11.23.14

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Vesna Stilin’s Remarks on Željko Topić: Part XI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Vesna Stilin speaks about her confrontation with EPO Vice-President Željko Topić, who has criminal lawsuits against him in Croatia

THE Croatian link in the EPO is causing some serious problems for the EPO, based on E-mails that we have received and will say more about in the future. The corporate media has joined the campaign to reform the EPO (potentially by letting heads roll) and people who are the victims of Željko Topić, the man faces criminal charges in Croatia, also speak out. This is important because he is the EPO Vice-President and simultaneously he is in the midst of very serious abuses that can potentially land him in prison.

Writing to IP Watch under the heading “Right of Reply”, Vesna Stilin, a famous victim of Topić, published the following item. To quote IP Watch and to give Stilin a voice that she deserves:

I refer to the article “EPO Internal Strife Spills Over Into European Parliament, Human Rights Court”, published by Intellectual Property Watch on 15 May 2014 (IPW, European Policy, 15 May 2014) and hereby request to exercise my right of reply by way of publication of the following statement:

Although the article is to be commended for giving a useful overview of the controversy surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as Vice-President of the EPO, several of the statements attributed to Mr. Batistelli and to Mr. Topić contain factually incorrect and/or misleading information. Moreover, in at least some cases it appears to me that these statements are damaging to my reputation and good name.

The claim attributed to Mr. Batistelli and Mr. Topić in the published article to the effect that the allegations which I have raised about Mr. Topić amount to a “smear campaign” is incorrect. My efforts in this regard represent a legitimate attempt to obtain legal redress, inter alia by means of judicial review, with respect to matters concerning my statutory rights as a citizen and as a former employee of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). The legal actions which I have initiated in this regard have been widely reported on in the Croatian media in recent years and as far as can be determined, Mr. Topić has not made any request for a correction of the aforementioned Croatian media reports which he would clearly have been entitled to do under Croatian law if the allegations contained in these reports amounted to nothing more than a baseless and unfounded “smear campaign”.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which “Vesna Stilin was dismissed by the government of Croatia, not by me, from her position as my assistant at SIPO” is formally correct in so far as the power of appointment and dismissal of Assistant Directors of the SIPO lied with the Croatian Government. However, the statement is grossly misleading insofar as it obscures the key role which Mr. Topić played in the process of my dismissal from the SIPO. The fact of the matter is that the Government took its decision to dismiss me from my position based on Mr. Topić’s recommendation as set forth in two letters which he wrote to the former Croatian Prime Minister, Mr. Ivo Sanader: one of which was placed on the official record (abolishing Copyright and Related Rights Department, without any explanation, with less employees which has been contrary to the recommendation made by independent EU experts in field of Copyright and Related Rights and contrary of Topic’s statement in CARDS program No. 96022 and No. 60343 ) and a further version which was treated as “strictly confidential” with the evident aim of preventing disclosure of its contents to me (contrary to the Law on Access to Information) and which led to me filing a lawsuit for criminal defamation against Mr. Topić.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić concerning my unsuccessful candidacy for the position of Director-General of the SIPO and his comments concerning the legal proceedings which I subsequently initiated in relation to this matter, including the remarks referring to “absurd complaints” with the ECtHR, amount to an unacceptable misrepresentation and trivialization of the facts of the matter which may be summarized as follows:

I applied for the position of Director-General of the SIPO in 2008. My application was submitted after Mr. Topić had unilaterally, contrary to the legal procedure, abolished the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department and thus my post as Assistant Director in charge of that Department. If Mr. Topić had not engineered the abolition of my previous post – which was used to justify my dismissal from the SIPO – I would have had no reason to apply for the position of Director-General.

In the decision Us-4201/2008-6 from September 24th 2008, the Administrative Court rejected my complaint against Mr. Topić’s re-appointment as Director General stating inter alia that I could not apply for the position because there had been no public vacancy notice. In subsequent proceedings concerning the same matter before the Constitutional Court, I submitted evidence that the lack of a public vacancy notice, in concrete situation was contrary to the applicable statutory requirements and the practice followed by the previous Government.

