News from Munich…
Summary: A somewhat belated translation of an important recent article from Süddeutsche Zeitung
THE EPO coverage will resume tonight (there’s much more on the way), but in the mean time, as we have just noticed a translation of this article over at SUEPO’s site, here is the English version
[PDF] with bits highlighted:
2 March 2016, 19:01
Front Lines Hardening: A Public Authority Teetering on the Brink
Strife at the European Patent Office between President and staff veering more and more out of control
By Katja Riedel
According to the announcement on Wednesday by Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office (EPO), it is supposed to be an “agreement that truly breaks new ground”. For the first time in the history of the international organization, the word is that a staff union is now being recognized as a social partner, and social peace with the workforce, which up to now has been decidedly hostile, accordingly appears to be just around the corner. However, the Office has chosen to overlook one minor detail: The union with which Battistelli has signed the memorandum of understanding is called FFPE, and, in the world of the EPO, with a workforce more than 7,000 strong, that union so far boasts less than 100 members. And at the Office headquarters in Munich, where some 4,000 people work, and a war has been raging for three years between staff representatives and the President, there is not one single FFPE member. The social dialogue accordingly resembles more of a monologue.
The fact is that in the patent world, which is all but closed to outsiders, another staff union is deeply rooted. This is called Suepo, and it represents about half of the personnel. For decades Suepo was very powerful, and what it said really counted. That is, until Battistelli came, and, on orders from the 38 Member States which had elected him, set about shaping the Office towards greater efficiency. Since then both sides have been engaged in a bitter power struggle, but with unfair resources. The President has far-reaching powers, and he is not afraid to use them, liberally, which has ultimately led from escalation to escalation. For three long years Suepo has been protesting, not just internally, against Battistelli and what they see as his excessive authoritarianism, against reforms which restrict the fundamental rights of staff members, and against Battistelli’s extremely high-handed and heavily centralized management style.
For everyone to see, staff members have marched in their thousands through Munich and to the consulates, seeking to push the Member States into at least debating Battistelli’s reforms with him. But the only body which can give orders to Battistelli has long shown itself to side with the President, and has been gentle in its admonishments, even extending his term of office during the dispute and before the expiry date, until 2018. But now it looks as if Battistelli has overstepped the mark. Since last autumn he has been hitting back hard, suspending a patent judge, who in fact, given the power structure, does not actually come under his jurisdiction at all, which has caused a considerable stir in the various governing bodies as well as on the patent scene in general. According to the findings of an internal investigation unit, the man is supposed to have used more than 20 aliases to conduct a campaign of defamation against the President and other leading executives, and thereby created major upset within the Office. The man disputes the accusations. At the beginning of the year, Battistelli then dismissed Suepo chief executive Elizabeth Hardon, due to alleged bullying and complicity with the judge. Two other members of the Suepo governing body went with her.
Currently doing the rounds in the Office is a letter from the head of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, a Dane, who once had his eyes on the Presidency. Since then, he has been a Battistelli man – or, more precisely, he was. Kongstad has indicated, on behalf of 28 Member States, that there was something of a showdown with the President within the close management circle at two meetings in February. The main issue appears to have been the social conflict within the Office. In particular, the governing body wanted to discuss the case of the dismissed union members with him. Regrettably, it seems that it was impossible to engage the President in a meaningful dialogue, according to Kongstad’s letter. During the meeting he apparently rejected the requests out of hand, because the Member States were trying to undermine his authority. These attempts included the disciplinary issues as well as allowing the work of the controversial investigation unit to be vetted by an outside source. Battistelli appears to have then left the meeting.
According to some newspapers, such as the Dutch De Telegraaf, the word was that Battistelli had envisaged stepping down, and was negotiating a golden handshake of 18 million Euro. “Utter rubbish” was the response from the circle around the President, and things appear to have calmed down again. Battistelli is said to be prepared to compromise on four out of six issues, but significantly not with regard to disciplinary procedures and external monitoring – the key points. Suepo are accused of stirring up the conflict alone, in order to secure their own survival. The union apparently refused to have further dealings with Battistelli due to the dismissals, nor were they prepared to enter into any agreement which would de facto have caused them to forego further influence.
