Confirmed: European public money wasted attacking the public’s right to know the truth
Summary: The EPO President — or anyone who is referred to as ‘appointing authority’ — finds himself even deeper in a scandal as he silently attacks the very same people whom he pretends to negotiate with by contracting spies from London (to maliciously target British journalists)
THERE is a very large number of cracking attempts against Techrights at the moment (far more than usual). There is definitely also a DDOS attack against Techrights and the pattern can be demonstrated (it comes in waves), starting days ago. Readers have been writing about the site being down, the database being down, etc. because these attacks took the site down many times over the weekend. As a fairly experienced professional in this area (I do this for a living, focusing on sites and servers), even I am struggling. Babysitting the server and aggressive filtering became imperative, making the composition of new articles a secondary priority at best. As we have pointed out before, many of these issues started when we began criticising the EPO and showing corruption in it. Other sites that criticise the EPO report similar issues and the EPO has undoubtedly blocked Web sites critical of the EPO.
We finally have the EPO’s admission that it hired a military-connected company to spy on critics (including Techrights, based on our sources). This ought to do the EPO’s already-poor reputation no favours. This may also be illegal. If the EPO has the guts to hire a military-connected company to spy on critics, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to also attempt cracking (forcibly gaining access to data).
The EPO is now paying (European taxpayers’ money) to military-connected company called ‘Control Risks’. We’ve been told they spy on us specifically, but we imagine they might also spy on IP Kat (Google-hosted).
“According to a comment received on her earlier post,” wrote IP Kat, “Merpel understands that the European Patent Office has responded by means of the following internal Communiqué to the concern about reports that Control Risks (who describe themselves as “an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”) has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members…”
Here is the full text:
Investigative Unit and external firms
Regarding questions raised in recent publications and blogs
Some recent publication and blogs have questioned the participation of an external firm in EPO activities related to the Investigative Unit. I want to clarify that because the EPO Investigative Unit is rather small in terms of staffing, we need to be able to contract external companies to support our fact finding enquiries. This is one reason why an external firm can be chosen in regard to an investigation, operating within the regulatory framework of the EPO, under the full supervision of the Investigative Unit.
The European Patent Office cannot comment on specific internal investigation cases. This lack of comment is to protect the integrity of any such case and protect the interest of all parties concerned. However I would like to remind the Office has a duty of care to its employees including to investigate allegations of harassment against them by other employees. Investigations can only take place following specific allegations, made by EPO staff or external parties, and these investigations are independently and objectively carried out by the Investigative Unit, under its sole responsibility.
The investigation process of the EPO follows the best international standards and allows persons to be heard, to respond and to defend themselves against any allegations, before any conclusion of misconduct would be reported to the employee’s appointing authority. Only in any case where a serious misconduct is confirmed by the Investigative Unit, a disciplinary case could be instigated where the subject has a further right to be heard before a disciplinary committee and before any subsequent decision on a sanction would be taken.
In 2014, the Investigative Unit received 68 allegations of misconduct (-23% compared to 2013), 50% being already rejected as insufficiently specified.
So the EPO has in fact just confirmed, internally, that it hired spies (the London-based ‘Control Risks’) and it’s known who the targets are. Merpel’s response to it (remember they’re based near London) is this: “Merpel welcomes this response, but regrets that it was made only internally, when the concern raised was much more widespread, and wonders what the EPO Communications department is up to. She notes that, although it is only stated that an “external firm” has been engaged, the Communiqué appears in essence to confirm the original reports concerning Control Risks.”
Well, another important point from Merpel is that “the Investigative Unit (and by extension, Control Risks) has the power to invade the privacy of the subject to an extent that would cause uproar if it happened in a national patent office or in any private enterprise operating within the EU.”
This is not over. We will revisit this subject again and we will do our best to get to the bottom of this. Given the EPO’s appointment of thugs, bullies and alleged criminals to top positions, readers shouldn’t be reluctant to assume the worst. █
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Promoting the “will code for food” myth
Summary: Dishonest generalisations and baseless deductions portray the Free/Open Source software communities as a nasty place that leads to poverty and despair
Stephen Walli, one of Microsoft’s longest-standing moles in Free/Open Source software communities (we wrote about it even in 2008), joined Microsoft, left Microsoft (acting as a mole for a while), joined Microsoft again (in a more senior position, again as a sort of top mole), then left Microsoft again because Microsoft is shutting down 'open' so as to quit pretending it cares about Free/Open Source software. How long before Walli re-joins Microsoft (the third time around)? He is now at HP.
