Now available in English
Summary: This month’s explosive report from Dnevno, which reveals what Željko Topić has been up to, what criminal charges he faces, and what he is now doing inside the European Patent Office (EPO)
The EPO Vice-President who has become known (if not notorious) for crushing protests at the EPO and elsewhere is dangerous territory to write about because he bullies his critics (more like whistleblowers) despite repeatedly losing his cases in the courts. He is likely to have also attacked Croatian journalists, based on what seems like self-censorship from some.
Željko Topić acts more like a thug than an official. Everywhere one looks around Željko Topić there’s some scandal, like alleged briberies, forgeries, and so on. This new article, written in Croatian, has just been translated for us. It also covers the EPO and it is a MUST-READ article to anyone who works for the EPO (please ensure that people who work for the EPO see it). We present the English translation below:
Original Croatian article: “Ministarstvo znanosti nadzire Topićev DZIV, a DZIV nadzire Josipovićev ZAMP…”
Author: Tomislav Kovač / 7Dnevno / 5 February 2016
Croatian intellectual corruption at the European level
The Ministry of Science oversees Topic’s SIPO while the SIPO monitors Josipovic’s ZAMP…
Although it is not known who paid the costs of participation of the judges of the High Commercial Court (HCC) in a seminar at the European Patent Organization (EPO) in Munich, a small but important background detail concerning the invitation sent to the HCC through the Ministry of Justice needs to be mentioned. In fact, the official EPO invitation was initiated by EPO Vice President Željko Topić, against whom a number of serious criminal proceedings are under way in Croatia, as well as proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and OLAF.
“In fact, the official EPO invitation was initiated by EPO Vice President Željko Topić, against whom a number of serious criminal proceedings are under way in Croatia, as well as proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and OLAF.”The Governor of the National Bank was eating out of the hand of Croatian creditors
The last comparable event of this kind occurred in connection with the participation of Mr. Boris Vujčić, Governor of the Croatian National Bank and music afficionado from the Pepermint Nightclub in Zagreb, at the Emerging Europe Winter Conference in the Austrian ski resort Kitzbühel which was organized by UniCredit and held on 13 to 15 January 2016. Consequently, three days after his return, the Franak Association which represents holders of loans pegged to the Swiss franc submitted a complaint against him to the Commission for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest.
The complaint was based on the opinion of the Association that the Governor, as the head of the supervisory body of all banks operating in Croatia, was an active participant in a private conference organized by the business entity UniCredit Bank, the owner of Zagrebacka Bank. In its submission, the Franak Association raised the following question: how can the work of the CNB Governor be regarded as impartial and independent if he participates in a private conference organized by a commercial bank whose operations he is responsible for supervising?
Trying to justify its actions, the CNB, headed by the Governor, replied to the public accusations by referring to the roll call of the others travelling in pursuit of the “bacon” to attend above-mentioned conference in the hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger, such as: representatives of finance ministries and central banks from the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Turkey and Russia, as well as global investors and members of the financial institutions that operate in these markets. It should also be kept in mind that the CNB Governor went to Kitzbühel together with the Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, who met up with Croatia’s biggest creditors there.
The High Commercial Court in a Bavarian pub
Inspired by the recent example involving the CNB, we would like to explain the details of the case related to the High Commercial Court (HCC) in Zagreb which was the focus of attention of the Croatian and international professional public after the seminar at the European Patent Organization (EPO) in Munich attended by employees of this judicial institution, as well as several other persons from the Croatian judiciary. The official working title of the EPO event was ” Study visit of Croatian Judges to the EPO”. It is not known who paid for the travel and accommodation costs and per diems for participation at the conference and other indirect costs of participation of Croatian judges in this study tour.
“It is not known who paid for the travel and accommodation costs and per diems for participation at the conference and other indirect costs of participation of Croatian judges in this study tour.”However, one small but important detail concerning the background to the invitation addressed to the High Commercial Court through the Ministry of Justice has remained unknown thus far. The official invitation from the EPO was initiated by its Vice President, Mr. Željko Topić, a person against whom a number of serious criminal proceedings are pending in Croatia, as well as proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and OLAF.
How Željko Topić found a job with EPO is a story of its own. The EPO, which is based in Munich with offices in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna and employs about seven thousand persons, is one of the institutions of special importance for the EU. The main role of the EPO is to regulate and strengthen the cooperation in the field of protection of patent rights and patent interests between the EU Member States and 11 other European countries outside the EU.
“The official invitation from the EPO was initiated by its Vice President, Mr. Željko Topić, a person against whom a number of serious criminal proceedings are pending in Croatia, as well as proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and OLAF.”Sending letters of intent to himself
Many previous international media reports about Mr. Topić reflect on his work and conduct at the EPO and the Croatian SIPO which display the characteristics of a sophisticated conflict of interest. As a matter of fact, in 2002 while Mr. Topić was employed at the Croatian SIPO working in an office two doors down from the Director-General, he founded the Adepta associatian – the Croatian Society for Intellectual Property – which offered its cooperation to the SIPO by sending letters to his superior, the SIPO Director-General, with proposals for cooperation and requests for financial support for its projects.
