer-review journals. “I don’t know what they’re measuring, how they’re measuring it, and why they think they’re measuring it,” says Richard Bender, an oncologist who is also a medical affairs consultant for Quest Diagnostics, the largest independent diagnostic lab.
Holmes counters that because, as noted, her tests employ “the same fundamental chemical methods” as existing tests, peer-review publication of validation studies is both unnecessary and inappropriate.”
“Theranos, which does not buy any analyzers from third parties, is therefore in a unique position. While it would need FDA approval to sell its own analyzers to other labs, it doesn’t do that. It uses its analyzers only in its own CMS-certified lab. All its tests are therefore LDTs, effectively exempt from FDA oversight.”
“Beyond the validation disputes, skeptics also question Theranos’s business model.”
“Critics are likewise puzzled by the cosmic vastness of Holmes’s end-to-end business model. If Theranos is making breakthrough analyzers, they wonder, why doesn’t it just sell them to existing labs?”
“Early investors included venture capitalists Draper Fisher Jurvetson (which has funded Tesla and SpaceX), ATA Ventures, Silicon Valley legend Don Lucas Sr. (Oracle, National Semiconductor, Macromedia), and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.”
“Today Holmes is a co-inventor on 82 U.S. and 189 foreign patent applications, of which 18 in the U.S. and 66 abroad have been granted.”
Patents on a scam granted.
Long story short, Holmes begrudgingly admits she ran a fraudulent operation and a lot of people died because of her, whereas Battistelli and his goons groomed her. Nice publicity stunt right there, owing to the unscientific and extravagant leadership of Team Battistelli (Battistelli and his buddies/confidants who lack scientific education/background/experience). Maybe Holmes and Željko Topić will have a topic for discussion if both end up behind bars (there are ongoing criminal cases). █
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The EPO’s VIP ‘inventor’ seems to be nothing but a scam
So proud of Theranos…
Summary: Battistelli’s introduction of a weirdly-covered (by French media partners) ceremony is revisited in light of a truly embarrassing revelation with criminal elements to it
Battistelli is doing a lot of what FIFA’s Blatter was doing in order to distract the media and create a positive image of the organisation. The EPO is supposed to be neutral about patents/applications it deals with, but neutrality was thrown out the window under Battistelli's regime (large corporations receive special treatment).
There is also this thing called “Inventor Award”, which the EPO keeps promoting in Twitter every week or so (sometimes several times per week), neglecting to say anything about corruptible media organisations that play along.
“Here is a new ego trip by President Battistelli,” told us a source this week, taking note of this news about a “scandal”. To quote:
The wheels are coming off the cart at Theranos, the $9 billion startup founded by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes when she was 19. Its proprietary blood testing technology is the subject of a scathing report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but that’s just the latest in a growing list of woes for the troubled unicorn.
First, the FDA declared the company’s nanotube container for collecting blood from a finger prick to be an unapproved medical device. Then, CMS found serious deficiencies that forced a shutdown of Theranos’ Northern California lab. And while the company’s deal with Safeway never got off the ground, Walgreens is reportedly looking for a way to get out of its agreement.
But the one thing that the secretive Silicon Valley startup has managed to avoid is peer-reviewed, independent testing that compares the results of its proprietary diagnostic testing to that of other labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. Last week, that changed, and the results were devastating.
What does this have to do with the EPO? Theranos was somewhat of a VIP at the EPO, owing to the whole “Inventor Award” publicity stunt of Battistelli.
“The European Inventor of the year is a huge waste of applicants’ money (over 1 million EUR/exercise),” told us our source, “besides the ethical questions related to the mission of the EPO.”
“Unlike former presidents, Battistelli is no scientist but a well-connected politician from École nationale d’administration.”“It is a mere ego exercise for the sole satisfaction of the pathetic president with some real risks. And now here we are.” (warning:
So, in short, it seems to link Battistelli’s inane “Inventor Award” to potentially fraudulent pseudo-science. Not that Battistelli himself would be able to discern/distinguish between science and pseudo-science. Unlike former presidents, Battistelli is no scientist but a well-connected politician from École nationale d’administration. █
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Microsoft gleefully watched from afar as young children in Romania got Microsoft’s indoctrination after corrupt contracts
Children were made prisoners of Microsoft
and those responsible for it are sent to prison
Summary: An update from Romania regarding a corrupt contract for Microsoft software
THE SITUATION with regards to corruption in Romania is grimmer than in most of Europe and Microsoft’s role in it was covered here before, e.g. in:
Last month we took note of Microsoft licences in the midst of high-profile corruption and a former Romanian minister is finally going to prison over it. To quote one article about this (in English, not Romanian): “Romania’s high court of cassation and justice on Thursday jailed the former telecommunications minister, Gabriel Sandu, for two years for money laundering, abuse of office and bribery involving the lease of Microsoft IT licenses for schools.