Weird articles from Walli are the rule rather than the exception. He occasionally mocks those who are not friendly to Microsoft’s agenda or are friendly towards the FSF/GNU/GPL/copyleft/Free software. Being a Microsoft booster, mole, etc. Walli does not do much to hide his affiliation. He is an on-and-off employee (salaried) of Microsoft and this new article from him, hosted by a Red Hat-run site (he habitually posts there), is attempting to preach what Free/Open Source software communities should be like. We find it disturbing whenever Microsoft people try to preach to Free/Open Source software communities what these communities should be like, especially because Microsoft is constantly attacking Free/Open Source software communities. That’s like the Pope explaining to Muslims how they should behave, or vice versa.
Yesterday we saw some guy called Derrick Wlodarz (not familiar with him) posting a vicious attack piece against Free/Open Source software communities. He uses misleading comparisons (apples versus oranges), selective quoting (even of trolls) and all sorts of old smears against migrations to GNU/Linux. It’s a really ugly piece of work and this anti-Linux piece comes from BetaNews, where trolling against GNU/Linux is common (usually it’s from Mr. Fagioli). “He holds numerous technical credentials from Microsoft,” Wlodarz says about himself. So here again we have the Microsoft bunch smearing Free/Open Source software communities, exploiting the fact that Free/Open Source software communities work out in the open, unlike proprietary software companies where everything happens secretly and marketing people help hide the nasty elements. Microsoft boosting in Wlodarz’s articles is quite the standard though; just look at his latest articles, titled “Migrating from Windows Server 2003: 12 best practices straight from the trenches”, “Windows RT: Did it really die? Absolutely not and here’s why”, and “Windows Phone 8.1: Why I ditched Android and couldn’t be happier” (not a single positive thing to say about Free/Open Source software, only negative things). Using
systemd resistors to badmouth Linux (and by extension Free software) is just so easy, especially because the debate has been so open, as is always the case in the Free/Open Source software world.
“Some of the world’s wealthiest companies are using and also producing Free/Open Source software.”Last but not least, there is some FUD today in the Financial Times (FT is widely distributed). Longtime Microsoft booster Richard Waters attacks Free software in the FT and spreads this attack to other sites too. His premise is wrong and biased. It’s the “can’t make money from FOSS” smear. It is very baseless, it shows his ignorance, demonstrates bad research, and perhaps bad faith (he is loyal to Microsoft and has a long history of such hostility towards FOSS).
Many proprietary software companies are dying every day because they are not financially viable. Just because one Free software-based (not really FOSS, but FOSS-based) company died Microsoft boosters think they can legitimately generalise and make it seem as though supporting Free/Open Source software means being poor. Some of the world’s wealthiest companies are using and also producing Free/Open Source software. I myself have always made a living only by writing Free software; my wife does too. █
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Summary: An article from “de Volkskrant” with translations, regarding Benoît Battistelli and the now-disgraced Opstelten who defended Battistelli’s assault on staff
FIVE weeks ago the Dutch media covered the situation at the EPO. One piece came from de Volkskrant, with “a circulation of approximately 250,000 nationwide.” We now have English, French and German translations
[PDF]. Since this is an English-speaking site, here is the English version:
Benoît Battistelli, Director of the EPOrg, does not recognise trade unions. He has had email communication between trade unions and members blocked. © EPA
Opstelten: court ruling does not apply to European institution
According to the court, an organisation in Rijswijk breaches the rule of law. No, says the Minister, it has immunity.
By: Willem Feenstra 26 February 2015, 06:26
Ivo Opstelten, Security and Justice Minister. © ANP
Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten has binned the ruling of the Court of Appeal in The Hague. The ruling states that the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg) violates the fundamental principles of an open and democratic state under the rule of law. However, according to Opstelten, the European organisation enjoys immunity.
For years there has been a conflict at the EPOrg between management and a large portion of the employees. Director Benoît Battistelli is allegedly conducting a reign of terror and is averse to objection. He does not recognise trade unions and refuses to enter into discussion with them.
In order to counter organised opposition, the management of the organisation has blocked email communication between the unions and their members.