“As a matter of fact, in 2002 while Mr. Topić was employed at the Croatian SIPO working in an office two doors down from the Director-General, he founded the Adepta associatian – the Croatian Society for Intellectual Property – which offered its cooperation to the SIPO by sending letters to his superior, the SIPO Director-General, with proposals for cooperation and requests for financial support for its projects.”He incorrectly claimed that the Association was the first national association of its kind in Croatia, despite the fact that copyright protection was already covered by the activities of the of the Croatian Copyright Association (HDAP) and intellectual property activities were the purview of the Croatian branch of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI Croatia). Attached to this article is a letter from Adepta stamped and signed by Mr. Željko Topić. Our sources indicated that Mr. Topić was hoping to obtain access to the SIPO’s national database via Adepta and then use it for his own private purposes.
“Our sources indicated that Mr. Topić was hoping to obtain access to the SIPO’s national database via Adepta and then use it for his own private purposes.”The former Chief State Attorney Mladen Bajić has been referred in connection with the obstruction of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Topić as a reliable lever and distant cousin of Mr. Josipović in the State Attorney’s Office. The conclusion might be drawn here that Mr. Topić holds the keys to a possible prosecution of Mr. Ivo Josipović, especially if we take into account the public views expressed by the former County Prosecutor, Mr. Vladimir Terešak, who indicated that the State Attorney’s Office was in effect ZAMP’s state debt collection company.
“The former Chief State Attorney Mladen Bajić has been referred in connection with the obstruction of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Topić as a reliable lever and distant cousin of Mr. Josipović in the State Attorney’s Office.”Apart from the Adepta Association, in 2003, together with the law firm Korper & Haramija from Zagreb, Mr. Topić founded a company called Korper, Haramija & Topić Ltd. which was, among other things, registered to act as a representative before the SIPO.
In addition to this, in his official resumé, Mr. Topić stated that he worked on the establishment of Croatia’s national system of intellectual property, i.e. the legislative framework for SIPO operations. This is incorrect, because that was the task of the lawyers who worked in the SIPO, and not his task because he was employed there as an economist. His resumé also falsely states that he was the national coordinator for intellectual property matters in the process of Croatian accession to the EU. However, the person charged with this task was in fact Prof. Siniša Petrović from the Law School of the University of Zagreb.
“His resumé also falsely states that he was the national coordinator for intellectual property matters in the process of Croatian accession to the EU. However, the person charged with this task was in fact Prof. Siniša Petrović from the Law School of the University of Zagreb.”According to Mr. Topić’s official resumé, he began his career in the position of a salesman in the Yugoslavian Federal Railways, based in Banja Luka in the early 1980s, that is after graduating from the University of Banja Luka. Before that, he unsuccessfully tried to get a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia in Belgrade. Attached to this article is a copy of Mr. Topić’s master’s degree, which was the subject of an internal review by the Ministry of Science, and which indicates the interesting fact that the gentleman in question has been known to sign business documents in Cyrillic.
“Prior to joining the EPO, Mr. Topić tried on several occasions without success to obtain a position at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Here he also fabricated personal data to embellish his resumé, based on unsubstantiated and inaccurate information.”As we found out unofficially, based on media reports, but also systematic complaints received by its Munich headquarters, the EPO launched an official investigation in the Republic of Srpska and the University of Banja Luka, trying to verify the authenticity of Mr. Topic’s academic degrees. Prior to joining the EPO, Mr. Topić tried on several occasions without success to obtain a position at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Here he also fabricated personal data to embellish his resumé, based on unsubstantiated and inaccurate information.
Political corruption affecting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Among the criminal charges against Mr. Topić filed in Croatia are two submissions to the State Attorney’s Office, USKOK and the National Council for Monitoring and Combating Corruption of the Republic of Croatia, dating back to 2010, which are co-signed by the former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ms. Vesna Vuković.
“Among the criminal charges against Mr. Topić filed in Croatia are two submissions to the State Attorney’s Office, USKOK and the National Council for Monitoring and Combating Corruption of the Republic of Croatia, dating back to 2010, which are co-signed by the former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ms. Vesna Vuković.”However, following the public disclosure of these documents, the person in question phoned Mr. Topić from the Croatian Embassy in Geneva and for fear of political reprisals apologized to Mr. Topić, “M.A.”. This interesting phone conversation between Geneva and Munich was apparently intercepted by the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Republic of Croatia (SOA).
It seems that Ambassador Vuković was not appointed to Geneva solely for the purpose of diplomatic business on behalf of the Republic of Croatia but rather as the extended arm of the former Croatian President, Mr. Ivo Josipović, at the WIPO because Geneva is the world center of copyright and all other intellectual property rights. It is no secret that the former President, Ivo Josipović, is the camouflaged owner of the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS/ZAMP) which is financed from non-transparent parafiscal charges and which most likely contributed to his defeat during the last presidential election. After all, it is the SIPO and not the Tax Office which is the supervisory body of ZAMP.
