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03.16.20

Series Index: “Doyen” for a Yen

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Series about the Croatian “doyen” Željko Topić, who skips the exams and just gets the awards (licence to print money)

I am Željko Topić. Oh really? Where's your 'MBA'? Well, I'm a doyen of Intellectual Property in the region. OK, come in, come in...

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Epilogue

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Topic IP EPO
Extract from the EPO Official Journal for March 2019

Summary: Corruption prevails at the European Patent Office, Europe’s second-largest institution, and named here are those liable or capable of clarification/rectification

IN the latest EPO mini-series we have looked at how not long after he departed from his job as EPO Vice-President in December 2018, Željko Topić “MBA”, the self-styled “doyen of Intellectual Property in the region”, suddenly and mysteriously resurfaced on the EPO’s list of professional representatives in March 2019.

How exactly Topić achieved a place on this list is something of a riddle because there is no record that he ever passed the EQE which is a mandatory prerequisite for entry on the list.

So far nobody has been able to come up with a credible explanation as to how this could have happened.

The really interesting question here is whether it was all just a simple clerical error or whether “Team Campinos” actively colluded with Topić to facilitate his inclusion on the list despite the fact that he lacks the requisite formal qualifications.

“How exactly Topić achieved a place on this list is something of a riddle because there is no record that he ever passed the EQE which is a mandatory prerequisite for entry on the list.”It is worth pointing out here that it is not within the gift of the EPO President to make such an exemption for any individual.

Under the terms of Article 134 (7) EPC, the President may grant exemption from “the requirement of paragraphs 2(a) or 3(a) in special circumstances” and from “the requirement of paragraph 3(c), second sentence, if the applicant furnishes proof that he has acquired the requisite qualification in another way”.

In plain English, the first of these “exemptions” relates to the requirement that the candidate for inclusion on the list should be a national of an EPO contracting state. So for example if a US citizen passes the EQE, he can be included on the list of professional representatives if the President grants an exemption.

“So the buck stops with Mr Ernst to clarify the matter.”The second of the “exemptions” relates to the application of the “grandfather clause” in the case of persons in a new contracting state who are normally required to have acted as a professional representative in that state for at least five years if entitlement to represent before the national office is not conditional upon special professional qualifications.

The bottom line here is that none of the “exemptions” listed under Article 134 (7) EPC have any relevance to the case of Željko Topić because the EPO President has no discernible authority to grant any individual an exemption in respect of the EQE requirement of Article 134 (2) (c).

The only thing that we can be reasonably sure about here is that Topić’s application for entry on the list must have passed through the hands of EPO Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under the responsibility of Christoph Ernst as the Vice President of International and Legal Affairs.

So the buck stops with Mr Ernst to clarify the matter.

Of course it should not be forgotten that there are other people out there who could be expected to take an interest in a suspected irregularity in the list of professional representatives.

“This means that as of March 2019, Željko Topić has officially been a member of epi.”Article 134a EPC (warning: epo.org link) establishes an “Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office” which generally operates under the moniker of epi.

According to pargraph (2) of Article 134a EPC, any person entered on the list of professional representatives “shall be a member of the Institute”.

This means that as of March 2019, Željko Topić has officially been a member of epi.

One would have thought that the epi might have had some concerns about this mysterious addition to its membership and that it would be interested in clarifying Mr Topić’s entitlement to be entered onto the list of professional representatives.

However, when we recall the role played by Tony Tangena of the epi in covering the controversy surrounding Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President and his close collaboration with Raimund Lutz in that affair, we advise our readers not to hold their breath on that one…

In the meantime some cynical EPO insiders have been heard to remark that if Battistelli was still in charge at the EPO he would quickly respond by organising an official whitewash using the EPO’s investigative unit.

“…according to inside sources the investigative unit has become a pale shadow of its former self.”But Battistelli is long gone at the helm of the EPO and according to inside sources the investigative unit has become a pale shadow of its former self.

This time the ball is in the court of António the Unsteady. So let’s wait and see how he deals with it – just as soon as he has had time to sober up, that is…

03.15.20

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Part 4 – The Role of the EPO Vice-President of DG5 (Christoph Ernst)

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Law, Patents at 1:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO entry request
The EPO‘s form no. 52300 for requesting entry onto the list of professional representatives

Summary: Team Campinos/Battistelli at the European Patent Office continues to facilitate law-breaking, which can be traced back to the head of “(Il)Legal Affairs”

In order to have one’s name entered on the list of professional representatives before the European Patent Office, it’s necessary to submit a request to the EPO. (warning: epo.org link, clicking can aid spying/IP harvesting by the Office)

“As can be seen from the form, the request is processed by Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under the responsibility of the Vice President of International and Legal Affairs (VP5).”This is normally done using the official form no. 52300. As can be seen from the form, the request is processed by Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under the responsibility of the Vice President of International and Legal Affairs (VP5).