The task of the European Patent Organisation is to grant patent applicants a patent in a large number of European countries by means of a single application. The establishment in Rijswijk is, with 2,700 employees, the largest after Munich. In order to counter organised opposition, the management of the organisation has blocked email communication between the unions and their members. The right to strike has been restricted and employees expressing disagreement are threatened with disciplinary measures and dismissal. The trade unions are
also not welcome at the negotiation table.
Those measures are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), so ruled the Court of Appeal in The Hague last week. ‘After all, this case concerns the rights of trade unions to take collective action and conduct collective negotiations, i.e. rights which belong to the fundamental principles of an open and democratic state under the rule of law.’
The Court ordered the Patent Office to reverse the disputed measures. In an internal statement, Battistelli has already indicated that he is not to going to adhere to this. According to him, the Patent Office, as an international organisation, is autonomous in the area of personnel policy. The internal rules were to form its own legal system in which a national court may not intervene.
This means that these buildings may not be entered and enforcement action cannot be taken by Dutch authorities, or at any rate not without the consent of the President of the EPOrg.
Ivo Opstelten, Minister of Security and Justice
The Court of Appeal acknowledges that the Patent Office is an international organisation which can claim immunity but ‘this autonomy does not in any case stretch so far that the EPOrg could breach generally recognised fundamental rights in Europe without parties, such as the trade unions, being able to seek an effective remedy against such’.
Opstelten sees this differently. According to him, offices of the Patent Organisation in all contracting States enjoy immunity. This means that these buildings may not be entered and enforcement action cannot be taken by Dutch authorities, or at any rate not without the consent of the President of the EPOrg. He has ordered the court bailiff not to execute the enforcement orders in the judgement.
Immunity above human rights
Opstelten relies on an Act from the seventies. This must be applied dynamically, but he takes a very conservative view.
Cedric Ryngaert, Professor of International Law in Utrecht.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conventions to which the Netherlands is subject in respect of the EPOrg are clear: no enforcement measures can be taken against the Patent Organisation in the Netherlands. ‘With the order, the cabinet therefore opts not to take sides in the underlying dispute,’ according to a spokesperson. ‘This has been done to observe the obligations of the Netherlands under the conventions. We make no public statements on the underlying dispute. This does not affect the fact that we, and other Member States, continue to monitor the situation.’
According to experts, Opstelten’s position is at odds with the rule of law and he chooses immunity over human rights. ‘Legally he might have the law on his side, but in view of the constitutional system this appears very odd,’ according to constitutional law expert and Senator Hans Engels. ‘It is exceptional that these kinds of powers lie with a minister. And I
don’t mean this in a positive sense.’
Cedric Ryngaert, Professor of International Law in Utrecht, considers the order by Opstelten exceptional. ‘Basically he erodes the power of the Court. International organisations are going to increasingly put themselves above the law, which is already a problem now. Opstelten relies on an Act from the seventies, which must be applied dynamically. Instead he takes a very conservative view.’
About a week after the publication of this report Opstelten was found to be corrupt and he stepped down. Supporting criminals seems to be his ‘thing’; it’s not about justice.
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Summary: Techrights highlights a pattern that is months old; Site faces availability issues shortly after reports about the European Patent Office and its abuses
TODAY we published three very important articles regarding the EPO. It didn’t take more than an hour for the site to become inaccessible. Cracking attempts against Techrights sharply rose to a pace of ~1 per second (it’s usually quite bad, but not that bad) and Techrights was down due to exhausted resources, as is so often the case (for 6 months now) after writing major reports about EPO scandals. Investigation ensued (we still study the damage and the cause) and we are back online. Risk of brute-force SSH attacks on Techrights had already been mitigated by restriction to key-only authorisation, but that did not protect from DDOS attacks with large enough IP addresses pool. There is a reason and motivation, but we don’t know whose. Correlations (in timing and more) have inspired mere guesses over the past 6 months. We have been taking comprehensive site backups specifically before publishing key (exclusive) articles about the EPO; we didn’t do this in our entire history as a public site (which is almost a decade old). With mass protests, ugly coverups, violations of the law and resignations already happening there is a lot at stake here. DDOS attacks against us started around the same time the series about the EPO began, lasting months and sometimes persevering for weeks at a time (causing downtime or limited availability). I lost many nights of sleep over it. So has my wife.