How things turn out for the Office, for Battistelli, and for social peace, could well be decided in mid-March. Specifically, the demands from the Administrative Council will be high on the formal agenda at the next meeting of its full body. A straightforward majority of 38 votes could then force the President to implement the demands. Should he not do so, the Administrative Council could then, at the next meeting in June, call for him to step down, which would require three-quarters of the votes. The name of a possible successor for the top job is in fact already being bandied about, that of the German member of the Administrative Council, Christoph Ernst, from the Federal Ministry of Justice. Word has it that Battistelli considers that not even to be an option. He is in the best of moods – so it is said.
There is something rather strange (infighting perhaps) going on at Süddeutsche Zeitung, but we’re likely to cover this some time in the future when there’s more clarity on the matter.
Over the weekend we plan to work on making local copies of the TV program which covered the EPO scandals earlier this month (making a wave in Germany and changing public opinion). The EPO’s high-level management is evidently desperate to make it go away, to no longer be accessible online (this has already happened) and gradually be forgotten. █
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Summary: An analysis of a presentation from Dr. Ernst, who is rumoured to be among the possible options for EPO leadership after Battistelli, who is stuck deep in or under the mud right now
TECHRIGHTS is interested in knowing whether the EPO will adhere to the EPC and refrain from granting software patents, which software professionals don’t want anyway (they already have copyrights).
Currently, the only person who is rumoured to be a contender to become Battistelli’s replacement is Dr. Ernst, whom we believed to have been among the opposition to Battistelli in the last meeting of the Administrative Council (December 2015).
“What is interesting is not his presentation but that the roundtable was chaired by Julia Reda.”
–Anonymous“I’ve been looking a little more,” told us a reader (FOSS person), “and still not finding anything aside from neutral, political statements. Some are even issued through his lawyer. I did spot the following though. What is interesting is not his presentation but that the roundtable was chaired by Julia Reda. I do not know her but I do know that she’s been doing excellent work in the parliament. Maybe she is one of the people that could say what position Ernst has.”
We asked her yesterday, but have not yet received a response. A few months ago she warned that TPP would bring software patents to Europe and she knows the perils of software patents, being more technically literate than a lot of politicians out there.
Our reader found this video and asked about Dr. Ernst: “Is this him?”
“At 18:00 he seems to dodge naming software patents.”
–AnonymousWell, it sure looks like it. He mentioned the EPC too.
“The part about patents starts at 12:15 to 19:00 and he talks about EPC,” our reader says. “At 18:00 he seems to dodge naming software patents. At about 20:00 he begins about copyright.”
Here is the full video, which can be streamed non-sequentially.
When Battistelli leaves the Office and goes back to Corsica where he comes from (or rejoin his political allies who are Sarkozy-connected) it’ll be interesting to see if the EPO removes the ban on Techrights. █
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Battistelli wouldn’t do what Blatter did, would he?
Whispering about what people close to Battistelli (his ‘clergymen’) have allegedly been whispering to directors at the EPO
Summary: A growing number of claims that directors at the EPO are being promised big favours in exchange for the pretense that they support the megalomaniacal President, whose days are numbered
SOME things are mere rumours, but when heard from several sources that agree with one another independently, then these “rumours” may in fact be real, or something close enough to a reality.
For quite some time we’ve abstained from remarking about rumours sent to us in comments. It’s about potentially more alleged bribery at the EPO. Several people have told us that Battistelli uses not only scare tactics and intimidation to get support but also bribes. Based on some of the latest rumours, Battistelli is more or less bribing people (e.g. with promotion) to support him. If anyone can leak material proof to us, that would help a great deal, but all we have for now are the claims sent to us, as well as the following new comment:
How can you work for an organisation, where the so called President is trying to bribe senior managers and directors, and vice presidents to support him against his fight with the Administrative Council, Unions and staff?
I happened to be in an area last week, where a vice president was speaking with some directors, and I heard him say “The president will reward you for your support during this matter”. What is that meant to mean, that the President is paying for support, as he knows that he has overstepped the mark this time, and certainly not the first time. Unfortunately, it is not his personal money that he pays with, no it’s the office money, which he is giving away as though there is an endless supply.
Another new comment says:
Not all employers are allowed to vote.
Anyway it states that 91 per cent of the 4062 employees who voted, voted to strike.
We have had enough, as now the Vice Presidents are using bribery as their new weapon. “You support the President, and l will see that you are rewarded”.
Time for a change, not just the President, but also the Vice Presidents!
