05.23.21

The EPO’s War on Justice and Assault on the Law — Part 18: Promoting the Illusion of Peace and Haar-mony

Posted in Courtroom, Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously in this series:

Carl Josefsson's PR machine
How Josefsson’s PR machine tries to create an illusion of peace and Haar-mony.

Summary: Contrary to what EPO management has attempted to convey (using agents of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, including Carl Josefsson), things aren’t rosy at Haar, where European software patents and many other bad things are being approved under pressure from clueless and ruthless EPO management

Before we conclude the present series, it is worth having a look at a significant innovation to the Boards of Appeal which was recently introduced by Carl Josefsson.

Josefsson is a media-savvy individual with a past record of involvement in journalistic activities in Sweden. He knows the importance of using the media to control the official narrative disseminated to the public and to secure a position of “interpretive dominance” in any kind of public debate.

“Josefsson is a media-savvy individual with a past record of involvement in journalistic activities in Sweden. He knows the importance of using the media to control the official narrative disseminated to the public and to secure a position of “interpretive dominance” in any kind of public debate.”At the start of 2020, he officially nominated two “judicial spokespersons” with responsibility for all PR matters relating to the Boards of Appeal.

The current spokespersons are Jeannine Hoppe and Nikolaus Obrovski and their names appear on all official external communications from the Boards of Appeal.

“The current spokespersons are Jeannine Hoppe and Nikolaus Obrovski and their names appear on all official external communications from the Boards of Appeal.”Before taking up her current position at the EPO, Hoppe – who is of German nationality – worked at the German Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht) in Munich. This is the very same Federal Patent Court where Raimund Lutz was the boss before he became a Vice-President of the EPO in 2011, so feel free to draw your own conclusions there, folks.

The publicly available staffing records for the Federal Patent Court – which is in fact the Federal Patent and Trademark Court – show that Hoppe sat for many years on a judicial panel for trademark litigation (a so-called “Markensenat”) presided over by Achim Bender.

Jeannine Hoppe
Boards of Appeal spokesperson, Jeannine Hoppe.

Bender was a member of the OHIM trademark Appeals Board in Alicante from 1997 until 2007. Thereafter he returned to the Federal Patent Court where he headed a trademark appeals panel until his retirement in July 2013. Immediately following his retirement and without any cooling-off period, Bender joined the high profile IP law firm Vossius & Partner as reported by JUVE in August 2013.

In parallel to her judicial position, Hoppe had a side-job as the Court’s “spokesperson” responsible for PR matters. In the latter capacity, she acted as editor of the Court’s in-house publications such as its Annual Report.

Hoppe (right) at the MARKENFORUM 2016 with Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer (German Patent and Trademark Office), Alexander Dröge, (Markenverband e.V.) and Ariane Mittenberger-Huber (senior judge at the Federal Patent Court).
Hoppe (right) at the MARKENFORUM 2016 [PDF] with Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer (German Patent and Trademark Office), Alexander Dröge, (Markenverband e.V.) and Ariane Mittenberger-Huber (senior judge at the Federal Patent Court).

She also appeared as a speaker at events such as MARKENFORUM 2016 – a get-together for trademark law professionals in the exclusive five-star Hotel Bayerischer Hof in the centre of Munich. The annual MARKENFORUM events are organised by the industry lobby group Markenverband e.V. which represents the interests of brand-oriented businesses in Germany. Attendance at the 2016 event cost between € 690 (members) and € 890 (non-members).

The other key member on Josefsson’s PR team is Nikolaus Obrovski.

Nikolaus Obrovski
Nikolaus Obrovski, a vital cog in Josefsson’s PR machine.

Obrovski – who is of Austrian nationality – joined the EPO in 2014 as a member of the legal research department of the Boards of Appeal, at that time under the direction of Vice-President Wim van der Eijk.

In 2017 Obrovski was promoted to the position of personal assistant to the new President of the Boards of Appeal, Carl Josefsson. More recently in 2019, it was announced that he had been appointed as a legal member of the Boards of Appeal.

“More recently in 2019, it was announced that he had been appointed as a legal member of the Boards of Appeal.”Before joining the EPO in 2014, Obrovski had quite a varied career.

After studying law at the Johannes Kepler University Linz in Upper Austria, he started off as a judge in Vienna. In 2008, he was assigned to the so-called Amstetten “incest case” where he acted as an examining magistrate.

“In September 2008 after taking testimony from Fritzl in a courtroom, Obrovski ordered a visit to the basement “dungeon” of the “House of Horrors” in Amstetten in order to clarify certain factual details.”This was a high profile investigation into the activities of the Austrian engineer, Josef Fritzl, who stood accused of taking his daughter Elisabeth prisoner shortly after she turned 18, sexually abusing her and fathering seven children with her while keeping her in captivity in a secret basement room for 24 years.

In September 2008 after taking testimony from Fritzl in a courtroom, Obrovski ordered a visit to the basement “dungeon” of the “House of Horrors” in Amstetten in order to clarify certain factual details.

Josef Fritzl
Josef Fritzl (right) revisiting the scene of his crimes as ordered by Judge Obrovski in September 2008.

From contemporaneous newspaper reports it emerges that Obrovski wanted to visit the basement of the house in order to verify details about its construction, in particular in relation to the last door used to seal the “dungeon” from the outside world. He specifically wanted to hear about Fritzl’s alleged “escape plan” for his daughter and the children should anything have happened to him during her long years of her involuntary confinement.