“The EPO is already being sued by staff, which forced it (in The Hague) to stop censoring (essentially attacking) the voice of staff.”We already have it confirmed that EPO is in such as sordid mess that there are censorship attacks (by the EPO's management) on EPO staff. This is the same management which is misusing taxpayers' money, paying for fake coverage to glorify EPO management in respected publications such as the New Scientist. The decision from the EPO to plant ‘articles’/’testimonies’ (for a fee!) will backfire badly on Benoît Battistelli. As one IPKat comment put it: “As we read the various comments from the anonymice, keep in mind, dear Reader, that a comment that gives every appearance of coming from an EPO Examiner might in fact be disinformation coming from a crony of the President. And vice versa, of course.”
The EPO is already being sued by staff, which forced it (in The Hague) to stop censoring (essentially attacking) the voice of staff. This never prevented staff from accessing information from home (after work). “I think that’s the begining [sic.] of the end of Battistelli reign,” says a comment from the past hour, “it will create a scandal bigger that the Edith Cresson scandal” (context here). █
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This won’t look good in this man’s résumé
Summary: The crooked management of the European Patent Office (EPO) gets in legal trouble after repeated attempts to cover up abuses and suppress criticism
WE finally have some good news regarding the European Patent Office, which has become one of Europe’s more corrupt institutions, serving corporations at taxpayers’ expense.
Linking to this new ruling
[PDF] from Holland, Merpel makes it known that:
This ruling, which is said to apply only to The Hague branch of the EPO — this being presumably the bit that lies within the court’s jurisdiction — is believed to conclude that the EPO
– must stop blocking Suepo.org emails within seven days,
– may not dictate the length and type of industrial actions and,
– within 14 days, must allow the union to enter into collective bargaining.
We have made a local copy of this decision
[PDF] just in case intimidation/DDOS/other removes the original. We kindly ask Dutch-speaking readers to send us (or post below) an English translation. We have already taken note of the EPO's censorship attacks on its staff union. █
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Summary: Another look back at what Željko Topić had been doing in Croatia before Benoît Battistelli made Topić his right-hand man in Germany
AMID swirling allegations that the EPO may have hired crackers or is actively attacking/vandalising sites that are critical of EPO management (“Coincidently,” said one commenter in IPKat, “the SUEPO website has been hacked last wednesday”) we deem it a good time to open another can of worms. It’s impossible to know if SUEPO’s site is another silenced victim because of EPO/Željko Topić criticism (like Stilin, whose case we highlighted in several older articles of ours), but let’s take some time to look at the case of Ivan Kabalin in Croatia. In PDF form we now have all the relevant documents, even in English.
“In case you haven’t got enough already,” says a source of ours, “there is a story about a Croatian engineer and inventor called Ivan Kabalin who developed an improved razor design and alleges that his patent was “stolen” by Gillette. Again this involves allegations of irregularities at the Croatian SIPO under Topić’s management. Unfortunately, we don’t have the full details of the Kabalin case, but there are some Croatian reports.”
Here is an article from 2007 and another from 2013, which strangely enough was removed (we don’t know why). The Web Archive still has a copy of the latter article, which is written in Croatian.
We have received an English translation of the second one of these reports (the removed one). It’s a long article from November 2013 where it is reported that Kabalin has filed a complaint with the EU Anti-Fraud agency OLAF. Here it goes
[PDF with addenda]:
CROATIAN PATENTS WORTH BILLIONS – BUT NOT FOR THE INVENTORS!
EU accession has not brought any improvements in this area
Date: 16 October 2013
Author: Franjo Dobrović
Following Croatia’s accession to the EU this summer, many of our citizens hoped that this would lead to rapid and efficient changes, especially in relation to the judicial system with its multiple layers of corruption. At the beginning of September, the Croatian engineer Mr. Ivan Kabalin submitted a complaint to OLAF [the EU Anti-Fraud Office] in Brussels – via the Croatian Ministry of Finance. He requested an interim status report concerning Docket No. OF / 2005 / 0390. This case and a number of others, all of which share a common denominator, namely corruption, have prompted us to once again focus our attention on the problems relating to the field of intellectual property rights.
THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE ACTS AS OLAF’S POSTMAN
We contacted the Ministry of Finance for clarification and received confirmation of the authenticity of the request along with a note explaining that the case had been referred to the State Attorney’s Office and the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs. We were particularly surprised by that because the Ministry of Finance, together with its Antifraud Division (SSNIP) acts as a postman for OLAF providing mailbox facilities for the latter in Croatia. To be more precise, we quote from their official response: “Accordingly, OLAF does not have an office in the Republic of Croatia, so the SSNIP is main focal point for the exchange of information and coordination of OLAF’s activities in the Republic of Croatia.”