“In other words, the corruption network in this case extends beyond Željko Topić and his current position in the EPO and takes on a wider scale, including the WIPO in Geneva and relies on elements of the Croatian diplomatic corps.”It seems that Ms. Vuković, along with the corrupt Željko Topić, forms a part of a network systematically built by former President Josipović. In other words, the corruption network in this case extends beyond Željko Topić and his current position in the EPO and takes on a wider scale, including the WIPO in Geneva and relies on elements of the Croatian diplomatic corps.
Dalija Orešković becomes involved in the oversight of the SIPO
As can be seen from the official websites of the SIPO and the EPO, Mr. Topić has gradually begun to systematically recruit people who are close to him and set up his own network within the ranks of the EPO in such a way that, for example, the current director of the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Ljiljana Kuterovac was appointed as the member of the Supervisory Board of the EPO Academy in Munich for a term of three years.
“As can be seen from the official websites of the SIPO and the EPO, Mr. Topić has gradually begun to systematically recruit people who are close to him and set up his own network within the ranks of the EPO…”Apart from the District Attorney’s Office and the Zagreb County Court which are responsible for conducting the criminal proceedings against Željko Topić, Transparency International Croatia and before that the Conflict of Interest Commission launched a systematic inquiry into the operations of the SIPO as well as the SIPO’s Boards of Appeal. It also needs to be mentioned that legal services to Mr. Željko Topić are provided by the law firm Gajski, Grlić, Prka, Saucha & Partners, one of whose partners is the wife of the chef de cabinet of former Prime Minister Milanović.
In the course of investigating the SIPO’s activities, the only person so far who has got caught in the mesh of Dalija Orešković’s [Conflict of Interest] Commission is the former Minister of Science under ex-Prime Minister Milanović, Mr. Vedran Mornar. The Commission found that former Minister Mornar violated the principles of public office because he did not act in a timely manner to prevent his trip to Korea in 2014 from being paid for by a commercial company. Specifically, it was found that the trip to Korea was not paid for by the State, but by a private company which cooperates very intensively with Croatian schools.
“Apart from the District Attorney’s Office and the Zagreb County Court which are responsible for conducting the criminal proceedings against Željko Topić, Transparency International Croatia and before that the Conflict of Interest Commission launched a systematic inquiry into the operations of the SIPO as well as the SIPO’s Boards of Appeal.”The Ministry of Science is the national regulatory body tasked with the supervision of the SIPO. Thus, the Ministry of Science oversees the SIPO, while the SIPO monitors ZAMP and so the magic circle is closed.
In view of the foregoing, it is not surprising that, according to available research, Croatia has a prominent place in the relevant international corruption rankings and that one of the main Croatian export products which we offer is deviant social behavior in the form of intellectual corruption.
Topić has become a huge liability for the EPO. Some refer to Topić as "Sanader’s Protégé" (Sanader is in prison). Adding to the latter parts from the above, among the connections of Topić one might want to consider Transparency International's Jana Mittermaier (now in EPO) and recall our older articles about Topić circles which extend as far as the UN, e.g. [1, 2]. Under Battistelli the EPO descended to the standards of Croatia, whereby circles can be formed not only around Battistelli but also around Topić. Those are additional legitimate reasons to protest tomorrow in Munich, where Topić’s office is located. █
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And why it’s imperative for EPO staff to protest this Wednesday in Munich
Announcement of execution of 100 Polish roundup hostages, as revenge for the assassination of 5 German policemen and 1 SS member by Armia Krajowa resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Poland. Background about such practices.
Summary: It is reported that the European Patent Office not only grossly abuses the human rights of staff but also threatens family members of this staff
“More union busting at [the] European Patent Office” was reported to us last night. Team Battistelli is scarring people for life and goes further by punishing their families, too. It’s collective punishment (a war crime in another context). The EPO is totally out of control; no wonder suicides are said to have increased tenfold under Battistelli.
While it remains unclear what Jesus is accused of doing (he would be punished by the Battistelli-led ‘gestapo’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] for merely speaking about it), what we did discover is that Jesus, who is a Netherlands-based union leader at the EPO, “got several seizures after the investigative unit ousted him from his office, also on 13 November 2015. He was hospitalized and is on sick leave. The EPO even threatened his wife.”
“It’s collective punishment (a war crime in another context).”We have not gotten any details regarding these threats, but they wouldn’t be so unbelievable given how the EPO threatened SUEPO's lawyers (intimidation, saying they would get disbarred), the way that Battistelli threatened delegates, and the way he also treats politicians who are rightly sceptical of his actions. Battistelli and his goons even threatened me, a blogger, with a lawsuit.
Anything other than a police raid in Battistelli’s office in Munich would probably be too soft an action. One day from now there will be a protest in Munich and we hope that nearly all staff will be in attendance. Their employer has truly gone bonkers. Silence and inaction are a form of complicity or obedience at this stage. People are being harmed. Battistelli is clearly out of control. █
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What people say behind the mask of anonymity
Summary: A series of anonymous comments from the IP Kat blog say various things about the EPO management which ought to be recorded permanently, just in case of further censorship attempts
THE LEVEL of unrest at the EPO has increased following the dismissal of staff representatives. The comments in IP Kat are quite telling. Anonymous commenters flock there to express anger.
One person wrote the following comment the other day:
Interesting theory I heard from an HR services company.
