Željko Topić’s History in SIPO Leaves a Legacy of Alleged DZIV Vehicles (Bribes), Authorship Abuses, and Intimidation Against Reporters
Summary: Another deep look at Željko Topić’s background in Croatia, preceding his very notorious appointment to the EPO where he now serves as Benoît Battistelli’s most controversial attack dog
OUR SECOND ARTICLE in this series (part of a much broader series) looks at the case of Rikard Frgacic and another of Ivan Kabalin. These cases help highlight the malicious conduct of the Croatian SIPO, which the current Vice-President of the EPO came from and also managed. Željko Topić does not want the European public to know about all this. He relies on much of this being accessible only to people who are fluent in Croatian. We strive to change this by providing translations, documents, and detailed explanations, having studied these cases for months.
“It is not possible for the EPO to just carry on when a thug and a cheater serves as Vice-President.”EPO matters will surely be impacted by this. It is not possible for the EPO to just carry on when a thug and a cheater serves as Vice-President. Today we present some background information about other Croatian cases that would be of interest to the European public.
“For your information,” told us a reliable source (we shall refer to our sources collectively for their protection), “[w]e have heard from our sources in Zagreb that some people in Croatia may try to contact you to provide information about other allegations of corruption against the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office during Topić’s tenure as Director-General (from 2004 to 2012).
“To try and help you to make some sense of all this let’s recap that so far the information which has been provided from our side has mostly related to the Vesna Stilin story and her conflict with Topić as an Assistant Director of the SIPO.
“It seems that a number of “external users” of the SIPO’s services also had problems. Two cases in particular have received journalistic coverage in Croatia. As far as we can work out, the people who might try to contact you to provide additional material are connected with those cases [and] the cases in question are as follows.”
This is a good point in time to clarify and strongly stress that in Techrights we have never let our sources down (and we have had many sources over the years). Those who have material to show to us can rest assured that they will be treated with utmost confidentially and material will be examined based on merit before publication (we ensure there is no identifying details in published documents, just in case). Today’s new documents are as follows:
- PRESS RELEASE 30-04-2012-EN
[PDF]– Translation of a “Press Release” dated 30th of April 2012, which was published on the Web site of the Croatian SIPO (in Croatian only). The original version (i.e. in Croatian) can be found here
[PDF]– Translation of an article from dnevno.hr which includes a claim that Željko Topić was the author of the SIPO “Press Release” dated 30 April 2012; refer to the section entitled “Official or private website?”
Our first case deals with Mr. Rikard Frgacic.
“Mr. Frgacic is involved in a dispute with a subsidiary of Lufthansa in connection with a trademark “AirPlus”,” said a source to us. “Frgacic claims that the trademark registration in his name was mysteriously and improperly cancelled by the Croatian SIPO and re-assigned to Lufthansa (or, perhaps more precisely, a subsidiary of Lufthansa). He has been involved in litigation against the Croatian SIPO (in Croatia) and against Lufthansa and/or its subsidiary in Germany. As far as we can work out, he has also filed criminal charges against Topic in Croatia. At the beginning, Lufthansa offered him 1000 Euro to settle the trademark dispute but he refused the offer (as he considered that there was considerably more at stake).”
This is probably just one of many criminal charges against Željko Topić in his home country.
“According to what we have heard,” said our source, “he has had a partial victory in Croatia where a court issued an order for the SIPO to re-open the case of the trademark reassignment. However, the SIPO seems to be dragging its feet in the matter. It also looks like the litigation in Germany against Lufthansa and/or its subsidiary is stayed pending the outcome of the re-examination of the trademark re-assignment by the Croatian SIPO. From what we have understood, there seems to be a risk that if the SIPO blocks the re-examination of the case for long enough in Croatia, he may run into some kind of statute of limitations problem in Germany. But we only have this information via second-hand sources so we can’t say for sure what the exact state of play is.”
So, in summary, this case is not finished. Moreover, as we have explained before, there is a pattern of coverup for misconduct in SIPO. We wrote about that last week.
The second case involved Mr. Ivan Kabalin, whose letter we published some days ago (he too alleges coverup).