If that is so, the question arises as to why our citizen’s document was not forwarded by the Ministry of Finance to OLAF, but to Ranko Ostojic [the Minister for the Interior] and Mladen Bajic [the Chief Public Prosecutor].
In addition, the State officials used their reply to provide us with the following insight into their mission: “The Department for Combating Irregularities and Fraud (hereinafter referred to as the SSNIP) is responsible for the coordination of legislative, administrative and operational activities of the bodies in the AFCOS system, aimed at protecting the financial interests of the European Union, and, consequently, for direct cooperation with OLAF. The scope of SSNIP’s work is prescribed by the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the Ministry of Finance (Official Gazette 32/12, 67/12, 124/12, 78/13 and 102/13).”
CROATIA AS AN INTELLECTUAL COLONY
Mr. Ivan Kabalin’s request to OLAF relates to alleged irregularities and breaches of law at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), which for many years was headed by the controversial Željko Topić. To remind our readers, Mr. Kabalin filed his innovative solutions with the then Central Bureau for Patents, as it was formerly called, i.e. what is now the State Intellectual Property Office. Kabalin specifically states that, apart from the aforementioned chicanery to which he and the Republic of Croatia have been subjected, there is plenty of publicly available evidence to indicates that the U.S. administration has been an active participant in the expropriation inflicted on both himself and his homeland.
While Mr. Kabalin hopes that his concept has not been irrevocably stolen from him for further industrial application, it must be noted that the state of which he is a citizen is apparently in no position to offer him any protection in this regard. The former member of the Croatian Parliament Pero Kovačević has asked the Croatian Government to comment on Mr. Kabalin’s allegations that the decision of the SIPO in this matter was unprofessional and irresponsible.
Mr. Kabalin patented a special razor which is known to the world today as the Gillette Sensor Excel, a product from which the U.S. company Gillette earns billions of dollars a year. The same invention is also marketed worldwide by the British company Wilkinson Sword while the true inventor is living in abject poverty near Petrinja.
Unfortunately, the Republic of Croatia has condemned itself to being an intellectual colony. In the interest of foreign exploiters, certain individuals have left the inventions of Croatian inventors devoid of any effective protection. At a time when technology rules the world and the number of inventors per capita puts the Republic of Croatia among the leading countries in the world in that field, the legislation in force results in a situation where patents are essentially worthless. Therefore it comes as no surprise that The Law School of the University of Zagreb has only recently introduced an elective course on intellectual property.
Apart from Mr. Kabalin’s case, a further reason for OLAF’s involvement in investigations in Croatia relates to a state institution of the Federal Republic of Germany – the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt – DPMA) which some years ago in the context of international cooperation provided financial assistance amounting to tens of thousands of Euros for improving the documentation and computerization of the SIPO. However, it appears that the payment was remitted to the private bank account of the former SIPO director, Mr. Željko Topic. How the details of his private bank account found their way into the official correspondence and documents of SIPO and whether or not the error was ever corrected remains an unsolved mystery for the moment.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE?
Aside from Mr. Kabalin’s petition, our portal has received several documents from German sources which indicate a malfunctionining in the cooperation and coordination between our national authorities and international institutions. According to documents which we have obtained, it would appear that either the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) or USKOK have issued a document confirming that there are no criminal proceedings against the former director of SIPO, Mr. Željko Topić as all charges against him have been dropped. According to the information at our disposal, this is not correct because the County and Municipal State Attorney’s Offices in Zagreb are currently processing at least six pending criminal cases against Željko Topić.
So it seems that someone from the aforementioned State authorities responsible for conducting prosecutions improperly issued a document by which the compromised former SIPO Director maintains his current position at the European Patent Office (EPO), a European intergovernmental institution based in Munich. If this is the case, such a document could only have been signed by the Chief Public Prosecutor.
Against this background, the matter starts to assume the dimension of a criminal offence of abuse of office and authority specified in the Criminal Code as an offence against official duties. It is precisely because the SAO and USKOK failed to exercise proper control over the operations of the SIPO that individual citizens were forced to do the job that these bodies were under an official obligation to perform: i.e. to investigate and prosecute criminal offences which had been reported to them or of which they themselves had become aware in the course of their official duties.