We have been getting even more reports that the EPO’s President, Battistelli, is incentivising/bribing managers, but concrete proof is needed. Here is another new comment which relates to the documents we leaked an hour ago:
According to an article in the SDZ
“Battistelli is said to be prepared to compromise on four out of six issues [of the letter of Board 28], but significantly not with regard to disciplinary procedures and external monitoring – the key points.”
It’s a lose-lose situation for him: either straightforward reject any request of review and risk dismissal by the AC now, or accept an independent review that will show the disgraceful way in which the staff reps were dismissed, and suffer a public humiliation AND dismissal later.
And we have not yet heard about the fate of the DG3 member: a second failure in obtaining his dismissal would only add to the embarrassment of the AC that was misled by the president …
Grab the popcorns and a beer, sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the next AC …
There will be a protest that day. █
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A replacement to Battistelli should be chosen before the damage becomes irreparable
Summary: The letter in ‘support’ of Battistelli is not a genuine letter of support, the imminent strike is under attack (more so after the FFPE-EPO MoU), and new rumours about Battistelli’s successor are beginning to circulate (Christoph Ernst, on the left)
THERE is no denying that the EPO (both the Office and the Organisation) are in a state of crisis, but a lot of it can be resolved if the Organisation removes Team Battistelli from the Office. The folly has gone way too far and it’s time to undo the coup. The EPO (Organisation) needs to start afresh and acknowledge this past failure to the world, including to stakeholders whose money keeps the EPO alive.
Christina Schulze wrote yet another strongly-worded article about Benoît Battistelli over at Juve (translations would be more than welcome) while other German (or Austrian) media did something similar this week, with few exceptions*. Thankfully, despite all the propaganda (notably unions and results), the press stays focused on the real stories, not the distractions from FTI Consulting (peripheral PR reinforcement) and the EPO's in-house PR team that habitually resorts to lying.
“The folly has gone way too far and it’s time to undo the coup.”Some talking points, other than the unions and results, say that Battistelli magically won back the support of the Council. This is a lie.
“What PD Roberta Romano G is up to,” according to our source, is no good. According to information that we privately received, “PD Roberta Romano-Götsch abuses her position as principal director to “volunteer” subordinates to sign the letter in support of Battistelli. Dozens have been intimidated into signing the letter. Collecting signatures under duress is a scandal in an international organization that should lead by example. My prayer to the AC: deliver us from Battistelli!”
“Thankfully, despite all the propaganda (notably unions and results), the press stays focused on the real stories, not the distractions from FTI Consulting (peripheral PR reinforcement) and the EPO’s in-house PR team that habitually resorts to lying.”Reading between the lines and looking deeper inside documents, we have learned that Battistelli gets Minnoye’s help in this crisis. This isn’t too shocking given Minnoye's epic television appearance. “These event triggered several reactions from the Office management,” we heard. “First, between Thursday 18.02 to 23.02, the President and in first instance the VP of DG1, Mr. Minnoye started a call to all managers to stand behind them as one man by signing a petition at the attention of the AC. As far as we are informed the signature reaction is, at best, sluggish. In the majority of the Office, the managers seem to be unwilling to sign the call. Secondly on Friday 19, the head of HR (PD 4.3) invited all elected Staff Committee members (central and local) to a meeting on Wednesday 25.”
This is very much indicative of a disaster.
“Some talking points, other than the unions and results, say that Battistelli magically won back the support of the Council. This is a lie.”There is a strike coming (Battistelli keeps spinning this in the media by saying there were no strikes last year) and Team Battistelli is trying quite aggressively to prevent the strike from happening (see these documents which we published last night — mentioned before, now available as text). It may seem expected, but such moves mostly serve to alienate the staff and motivate stronger action against the management which strives to prevent basis rights, such as the right to strike.
Someone has leaked to us a CSC (Central Staff Committee) document which we present below without comment:
Information on the call for strike “Lawfulness at the EPO”
As a reaction to the recent disciplinary procedures and resulting decisions of the President to dismiss two elected Staff Representatives and to severely downgrade a third, a call for strike was formally initiated mid-January across the Office. The petitioners mandated an external lawyer to act on their behalf as their interlocutor, but the Office refused to accept this nomination, although they did not provide any legal basis for this. The lawyer therefore proposed to delegate his mandate to the CSC for all further action with regard to any upcoming procedural steps foreseen by the EPO administration. The CSC has informed the Administration that we agreed to act as interlocutor for the strike petitioners.