“Mr. Kabalin is a Croatian engineer who invented an improved type of safety razor and submitted a patent application for his invention to the Croatian SIPO,” our source explained. “Kabalin claims that his idea was subsequently pirated by Gillette and marketed as its “Gillette Sensor Excel” product. It seems that when he tried to pursue legal action against Gillette he found out that his patent application had not been properly processed by the SIPO. We are not sure of the exact details about this, i.e. whether they rejected the application or just left it hanging as a “pending application”. Whatever the exact story there, it turned out that he couldn’t obtain any effective legal enforcement against Gillette.”
Kabalin’s story has been covered in the Croatian press for many years now. NISTA_EN (published earlier this month) is a translation we have received of an article from 2013. Here is it as HTML. It’s a translation of an article from tjedno.hr which starts off with the Kabalin case before moving on to report about other matters relating to Željko Topić’s record.
“More recently it has received renewed coverage,” said our source, citing this page (publication date is 7th of November 2014, but no translation is available). The headline on that article, as we have been told, reads: “THE GILLETTE AFFAIR: One of the biggest heists in Croatian history is still continuing!”
Some older articles can be found here and here (no translations available) and in this interview with Kabalin from 2012 (again no translation available) the headline quotes him as saying that the whole of the SIPO “should be sent to Remetinec” (i.e. the main jailhouse in Zagreb).
We have heard something similar from Frgacic, who said in a recent interview that German authorities ought to arrest Željko Topić.
Our source added the following important disclaimer about the aforementioned cases: “We want to emphasise that we only know about the Frgacic and Kabalin cases from second-hand sources. These guys obviously have axes to grind with the SIPO but we are too remote from their cases to make any comments on the merits of their claims.
“However, the “David versus Goliath” aspect of these stories seems to have struck a chord with the popular imagination in Croatia and both cases have got a significant amount of media attention there. We also note that the ongoing controversy about Topić’s appointment at the EPO also seems to have regenerated interest in these “cold cases” in Croatia. Understandably, the people involved in these cases are interested in obtaining some exposure on an international level.
“As you might expect, the official “party line” of the SIPO (i.e. Topić) is to dismiss these people as disgruntled “cranks”. For example, the Frgacic case is mentioned in a press release from the Croatian SIPO dated 30 April 2012.” (see PRESS RELEASE 30-04-2012-EN and refer to the first paragraph on the last page).
Here is the full text of the press release, which is alleged to have been written by Topić:
REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
STATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE
Zagreb, 30 April 2012
Following a series of articles in the media, among which “Jutarnji list” and the Internet portal Index.hr have been particularly prominent, and in which arbitrary allegations have been levelled in an outrageous manner against the former Director General of the State Intellectual Property Office, Mr Topić, and against the activities of the Office as an institution, the State Intellectual Property Office is publishing the following press release with the aim of objectively and truthfully informing the public and preventing further misrepresentation by the media.
The so-called “affair” relating to Director General Topić is nothing more than the product of unprofessional journalism which, in its search for a sensational story, publishes incomplete information, unverified information and even complete disinformation, to which a completely arbitrary and tendentious interpretation is applied.
The main source of accusations against the Office and against Mr Topić personally is the unprecedented campaign conducted by Ms Vesna Stilin, who was dismissed from service in the Office at the beginning of 1999 by the then Director due to unauthorised absence from duty for a duration of 34 consecutive days. For over 12 years she has been exerting unrelenting pressure on the competent government and judicial authorities in an attempt to realise her own unfounded ambitions and interests while trying to depict the matter as a struggle against illegal activities of the Office. We emphasise that from 1999 until the present day Ms Stilin has instituted dozens of court proceedings against several directors of the Office, the Office as an institution and the Croatian state in which inter alia she has claimed huge sums of money which are purportedly owed to her by the Office and the Croatian state. Ms Stilin’s arbitrary and malicious allegations concerning irregularities in the Office’s operations have, unfortunately, fallen on fruitful soil created by the current atmosphere of public distrust towards state institutions due to the intensified fight against corruption in recent years. In addition to this, arbitrary allegations by malicious individuals driven by questionable motives are published uncritically as facts by an unprofessional media and without any prior verification or objective analysis.
In the context of the aforementioned unprecedented campaign by Ms Stilin who, on an almost daily basis for the past 4 years, has been filing various absurd submissions, including criminal
charges, against Mr Topić and the Office with government and judicial authorities, a report relating to a budgetary inspection of the Office’s operations conducted in 2008 has been published. The contents of this report have provided the basis for media misrepresentation concerning alleged financial malpractices at the Office.