“It would appear that this close encounter with the darker side of human nature led Obrovski to start looking for another job which might offer a “change of scenery”.”Fritzl failed in his attempt to persuade authorities that he had arranged for the door to open in case he fell ill or died. Austrian media said that his story of a time-release clock that would let them out was “not convincing”. No such mechanism was found in the “dungeon”.

When he was put on trial in 2009, Fritzl pleaded guilty to all charges with the exception of murder and grievous assault. On 19 March 2009, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 15 years.

“Soon afterwards he took up a new position as a legal affairs attaché of the Permanent Representation of Austria to the European Union.”It would appear that this close encounter with the darker side of human nature led Obrovski to start looking for another job which might offer a “change of scenery”.

Soon afterwards he took up a new position as a legal affairs attaché of the Permanent Representation of Austria to the European Union.

Nikolaus Obrovski's signature
Obrovski was the legal affairs attaché of Austria’s Permanent Representation to the EU.

Some time later Obrovski was recruited by the European Commission as a senior lawyer in the Directorate General of Internal Market and Services, where he was assigned to the department responsible for copyright law.

Nikolaus Obrovski speaking
Obrovski, speaking at the centenary commemoration event of BUMA in 2013.

During his time at the European Commission, Obrovski was a frequent guest speaker at IP events such as the conference organised by BUMA, the Dutch music royalty collecting society, to mark the occasion of its centenary in 2013.

Well-informed sources from Austria have indicated that Obrovski is of Danube Swabian ancestry. His father is reputed to be Roman Obrovski, retired head of the Austrian Public Employment Service (ArbeitmarkserviceAMS) in Upper Austria.

If this information is correct, then Obrovski’s grandfather was a prominent member of the Danube Swabian community from the Vojvodina in northern Serbia, many of whom sought refuge in Austria and Germany at the end of the Second World War.

Refugee camp no. 65 near Linz which housed many Danube Swabians in 1945.

Refugee camp no. 65 near Linz which housed many Danube Swabians in 1945.

Many of the Danube Swabians who fled to Austria in 1945 were initially housed in a settlement near Linz where Nikolaus Obrovski (Senior) was in charge of Refugee Camp no. 65.

According to an obituary published in the Sudetenpost in 1977, Obrovski (Senior) came from Semlin (Zemun), now a suburb of the Serbian capital Belgrade, but formerly part of the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (prior to 1918).

18 - Nikolaus Obrovski Senior - Sudetenpost 1977

During the Second World War, he is reputed to have worked as a journalist for the newspaper, Novo Vreme, which was the main propaganda organ of the Serbian collaboration government under General Milan Nedić. In cooperation with German agencies and local publishers, the paper took part in anti-Semitic and anti-communist propaganda campaigns.

“One key element of the current PR strategy is to project a public image of Josefsson as a thoughtful and cultivated patron of the arts.”But that’s enough of the serendipitous digressions down historical wormholes.

It’s time to return to the main focus of the present part, namely the modern and much more subtle propaganda machine currently operated by Josefsson at the EPO Boards of Appeal.

“A good example can be found in the recently released video about the EPO’s art collection where he waffles on about “art as a creative motor”.”As might be expected, the main function of Josefsson’s PR “Nebelwerfer” is to disseminate a smokescreen of “fake news” and “BS” in an attempt to mask the facts on the ground.

In this way, Josefsson tries his level best to maintain a carefully manufactured illusion of peace and Haar-mony inside his fiefdom – “Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen” as the Germans say.

One key element of the current PR strategy is to project a public image of Josefsson as a thoughtful and cultivated patron of the arts. A good example can be found in the recently released video about the EPO’s art collection where he waffles on about “art as a creative motor”.

This video has echoes of an earlier puff piece about the Boards’ exile to Haar published [PDF] by the Süddeutsche Zeitung in July 2018. Translation into English is available. [PDF]

“It’s almost as if Josefsson thinks that by posing as a connoisseur of modern art he can succeed in deflecting attention away from the serious governance problems afflicting the EPO, including his own Boards of Appeal.”On that occasion, Josefsson did his best to impress the German interviewer with his enthusiasm for the works of the “Master of Eglfing-Haar”, Eugen Gabritschevsky (1893 – 1979), a Russian biologist and artist who was committed to the psychiatric hospital in Haar in 1931. Gabritschevsky was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the remainder of his life in the hospital where, over a period of around thirty years, he produced an impressive body of art consisting of thousands of paintings and drawings.

It’s almost as if Josefsson thinks that by posing as a connoisseur of modern art he can succeed in deflecting attention away from the serious governance problems afflicting the EPO, including his own Boards of Appeal.

Nice try, Calle. Let’s see how far you get with it.

“Observers of EPOnia can expect to see Calle’s PR engine ratcheting into top gear as the date for the hearing in the referral procedure G 1/21 approaches.”But while you’re at it, don’t forget what “Honest Abe” Lincoln is reputed to have said about trying to fool the people.

Observers of EPOnia can expect to see Calle’s PR engine ratcheting into top gear as the date for the hearing in the referral procedure G 1/21 approaches.

It’s clear that his “judicial spokespersons”, Hoppe and Obrovski, will have their work cut out for them trying to whitewash the procedural shenanigans that have been going on in this case so far.

In the next part we intend to conduct a review of the current status of the case and speculate a little about what might – or might not – happen before the final decision is announced.

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