“The ex-mayor of the eastern town of Piatra Neamt, Gheorghe Stefan, and two other businessmen who acted as middlemen also got jail terms of up to three years.
“The four defendants have also to pay a total of almost 10 million euros in compensation. The Supreme Court’s sentence is not final.”
It is worth noting that owing to such corruption it is Microsoft — not GNU/Linux and Free software — that makes it into Romanian schools. Recent reports serve to indicate Microsoft corruption in other countries; this is still the subject of a US-led probe which maybe some more corruption can somehow scuttle. Recall Microsoft’s influence in the United States government, its tax evasion (which only recently became an issue) and big payments to the current US President. “Prosecutors said there was manifest corruption in the contract worth 105 million US dollars,” says the above article, “which was to supply Microsoft Office licenses to schools and other public institutions between 2004 and 2009.”
The article pretends that Microsoft has nothing to do with this corruption/bribery, even though Microsoft clearly benefited from it. How convenient. █
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Summary: Investigative journalism from Croatia and this week’s probe into WIPO misconduct (and subsequent attack on the whistleblowers, including legal threats against bloggers) help put together a broader picture
Having spent some time separating facts from rumours (there are plenty which we still investigate) about the EPO, we are now ready to proceed to something new, or rather a new kind of scandal that nobody seems to have paid attention to.
Based on what we are hearing (and that’s not just a rumour), there is immense pressure on managers at the EPO to pretend that they support the President, even if deep inside they don’t. As one anonymous comment put it yesterday: “Certainly the letter will be signed by the various Minnoye, Topić, Casado, Lutz, Bergot, Hannard, McGinley, Requena et al. and by a bunch of fearful PDs and directors. But the letter will not help them. On the contrary, it will prove that the staff was right in their protest. If Kongstad’s letter is not a joke, the crisis is unavoidable and BB must either give in or go. Of course, with cooperation money and with secret deals BB convince some delegations to vote against the draft letter and create new obstacles. But the conflict will remain unsolved and explode again after few weeks. A good advice to BB: Monsieur, pack your luggages and go back to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.”
This mirrors something that we saw before with Željko Topić (letters of intent and perhaps forced ‘apologies’ under threats). One reader told us: “I am hearing interesting rumblings about the senior management “petition” to the AC. Some PDs are giving the Directors a “free vote” as to whether they sign or not, others are telling them that if they don’t sign it there will be grave consequences.”
Yet another comment said: “It should also be investigated whether Mr Kongstad received monthly payments from a secret budget of department 4.3 if proven, it would be scandalous! Mr Del Pozo, PD Finances, should finally come out with the truth about all that he had to sign. Soon or later all the dirty tricks and manoeuvres will be uncovered!”
This is not yet known to us, so it should be classified as a rumour. There is definitely some kind of an H.R. crisis at the EPO right now. There’s no denying that [1, 2]. Tomorrow we are going to show a leaked message from Topić, relating to H.R. Today, however, we wish to share something different, also relating to Topić.
As vigilant readers may have already noticed (it’s everywhere in the news right now), WIPO is in big trouble. As EPO-funded media put it: “The long saga that has unfolded since then WIPO deputy director general James Pooley made a number of serious allegations against the organisation’s director-general Francis Gurry in a report of misconduct filed in April 2014 may be drawing to an end. News stories from several sources – including the Fox News website and The Register – state that a report into the claims undertaken by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has been submitted to Gabriel Duque, the chair of WIPO’s General Assemblies.”
Here is how WIPR put it
A joint subcommittee at the US Congress will hold a hearing this week on whistle-blowers and accountability at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The hearing, scheduled for tomorrow, February 24, is expected to reference the results of a pending UN investigation into WIPO and hear from ex-employees at the organisation.
James Pooley, a former WIPO deputy director, Moncef Kateb, ex-president of the staff association, and Miranda Brown, an adviser to WIPO’s director general Francis Gurry, will be witnesses.
So what does it have to do with EPO? Glad you asked. Apart from the fact that Battistelli may be the next Gurry, there is something interesting about Topić. A reader sent us the details. Another newly-translated Croatian article from 2012 helps support this reader’s claims.
“Referring to the recent Techrights posting,” wrote this reader, the “Dnevno article from 5 February 2016 includes a mention of the role of the former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ms. Vesna Vuković, as part of the “diplomatic network” of the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović who failed to secure re-election in 2015.