The aforementioned report has been interpreted in an arbitrary manner, without any appreciation of its contents and context, which we now elaborate upon with the aim of clarifying this matter.
Due to the monopolistic nature of intellectual property rights and the complex procedures for their protection, and in accordance with generally accepted global standards, it has been prescribed that not only the usual state duties are to be paid in connection with these procedures, but, additionally, fees for granting and maintaining the validity of these rights. In many countries, pursuant to the terms of international intellectual property agreements which in principle stipulate that the income from procedural fees for the granting and maintenance of such rights be used for the further development of the intellectual property protection system, this income is classified as the “proprietary revenue” of the competent intellectual property office. Such a practice also existed in Croatia from 1991, when the Office was established, until 2007, when the process of establishing the state treasury and the associated systematic regulation of revenue and expenditure in the central government budget led to a re-interpretation of the concept of “proprietary revenue” of government bodies. In other words, prior to 2007 the revenue from fees for intellectual property rights granting and maintenance procedures falling under the Office’s responsibility was remitted to a special sub-account of the government budget, from which the Office settled a part of its operating costs directly while unspent funds accumulated in the same sub-account and were visible in the prescribed financial reports of the Office.
That such operations were in conformity with the law is confirmed by an audit report from 2004 in which they were not called into question in any way whatsoever. However, according to the interpretation of the aforementioned budgetary inspection from 2008, the changes that had taken place in the meantime in relation to the definition of “proprietary revenue” of government bodies and in the context of the overall process of introducing a regulated government accounting system, resulted in a situation in which the Office’s revenue from fees for procedures for granting and maintaining the validity of intellectual property rights was henceforth to be considered as part of the general revenue of the central government budget. At this point it was requested that the funds which had hitherto been accumulated in the so-called “proprietary revenue” sub-account of the Office should be transferred into the central government budget account and that the planned expenditure from the central government budget for the operating costs of the Office be increased by a corresponding amount. The Office subsequently complied with this request. However, despite the detection of certain accounting irregularities in relation to the consistent management of expenditure between the so-called “proprietary revenue” sub-account and the central government budget account, the disputed budgetary inspection did not reveal any actual misuse of the financial resources.
The Office wishes to point out that the media reports concerning this matter and the allegations made by Ms Stilin systematically omit to mention that all detected irregularities were subsequently resolved and clarified, and that the competent authorities which had the disputed budgetary inspection report at their disposal evidently did not consider the established irregularities to merit further investigation. In every detailed audit of the operations of any legal entity a certain number of irregularities are almost always detected and the competent authorities subsequently undertake corrective measures depending on the objective gravity of the detected irregularities. It is emphasised that 8 identical copies of the disputed budgetary inspection report were compiled and submitted to the competent authorities in accordance with the applicable regulations on budgetary inspection.
The Office also wishes to draw attention to the misrepresentation concerning a “multi-million amount of fees” which the Director General allegedly paid out to himself and his “cronies”. The sum referred to corresponds to approximately 10% of the total amount that was paid out for the regular services of the Office employees over the same period, and it relates to payments made on various grounds to 42 of a total of 104 employees of the Office, including several months of full-time contract employment for a few individuals. It has also been omitted to explain that the only fee which was paid out to Mr Topić was for professional services on the examination committee for certified representatives in proceedings conducted by the Office and which was transparently and legally regulated and paid out in the same manner to all members of the examination committee. With regard to allegations about the fees for the committee members not being fully covered by the examination fees paid by applicants, we would like to point out that prior to the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in 2011 abolishing compensation due to civil servants for membership of expert committees, such fees paid to civil servants for services provided to expert committees in numerous state administration bodies were paid in full from the central government budget account, and that subsequent to the disputed budgetary inspection the Office aligned the examination fees with the level of compensation due to the examination board. The Office would also like to emphasise that in accordance with the results of the Feasibility Study on the Restructuring of the Office into a Self-Financing Organisation, which was carried out by independent experts, it was determined that the central government budget revenues arising from fees for the granting and maintenance procedures for intellectual property rights which were a direct result of the operations of the Office in 2007 and 2008 exceeded the total operating expenditure of the Office by approximately 800,000 HRK.