From 1 January 2011 until the end of 2018, this position was held by Raimund Lutz, former head of the German delegation to the Administrative Council.

Lutz and Christoph Ernst of EPO
Lutz (l.) with his protégé Ernst at a junket organised by the German Federal Patent court (2011)

According to EPO insiders, Lutz who was in charge of the EPO’s legal department between 2011 and 2018 was one of the most ruthless internal facilitators of the Battistelli regime.

“According to EPO insiders, Lutz who was in charge of the EPO’s legal department between 2011 and 2018 was one of the most ruthless internal facilitators of the Battistelli regime.”Externally, Battistelli also received vital support from the German delegation on the Administrative Council headed by Lutz’s successor in that role, Dr Christoph Ernst, at that time a senior official and ministerial advisor at the German Federal Ministry of Justice.

With hindsight it seems clear that Ernst was already being carefully groomed by “Team Battistelli” as the most promising successor to Lutz in the role of EPO Vice-President in charge of Legal and International Affairs.

In the meantime, in October 2017, Ernst enjoyed an unexpected “promotion” to the position of Administrative Council Chairman. He was parachuted into this position as a “safe pair of hands” to fill the void left by Kongstad’s sudden and untimely departure which is rumoured to have been connected with financial irregularities including alleged misappropriation of EPO funds.

“He was parachuted into this position as a “safe pair of hands” to fill the void left by Kongstad’s sudden and untimely departure which is rumoured to have been connected with financial irregularities including alleged misappropriation of EPO funds.”A little over a year later, in a typical game of EPO musical chairs which had long been predicted by EPO insiders, Ernst once again succeeded Lutz, this time as EPO Vice-President in charge of Legal and International Affairs (VP5).

Ernst seems to have been “awarded” this position in recognition of his “services” to the Battistelli regime during his time on the Administrative Council.

Ernst took up his position as EPO Vice-President in January 2019 but during most of the year he was rarely seen at the EPO and he seems to have spent most of his time abroad travelling to attend various IP junkets in the Far East in places such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Christoph Ernst photo-ops
Images from the Christoph Ernst Pacific Rim Tour 2019

Of course it wasn’t all travel to exotic faraway locations on the Pacific Rim. Christoph also found time for more mundane duty travel to EPO contracting states including Greece and together with his new boss António he went on a whistle-stop tour of the Nordic region (warning: epo.org link) taking in Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Christoph Ernst in Greece
A rather bored looking Christoph Ernst attending an IP junket in Greece (September 2019)

Christoph Ernst in Denmark
Ernst (3rd from left) with Campinos at the Danish Patent & Trademark Office (September 2019)

Sadly, a likely side-effect of the novel Coronavirus Covid-19 will be a reduction in Mr Ernst’s appetite for foreign travel in 2020.

But the upside is that he might be able to spend a bit more time behind his desk in the EPO’s Isar Building.

And if he does, he might even manage to look into the unsolved riddle as to how Željko Topić “MBA” ended up on the EPO’s list of professional representatives despite there being no record that he ever passed the EQE.

“Sadly, a likely side-effect of the novel Coronavirus Covid-19 will be a reduction in Mr Ernst’s appetite for foreign travel in 2020.”After all let’s not forget that Topić’s application must have passed through the hands of EPO Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under his responsibility as the Vice President of International and Legal Affairs.

Come on Mr Ernst, how about a little bit of transparency and accountability on this one?

03.14.20

EQE From the Back Door

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can't get diploma... ...Unless

Summary: Those with money and connections in the underworld which is IP’s “high society” can get the diploma they need with minimal effort

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Part 3 – How to Become a European Patent Attorney Without Passing the EQE

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 5:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The leadership of António Campinos is clearly no better than Battistelli‘s

Topic IP and EPO application form
Application form for entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives

Summary: “EQE” and the rest of this system brought into complete and utter disrepute by notorious Vice-Presidents of the EPO

There are those who would consider the qualification as a European patent attorney to be a licence to print money.