This international scandal involving the suspicion of illegal actions on the part of the Chief State Attorney also brings the Republic of Croatia into disrepute. The rule of law is proclaimed as a matter of public interest and it deserves to be accorded priority over the interests of current President of the Republic or those of the Prime Minister or the presiding official of the SAO.
According to our information, proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which also refer to Mr. Topić’s bribing of the former Minister of Science in the Government led by the corrupt Ivo Sanader are still pending.
As long as the real culprits are not brought to account, i.e. those persons who have failed and who still continue to fail to take measures to prevent such irregularities thereby committing a grave and cumulative breach of official duties defined in the Civil Service Act as the offence of negligent performance of duty, conduct of this kind will continue to generate a profound sense of dissatisfaction among the citizens of Croatia. An even greater problem than those relating to the Croatian judicial system, seems to be the inaction of the administrative apparatus which, as a rule, is not held to account for its negligence. It is not sufficient to loudly proclaim the rule of law, this principle also
needs to be enforced.
The situation in Croatia was recently described in graphic terms by an American journalist:
“There is a country in the Balkans where the Government despises its citizens as inconvenient witnesses, where the laws lack legitimacy and where anarchy is the normal state of affairs.”
TOPIĆ UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE SIPA*?
[* SIPA = The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency]
In response to numerous media reports, the European Patent Office (EPO) carried out an investigation at the University of Banja Luka, with the aim of examining the allegations relating to the forgery of Mr. Topić’s M.Sc. degree. In his report (which is attached to this article), the EPO investigator Florian Andres claimed to have found nothing suspicious in the documentation or during his discussions with the Dean of the University Rector, Dr. Stanko Stanić. However, according to our sources in Banja Luka and Sarajevo, Dr. Stanić neither knows nor could have known anything about a possible forgery in the case of Mr. Topić’s “M.Sc.” university documents because he signs off thousands of diplomas in a purely formal capacity without going into the details of the documentation placed before him.
The trail relating to the potential forgery of Mr. Željko Topić’s university documentation leads from Banja Luka to Sarajevo. Why? Because the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka was established by the Faculty of Economics of the University of Sarajevo in the 1970s. Coincidentally or not, the mentor listed on the degree thesis of Mr. Željko Topić [i.e. Dr. Boris Tihi] is a retired economics professor from the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo who now works as an economic adviser in the Office of the Ministerial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our sources in Sarajevo close to the government reported that their current economic advisor can neither confirm nor deny that he acted as a mentor for anybody at the Banja Luka Faculty of Economics prior to 1990! Of particular interest here is the fact that Mr. Topić’s master’s thesis does not list the names of the committee members before which the controversial thesis was defended but only bears the name of the mysterious mentor from Sarajevo.
According to unofficial information, this matter is under investigation by the the State Investigation and Protection Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SIPA) which is responsible for collecting and processing data of interest for the implementation of international and criminal law. It now looks as if the intrepid EPO investigator Mr. Andres may have to go on another official journey. But this time to Sarajevo …
Given that the EU and other international bodies are following this case with great interest, it can be expected that Mr. Željko Topić, M.Sc., will very soon become a major focus of attention for all those who take an interest in patent-related matters connected to the former Yugoslavia, but unfortunately in a negative sense.
THE TANGLED WEB BEGINS TO UNRAVEL IN GERMANY
Our claims are confirmed by information coming from German journalistic sources according to which EPO employees have in recent months approached members of the Bundestag based in Berlin who in turn have requested a written response from EPO President Benoît Battistelli. In addition, it seems that an investigative action into the case of Mr. Željko Topić, now a senior EPO employee, has been initiated by the German Ministry of Justice. Thus, our “Master” is accompanied by the strains of ZAMP music not only in the Republic of Croatia but also beyond its borders.
According to our sources, the EPO President Battistelli is currently mounting a vigorous defence of Topić. The explanation for this according to the unofficial information provided by our sources at the EPO in Vienna and the Hague is as follows. Topić faithfully carries out the orders of his master Battistelli as a coordinator of the EPO’s internal voting machine particularly in relation to the countries of the former Yugoslavia which make up a significant proportion of the member states in the decisionmaking body of this organization. So it seems that he literally co-exists with the EPO President in a harmonious symbiosis. In this capacity, he occasionally has the responsibility for inviting the members of national judiciaries to participate in “study tours” thereby becoming involved in a direct conflict of interest. Our portal is in possession of a list of persons who attended one of the aforementioned “study tours”. A tragic-comical aspect of this story is that cases related to intellectual property matters may soon land on the desks of these judges requiring them to decide on matters which may have some points of contact with certain persons from this Balkan saga and which have already been the subject of prior deliberation in some seedy Munich beer hall.