In a meeting on 24 February, the Staff Representation met the Administration, headed by PD 4.3, to discuss the claims raised in the call for strike. Coincidentally and in parallel to this channel, similar requests to the ones raised by the strike petitioners have been made by the Board 28.
Results of the exchange of views
a. Immediate suspension of the disciplinary measures
The administration merely referred to the option for the disciplined colleagues to file requests for review of the decisions and, if necessary, ultimately address their cases to the ILOAT. They showed no intention to quickly deescalate the current, tense situation by suspending these measures straightaway.
b. Independent review of the disciplinary cases
The Administration asserted to be in full compliance with Office rules and therefore saw no need to comply with this request.
c. Revocation of recent changes to Service Regulations
The Administration – without any substantial discussion on any of the listed reforms – claimed that a social study was underway which would identify defects and deficiencies which could then be worked in collaboration with all stakeholders. Apparently, revocation of any of the reforms is not an option.
d. Use of a Mediator to facilitate negotiations between the management and staff representatives
The Administration commented that “Mediation is a waste of time” and saw no need to engage any external support to resolve the current deadlock.
No meaningful progress has been made during this meeting with regards to the requests as set out in the call for strike. Therefore, a strike ballot will take place on 8 March 2016.
“For the strike ballot” we learned, “the CSC nominated two staff members to overview the process. On the background of key-loggers and other recent past events, the confidentiality of the vote cannot be guaranteed at this stage. The Administration declared that if the turn out was low, this was simply a “sign of lack of support” for the claims.”
“It may seem expected, but such moves mostly serve to alienate the staff and motivate stronger action against the management which strives to prevent basis rights, such as the right to strike. “So there is pressure to vote, not boycott the vote and go on strike in spite of it. This is union-busting again.
“It was declared that the administration saw no necessity,” we learned, “and had no me to run a paper ballot. And again, the SR took note that the simple administrative request made by the CSC to make sure the exercise was meaningful was turned down by the administration. As a general conclusion, the SR assembled expressed their disappointment that the attempt to find common ground had failed and that the organisation of the strike ballot should proceed.”
“This is union-busting again.”Any outsider can see what Battistelli thinks not only of unions but also of democracy. No wonder he's with Sarkozy. Although it may be too early to say anything about Battistelli’s expected departure (whether by resignation of by sacking), one reader pointed to this article and said that “the last passage of the article is the most interesting: ‘Tatsächlich kursiert bereits der Name eines möglichen Nachfolgers an der Amtsspitze, der des deutschen Verwaltungsratsmitglieds Christoph Ernst aus dem Bundesjustizministerium. Battistelli selbst, so ist zu hören, soll das für ausgeschlossen halten. Er sei allerbester Laune, heißt es.’”
“It says that there are already rumours about the next president who’s supposed to be the German representative Christoph Ernst from the federal ministry of justice,” we were told. “This is new rumour and if we add this article to the BR programme one can imagine that there are some forces behind. It is rumoured that there are already 22 delegations in favour of ousting Battistelli. All will be decided probably soon.
“Any outsider can see what Battistelli thinks not only of unions but also of democracy.”“One could say: The sooner the better (for everybody). The longer the thing drags on, the angrier the delegations will be and Battistelli’s conditions will get worse.”
Based on the EPO’s own site, Christoph Ernst was “elected chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee” less than a year ago (
epo.org link), so presumably he knows Battistelli’s real salary. Mr. Kongstad knows it too. █
* At least one English language paper is writing about Austria and repeats the EPO's latest propaganda (ignoring the real story), plus the German-speaking Austrian press, in addition to few other publications that we cited here before, the latest being the Financial Times (London).
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The EPO scandals keep piling up
Reference: Golden parachute, defined as “an agreement between a company and an employee (usually upper executive) specifying that the employee will receive certain significant benefits if employment is terminated.” (like Microsoft’s Elop inside Nokia)
Photo credit: Money Crashers
Summary: More details (not just rumours) surface in the ongoing aftermath of the Battistelli regime, which is fighting to keep itself together
“Wow,” wrote Florian Müller this morning, “tonight (9 PM) even Bavarian state-owned TV will report on the EPO crisis.” He also said that “Bavarian state-owned radio (B5) just reporting on EPO labor dispute.”
