03.14.20

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EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Part 3 – How to Become a European Patent Attorney Without Passing the EQE

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 5:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The leadership of António Campinos is clearly no better than Battistelli‘s

Topic IP and EPO application form
Application form for entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives

Summary: “EQE” and the rest of this system brought into complete and utter disrepute by notorious Vice-Presidents of the EPO

There are those who would consider the qualification as a European patent attorney to be a licence to print money.

Whether that is correct or not, the fact is that for most people holding the qualification, it’s a hard-earned “privilege” requiring many hours of study to pass the European Qualifying Examination (EQE).

According to Article 134 (2) (c) EPC, passing the EQE is a mandatory requirement to obtain entry on the EPO‘s list of professional representatives.

There is one exception to this, the so-called “grandfather clause” of Article 134 (3) EPC.

The “grandfather clause” applies to persons entitled to act as representative in patent matters before the national intellectual property office of a new signatory to the EPC. During a transitional period of one year following the entry into force of the EPC in that state, such persons are exempted from the requirement to pass the EQE in order to obtain entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives.

So for example, when Croatia officially became a contracting state of the EPC on 1 January 2008, a qualified Croatian patent attorney could apply for entry onto the EPO’s list of professional representatives for a period of one year from that date without the requirement to have passed the EQE. In Croatia, the time-window for availing of the grandfather clause closed on 1 January 2009.

But let’s get back to Topić IP d.o.o. and its founder and managing partner, the redoubtable Željko Topić.

Techrights readers may recall that Željko’s term as EPO Vice-President came to an end in December 2018.

Soon afterwards, in January 2019, some eagle-eyed readers of the Official Gazette of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV) noticed a new entry in the national registers for trademark and patent representatives maintained by the DZIV. [PDF]

Topic IP fraud
January 2019: Topić resurfaced in Croatia as a registered representative for trademarks and patents

Not long afterwards in March 2019, the EPO Official Journal [PDF] recorded that Željko Topić had obtained entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives. The initial entry was made using his home address of Zamenhofa no. 23 in Zagreb.

Topic IP EPO
March 2019: Topić obtains entry on the EPO’s list of representatives

A couple of months later in June 2019, the entry was amended by replacing his home address with the business address of Topić IP d.o.o. at Kordunska no. 2 in Zagreb. [PDF]

Topic IP (Croatia) amendment
June 2019: Entry amended to use the business address of Topić IP d.o.o.

The latter entry can be confirmed by consulting the EPO’s online database (warning: epo.org link) of registered professional representatives.

Topic online DB - Croatia
Entry for Željko Topić in the EPO’s online database of professional representatives

Well, that’s nice isn’t it? Željko clearly deserves congratulations for finding time to pass the EQE despite his busy schedule as EPO Vice-President during the years 2012 to 2018.

The only problem here is that when the EPO’s database of successful EQE candidates (warning: epo.org link) is consulted it only throws up four names for Croatia… and the name of Željko Topić is not among them.

Croatia EQE
The EPO’s database of successful EQE candidates only returns four names for Croatia

So it looks like Željko never actually passed the EQE.

If this is the case, it’s difficult to see how he could have been considered eligible for entry on the EPO’s list of professional representatives. Let’s not forget that the “grandfather clause” for Croatia expired a decade earlier back in 2009.

So how exactly did Željko Topić “MBA” end up on the EPO’s list of professional representatives?

At the moment nobody seems to have an answer to this little conundrum.

But as we shall see in the next instalment, there is a person who might be able to provide some enlightenment on that score, namely Dr Christoph Ernst, the former head of the German delegation to the EPO’s Administrative Council and, since January 2019, the EPO’s Vice-President in charge of International and Legal Affairs.

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