As can be seen, our “Master” is for the time being enjoying the benefits of the European Union. Indeed, he started to enjoy them long before normal Croatian citizens became full members of the EU’s enlarged family, especially when one considers his current salary which is estimated to be in the order of an astronomical EUR 15,000 per month.
Notice in the PDF’s first addendum (see the original PDF) just what Mr. Battistelli says in his strongly-worded letter to staff, alluding to a case that was recently dismissed and ruled in favour of Stilin and against Topić. This sure looks like some shrewdly-worded coverup and the above article makes mention of half a dozen criminal cases in Croatia, as we noted before. Topić is under heavy fire as judges too rule against him. The evidence is pointing in a direction that Topić’s endless litigation must be fuming over.
“This sure looks like some shrewdly-worded coverup and the above article makes mention of half a dozen criminal cases in Croatia, as we noted before.”“As you can see,” alleged our source, “this is an ongoing saga because the first of the above reports (untranslated) about Kabalin’s problems dates from 2007. By 2014, he doesn’t seem to have made any progress and has probably given up all hope at this stage.
“This seems to be typical of Croatia where the pendency times in the legal system are inordinately long. This is one of the major contributory factors protecting Topić so far – he can invoke the “presumption of innocence” because the lawsuits against him are stuck in the dysfunctional Croatian legal system.”
This is a SLAPP-like tactic for bullying or silencing opposition, usually opposition with pockets far less deep than the bully’s.
“We were informed by Vesna Stilin,” added our source, “that she still has a civil lawsuit pending against the first Director-General of the SIPO (Nikola Kopcic) who was dismissed from office in January 2002 due to an undeclared “conflict of interest” (see these documents
[PDF] from a while back
[PDF] as they are translated into English).
“Kopcic was (and still is) a senior partner in a law firm which was registered to act an authorised representative before the SIPO in intellectual property matters (while at the same time he was the Director-General of the SIPO!)
“In 2001, Kopcic was expelled from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) for bringing the organisation into disrepute (copy of the AIPPI document is available
[PDF], unfortunately only in Croatian). Amazingly, even after his dismissal as SIPO Director-General he managed to secure a position as a representative of Croatia on the “Council of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office” until last year
“He now seems to have retired or else he failed to get re-elected as he is no longer listed as a member of the current Council. We just noticed that Kopcic recently managed to get a position as a “Project Deputy Team Leader” on an EU-financed “IPR Enforcement Project” in Bosnia which runs from 2012-2015. See also the entry on his CV.
“Because Stilin was actively involved in trying to get Kopcic removed from office as Director-General of the Croatian SIPO in the late 1990s, he engineered her dismissal from the SIPO in 1999. She was subsequently reinstated as an Assistant Director in 2004 but crossed swords with Topić who got her dismissed again in 2008.
“According to Stilin, a civil lawsuit which she filed against Kopcic in 2000 is still pending before the courts in Croatia!!!
“Here are some of the comments which she made about that:
“In 2000 I started civil process against Mr. Kopcic/DZIV which is still pending: three judges and me suggested settlement between DZIV and me, but Mr. Topic was against it, so that’s why he wrote in a „press release“ that I „had been conducting a campaign against the DZIV for over 12 years.“
The biggest problem in accession of Republic of Croatia to EU, was a problem of duration of court proceedings. It is not a justice if you need to wait 14 years for first level court decision, as it has been in this case”
For those who are still confused about the Kopcic story we shall revisit this another day and provide more documents with English translations. There are many inter-connected stories at hand. It’s a banana republic, much like what the EPO is becoming. Benoît Battistelli brought quite a mess into the EPO and by choosing to defend this mess he becomes complicit. █
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Can a President who lies ever be trusted?