In the same complaint filed with the Administrative Court (Us-4201/08 from April 21th 2008), I pointed out inter alia that, at the time of Mr. Topić’s re-appointment, the Government had not been properly informed about certain actions on the part of Mr. Topić which prima facie appeared to constitute criminal acts under Croatian law, including a covert agreement with the former Minister of Science (in charge of inspection under SIPO, who suggests appointment/dismissal of Director General of SIPO to the Government), for whose benefit Mr. Topić had apparently arranged provision of an Audi 6 vehicle at the expense of the SIPO.

Following the various allegations which I raised in this regard, the Government demanded an official inspection of the SIPO in January 2009. However, this official inspection was never carried out as has since been confirmed in writing by the competent Ministry of Economy and Enterprise to which supervisory responsibility for the SIPO had been transferred. In an official Memorandum of February 3th 2012 which was signed by Mr. Topić himself, the nonexistence of the inspection of SIPO since 2008 was confirmed. In the absence of a proper independent official inspection into these matters by the competent Government Ministry, the assertion attributed to Mr. Topić according to which the allegations which I raised “have been rejected after examination as entirely unfounded” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Following the dismissal of my complaint by the Croatian Constitutional Court, which is the final domestic instance, I proceeded to submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (filed August 20th 2011) in accordance with my statutory entitlement as a citizen of a signatory state to the European Convention on Human Rights. This action is still pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

The article also contains a statement attributed to the EPO President Mr. Battistelli according to which neither the AC nor Battistelli knew of the allegations against Topić at the time of his appointment “but since the charges have been made public they have all been cleared” and a further statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which “There are no civil proceedings or criminal charges against Topić in Croatia, and he has provided a required certificate showing no criminal record”. These statements are misleading because prior to Mr. Topic’s appointment to the EPO a second criminal lawsuit against Mr. Topic was pending in Zagreb. The evidence relating to this fact was communicated to the President of the EPO and the Administrative Council by the end of 2013 (Minutes of proceedings before the Criminal Court of Zagreb, May 4th 2010, No. K 163/09). This second criminal lawsuit against Mr. Topic was mentioned in two judicial decisions before the Criminal Court of Zagreb (May 31th 2010 No.K-163/09 and May 23th 2011 No.K-238/10) concerning the “defamation” version of my dismissal. Furthermore I also communicated the evidence of further criminal charges against Mr. Topić filed with the Croatian Public Prosecutor (January 9th 2013) to the President of the EPO and the Administrative Council. Under Croatian law, a criminal record is not registered until after a final court judgment has been made. As the aforementioned cases against Mr. Topić are still pending and have not yet reached that stage, this is the reason why he was in a position to provide the EPO with a certificate showing no criminal record.

The statement attributed to Mr. Topić according to which a private lawsuit which I initiated against him for alleged slander was dismissed with an order that I should pay all costs and legal fees is incorrect because suggests the issues underlying this lawsuit have been finally resolved before the Croatian courts which is not the case. The fact of the matter is that although the lawsuit in question was dismissed by the Appeal Court after being two times remitted back to the first instance from the Appeal Court, the decision of the Appeal Court forms the subject of a pending complaint which I submitted to the Croatian Constitutional Court on April 14th 2014. I have also lodged an appeal concerning the matter of costs which is likewise pending. Finally, there is a pending criminal complaint in which I challenged the veracity of the testimony provided by a witness who gave evidence in Mr. Topić’s favour and on which the impugned judgment relied. From these facts it should be evident that legal proceedings in relation to the above lawsuit are still ongoing before the Croatian courts and have not yet been resolved in a final manner contrary to what is implied by the above-mentioned statement of Mr. Topić.

I would be grateful if you could arrange for my response to be published in a suitable format and linked to the original article.

Stilin’s letter is framed as a rebuttal, but it actually serves to reinforce some of the other things published in the original article. Stilin preceded her article with the following words: “this letter is published under the legal right of reply of an individual referenced in a previous article published in Intellectual Property Watch. It is published upon her request.”

Being a statement from Stilin herself, we deem it quite an accurate representation of the Željko Topić affair. In the coming weeks we are going to publish more material highlighting what happened in SIPO and the role played by Željko Topić.

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