“The English translation of another older article from 2012 which describes the role of Ms. Vuković in more detail. In view of the recent speculation about a link between Battistelli and the “Bygmalion affair” in France, it would be interesting to know whether any EPO funds got diverted to Croatia to support Josipovic’s re-election campaign in Croatia during 2014/2015.”
Here is the Dnevno article in English with our emphasis in yellow:
A DIPLOMATIC CHAMELEON
Vesna Vuković hosts Mr. Topić in Geneva despite having systematically reported him to the State Attorney’s Office and the USKOK*
[*The Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption]
Author: Darko Petričić
Wednesday, 4th April 2012 – 11:19
The new government is persistent in its strange attempts to bolster Mr. Željko Topić, against whom a dozen serious criminal charges have been filed. These charges not only appear to tally with each other but are dispersed over a broad timeline and encompass many diverse sections and articles of the Criminal Code. Neither the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) nor the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK), have taken any action so far for reasons known to only to themselves.
During the last month, we witnessed the attempts of the new government to make bizarre appointments starting with the cases of Mr. Ferenčak at JANAF and Mr. Kovačević at HEP and culminating in the notorious case of Željko Topić at the State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV).
The DZIV – identified but not yet fully explored as an international epicenter of corruption in Croatia
There would be nothing strange about all this, if it wasn’t for the small but interesting detail that a dozen serious criminal charges have been filed against Željko Topić which not only appear to tally with each other but are dispersed over a broad timeline and encompass many diverse sections and articles of the Criminal Code. For reasons known only to themselves neither the State Attorney’s Office nor the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) have taken any action so far, although many insiders who are familiar with the affairs of the DZIV and its operations as well as with the activities of Željko Topić believe that the USKOK urgently needs to move into that state institution with their best agents in order to carry out a thorough investigation of the allegedly serious wrongdoings.
Among the criminal charges filed against Mr. Topić, and in this case also the representative of the international company Lufthansa in Croatia, are two complaints filed by the owner of the international AirPlus trademark. It is interesting to note that the current Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the UN in Geneva is the co-signatory of these criminal charges against the Director of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office, and the representative of Lufthansa in Croatia, the attorney Andrew Matijević. In addition, over the phone, she advised some legal representatives of the owner of the Airplus trademark about what needed to be done. It might have been concluded that her main concern was to have these charges relating to the most prominent unlawful activities at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office dealt with.
Furthermore, in the summer of 2010, Mrs. Vesna Vuković personally contacted the Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Dubravko Palijaš with urgent requests to accelerate the processing of the previously reported criminal acts. So it is patently obvious that Ms. Vesna Vuković was involved in the pressing of charges against of Mr. Topić and that she was personally motivated to do so. But that’s not the end of the story. Together with the owner of the Airplus trademark, in the summer of 2010 she co- signed the letters addressed to the USKOK and the National Council for Monitoring and Combating Corruption in Croatia and provided the legal framework of the complaint which requested the dismissal of the Director of Croatia Airlines, Mr. Ivan Mišetić, based on the published news that he simultaneously occupied two positions of control – one of which was in Buzin [near Zagreb], and the other on the Lufthansa Supervisory Board in Frankfurt am Main. The story about this case was first covered by the journalist Joseph Bohutinski in the weekly magazine “Business” and was later republished in several other media.
Following that complaint, Mr. Ivan Mišetić was dismissed in the autumn of 2010 and everything else, especially his public statement concerning the termination of his employment relationship with Croatia Airlines, is a trite and fabricated story for public consumption. However, nothing has happened since then in the competent institutions of the Republic of Croatia regarding the issue of criminal liability for damage to the national airline and there is still no information as to whether the person in question paid taxes in Croatia for the unlawful supervisory position which he held for many years in the German Lufthansa or whether his income from that source has remained “invisible” to our tax administration. To this day there is still no answer to the following scandalous question with its manifold implications for issues relating to politics, corruption and privatization: Is Lufthansa the hidden owner of Croatia Airlines and, if so, who facilitated this?
Vesna Vuković – moral and professional diplomatic ‘chameleon’ of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP)
What is particularly striking is the highly unusual behavior of our Ambassador in Geneva and her official position in relation to the above matters. As a matter of fact, from the date of her appointment until now, she has received the above mentioned Director of the State Intellectual Property Office, Mr. Željko Topić, as her guest on at least two occasions because her job description and activities include following the activities of an international institution called the “World Intellectual Property Organization” (WIPO) whose headquarters are located in Geneva and of which the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office is a member. The evidence of this can easily be found on the official websites the of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and the WIPO.
She knew – or at least she must have known – who Mr. Željko Topić was immediately after his first visit to Geneva. In accordance with the structure of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) as well as from the point of view of security and information exchange with Zagreb headquarters, she should have been obliged at that point to write an official note and officially send it to the competent minister, with a copy to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) Sector VII in charge of information and safety.