They often encounter CEOs that push for contract prolongation, and directly afterwards start doing more and more questionable things, and make themselves totally unwanted by staff, until the board of contractors fire him. The golden handshake simply is larger that way…
They often see it with CEOs well beyond retirement age. Those do not make themselves unemployable by others, as they actually want to retire, but also want a big golden handshake.
A real problem exists for those who (silently) supported the CEO, as those get burned by his tactic and become unemloyable for other companies, but won’t get such a nice golden handshake.
But the EPO is a political body, this tactic seems to be more difficult to achieve, if that even is the case.
Here is an apt response to the HR aspect (we have a lot more coming some other day regarding EPO HR):
¨Further, the service regulations can be changed at will, as the EPO personal recently found out: career cuts, suppression of invalidity insurance, etc… When you enter the EPO, you sign a contract which you have to respect under penalty of being fired and have your pension cuts… and the EPO can change its end of the deal whenever they want. This kind of contract have a legal name, but nobody realized what they were really offered when they entered the EPO. Now they realize but they can’t get out.¨.
When this is true the advertisement asking for new examiners and other staff of the EPO should mention this. Also the SUEPO has an information task. Everything possible should be used to change these rules. Such contracts are against all existing national rules and laws.This is something for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR; French: Cour européenne des droits de l’homme) is a supranational or international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the Convention and its protocols. The contracting states, in particular The Netherlands and Germany are tolerating the terrible situation in the EPO.
There is also discussion about the legal status of the EPO, for instance:
Dear Mr Kilroy, the European Patent Office does not adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights. Your request is therefore irreceivable.
Sorry to be blunt, but you are not the first person to suggest to go to this or that court, etc… Much have been tried, and the EPO always won in the last instance on the simple ground of immunity. How long will it take before people start to realize that there is no legal recourse whatsoever against the EPO?
The problem is with the system. There is NO legal recourse.
This is valid for all parties: staff, European patent attorneys and applicants. It is just that it has only be used against staff at present.
The President does indeed seem to believe that the EPO is totally immune from national law, but this is not what the EPC says. Art 8 EPC: [the EPOrg and EPO employees] “shall enjoy…the privileges and immunities necessary for the performance of their duties”. Those “duties” surely mean the granting of patents and nothing more.
Similarly Article 3(1) of the protocol on privileges and immunities states: “Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation shall have immunity from jurisdiction and execution”, and Article 3(4) “The official activities of the Organisation shall, for the purposes of this Protocol, be such as are strictly necessary for its administrative and technical operation, as set out in the Convention.”
So: only official activities are immune, official activities being things strictly necessary for performing the EPC. This is not a blanket immunity, despite what the president might say!
What would happen, for example, if a crime such as assault or theft was committed in the EPO premises in Munich? Clearly this is not immune according to the above definitions, and the Munich police would be involved.
However presumably the EPO management/lawyers, if challenged, would argue that breaching human rights is “strictly necessary” for the operation of the EPO – say because various staff activities were somehow impeding the grant of patents.
But note the double-standard here when the president alleged that the suspended board member possessed in the EPO building an item that could be classed as a weapon “under German law”. So clearly national law can be applied when it meets management’s needs.
(German weapons law, by the way, includes in its definition of a weapon portable objects which, due to their properties, method of operation or how they work, are able to remove or reduce humans` ability to attack or defend, *even if not intended for that purpose*. So with the “defendant” gagged and unable to respond, an innocent piece of exercise equipment becomes a “weapon” – when the EPO decides for once that German law is relevant, after all…)
More on the same:
Kilroy (18:00) raises an interesting point, and one that has been bugging me ever since these allegations started leaking out of the EPO.
If we are to believe Team Battistelli, the suspended DG3 member and assorted staff members have been engaged in all manner of “deplorable” activities: slander, defamation, intimidation, threats of violence, hacking, hoarding of fascist propaganda, stockpiling of weapons, and so on and so forth to ever more fanciful extremes.
Perhaps some or all of these are offences under, say, German or Dutch law. But the EPO repeatedly asserts total immunity from any jurisdiction. So according to what law do these activities – even if they *have* taken place, which is far from being proven to any degree, let alone beyond reasonable doubt – constitute an offence within the walls of the EPO? German law does not apply in Munich HQ, nor Dutch law in the Hague branch, or so we are asked to believe. That being the case, how have the accused employees committed any offence?
Presumably the ServRegs are the source of “law”. Now, I can believe that these might foresee the need to deal with everyday workplace disciplinary matters such as bullying and harassment. But did the authors really have the foresight to include, say, storage of propaganda, or weapons? I find this hard to believe.
Can any insiders shed any light here?
The immunity from the ECHR applies to the EPO, and all cases I have heard of have attempted to bring the EPO to court.
However, the member states are not immune from the ECHR, and they could be brought to court for signing an agreement (the EPC) which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
And then this:
The member states, in particular the Netherlands and Germany, are not immune from the ECHR. They could be brought to court for signing an agreement (the EPC) which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. There are a lot of such incompatibilities as follows inter alia from the Judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal
(26/02/2015) The Office has progressively and severely eroded a number of fundamental union and human rights. The countries are aware of these incompatibilities and wrongnesses and tolerates them and accept the catastrophic situation within the EPO.