Concerning the fabricated “affair” about the allegedly illegal procurement of an official Mercedes vehicle and its “concealment” in the Office archives, all unfounded allegations based on malicious anonymous submissions by staff members were publicly refuted by the Office with counter-arguments immediately after their initial publication in 2009, a detail which the media now writing about this matter systematically omits to mention. They also fail to refer to a clear and unambiguous statement in the report of an administrative inspection conducted by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports according to which it was established that there had been no irregularities in the procurement and usage of official vehicles at the Office.
With regard to the aforementioned criminal charges filed against the Director General of the Office, a key fact has been omitted: criminal charges can be filed by anyone, regardless of the merits of the case and the competent authorities are obliged to start investigative proceedings in relation to any criminal charges filed, no matter how unfounded they may prove to be after the investigation has been carried out. With regard to the specific criminal charges referred to here, the Office wishes to draw particular attention to the following facts.
The criminal charges brought by the employee Zdenko Haluza for the alleged forgery of an official document by Mr Topić are based on the date of entry into force of the Regulations on the Internal Organisation of the Office, which was incorrectly stated in the Decision concerning the transfer of Mr Haluza from an abolished position to a new position at the same level of competence and with identical associated rights. Mr Haluza has been trying to challenge the aforementioned transfer without success since 2008 and he refuses to carry out the duties associated with the new position to which he was transferred. After the legality of this transfer and the irrelevance in this regard of the incorrectly stated date were confirmed, Mr Haluza had exhausted the available means of redress in his proceedings against the Decision of the Office and he therefore resorted to the malicious filing of a criminal lawsuit for the forgery of an official document as the only remaining way of challenging the transfer. In the meantime, this lawsuit has been dismissed by the State Attorney’s Office. However, under the Croatian Criminal Code, a plaintiff can pursue the proceedings as a private plaintiff after the claim has been dismissed by the State Attorney’s Office, which is what Mr Haluza has done. In view of the evident absurdity of the criminal charges, it is more than certain that the outcome of the aforementioned proceedings will be in Mr Topić’s favour.
The second criminal charge against Mr Topić “by the employees of the Office” is the one filed by Ms Stilin as a private plaintiff which relates to the allegedly defamatory content of one of several proposals made by Mr Topić to relieve Ms Stilin of her duties as an Assistant Director. The alleged libel relates to a memorandum explaining the unsatisfactory performance of the duties of Assistant Director on the part of Ms Stilin due to which her dismissal from these duties was proposed. The media articles have systematically omitted mention of the fact, which Ms Stilin has confirmed in her public statements, that in the court proceedings in this criminal case Mr Topić has already been acquitted twice on the basis of two non-binding decisions, [i.e. first instance decisions that are not finally binding]. Based on previous experience it is certain that Ms Stilin will continue these proceedings until she has exhausted all available legal means, and thereafter by using other forms of pressure.
The third criminal charge is the one filed by Mr Frgačić in the so-called “Lufthansa-Affair”. The Office emphasises that it conducts more than 10,000 procedures a year in connection with requests to grant intellectual property rights, a significant part of which are terminated by a decision not to grant the requested right because the prescribed requirements have not been met. There thus exists the inherent possibility that an applicant will be dissatisfied with the decision of the Office no matter how well supported by arguments and based on law it was. The character of the dissatisfied party will determine which legal remedies they rely on to pursue their interests and this does not exclude filing arbitrary criminal charges and making accusations about the alleged corruption of officials.
It is also known to the Office that the obligatory investigative actions are being conducted as prescribed in relation to criminal charges the content of which makes it evident that they are based on malicious accusations originating from the habitual arsenal employed by Ms Stilin in the daily submissions with which she exerts pressure on the government and judicial authorities.
With regard to the so-called ZAMP-Affair (Protection of Music Copyright), the Office has already issued a press release and on this occasion emphasises once again that all allegations of irregularities concerning the collective management of these rights are completely unfounded and that this has been recognised in the meantime by a good part of the objectively-minded public.
From the fact that Mr Topić is portrayed by the media in turns either as a confidant of President Josipović or as “Sanader’s apparatchik”, the absurdity of all speculation about his appointment as Director General being due to some kind of political patronage becomes apparent.
Apart from a year-long break when he worked in the private sector, Mr Topic held various professional and managerial functions in the Office more or less from the time of its establishment until he left the position of Director General to take up his appointment as Vice-President of the European Patent Office. It is evident from this that he was appointed as Director General based solely on professional rather than political considerations. The only person who has invoked party membership in an attempt to secure her own interests has been Ms Stilin who in her numerous absurd accusations against Mr Topić stated inter alia that her dismissal was a consequence of his discrimination against her because of her membership of HDZ.