According to the Croatian Foreign Affairs Act, the general regulations of the MVEP and the professional obligations of any ambassador, they have to function as State Attorneys. For example if, when traveling by public transportation, they accidentally overhear a conversation describing actions which threaten the security of the Republic of Croatia or learn of a criminal offence and the names of persons associated with it, immediately upon arriving at their office or embassy, they must report this in writing to the competent state bodies according to their internal organization. The proof of this can be found in the thousands of diplomatic dispatches which are currently being published by Wikileaks in a manner which illustrates the aforementioned problem by means of the publication of confidential emails between the embassies of various countries around the world and the capitals of their countries of origin and vice versa.
Why did Ambassador Vuković failed to act in the appropriate manner? Considering that a key role in her irregular and unlawful appointment to the position of the Croatian Ambassador in Geneva at the beginning of last year was played by one of the advisors to President Josipović to the detriment of other candidates and considering that, according to the information available to us, the President of the Republic of Croatia is one of the main patrons of the incriminated DZIV Director, Ms. Vuković may very well have concluded that she should be at the disposal of her new “boss” even though he is only one of the shapers of Croatian foreign policy. This supposition is supported by the fact that the legal representative of the Director of the DZIV, Mr. Željko Topić, in one of the aforementioned criminal proceedings is Silvio Hraste from the Zagreb law firm on whose premises part of election headquarters of Ivo Josipović during his Presidential campaign was located, according to some unofficial sources.
For the moment it remains unclear as to how Minister Željko Jovanović was dragged into this dirty game and why, for more than a month now, there have been no official reports of the inspection of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office by the competent ministries which was conducted more than a month ago on 2 February 2012. It took only one day to complete the inspection of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office which was conducted under the control of Mr. Saša Zelenika, Deputy Minister to Mr. Jovanović. We do not know whether or not the leaders of the WIPO in Geneva are familiar with this first-class corruption scandal and its epicenter in Croatia. However, according to our sources this case may soon acquire an international dimension.
Before his election as President, Ivo Josipović was a frequent guest at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and in the office of the Director, Mr. Topić. Since he relied on the staff of the Croatian Composers’ Society (ZAMP) to fill the most important positions in the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office, he was certainly very interested in making sure that the international component responsible for intellectual property in Geneva was “covered” by a reliable person in the ambassadorial “network” as he himself likes to call it. All of this is the obvious proof of the operation of a parallel system of government inside our country and on an international level.
One has the impression that the current relations between the Pantovčak [the President's Office] and Geneva are based on the same pattern as the already famous “Čačić’s axiom” [attributed to the former Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Čačić]: “No Government, from now on you talk only to me! – and involve bypassing the official protocol at the Zrinjevac [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. There’s nothing new about this. As the first President of the Republic of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, used to say: “Tie the horse where I tell you.” This sentence usually referred to Croatian foreign policy actions and the inter-Governmental appearances of the then Foreign Minister Mate Granić who was never completely trusted by Tudjman.
EPO H.R. must have been utterly poor for quite a while if it actually hired a man with dozens of criminal cases against him, according to the above article. On numerous occasions we already covered the UN and the Lufthansa aspects, though not WIPO. Readers can find coverage on these in older articles.
Our reader has remarked on the above article as follows:
As the article about Ms. Vukovic refers to the WIPO in Geneva, the links about the shenanigans in that organisation which are appended below might also be of interest:
There should be a live webcast here for anybody interested starting at 14:00 Washington time on 24 Feb (that’s later today):
Congress to quiz WIPO whistle-blowers
Where is the Report on the Allegations From WIPO Whistleblowers?
Secret UN report finds against controversial WIPO chief
Pressure grows on WIPO DG Gurry after submission of UN report and further explosive Pooley claims
Pooley’s written testimony can be found here:
“Based on my experience I can report to you that the vast majority of the people at WIPO are competent, dedicated and deliver as required, many of them well beyond that. But this belies a profoundly serious problem with governance. The agency, in my opinion, is run by a single person who is not accountable for his behavior. He is able to rule as he does only with the tacit cooperation of member countries who are supposed to act as WIPO’s board of directors. And he is ultimately protected by an anachronistic shield of diplomatic immunity.”
Miranda Brown’s testimony is here:
Interestingly enough, we found two of the above reports ourselves (IAM and WIPR), but didn’t quite imagine that other people also noticed them. There is now another interesting dimension to explore; if there a connection (even if slight/meager) between what happens in WIPO and what happens inside the EPO (except the legal threats sent to bloggers in order to silence them)? Željko Topić might be just one link among several more that we just don’t know about (yet). █
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