More on the lawlessness:
A reason more for very soon a diplomatic conference to change this for Europe, the small industries/applicants and the examiners wrong and dangerous EPC. The absence of applicable law and the absence of a competent tribunal should be changed soon.The european states are “constitutional states” in which the exercise of governmental power is constrained by the law. It is the opposite of a state based on the arbitrary use of power.
Now regarding the role of the Administrative Council (AC):
It becomes clearer, why the AC members sit on their hands. The more they protest, the more vindictive BB gets, venting his ever-growing pleen against those employees that incur his displeasure.
If you sat on the AC, with one vote in 38, what would you do?
One person responded with: “err, grow a pair?
“The AC: spineless, careerist, self-interested. To misquote a misquoute: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Here is a more polite response to that:
If you sat on the AC, with one vote in 38, what would you do?
The Rule of Law, respect of Human Rights are not a matter of “votes” (“… and the results are … 18 for and 20 against – the proposal to abide to the Rule of Law and Human Rights at the European Patent Office is therefore rejected by this Administrative Council. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. We will now pass to the next important topic on the agenda … oh yes, the colour of the moquette in new building at the Hague …”).
It’s not a matter of “what would you do?”.
It’s a matter of “what you should do”.
Now a similar scenario involving WIPO (we covered this before) is brought up:
The member states are more immune from the ECHR than you think. Violations in international organizations are not that uncommon. Just staying in patent world: what happened to the staff representative fired at WIPO last year?
I should also insist that the legal vacuum does not only concern examiners. To take a known example: after the criticism raised during the Inventor of the Year event, Battistelli decided to lower the priority for French searches in retribution against the speech of Ms. Lemaire (the EPO searches for the French patent office since the times of the IIB). The examiners had no choice, because they will get bad marks if they don’t process the files in the order the computer presents them, a change introduced last year.
Basically, French searches were delayed about 2 months in comparison to PCT searches for US applicants. One can easily figure out that this may put French applicants at a disadvantage, given that these early searches are used to take a decision to pursue or not the file during the priority year.
Do you think French applicants have a way to complain about that revengeful decision? No, they don’t. There is simply no applicable law and no competent tribunal.
Other patent offices are being mentioned too:
Of course there are some revolutionary souls amongst us who wonder why the EPO is search French national applications (or for that matter Belgian and Italian applications) and PCT applications filed at the USPTO when it has such an enormous backlog of European applications awaiting search and examination.
An examiner-turned-lawyer wrote:
…and before someone objects that human examination is needed: Battistelli is French and France had a registration system for patents. France tradition is that examination is not necessary.
Well, of course substantive examination is not actually necessary. The French and Swiss manage very well without it, thank you very much. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that his claimed invention is new and inventive. Nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone understands what’s expected of them. And you need a decent patent attorney, of course.
If you’re going to have examination, though, you had better make sure that it’s damn good. The worst situation of all is where you have a search and examination process which is held up as being top quality, and is therefore trusted by applicants, opponents, national courts, the UPC…, but is actually pretty shoddy. This leads to all kinds of trouble and expense, but sadly this kind of trouble and expense occurs far beyond the reach of the EPO’s quality monitoring.
I’ll say it again: poor examination favours large corporations at the expense of the little guy. Better not to examine at all if you can’t examine with really excellent quality.
On the matter of loyalty:
It is all in the service regulations actually. These specify that the staff should be “loyal” to the organization. There is some reason in that: somebody criticizing patents in the open would not be acceptable as a patent examiner, for example.
The slight change here is that the EPO changed “loyal to the organization” to “loyal to the president and his friends”.
Techrights is then cited as follows:
EPO Vice-President Loses Defamation Lawsuit — AGAIN!
Sinking deeper and deeper in the mud the EPO is.
Disgraceful all this is.
More about VP4:
All a bit surreal but must raise some questions somewhere. Surely…
The BoA member was accused of spreading defamatory stories about VP4. I can’t remember the full details but the issue seemed to include the allegations about cars which have been at the heart of the case in Croatia which has been settled. And not in VP4′s favour it seems. Maybe there’s another level of appeal to come?
But, in any case, the courts seem to consider that the Croatian lady’s statements were not defamatory. So presumably the BoA member could not be making defamatory statements either?? And the sacked Union chairwoman (even if she did give him help – denied by her I think) could not be assisting in any defamatory act?
A tangled mess. The EBoA may have been right in their analysis and maybe the AC was misled about the certainties? However it plays, nobody comes out of it well but, unfortunately, the only ones who suffer were actually ones who seem to be innocent.
It does raise, again, the question of what laws do apply within the EPO. The vague accusations of defamatory statement making do not specify under what set of laws. Clearly, Croatian law does not consider them defamatory. Does the EPO pick and choose these extra-territorial definitions or does the president make it up as he goes along?
This is an interesting little bit, which might actually have some factual basis:
new cunning action in sight by EPO top management : introduce 5 years’ contract for examiners by the June administrative council…
As a reply to that consider:
(Ref: 5 years contracts.)
That would be consistent with the EPO management pushing automation of search and examination at present. The EPO will need a lot less examiners in 5 years.