We received several E-mails about it this morning (at least 3), as it has a profound impact on the legal community, not just EPO staff. We mentioned some of this before (prior E-mails we received about it) and today is an important day because German media coverage is starting to become a reality. It’s even on television and there are detailed programs on it, not just brief reports. To be frank, I am still pressuring some German publications behind the scenes, in order for them to do proper coverage of recent events; not sure if this will have an effect or not, but gradually we escalate the severity/tone and it appears to be working. We will say more about it in our next post.
“It’s even on television and there are detailed programs on it, not just brief reports.”Regarding Battistelli´s salary, told us one source, “I´ve said a long time ago that it´s supposed to be those 250-300k according to the scale (he acknowledged around 250k but I guess it´s a bit higher). The important part of his remuneration is the bonus, which was rumoured to be around 1.4-1.5 million. Together it would amount to the 1.8 million which multiplied by ten would give his alleged claim of 18 million for retiring.”
This is still the subject of an ongoing investigation here; we have a lot of data from many sources and we assure readers that once it becomes a confirmed fact (or leak) it’ll be a big scandal. Regarding the support letter (in support of Battistelli), our source told us: “Most of the directors refused to sign it. It was drafted by PD Roberta Romano-Goetsch at the instigation of VP Minnoye. I guess she couldn´t say no, having just been promoted. I hope it will surface one of these days.” █
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Summary: Information from “meeting of DG1direct” (if true) serves to reinforce hopes that even Battistelli’s high-level ‘inferiors’ won’t support him under pressure
THE EPO “meltdown” matters aren’t being properly covered by the media (this will be the subject of another future post), so we try hard to keep our readers abreast of what is known/speculated/happening.
Based on this new comment (only a day old), there’s more of a mutiny — if it can be called that — against Battistelli, in spite (or because) of the pressure put on managers to pretend to support him. As this anonymous reader, who has no track record in this site, put it:
Information provided by someone who was present at yesterday’s meeting of DG1direct, i.e. the association of the examiners’ directors:
It was collectively decided at the meeting that with regard to the support letter, DG1 directors should act according to their conscience, i.e. they should not give in to pressure from higher EPO management. In practice it will mean that DG1 directors will not sign the letter (which their principal directors had instructed them to do by Monday).
If true, next week promises to be interesting. Later on it looks as though there will be a rather major strike, but if Battistelli et al step down and the dismissals of staff representatives get suspended (pending external investigation, and perhaps several more that are sorely needed), then maybe it can be prevented. █
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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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Remember these ridiculously Orwellian recent recruitment efforts in LinkedIn?
Summary: Even Elodie Bergot’s circle is suffering brain drain as a Director reportedly quits, and she’s not alone (pending confirmations)
SEVERAL sources have independently taught or informed us that the EPO suffers brain drain not only at the examination tier but also the managerial/secretarial tier. The crisis is ascending higher up to the top-level management and some rumours falsely suggest that Elodie Bergot is out after her highly suspicious — if not incredible — promotion. She’s not out. “The woman who resigned is Edda Feisel,” we learned, “head of “Recruitment and Talent Management”. Elodie was her line manager.” Nevertheless, the rumours around Bergot continue to swirl and sometimes get distorted in transmission (broken telephone). As one person put it: “Lots of other rumours flying around (i.e. Board 28 demanded that Elodie goes), but the Director resignation seems to be the only fact.”
“The crisis is ascending higher up to the top-level management…”“Upon reflection,” told us another person “it would be surprising that this kind of information should circulate so quickly over a weekend.
“Concerning Elodie, the word I got back is that the news are false, or more likely that someone confused somebody else for her. A woman has indeed just left the HR department, but it wasn’t Elodie but a person lower down the ladder who wad been recently hired and was still in her probation period. Reasons for the sudden departure [are] unknown.”
Having inquired further about the Elodie Bergot rumours, one person said: “If it is true, then Battistelli might be cutting ballast loose in order to survive himself.”
We shall reserve further commentary about the situation until we have something concrete and confirmed, whereupon we’ll give updates and disseminate other rumours that came our way (some go as far as suggesting that even Željko Topić may be on his way out, perhaps to be replaced by Elodie Bergot). Wouldn’t that be an incredible career leap? Either way, it’s a rumour which is hard to believe, so please send further information to help us separate facts from rumours. █
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