Bonum Certa Men Certa

The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

Summary: Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public

THE scandals at the EPO are numerous and longstanding. Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about. In this part of the series we wish to focus on Mr Jesper Kongstad. He is not quite what it seems on the surface. As we are going to show in later parts (weeks ahead), Kongstad became a target of interest in an ongoing investigation from the outside (Battistelli has already eliminated inside overnight).



"Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about."The Kongstad situation will today be mentioned in brief. It will be covered without yet mentioning that investigation (intentionally unnamed) as there are some ongoing developments that would be better off covered when it's all finished and concluded. There is no longer a problem in mentioning the Kongstad situation as the information about earlier links to the Croatian SIPO is publicly accessible. Kongstad's close links to Battistelli have also been mentioned on the IPKat blog which said three months ago: "Back in 2010, when Benoît Battistelli was first appointed as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), there was a certain lack of transparency in the election process. As a blog post by IAM Magazine reported at the time, mischievous rumours quickly emerged from the EPO staff union newsletter (PDF link) to fill the vacuum of information regarding the circumstances of Mr Battistelli’s appointment.

"Battistelli’s original contract was negotiated in secret with Mr Jesper Kongstad, the then Acting (and now actual) Chairman of the Administrative Council. It was rumoured, intriguingly, that the contract specified that Mr B’s place of employment was the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye (the town of which he was deputy major, the spiritual home of football team Paris Saint-Germain and the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun-King), and that it contained an annex granting him full pension rights at the end of his five-year contract. While Merpel, whose nine lives invariably make any sort of pension annuity unaffordable since the pension must last so much longer than expected, can see the attraction of having full pension rights after a relatively short employment stint, she wonders what advantage or reason could lie behind deeming Mr Battistelli's place of employment to be 700 km west of where his office is actually located, if there is any substance behind that improbable rumour. The union newsletter, SUEPO Informs, also reported that Mr Kongstad refused to show the final contract negotiated with Mr Battistelli to the Administrative Council ('AC'), despite repeated requests by its apparently quite powerless members."

The EPO's staff representatives have initiated contact with investigators by now. This was mentioned very briefly in the print version of the article published in "Die Welt" on the 24th of August (entitled "Stress at the Munich Kremlin"). We covered this before, so it's not completely secret that outside investigators may be starting to show an interest in the EPO's mysterious conduct (or misconduct).

Our sources have more to say about this. Their research indicates that the EPO President Benoît Battistelli, formerly the Director of the French INPI, and the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, who is the current Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, have long-standing professional connections with Topić. This gives rise to the suspicion that Battistelli and Kongstad are putting professional and/or personal loyalties before the public interest in this matter and are colluding to prevent any independent investigation of Topić’s appointment.

The 2009 annual report of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office records details of a study visit of senior Croatian officials of the authorities for the enforcement of intellectual property rights to the partner Danish institutions in Copenhagen and a return visit by Danish officials to the partner Croatian institutions in Zagreb. It also includes this mention of a “twinning project” between the Danish Patent and Trademark Office and the Croatia SIPO which took place in the context of a European Union Assistance Project [PDF].

The Web site of the Danish PTO confirms the existence of the Croatia twinning project. The Danish PTO website also provides evidence of co-operation between the Danish PTO and the Croatian SIPO going back as far as 2004.

A further spicy detail in this saga is the fact that Topić’s former deputy at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Romana Matanovac Vučković, has been working as a consultant on an EU-funded project co-administered by the Danish PTO.

According to her personal Web site: "Since 2013, she has been cooperating with Pohl Consulting & Associates GmbH from Berlin and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as a consultant in the project of legal assistance in the field of intellectual property at Kosovo, also funded by the European Union."

The EU Kosovo project has a budget of ca. 1 million Euros [1, 2]. Ms. Matanovac Vučković was previously a deputy Director of the Croatian SIPO under Topić (ca. 2005-2008). During that period, she was also Croatia's "alternate representative" to the EPO's Administrative Council as confirmed by the following extract from the EPO Official Journal 2008: "During her time at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Matanovac Vučković acted as head of an official body under the SIPO’s remit which was called the "Council of Experts on Remunerations for Copyright and Related Rights". This appointment was controversial in Croatia and it was alleged to be unlawful due to a "conflict of interest" because Ms. Matanovac Vučković had previous worked for the Croatian Composers' Society (HDS) and the private company "Emporion" which was involved in managing musical royalty payments. According to informed sources, her previous employment should have disqualified her from an appointment to the Council of Experts. It was claimed in the Croatian press that Ms. Matanovac Vučković only secured the position due to her connections with the Croatian President Ivo Josipović."

Sources (in Croatian) can be found here and the English translation was published by us last week.

More information is to follow next week, reinforcing the allegation that the EPO's abuse goes all the way to the very top.

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