…and before someone objects that human examination is needed: Battistelli is French and France had a registration system for patents. France tradition is that examination is not necessary.
One person has just added: “Regarding immunity and the rule of law within the EPO buildings, does EU health and safety law apply? If even arguably not, then how can we, as EU employers, send our staff there e.g. to Oral Proceedings, surely we are then in breach of our duty of care to our employees?
“PS UK should not ratify UPC and EU should not subcontract anything to EPO until these issues are clear.”
Regarding the part which asked, “…does EU health and safety law apply?” one person wrote: “Luckily it’s not required, because the President can rule on such matters.”
Another responded with: “While the answer to this question is unclear, it was noticed that, when stricter smoking regulations were introduced in Germany (designated smoking areas usw.) the EPO quickly adopted a similar policy.”
One person then responded with: “Well, the truth is that all EPO buildings are no smoking zones. The president however had the smoke detectors in his presidential suite on the 10th floor of the Isar building and those in a small room next to the auditorium, which he uses in interruptions of the AC meetings, disconnected. So much for his respect of the law, regulations and – worse – of his staff´s security.”
Another person replied with: “yet the smoke alarms are disabled in certain offices to ensure proper functioning of the office, and at least one person has been relieved of their position because of complaints when someone smoked on their working place…..
“Regarding national law applicable or not: I find it problematic to fire someone because of alleged violations against German law, when no court has decided that the used formulation in the SUEPO financial support clauses are illegal. There have been legal opinions presented by the union that these clauses are legal. The office claims they have a legal opinion of an independent attorney stating otherwise, but they refuse to present it to anyone. This is s.th. a German judge has to decide on, as it relates to German law. But German law is not applicable to the EPO, therefore such a judge’s decission is not necessary.”
The above comments contain new information which we cannot necessarily verify. We find it important to document these for future reference, in case IP Kat suffers the same kinds of SLAPP attacks that we were subjected to. █
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The EPO’s standards for media and communications similar to those of Myanmar
Summary: An effort to discover just how many people out there have been subjected to censorship and/or self-censorship by EPO aggression against the media
WHAT the EPO did to us [1, 2, 3] last month and earlier this month (for a number of weeks) is important because it can help inform other sites of what EPO has been up to and how to stand up to it. We already have evidence to show that Team Battistelli is using the “chilling effect” against politicians, lawyers, bloggers, journalists, and even government delegates. How far will these sociopaths go? The EPO is already aping Myanmar’s low standards for media and communications.
“For EPO staff (not managers) remedy may already be on the way, especially as more people become aware of these issues and English-speaking journalists finally write more about it.”In our first part of this multi-part series we showed our reasons for suspicion that EPO lawyers had lazily used a template and didn’t even change the name when they sent a threatening letter. This led us to the supposition that other sites were being threatened with action too. We don’t know which sites — if any — these were. This kind of evidence suggests that other such letters were sent to other publishers, demanding that they take down their articles about the EPO. We don’t know if such letters were maybe to SUEPO as well (takedown letters). We already know that SUEPO removed some links from its public site. EPO management put them under threat, hence FOSS Patents links and Heise links got removed (we wrote about this at the time, back in early autumn). Any information about what exactly happened back then would be greatly appreciated. There is a campaign of “chilling effect” against dissent and if nobody speaks out, as a French blogger did a few months ago, we wouldn’t know just how widespread this campaign is. Based on the letter we received, it is likely that the EPO went also after German blogger or journalist (someone called Mr. Schneider).
For EPO staff (not managers) remedy may already be on the way, especially as more people become aware of these issues and English-speaking journalists finally write more about it. More of them will weigh in more often throughout the rest of this year, based on information that we have. Reprieve won’t come from EPO collapse but from EPO managers accepting that they need to obey the law (or resign). █
“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.”
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Like Ferdinand Marcos, Benoît Battistelli declares de facto martial law (with help from Control Risks) to perpetuate his tyranny and aggressively eliminate dissent
Summary: Criticism of the EPO’s thuggish behaviour and endless efforts to crush dissenting voices by all means available, even when these means are in clear violation of international or European laws
The EPO‘s attempts to gag and/or censor Techrights using threats [1, 2] is becoming the subject of some news coverage with a broad audience. As this one article (among several) put it: “In fact, to argue that Schestowitz’s post is defamatory is crazy. Threatening Schestowitz with a defamation claim is much crazier and dangerous than even Schestowitz’s own interpretation of the EPO’s memo. If you’re working for a government agency, such as the EPO, you have to be willing to accept some amount of criticism, even if you disagree with it. To claim it’s defamation and to threaten a lawsuit is really, really screwed up. [...] I’m having trouble thinking of any other governmental agency that has ever threatened a public critic with defamation. Basic concepts around free speech suggest that the EPO should suck it up. If it disagrees with Schestowitz’s interpretation of what it’s doing, then it can come out and explain its side of the story. Threatening him with defamation actually only makes me think that perhaps his interpretation hits closer to home than I originally believed.”
“That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
–AnonymousI am not the first EPO and/or UPC critic whom the EPO threatened to sue, it’s just that a lot of people don’t know about these cases. The EPO hopes that its victims will stay silent and afraid. In fact, this one example may have resulted in the site becoming inactive (for a number of years now).