Mr Topić’s selection as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office has also been the subject of outrageous misrepresentation by the media. The aforementioned position is awarded solely on merit and it is not a political appointment. Moreover, Mr Topić obtained the position on the basis of a publicly advertised competition for which he applied along with three other candidates. Mr Topić was chosen following the presentation of his candidacy to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, of which the European Patent Office is the executive organ, and after he had received the votes of a majority of the representatives of the 38 member states during the first round of secret voting on the four candidates, and it was not due to any kind of political lobbying by Croatian diplomacy.
In conclusion, the Office wishes to express its grave concern about the fact that such extremely unprofessional media manipulation based on malicious accusations from a small number of people obviously driven by questionable motives can cause the reputation of a state institution and its Director to be called into question in such an outrageous manner, despite the notable results achieved by the Office and its professional reputation in the relevant national and international professional circles, which is incontrovertibly confirmed by the official reports of the European Commission, the international awards presented to Mr Topić and his appointment to a high executive function at the European Patent Office based inter alia upon the results achieved during his many years as the head of the Office. We particularly regret that the competent institutions have also succumbed to this unprecedented pressure and have subordinated their actions to individual interests rather than objective reasoning based on relevant facts.
This so-called ‘press release’ reads like an ad hominem blog post, throwing accusations mostly at Ms Stilin. Sadly enough for Topić, his lost as SLAPP case and Stilin not only won but Topić is liable to pay all her legal fees. The judge basically smashed Topić’s narrative to pieces. The EPO’s ringleader, Battistelli, probably hopes that his staff will never find out about that. Battistelli relied on this case when supposedly ‘dispelling’ ‘rumours’. But we have English and German translations of this recent ruling.
“Just for information,” added our source, “the Croatian media have claimed that Topić authored that press release himself (i.e. the original Croatian version) and ordered it to be published on the official website of the SIPO.”
That’s in itself a serious indication of Topić’s crooked mind.
Refer to the translation in PLR-EN — an article published by dnevno.hr in April of 2013. Here is the full translation of the text passed to us:
DISCLAIMER: The text which follows is a translation from the original Croatian. The accuracy of the translation is not guaranteed. The original article can be found at: http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/85582-bivsi-ravnatelj-dziv-a-zeljko-topic-zakinuo-jehrvatske-knjizevnike-za-milijune-kuna.html
Croatian writers claim that former DZIV Director Željko Topić cheated them out of millions of Kuna
Written by: Mladen Prenc
Sunday, 28 April 2013
“For the common good and in order to provide complete information to both the Croatian and international public, we have decided to speak out on the subject of the threatened existence of Croatian writers, and also journalists, publishers, illustrators and other related professions. Starting in 2007, writers were supposed to receive financial compensation from the state for the lending of their books in public libraries based on the so-called Public Lending Right, but to date they have not received a single cent”.
This appeal has been issued by anonymous sources from the Croatian Writers’ Association* [Društvo hrvatskih književnika / DHK] who have contacted the news portal Dnevno. After remaining silent for a number of years, the writers have finally decided to speak out about the alleged injustice done to them, and for which they blame the former long-time director of the State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV), Željko Topić, who now holds the position of Vice-President of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. The writers ask the following question: Why didn’t the Copyright Act in Croatia become operational for writers and other artists in the same way as it did for musicians (within the framework of the Protection of Music Copyrights – ZAMP)?
Instead of including writers, only members of ZAMP were protected
They claim that the DZIV was appointed to act on behalf of the State as the coordinating body for the implementation of the above-mentioned Public Lending Right (PLR) based on the National Strategy for the Development of the Intellectual Ownership System in the period from 2005 to 2010. This Strategy was developed by DZIV itself, and the year 2007 was established as the deadline for PLR implementation. At the 4th European Public Lending Right Conference held in Budapest in April 2007, a proposal was made to hold the next European Conference in Croatia in order to provide writers in our country with support in relation to the implementation of the new right, which had already been introduced into Croatian legislation in 2003 by means of the Copyright and Related Rights Act which was based on the EU Directive 92/100/EEC.