Whether that is correct or not, the fact is that for most people holding the qualification, it’s a hard-earned “privilege” requiring many hours of study to pass the European Qualifying Examination (EQE).

According to Article 134 (2) (c) EPC, passing the EQE is a mandatory requirement to obtain entry on the EPO‘s list of professional representatives.

There is one exception to this, the so-called “grandfather clause” of Article 134 (3) EPC.

The “grandfather clause” applies to persons entitled to act as representative in patent matters before the national intellectual property office of a new signatory to the EPC. During a transitional period of one year following the entry into force of the EPC in that state, such persons are exempted from the requirement to pass the EQE in order to obtain entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives.

So for example, when Croatia officially became a contracting state of the EPC on 1 January 2008, a qualified Croatian patent attorney could apply for entry onto the EPO’s list of professional representatives for a period of one year from that date without the requirement to have passed the EQE. In Croatia, the time-window for availing of the grandfather clause closed on 1 January 2009.

But let’s get back to Topić IP d.o.o. and its founder and managing partner, the redoubtable Željko Topić.

Techrights readers may recall that Željko’s term as EPO Vice-President came to an end in December 2018.

Soon afterwards, in January 2019, some eagle-eyed readers of the Official Gazette of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV) noticed a new entry in the national registers for trademark and patent representatives maintained by the DZIV. [PDF]

Topic IP fraud
January 2019: Topić resurfaced in Croatia as a registered representative for trademarks and patents

Not long afterwards in March 2019, the EPO Official Journal [PDF] recorded that Željko Topić had obtained entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives. The initial entry was made using his home address of Zamenhofa no. 23 in Zagreb.

Topic IP EPO
March 2019: Topić obtains entry on the EPO’s list of representatives

A couple of months later in June 2019, the entry was amended by replacing his home address with the business address of Topić IP d.o.o. at Kordunska no. 2 in Zagreb. [PDF]

Topic IP (Croatia) amendment
June 2019: Entry amended to use the business address of Topić IP d.o.o.

The latter entry can be confirmed by consulting the EPO’s online database (warning: epo.org link) of registered professional representatives.

Topic online DB - Croatia
Entry for Željko Topić in the EPO’s online database of professional representatives

Well, that’s nice isn’t it? Željko clearly deserves congratulations for finding time to pass the EQE despite his busy schedule as EPO Vice-President during the years 2012 to 2018.

The only problem here is that when the EPO’s database of successful EQE candidates (warning: epo.org link) is consulted it only throws up four names for Croatia… and the name of Željko Topić is not among them.

Croatia EQE
The EPO’s database of successful EQE candidates only returns four names for Croatia

So it looks like Željko never actually passed the EQE.

If this is the case, it’s difficult to see how he could have been considered eligible for entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives. Let’s not forget that the “grandfather clause” for Croatia expired a decade earlier back in 2009.

So how exactly did Željko Topić “MBA” end up on the EPO’s list of professional representatives?

At the moment nobody seems to have an answer to this little conundrum.

But as we shall see in the next instalment, there is a person who might be able to provide some enlightenment on that score, namely Dr Christoph Ernst, the former head of the German delegation to the EPO’s Administrative Council and, since January 2019, the EPO’s Vice-President in charge of International and Legal Affairs.

03.13.20

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Part 2 – Behind the Scenes at Topić IP d.o.o.

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Topic IP site

Summary: Under the watch of António Campinos at the European Patent Office (EPO) bad things continue to happen, demonstrating urgent need to remove the EPO’s immunity

THE FIRM Topić IP d.o.o. is a Zagreb-based IP consultancy which was established in January 2019.

Topic IP map
Some basic information about Topić IP d.o.o.

Its founder and managing partner, Željko Topić, needs no introduction to Techrights readers.

“The other members of the Topić IP crew listed on the company website are Dr Ana Topić, Ivana Jurin Puhalo and Dr Krešimir Pučaj.”As the website of Topić IP d.o.o. informs us, he is a “doyen of Intellectual Property in the region” and “internationally renowned as a dedicated officer of SIPO, EPO, WIPO, as well as private practitioner”.

The other members of the Topić IP crew listed on the company website are Dr Ana Topić, Ivana Jurin Puhalo and Dr Krešimir Pučaj.

According to the website both Ana Topić and Ivana Jurin Puhalo are qualified European and Croatian trademark attorneys.