Summary: Battistelli’s ‘media strategy’ is getting ugly but potentially effective when it comes to silencing opposition, or in other words those who speak about his abuses
THIS SHORT article makes an important observation about the media strategy of Battistelli and his EPO thugs. Unlike the USPTO, the EPO has many violations in its hands and these need to be explained. Moreover, the thugs need to be ousted, potentially with legal action against them. Battistelli realises the severity of this issue (he could lose more than his job but also his career and maybe his freedom), hence the ham-fisted approach.
“Two months later it is easy to show that Battistelli talks utter nonsense because many groups from many countries, including some of his stakeholders (not just staff), speak out against him and make formal complaints.”People in the EPO are afraid but determined to oust the thugs. Across the whole board we hear from people inside and outside the EPO who are afraid of retribution and try hard to dodge Battistelli’s ‘stasi’. Watch how the Investigation Unit is perceived inside the EPO. Watch how people cover their face when they go out protesting against their employer. Is this a democracy? Is this a functioning facility that serves the European public (as in public servant)? Clearly something has gone wrong and Battistelli’s tyranny is about as undemocratic as it can get.
Earlier today we noticed that one site that protests against Battistelli and his thugs went dark. Maybe its operator is afraid of someone; it’s hard to think of other explanations for this. After quite a long time online it now states:
Sorry, the blog at icsfight4yourrights.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.
We don’t know who runs that blog. It might be someone from the EPO, but it’s likely to be someone who is not. In Battistelli’s mind, however, all can be blamed on just ‘disgruntled’ employees (as if being disgruntled over a tyrant is in itself wrong). Sometimes Battistelli and Topić even use the race and nationality card, claiming to be victims of racism or international hostilities. That’s just bunk. They’re bonkers.
Let is be said that our sources range widely and Battistelli’s claim that the sources are EPO staff is patently false. Even some lawyers, not to mention proponents of software patents, have expressed concern. Judges too. Battistelli is cornered by a large number of groups, let aside his own staff. Standing next to him is a thug with notoriety, Željko Topić [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], whose alleged crimes (many of them!) we are going to write about another day. The many criminal charges on which we will elaborate in the future ought to show just what standards Battistelli really has. He needs “protection”, not “professionals”, and this makes the EPO look like a corrupt laughing stock that no lawyer will wish to take seriously.
Back in November Battistelli ‘struck back’ as follows:
Battistelli responded by claiming that there was a “defamation campaign” against him. As WIPR had by then run a series of stories on its website based on the EPO staff’s complaints, it appeared he was referring to us.
However, Battistelli said no. His complaint was broader. The EPO staff union, he said, was organising the campaign and had been “contacting the media throughout Europe” to complain about issues such as a perceived lack of transparency at the EPO and poor governance.
We explained that the complaints sent to us appeared to have come from individual staff members, who for obvious reasons had asked us to protect their identities, rather than from the union, although we couldn’t be sure. Battistelli dismissed this.
Two months later it is easy to show that Battistelli talks utter nonsense because many groups from many countries, including some of his stakeholders (not just staff), speak out against him and make formal complaints. █
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A somewhat belated call for support and a thank-you to existing supporters
Summary: How to support Techrights and why we plan to become more active in 2015
HALF a decade ago Techrights published a lot of articles, at most around 30 per day (requiring well over 100 hours of research and writing per week). We have published 27 articles in the past week in an effort to bring the site back to pace after a relatively slow 2014.
“The more tips we receive, the more resilient we can make the site in the face of DDOS attacks (we suffered several last year) and the more motivated we become to write articles here.”As always, we welcome contributions in the form of guest articles, links (either suggested links sent to us or promotion of our articles in so-called ‘social’ media) and for those who have money to spare in support of the site there is the tip jar. The more tips we receive, the more resilient we can make the site in the face of DDOS attacks (we suffered several last year) and the more motivated we become to write articles here. Enough tips also leave us less dependent on external employment and therefore increase the amount of time spent on this site. It is 2 AM where I am at the moment (Manchester) and I stayed up late in an effort to justify the tips left to us just before Christmas. I have been doing that since New Year’s Eve. My wife and I don’t live lavishly and our main passion in here; most of our time is spent writing in our sites, notably Techrights and Tux Machines.
There are many ways to support this site and those who appreciate what we do and have done for nearly a decade are strongly encouraged to ‘give back’, to to speak, even by just promoting the articles or recommending the site to peers/colleagues. Supporting Techrights also means supporting Tux Machines, which advances GNU/Linux and reaches a broad (and still expanding) audience. █
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