The writers explain how Željko Topić continued to ignore all of the initiatives associated with the organisation of the European Public Lending Right Conference in Croatia for over a year, before finally turning down the request of the Conference organisers on 2 April 2008. His argument was that the Croatian state agency responsible for the matter, i.e. the DZIV, lacked the financial means to bear its share of the Conference costs – a ridiculously small sum of 100,000 HRK, or approximately 15,000 EUR. The balance was to be provided by the Conference organisers. However, the story of the DZIV’s empty coffers, which Topić used as a convenient excuse, is contradicted by the official remuneration disbursement schedule for the year 2007, which clearly shows that the DZIV had ample funds at its disposal. As evidence of this claim, we publish the 2007 disbursement schedule as an annex.
According to the schedule, additional remuneration was paid out to certain permanent employees of DZIV on top of their regular salary. It is interesting to note that this additional “contract work” appears to have been carried out by those employees during their normal working hours using the resources of the DZIV thereby effectively amounting to a form of illegal income. In any case, the former Director of the DZIV rejected the request of the Conference organisers because of an alleged lack of funds, while at the same time paying out generous additional remuneration to selected staff inside the DZIV. At this point it is necessary to emphasise that the aforementioned schedule does not include payments to external collaborators, travel expenses or other financial gems of the notorious crew resident at Vukovarska 78 in Zagreb [i.e. the DZIV]. Moreover, our sources from the Croatian Writers’ Association claim that in
parallel to the DZIV’s obstruction in the case of the Public Lending Right for authors, the development and monitoring of rights protection for certain other forms of copyright, in particular those relating to ZAMP [i.e. musical royalties], were receiving a completely different and privileged level of support from this state agency.
The DZIV Vehicle Fleet
Apart from generous additional remuneration for himself and certain favoured employees of the DZIV, the information available to us indicates that Željko Topić was also capable of financing the cost of six official DZIV vehicles: three older ones – an Audi 6, an Audi 4 and a Skoda – as well as three completely new ones – a Mercedes, an Audi 6 and a Skoda. The new Audi 6 was for the then Minister of Science Dragan Primorac, who was responsible for the DZIV at the time; the new Mercedes, i.e. “Merc” and the older Audi 6 for Topić himself, the older Audi A4 for his deputy Romana Matanovac, and the new Skoda for the assistant Director Ljiljana Kuterovac. All of this was in addition to the documented amount of 1,033,182.28 HRK, clearly visible in the schedule annexed to this article, which was paid out as additional remuneration for the year 2007 (on top of the regular salary) to around half of the DZIV employees, with the “duo” consisting of Željko Topić and Romana Matanovac topping the list of beneficiaries. In a Budgetary Audit Report relating to the DZIV dated 15 January 2008 and carried out by the Ministry of Finance, this amount is listed as improper expenditure in contravention of the Labour Act, the Collective Agreement for Civil Servants and Employees and the Budget Act. The aforementioned Report notes that Topić’s actions in this respect constitute an offence subject to sanction by a fine in the amount up to 100,000 HRK pursuant to the Budget Act. Notwithstanding a legal obligation to do so, for reasons known only to themselves neither the inspectors from the Ministry of Finance nor the Minister with responsibility for the DZIV at that time, Dragan Primorac, saw fit to initiate civil or criminal proceedings against Topić.
Are Croatian writers finally about to take action against the former DZIV director Željko Topić by way of a collective lawsuit or by alternative legal means, in an effort to call him to account for causing them significant financial damage by abusing his position and authority and neglecting his official duty to facilitate the implementation of the new Public Lending Right? Thanks to him they have still not received a single cent of financial compensation which is of existential importance for writers and for other related professions as mentioned above. To what extent Mr Topić and the socalled “clique of intellectuals” at the DZIV have forearmed themselves against the eventuality of legal action on the part of Croatian writers has yet to be ascertained.
Official or private website?
We would also like to remind our readers that Željko Topić made use of the official DZIV website last year to settle accounts with persons who had pressed criminal charges against him as well as with the media outlets that had drawn the attention of the public to his violations of the law. Although he had moved to Munich in the meantime after voluntarily handing in his notice at the DZIV to take up the position of Vice-President of the EPO in the Bavarian capital, in April 2012 he suddenly returned to Zagreb on the last day of the month. As the working day was drawing to a close he ordered a surprised employee of the DZIV IT department to publish a controversial exculpatory “press release” on the official DZIV website*. In other words, having no possibility to obtain publication of such a self-serving statement in the press or on the Internet portals that had reported piquant details about him, he abused his position and influence inasmuch as he effectively requisitioned the website of a state agency for a private purpose, i.e. to publish a rejoinder in his own defence.