Topic IP marketing
Željko Topić, the self-styled “doyen of Intellectual Property in the region”

But if you’re going to operate a proper one-stop IP consultancy you’ll also need someone with expertise in the area of patents.

So move over and make room for Dr Krešimir Pučaj who – so the website tells us – is a “qualified European and Croatian patent attorney”.

Topic IP's Krešimir Pučaj
Dr Krešimir Pučaj – a “qualified European and Croatian patent attorney”

However, there’s just one small problem with Dr Krešimir Pučaj.

He may well be “a qualified European patent attorney” but – according to the EPO’s own Official Journal (OJ) – his name was deleted from the register in February 2017 and there is no record of any subsequent reinstatement.

EPO on Topic IP
Extract from the EPO Official Journal for February 2017

The information published in the EPO OJ doesn’t tell us whether this deletion was voluntarily requested (warning: epo.org link) or whether it was a disciplinary consequence of the non-payment (warning: epo.org link) of the annual subscription fee required by Article 6 of the “Regulation on the establishment of an institute of professional representatives before the European Patent Office”. (warning: epo.org link)

“However, there’s just one small problem with Dr Krešimir Pučaj.”Whatever the circumstances leading to the deletion may have been, the fact remains that poor old Krešimir no longer seems to be on the list of professional representatives maintained by the EPO. In other words, his capacity to represent clients before the EPO is in doubt.

But no need to worry too much about that.

There is someone else to step into the breach, no less a person than the self-styled “doyen of Intellectual Property in the region”, the one and only Željko Topić, formerly known as mr. sc. dipl. oec. Željko Topić, M.B.A., but now sporting the newly acquired title of “European Patent Attorney”.

Topic bio

This seems like good news indeed for the clients of Topić IP d.o.o.

It was common knowledge that Željko knew a thing or two about trademarks but it seems that he also put his time at the EPO to good use to gain some additional expertise in the area of patents.

“Whatever the circumstances leading to the deletion may have been, the fact remains that poor old Krešimir no longer seems to be on the list of professional representatives maintained by the EPO.”Let’s just hope that no interfering busy-bodies start asking how exactly the illustrious MBA from Banja Luka acquired his claim to be a European Patent Attorney.

Because if they do, it just might just open a whole new can of worms requiring another official whitewash by the EPO’s investigative unit.

Stay tuned for the next instalment where we take a look at the small print of the EPC to find out what exactly is going on here.

03.11.20

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Part 1 – António and the Balkan Express Connection

Posted in Deception, Europe, Fraud, Patents at 10:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously (yesterday): EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Teaser

Campinos and Kuterovac
Campinos and Kuterovac at the February 2020 EPO-EUIPO love-in Zagreb

Summary: It’s clear that António enjoys long-standing cordial relations with the members of Battistelli’s “Balkan Express” team

When António turned up at the recent EPO-EUIPO love-in in Zagreb it wasn’t his first contact with the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV). In his former position as head of the EUIPO in Alicante, formerly known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), he was a seasoned traveller on the "Balkan Express" of the IP world.

Campinos and Topic

For example, back in September 2011 he appeared for some photo-ops with the then Director-General of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV), our old friend Željko Topić, for the signing of a bilateral co-operation agreement between the OHIM and DZIV which took place on the margins of a WIPO meeting in Geneva.

Kuterovac
Topić’s “protégé”, Ljiljana Kuterovac

Some time later in May 2013, in preparation for Croatia’s coming accession to the European Union, Campinos met with the new Director of the DZIV, Topić’s “protégé”, Ljiljana Kuterovac, on the margins of an OHIM Administrative Board and Budget Committee (ABBC) meeting where they signed further cooperation and bilateral agreements between the OHIM and DZIV.

Campinos and Kuterovac handshake
Campinos and Kuterovac in May 2013

Not long afterwards, following Croatia’s accession to the European Union on 1 July 2013, Campinos turned up at an OHIM-DZIV junket in Zagreb under the title of “Croatia in the Community Trademark and Community Design Systems”.

Campinos and Kuterovac in Croatia
Kuterovac and Campinos at an OHIM-DZIV love-in in Zagreb (July 2013)

It’s clear that António enjoys long-standing cordial relations with the members of Battistelli‘s “Balkan Express” team.

So it would hardly be a surprise if he were to lend a helping hand to a friend in need.

