Bonum Certa Men Certa

Virtual Injustice -- Part 5: Benoît's “Friends” in Budapest

Previously in the series:

  1. Virtual Injustice -- Part 1: António's Increasingly Wonky Legal Fudge Factory
  2. Virtual Injustice -- Part 2: The ViCo Oral Proceedings of 28 May 2021
  3. Virtual Injustice -- Part 3: All the President's Men…
  4. Virtual Injustice -- Part 4: Mihály Ficsor, the EPO's Hungarian “Fixer”


Ficsor (left) and Bendzsel (right)
The Hungarian delegates, Ficsor (left) and Bendzsel (right), were important players on the Administrative Council during the Battistelli-Kongstad era.



Summary: "Battistelli went to considerable lengths to secure the support of the Hungarian delegation."

Due to Hungary's prominent role within the Viségrad Group, the director of the Hugarian IPO, Miklós Bendzsel, and his deputy Ficsor became significant players on the EPO's Administrative Council during the Battistelli-Kongstad era.



As a matter of fact, Battistelli went to considerable lengths to secure the support of the Hungarian delegation.

Shortly after he had announced that he was in the running for the position of EPO President, Battistelli popped up in Budapest in August 2009 to lobby the Hungarians for their support.

Battistelli lobbying the Hungarians in Budapest
Left: Battistelli lobbying the Hungarians in Budapest in August 2009. Right: Battistelli at the European Inventor Award in Budapest in 2011.



HIPO 2009 extract
From HIPO (2009 extract) [PDF]



Following the success of his campaign to take over at the helm of the EPO, Battistelli rewarded his "friends" in Budapest for their support by choosing the Danubian metropolis as the location for the European Inventor of the Year Award boondoggle in 2011.

"Following the success of his campaign to take over at the helm of the EPO, Battistelli rewarded his "friends" in Budapest for their support by choosing the Danubian metropolis as the location for the European Inventor of the Year Award boondoggle in 2011."Bendzsel was also selected as the deputy chairman of the Administrative Council, probably because he could be counted on to follow without question the course set by Kongstad and his puppet-master Battistelli.

As we mentioned in the last part the Hungarians for their part helped to legitimate Batistelli's Croatian Bulldog, Željko Topić, by presenting him with the Jedlik Ányos Award in 2012, shortly before he took up his position as EPO Vice-President.

In order to secure the long-term loyalty of his Magyar vassals, Battistelli promised them that Budapest would become the home of a dedicated training centre for the newly appointed judges of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) which - at that time - was predicted to start operating in 2015.

House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation undergoing renovation in 2013
House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation undergoing renovation in 2013.



The House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation in the historic Castle Quarter of Buda was earmarked as the location for the training centre and an extensive renovation took place during 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation after renovation
House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation after renovation.



Finally in March 2014 (warning: epo.org link), the great and good of the European IP world assembled in Budapest to celebrate the official opening of the UPC judges' training centre.

Speakers at the official opening of the UPC judges' training centre in Budapest (March 2014).
Speakers at the official opening of the UPC judges' training centre in Budapest (March 2014).



The speakers at the opening ceremony included Battistelli, Campinos - who at that time was head of the OHIM/EUIPO which deals with trademarks not patents! - and the head of the HIPO, Bendzsel.

Bendzsel's deputy, Ficsor, was also in attendance as a guest of honour as we shall see in the next part.

UPC Délibáb: the lavishly renovated training centre hasn't managed to open for business as planned
UPC Délibáb: the lavishly renovated training centre hasn't managed to open for business as planned.



In the end the dream of playing a central role in the UPC project - which Battistelli had sold to his Hungarian allies in order to secure their support for his "reign of terror" at the EPO - turned out to be an unfortunate case of "délibáb".

"Délibáb" is a Hungarian word denoting a natural phenomenon that can be observed on the Puszta or Great Hungarian Plain in the summertime. It is a type of heat-induced mirage or "fata morgana" caused by a temperature inversion in the atmosphere - an optical illusion produced by the conjunction of the sun, the sky, and the flat landscape. The word is used by Hungarians in a metaphorical sense to refer to wishful thinking or pipe-dreams.

"The UK Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the German constitutional challenge by Ingve Stjerna in 2017, led to the UPC being put on the back-boiler and created serious doubts about the viability of the project."And so it came to pass that despite all the official pomp and circumstance in March 2014, the lavishly renovated training centre in the historical centre of Budapest never actually commenced operation as planned.

The UK Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the German constitutional challenge by Ingve Stjerna in 2017, led to the UPC being put on the back-boiler and created serious doubts about the viability of the project.

To cap it all, there was also a constitutional challenge to the UPC in Hungary itself. This resulted in a ruling of the Hungarian Supreme Court in June 2018, according to which Hungary could not ratify the treaty.

"Due to the ongoing legal uncertainty surrounding the project, the UPC now seems to have been mothballed for the foreseeable future - if not permanently canned."Finally in March 2020 the German Federal Constitutional Court upheld Stjerna's challenge to the UPC. This placed the ball back in the court of the Federal Parliament as far as Germany was concerned.

Instead of subjecting the UPC project to proper legislative scrutiny, the Federal Parliament of Germany opted for another precipitous rubber-stamping procedure.

This second attempt at UPC ratification by Germany is the subject of renewed constitutional challenges which are pending before the Federal Constitutional Court.

"In the upcoming parts we will look at Ficsor's close connections to Campinos and examine what he did after he left the HIPO in 2016 and how he ended up at the EPO in 2020."Due to the ongoing legal uncertainty surrounding the project, the UPC now seems to have been mothballed for the foreseeable future - if not permanently canned.

Any plans that Ficsor may have had for a cushy little pre- or post-retirement sinecure at the lavishly renovated judges' training centre in Budapest are unlikely to come to fruition.

In the upcoming parts we will look at Ficsor's close connections to Campinos and examine what he did after he left the HIPO in 2016 and how he ended up at the EPO in 2020.

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