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From Belarus With Love — Part I: Schizophrenic EPO Policy

Series parts:

  1. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Schizophrenic EPO Policy

Belarusian Campinos
António's statement about Russian "military intervention" in the Ukraine caused a bit of a stir inside the EPO, but so far he is keeping very quiet about the EPO's connections to the Belarusian IT sector.

Summary: The EPO's management must be terrified of EPO stakeholders discovering that they help fund Belarus [PDF]

On 1 March 2022 EPO President António Campinos issued a public statement (warning: link) about the "ongoing military action" and "appalling violence" in the Ukraine.

According to inside sources, the statement was drafted in close collaboration with the Administrative Council Chairman, Josef Kratochvil, and the President of the Boards of Appeal, Carl Josefsson.

"According to inside sources, the statement was drafted in close collaboration with the Administrative Council Chairman, Josef Kratochvil, and the President of the Boards of Appeal, Carl Josefsson."Some people are wondering whether Campinos also undertook a courtesy consultation with the Russian authorities before going public.

This is because the EPO's diplomatically formulated statement avoids using the word "war" - apparently in pre-emptive compliance with new Russian censorship laws that came into force a couple of days later.

In his statement, Campinos announced that the EPO would "freeze our co-operation activities with the national patent offices of the Federation of Russia and of Belarus, as well as to put on hold our co-operation activities with the Eurasian Patent Organisation".

In the meantime, some eagle-eyed observers have noted that Campinos has remained silent about the EPO's long-standing connections to the Belarusian IT sector.

There's nothing new or secret about these connections. As a matter of fact they go back quite a long way to the Benoît Battistelli era. But so far they have escaped any real scrutiny, both within the EPO and outside.

In June 2016, Techrights reported on the scandalous case of "Money Flying to Private Companies Without Tenders at Battistelli’s EPO".

That article contained a fleeting reference to one of the leading beneficiaries of this largesse, namely a company called SaM Holding GmbH reportedly based at "Gilching, near Starnberg" (close to Munich).

However, the "corporate headquarters" of SaM Holding GmbH in Gilching is something of a Potemkin façade.

"...some eagle-eyed observers have noted that Campinos has remained silent about the EPO's long-standing connections to the Belarusian IT sector."SaM Holding GmbH is the parent company of a Minsk-based IT company that was founded in 1993 by a group of graduates from the Belarus State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics.

The SaM group's organisational structure with its "head office" in Gilching near Munich cleverly conceals a "nearshore" coding operation whose "delivery center" is located in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Gilching – a village near Munich providing a Potemkin façade which cleverly conceals a Belarusian software company.

The clue is in the name SaM which stands for "Software aus Minsk" a German moniker meaning "Software from Minsk".

SaM Solutions praise
SaM Solutions lists the European Patent Office as one of its "blue chip" clients.

In its company presentations, the SaM group has always been eager to let the world know about its business relationship with the European Patent Office which it lists as one of its selected clients. The company appears to takes great pride in a glowing testimonial which it received from the EPO.

SaM Solutions clients
A glowing testimonial to SaM Solutions from the EPO.

For understandable reasons, the EPO has never been quite as keen about advertising its reciprocal connections to the Belarusian IT sector.

In the light of recent developments - in particular, Belarusian participation in Putin's "special military operation" in the Ukraine – Team Campinos is probably going to be even more concerned about ensuring that this "open secret" doesn't attract unwanted public attention.

"...Team Campinos is probably going to be even more concerned about ensuring that this “open secret” doesn’t attract unwanted public attention."But for people concerned about transparency, it seems like the right time to shine a spotlight on the EPO's Belarusian software "outsourcing" partner, SaM Solutions.

Our story begins with a look at the efforts of Belarusian despot Alexander Lukashenko to "techwash" his autocratic regime by creating his own post-Soviet "Silicon Valley" in Minsk.

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