06.12.21

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Virtual Injustice — Part 4: Mihály Ficsor, the EPO’s Hungarian “Fixer”

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 12:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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…

Mihály Ficsor
Mihály Ficsor, former member of the EPO‘s Administrative Council and now Principal Director in the EPO’s DG5.

Summary: One key operative of António Campinos, who is fiercely in favour of software patents, has quite a colourful past and background

In this part, we begin our in-depth look at the head of the legal team representing the President of the Office in G 1/21.

The focus of our attention here is Mihály Zoltán Ficsor, a Principal Director in the EPO’s Directorate General of Legal and International and Affairs.

To begin with, it’s important to note that Fiscor, who was born in Budapest in 1964, belongs to the “elite” of the IP world.

“Ficsor Senior was a protégé of Árpád Bogsch, the long-serving Director General of the WIPO who headed the organisation from 1973 to 1997.”He is the son of Mihály J. Ficsor, former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva and a renowned international expert on copyright law.

Ficsor Senior was a protégé of Árpád Bogsch, the long-serving Director General of the WIPO who headed the organisation from 1973 to 1997.

According to Wikipedia, Bogsch was “a Hungarian-American international civil servant” who was born in Budapest in 1919 and “became an American citizen in 1959″.

However, the Wikipedia entry is very sketchy on biographical details and omits some interesting facts.

“The “Internationale Rechtskammer” (IRK) was an international professional association founded in Berlin in 1941 by Hitler’s personal legal adviser and Governor-General of occupied Poland, Hans Frank, who was executed at Nuremberg in October 1945.”It seems that Bogsch had to flee Hungary after the Second World War because his father was targeted by the post-war Communist government on account of his close links to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

More precisely, Bogsch’s father was one of the founding members and executive chairman of the Hungarian chapter of the “Internationale Rechtskammer” (“International Law Chamber”) which was set up in 1942. [PDF]

The “Internationale Rechtskammer” (IRK) was an international professional association founded in Berlin in 1941 by Hitler’s personal legal adviser and Governor-General of occupied Poland, Hans Frank, who was executed at Nuremberg in October 1945. The IRK established a transnational network of lawyers and legal scholars from states allied with or occupied by Nazi Germany.

The purpose of the exercise was to promote a pan-European, anti-liberal, and fascist-corporatist vision of the international legal order. During World War II, the Nazis used this network to pursue legal integration among the allied and conquered states as part of their efforts to build a “New Order” in Europe.

After the war, Bogsch’s father was put on trial, convicted and sentenced to prison on account of his collaboration with the Nazis.

“The purpose of the exercise was to promote a pan-European, anti-liberal, and fascist-corporatist vision of the international legal order. During World War II, the Nazis used this network to pursue legal integration among the allied and conquered states as part of their efforts to build a “New Order” in Europe.”Bogsch himself – who had graduated from law school in the early 1940s – was also a member of the civil law section of the Hungarian chapter of the IRK.

After the war Bogsch managed to secure a posting abroad with UNESCO in Paris and decided that it would be better for him not to return to Hungary as he was likely to face a similar fate to his father.

In the end, this exiled son of a convicted Nazi collaborator managed to reinvent himself as an American citizen in 1959. He rose to become a leading figure in the post-war globalist IP racket as head of the WIPO, where he was appointed Director General in 1973, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. At the time in question that position was occupied by none other than the former Wehrmacht officer, Kurt Waldheim from Austria.

Mihály J. Ficsor  and his mentor, Árpád Bogsch
Mihály J. Ficsor and his mentor, Árpád Bogsch, son of a convicted Hungarian wartime collaborator who reinvented himself as an “American” and became WIPO supremo from 1973 to 1997.

One immediate beneficiary of Bogsch’s hegemony at the WIPO was his Hungarian compatriot, Mihály J. Ficsor, the father of the EPO’s Mihály Zoltán Ficsor. With Bogsch’s assistance and support, Ficsor Senior rose to the position of Assistant Director General of the WIPO in charge of copyright and related rights.

“One immediate beneficiary of Bogsch’s hegemony at the WIPO was his Hungarian compatriot, Mihály J. Ficsor, the father of the EPO’s Mihály Zoltán Ficsor.”Ficsor Junior followed in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a high-profile career in the world of IP administration, both at home in Hungary and internationally.

Ficsor Junior was favoured in his endeavours by external political circumstances, in particular the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the emergence of Hungary as a prominent member of the so-called Visegrád Group.

The Visegrád Group is a cultural and political alliance of four countries of Central Europe: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Its aim is to advance mutual co-operation in military, cultural, economic and energy matters and to promote their integration into the EU.

Visegrád Group
Meeting of the heads of the IP offices of the Visegrád Group and neighbouring countries in June 2011.

The heads of the IP Offices of the Visegrád Group meet on an annual basis and the meetings typically include representatives from the IP Offices of neighbouring countries such as Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia.

A photo-op from the June 2011 meeting shows [PDF] the director of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO), Miklós Bendzsel, in close proximity to the head of the Croatian IPO, Željko Topić and his protégée, Ljiljana Kuterovac.

The following year, during a visit by a delegation from the HIPO to the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office in February 2012, Topić was presented with the Hungarian Jedlik Ányos Award, shortly before he took up his position as EPO Vice-President.

“Ficsor Junior followed in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a high-profile career in the world of IP administration, both at home in Hungary and internationally.”Returning now to the main focus of our attention, Mihály Zoltán Ficsor started his career at the HIPO in 1988. He then worked as Head of the European Community Law Department in the Hungarian Ministry of Justice between 1995-1999 and took part in the negotiations on Hungary‘s accession to the EU.

Ficsor then returned to the HIPO as deputy director, serving under Miklós Bendzsel who held the position of HIPO director from 1997 to 2016.

As deputy director of the HIPO, Ficsor was the Hungarian representative on various international bodies and committees dealing with IP matters, in particular those established by the WIPO.

“In the next part we will see how Ficsor and his boss at the Hungarian IPO, Miklós Bendzsel, became important allies of Benoît Battistelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council during the period between 2009 and 2018.”Following Hungary’s ratification of the European Patent Convention (2003) and its accession to the EU (2004), Ficsor’s duties expanded to acting as a national delegate on the governing bodies of the EPO and the EU trademark agency OHIM/EUIPO in Alicante.

In the next part we will see how Ficsor and his boss at the Hungarian IPO, Miklós Bendzsel, became important allies of Benoît Battistelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council during the period between 2009 and 2018.

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