Techrights is eager to get to the bottom of everything and won’t give up as the EPO probably hoped it would. “I finish on one straw of hope,” an anonymous comment wrote last night. “Thinking about FIFA, there are not thousands of employees involved. That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
Some of these victims commit suicide, too.
“In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint.”The EPO is clearly out of control. It is a quasi-political entity working using taxpayers’ money (to some degree) and abusing those taxpayers. Think about if for a moment; that’s worse than the British Conservative party hypothetically threatening to sue blogs critical of British Conservatives. In the case of the EPO it’s even worse because it was not even elected and the British Conservative party is not taking the money of the public to use for its own promotion at election time.
In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint. Then again, the EPO doesn’t exactly care about what’s legal. It mostly disregards the laws and makes up its own on a whim (or the President’s whim). The two last comments which stand out in the above article say that “EPOnia is not a “government agency”, it is legally a Kingdom above the EU countries, it is a tyranny with ZERO accountability… legal-wise”; another says “German employer rules or any other EU country do not apply inside EPOnia”.
If EPO thinks that it is above international law, then we need to show here just to what degree it disregards — if not deliberately violates — the law. █
“Denial ain`t just a river in Egypt.”
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“First They Ignore You, Then They Ridicule You, Then They Fight You.”
Summary: Having already blocked Techrights, the EPO’s management proceeds to further suppressions of speech, impeding its staff’s access to independently-distributed information (neither ordinary staff nor management)
THIS is a multi-part series regarding the highly abusive behaviour of the EPO, which decided to become confrontational not just against its own staff but also journalists. This is not a case of one person versus Techrights but a case of institutional harassment from a body which isn’t even complying with the law in doing so.
Techrights did not wish to publicise this, but last week there were rumours about it and journalists reached out for a comment, eventually publishing details about this whole situation. The article from WIPR has just been published (that was just moments ago), probably necessitating a response from us. There is too much to say considering the limited space of a blog, so we will do this in several parts. We want to make our side of the story known, so anyone who can blog about this or mention it publicly in social media, mass media etc. would help our cause, which is basically similar if not overlapping to the cause of EPO staff (the highly-skilled staff, such as examiners, not the managers). Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong. There are hardly even “two sides” here, except perhaps the “truth” side and the “spin” (or “damage control”) side. I have voluntarily — not for any personal gain — spent well over a year examining documents night and day, so I have a fairly good grasp or total awareness of all these scandals. I also know documents which I cannot publish.
“Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong.”I have been writing critically about companies (private companies) for over a decade, but never before has anyone responded like the EPO’s thugs did. We never received legal letters, even after writing close to 20,000 blog posts! The EPO, you see, is ‘special’. It has a history of trademark-trolling against critics. This whole thing does not exactly surprise me, having observed the aggressive ways of the EPO. I was only a little surprised to have discovered that they invoked the Streisand Effect by blocking (blacklisting or book-burning) my analyses and even more surprised that they declared a war on journalists. Who advised them on this? It’s truly misguided as it always backfires. It sounds as though they try to personify the EPO, in the form of Battistelli. I don’t think their lawyers even realise what kind of “blowback” (from EPO staff) their client is stepping into. Battistelli is probably the most hated person, even among his own staff.
“Always remember,” one person told me in Twitter. “Government has unlimited resources to destroy targets, unlike companies…”
When I first received a letter from EPO lawyers I assumed that there were trolling me. It clearly seemed as though they were sending template letters to a lot of people with threats, with the clear goal of censoring unwanted publicity. How did I know? The letter was addressed to the wrong person. They used the wrong name (see screenshot below). Template fail?
“This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists.”In every such circumstance, one has the right to know who is the accuser is, but the lawyers didn’t make it clear. They even refuted themselves therein. We have already seen the same kind of bullying used against Elizabeth Hardon, where there are efforts to exploit lack of awareness of the laws (no lawyers are allowed to be present) and therefore bring allegations against a person from a total vacuum, not a person.
Encircled below is proof or likely evidence that this is a widespread campaign, targeting people other than myself and subjecting them to gags, which my lawyer says are not legally-binding or potent (I never consented to these gags anyway).
A section of the first legal letter (among 4) sent to me
We kindly ask Mr. Schneider — whoever that may be — to consider coming out and telling us if he too was subjected to this kind of treatment from the EPO. This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists. This way, only ‘media partners’ such as Les Échos [1, 2, 3] or journalists who are complicit with EPO management (e.g. in defaming staff) will have their say. Others will self-censor or altogether refrain from coverage (either because of direct pressure from EPO or from a pressured/nervous editor/publisher). I personally experienced this kind of pressure when working as a journalist around 8 years ago. Techrights helped me combat self-censorship or editorial censorship. Everything was fine until I started ‘daring’ to write about the EPO.