In addition to that, as part of his efforts to discredit the published articles disclosing the illegal actions carried out during his time at the DZIV, Topić filed a complaint with the Croatian Journalists’ Association, accusing the journalists who had written the articles of violating the journalistic code of honour by publishing unverified and defamatory information about him. The Press Council of the Croatian Journalists’ Association rejected Topić’s accusations and published its reasoned findings on its official website **.
Whether by coincidence or not, the Croatian law firms that represent Željko Topić in the criminal proceedings pending against him were at the same time also representing those who had indicted him – at least until such time as this was inadvertently revealed. In this way, they had access to privileged information concerning the other party. The lawyers who represent Mr Topić in criminal legal matters in Croatian courts are the law firm Silvije Hraste and the law firm Gajski-Prka-Saucha and Partners d.o.o. Affidavits bearing stamps of these law firms have been deposited in all criminal cases concerning Željko Topić. Our editors are in possession of copies of these documents.
Finally, it should be pointed out that the aforementioned law firms are at the same time officially registered as the legal representatives of the DZIV in Zagreb. In this way the circle is closed.
Contentious appointment and DZIV audit
In the course of conducting an audit of the DZIV and its then Director Željko Topić in 2012, the Ministry of Science under the control of Minister Željko Jovanović omitted to analyse a key document of the Croatian Government from which it plainly follows that Romana Matanovac, who was at the time employed by the state agency DZIV, was ineligible to be appointed as a member of the Board of Experts for Copyright and Related Rights [due to a conflict of interest].
Matanovac’s transgressions include approving the payment of some 300,000 HRK by the DZIV in 2008 for the ALAI Congress [held in Dubrovnik], under the stewardship of Professor Igor Gliha otherwise known as a close friend of Ivo Josipović, the Croatian President, instead of providing funds for the Public Lending Right Conference, despite the fact that the DZIV had a whole year to prepare for the latter event and was under an official obligation to organise it. Out of approximately 110 permanent employees of the DZIV, the only ones who appear to have benefitted from the exclusive privilege of receiving multiple additional perks were Romana Matanovac and Ljiljana Kuterovac both of whom evidently enjoyed the special confidence of the former Director Topić.
In conclusion we note that Croatian writers are still searching for answers to a number of unsolved riddles. For example, why did Ms. Romana Matanovac not adopt the same professional approach to the implementation of the Personal Lending Right as she did in the case of Josipović’s ZAMP [i.e. music royalties]? And what exactly is it that makes Croatian musicians worth more than writers?
* The press release referred to is available on the DZIV website (in Croatian only):
** The findings of the Croatian Press Council in the case of Željko Topić vs. Slavica Lukić may be accessed here (in Croatian only):
The writers explain how Topić continued to ignore all of the initiatives associated with the organisation of the European Public Lending Right Conference in Croatia for over a year, before finally turning down the request of the Conference organisers on 2 April 2008. His excuse was that the DZIV lacked the financial means to bear its share of the Conference costs. However, at the same time Topić was paying himself and certain favoured DZIV employees generous amounts of “additional remuneration” as evidenced by the official disbursement schedule.
Readers, including those outside of Croatia, are advised to read the above text, especially the parts about bribery using vehicles, intimidation by Topić using SLAPP litigation, and apparent misuse of his position in SIPO. It’s quite revealing and we are increasingly convinced that Topić knows damn well that he has done so much wrong, hence he is trying to silence those who speak out, even if this involves years in courts and much in lawyers’ fees (for both sides). Topić knows the abusive arts of litigation. It’s his field. It’s what he’s best at, based on his track record.
We asked a source if Topić is indeed likely to have turned SIPO into his blogging platform (sort of). “This sounds plausible to,” told us this source, “because, according to official government records, [it appeared] following his appointment to the EPO Topić’s term of office as Director-General of the SIPO expired on 30 April 2012 (i.e. the date of the “Press Release”). So according to official records, he was still the Director-General of the SIPO when the “Press Release” was published.”
In the coming days we are going to cover the sham ‘investigation’ from Benoît Battistelli and his cronies. They are not interested in finding out the truth about Topić, only in defending him (so as to cover their own behinds). █