“In order to understand the nature of this favour we need to take a closer look at Topić IP d.o.o., a Zagreb-based IP consultancy established in 2019.”As a matter of fact, it seems that this is precisely what he did in 2019 when a former member of the team came knocking on his door looking for a small favour to help his newly established IP consultancy business.

In order to understand the nature of this favour we need to take a closer look at Topić IP d.o.o., a Zagreb-based IP consultancy established in 2019.

Stay tuned for the next instalment which we look at this intrepid entrepreneurial start-up which in its own words, “represents clients before European Patent Office (EPO), European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), European Medicines Agency (EMA), Croatian agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, and before more than 20 other competent national authorities from regional EU and non-EU countries to USA and Canada”.

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Teaser

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos and Topić
António and Željko (2011) – what’s a little favour between friends?

Summary: Guest series about EPO affairs with Team Battistelli even after some of it left (still profiting from EPO corruption)

Techrights recently reported on a grubby little EPO-EUIPO love-in together with the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV) in Zagreb.

Not for the first time, Techrights was on the right track but as is often the case with EPO matters the public spectacle is only the tip of the iceberg.

EPO insiders have pointed out that there are deeper, hidden layers of corruption which are obscured from public view but which are about to be explored in an upcoming mini-series.

The trigger which inspired this mini-series was a piece of news that came shortly after the Zagreb love-in. Namely, an announcement in the form of the cancellation of the European Qualifying Examination (EQE) 2020 scheduled to take place on 16-19 March.

According to the EPO (warning: epo.org link), the cancellation of the EQE was a response to the latest developments regarding the spread of the COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus).

It’s nice to see that the EPO is taking the Coronavirus seriously.

Let’s hope it has some success on that front because sadly it seems to have lost the battle against the virus of corruption which has infiltrated its body politic.

But back to the European Qualifying Examination.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the EQE, a few words of explanation may be in order. The EQE is a legal exam focused on patent law which is designed to establish whether a candidate is qualified to practise as a professional representative before the EPO.

In order to qualify for entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives it is normally necessary to have passed this examination.

Candidates for the EQE 2020 who have invested a lot of time and effort into preparing for their big day are understandably rather peeved by this year’s cancellation at such short notice.

However, they might be able to take some consolation in the fact that it isn’t always necessary to have passed the EQE in order to obtain a place on the EPO’s list of professional representatives.

In the coming mini-series we plan to look into the unsolved mystery of how the name of a former EPO Vice-President appeared on this list in 2019.

As you might have suspected, the former EPO Vice-President in question is Željko Topić, who after departing the EPO at the end of 2018 seems to have managed to add a further qualification to his already impressive list of diplomas and certificates.

The events that we plan to examine here took place not during the “reign” of the notoriously corrupt influence-peddler Battistelli but rather on the watch of his successor, the allegedly “clean” António Campinos.

There is a further detail to this saga which suggests that the current EPO Vice-President in charge of Legal and International Affairs, Dr. Christoph Ernst is likely to have been implicated in the affair.

This is hardly surprising in view of Ernst’s long-standing connections to the Battistelli-Kongstad clique on the Administrative Council.

Readers may recall that Ernst previously held the position as Chair of the Administrative Council after his predecessor Jesper Kongstad had departed prematurely under circumstances that have never been fully clarified.

Kongstad’s abrupt exit from the Administrative Council seems to have been connected with allegations of financial irregularities which have been doing the rounds inside the EPO for many years now.

But in an international organisation which lacks its own independent Audit Committee and where the internal audit function appears to be safely in the hands of the remnants of Battistelli’s “old guard”, you would be well-advised not to hold your breath waiting for a credible investigation into what would be a criminal matter in any normal jurisdiction.

Whatever about that, Ernst was quickly moved in as a “safe pair of hands” to fill the gap left on the Administrative Council by Kongstad’s untimely departure in October 2017.

A little over a year later, in a typical game of EPO musical chairs, he was rewarded with the plum job of Vice-President in charge of Legal and International Affairs (VP5) when the former holder of that position, Raimund Lutz, departed in December 2018.

Ernst and Topić
Did Ernst facilitate Topić’s entry onto the EPO’s list of professional representatives?

Based on the currently available information it would appear that Ernst played a key role in facilitating Topić’s mysterious entry onto the EPO’s list of professional representatives in 2019.

Stay tuned for more as we take a closer look at the new EPO management team and the Balkan Express connection.

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