In a future articles we will tackle the EPO’s accusations and also show why proper legal procedures were not even followed. █
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The previous header, prior to our Web site’s anniversary, put aside for now
Summary: The Techrights Web site is soon turning 9, whereupon we plan to invest even more time and effort to more effectively expose institutional corruption
IN SPITE of attempts to muzzle the site, Techrights is still going strong and broadening its audience. As one might expect, a site as outspoken as this (sometimes saying what others are afraid or reluctant to say) has become the target of some rather abusive people and as a result we intend to increase veracity, devotion, and persistence. Intimidation against us only makes us stronger. The coming week will bring some new reports about the EPO, whose Wiki we gradually improved over the weekend (identifying separable themes of abuses). We wholeheartedly thank both supporters and anonymous sources that made this possible.
“Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows.”“Defending digital freedom and exposing corruption since 2006″ says the new banner (it might still not be visible because of multimedia caching at our proxy). It doesn’t mean that anything is changing with respect to TechBytes, the audiocast, it just means that we soon (in just a couple of weeks) celebrate an important anniversary and we also approach 20,000 posts/articles. The most active years were half a decade ago, back when we published over 3,600 posts per year (more than 10 per day, on average). In order to get back to these levels we might need readers’ support, which does not necessarily mean financial support. Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows. People need to fight for them and people must defend free speech, sometimes at all costs. It’s when the ruling class manages to silence the oppressed that all hope is lost and change is anything but inevitable.
“Thank you” we again say to everyone who has supported us over the years and we look forward to another decade or more. Here is how to contact us anonymously. █
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The key is anonymity
Summary: Advice for potential whistleblowers, or sources with evidence of abuse that they wish to anonymously share with the world (via Techrights)
OVER the years Techrights has received critical information from dozens of sources, all of which remained safe (unexposed). But this does not mean that all of them did this safely. This article provides advice for those who wish to pass to us information in the safest of ways, without having to do a lot of complicated things.
Why Not Off-the-shelf, Self-contained Secure Software?
Over the past 6 months or so we have looked into various bits of Free/libre software, e.g. Briefkasten (no longer actively maintained, as of 2013) and SecureDrop, which is too big a project (massive also in the source code sense compared to Briefkasten, not to mention difficult to set up). After much effort we decided to settle for something which is simpler to use and is much faster to use. To facilitate leaking of sensitive documents (e.g. evidence of misconduct) we mostly require anonymity, as the content of the material does not — in its own right — do much (if anything) to expose the source.
Typically, whole frameworks are built for distributed and de-centralised leaking. This requires quite a bit of hardware, which in turn needs to be set up and properly configured. It’s complicated for both sides (source and receiver) and it’s usually developed for large teams of journalists, for constant interaction with sources, or a regular flow of material. We do not require something this advanced. In practice, a one-time document drop is usually enough.
Our Proposed Solution
We have decided that the following method would be good enough given the nature of leaks we normally receive. They are typically about technology, rather than some military or surveillance apparatus such as the CIA’s assassination (by drones) programme or the NSA’s mass surveillance programme.
For extra security, we kindly ask people to ensure anonymity/privacy tools are used, notably Tor. Without it, privacy/anonymity cannot be assured to a high degree. It’s possible, but it would not be unbreakable (meaning too great an effort and a challenge for spies to take on).
Establishing a Secure (Anonymous) Session
Follow the following steps, with (1) for extra assurance of anonymity.
- Install Tails or prepare a Tails device (e.g. Live CD) to boot on a laptop, in order to simplify session creation with Tor (for those who insist on using Windows we have this guide
- Irrespective of (1), seek public wireless/wired access in something like a mall (preferably not a sit-down like a coffee shop, where cameras are operated and situated in a way that makes it easy to track individuals by faces, payment with debit/credit cards and so on). The idea is to seek a place — any place — where it is hard to know the identity of the connected party, even by association (e.g. friend or family). Do not use a portable telephone (these are notoriously not secure and regularly broadcast location).
- Refrain from doing any browsing that can help identify patterns or affiliations of the user (e.g. session cookies). In fact, unless Tails is used, it might be worth installing a new browser (Opera for instance) and doing nothing on it prior to the sending of material. This reduces the cookie trail/footprint.
Send the material
Once logged in anonymously, anonymously (do not log in) submit text through Pastebin and take the resultant URL for later pasting. Do not pass PDFs for non-textual material. Instead take shots of them, to reduce/eliminate metadata which is often being passed along with them. Then submit to Anonmgur and make a note of the resultant URL for later pasting.
This is typically a one-way communication channel, so add any context which is necessary, then link to the above material as follows:
- Log in to the
#techrights IRC Channel via the Web browser.
- Choose a pseudonym and sooner or later we will get around to seeing the new arrival and checking what there is to be said (there are dozens of us there).
- Drop the link/s in the channel. If someone is on the keyboard at the time, there might even be time for interaction. Do not say anything that can help reveal identity (sometimes the language itself is revealing).
While not impenetrable, it would take an enormous amount of effort (and connections in several high places) to unmask a source who follows the steps above. Unless it’s a high-profile political leak, such an unmasking effort would be well beyond what’s worth pursuing (expensive and complicated). MAC address-level spying often assumes access to very high places (and deep into back rooms), so therein lies no significant danger, especially when the best anonymity tools are properly used and the incentive to unmask isn’t great enough at high places (usually the political or military establishments). █
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