Virtual Injustice — Part 8: A Well-Connected ‘IP’ Maximalist

Posted in Deception, Europe, FSF, Patents at 2:59 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…
  4. Virtual Injustice — Part 4: Mihály Ficsor, the EPO’s Hungarian “Fixer”
  5. Virtual Injustice — Part 5: Benoît’s “Friends” in Budapest
  6. Virtual Injustice — Part 6: Best Buddies With António
  7. Virtual Injustice — Part 7: Musical Chairs and Revolving Doors

Ad hominem attack on RMS [PPT] by Mihály Ficsor at a WIPO seminar held in Romania in 2010.

Summary: The EPO‘s lobbying for European software patents goes all the way to the top, including António Campinos and his circle

Looking back at Ficsor’s career since he left the HIPO in 2016, it seems fair to say that he has become a “job-hopper”.

But all things considered he hasn’t done too badly for himself so far.

As a matter of fact, in recent years he has managed to secure two well-remunerated public sector jobs: first of all at the EUIPO in March 2017 and subsequently at the EPO in March 2020.

Who says that a rolling stone gathers no moss?

“Ficsor’s job-hopping adventures have undoubtedly been facilitated by his close connections with António Campinos.”Of course it helps to have the right connections.

Ficsor’s job-hopping adventures have undoubtedly been facilitated by his close connections with António Campinos.

As we have seen these connections go back to the days when Ficsor chaired the Administrative Board of the EU trademark agency OHIM/EUIPO between 2011 and 2016, at the same time that Campinos headed the agency.

Ficsor’s latest position at the EPO falls short of the “gold medal” typically dished out to former Administrative Council members in the form of a Vice-President sinecure.

One possible explanation here is the question of political support from the candidate’s home country which is normally required for an appointment as a Vice-President. Ficsor may have lacked this support if – as has been speculated – he fell out of favour with the Orban government in Hungary.

In any case, by March 2020, Campinos had already dished out all of the available Vice-President vacancies to his buddies, so Ficsor had to make do with the “consolation prize” of a Principal Director’s position.

“In any case, by March 2020, Campinos had already dished out all of the available Vice-President vacancies to his buddies, so Ficsor had to make do with the “consolation prize” of a Principal Director’s position.”In contrast to Vice-Presidents whose appointments require political support and have to be approved by the Administrative Council, EPO Principal Directors can easily be slipped in “via the back-door” because all their appointment requires is the approval of the EPO President, in this case Ficsor’s old buddy Campinos.

Even if he didn’t make the top grade as Vice-President, Mihály is unlikely to complain about his EPO appointment and the level of remuneration which he currently enjoys.

OECD statistics indicate that salaries in Hungary are far below the OECD average. In the public sector, high-end salaries are reported to be around HUF 855.000 per month which is approximately EUR 2.500 Euro at current conversion rates.

Based on those figures, Ficsor’s tax-free salary as a senior manager at the EPO is estimated to be a multiple of somewhere between eight and ten times of his take-home pay as a top-ranking official back home in Hungary.

Apart from that, it shouldn’t be forgotten that he is still young enough to make a bid for a Vice-President position when his current boss Christoph Ernst – who is approaching 70 – finally retires.

Ficsor’s EPO “handlers”: Gilles Requena and Vice-President Christoph Ernst.

Ficsor clearly knows what side his bread is buttered on. He is a “safe pair of hands” who can be counted on to do the bidding of his “handlers”, Vice-President Christoph Ernst and Chief International and Legal Officer, Gilles Requena.

Before wrapping up, it is worth drawing attention to a point which should be of interest to readers of Techrights.

“Based on those figures, Ficsor’s tax-free salary as a senior manager at the EPO is estimated to be a multiple of somewhere between eight and ten times of his take-home pay as a top-ranking official back home in Hungary.”Ficsor is reputed to be an IP maximalist and the public record confirms that he has been an enthusiastic and vociferous advocate of “software patents” in the past.

Back in 2010 he was a guest speaker at a “Sub-regional Seminar on the Protection of Computer Software and Databases” which took place in Mangalia, Romania, from 25 ro 27 August. The seminar was organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Romanian Copyright Office (ORDA), and the Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM).

In his capacity as chairman of the Central and Eastern European Copyright Alliance (CEECA), delivered a lecture on “The International Intellectual Property Protection of Software”.

In a lecture delivered in 2010, Ficsor did his best to misrepresent and ridicule critics of “software patents”.

The slides from this lecture which can be accessed via the WIPO’s official website reveal that on that occasion Ficsor did his best to misrepresent and ridicule critics of “software patents”. In particular, he indulged in a cynical ad hominem attack on Richard Stallman.

“In particular, he indulged in a cynical ad hominem attack on Richard Stallman.”It’s safe to say that Mihály Zoltán Ficsor is a worthy addition to Team Campinos and that he seems to be well-qualified to act as an overseer of the operations of António’s legal fudge factory.

In the next part we will take a look at Ficsor’s assistant in case no. G 1/21, the EPO’s Nordic Ice-Queen, Heli Pihlajamaa.

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