08.25.21

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EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part II – Old Wine in New Bottles…

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part I – More Captured Delegates?
  2. You are here ☞ Old Wine in New Bottles…

Summary: “The main focus of the present series is the relationship between the Baltic States and the European Patent Organisation.”

After regaining their independence in 1991, the Baltic States proceeded to re-establish various state institutions which had been abolished under Soviet rule, including their national patent offices.

The first directors of these offices were old-school technocrats who had learnt their “trade” under the Soviet regime:

- Estonia: Matti Päts (d.o.b. 10 April 1933)

- Lithuania: Rimvydas Naujokas (d.o.b. 21 April 1950)

- Latvia: Zigrīds Aumeisters (d.o.b. 28 March 1930)

These gerontocrats remained in charge of their respective national patent offices for at least two decades – in the case of Matti Päts in Estonia, for almost a quarter of a century.

baltin-cold-guard
The old guard in charge of the national patent offices of the Baltic States after independence in 1991.
From left to right: Rimvydas Naujokas (Lithuania), Matti Päts (Estonia), Zigrīds Aumeisters (Latvia)

The first to go was Aumeisters who retired as head of the Latvian office in June 2010. Naujokas retired as head of the Lithuanian office in June 2014 and Päts was finally put out to pasture in Estonia in March 2015.

Päts was already pushing 60 when he took up his position as director of the newly established Estonian Patent Office and he was over 80 when he retired in 2015.

Aumeisters was in his early sixties when he took up his position in Latvia and he had just passed the 80 mark when he departed in 2010.

“Aumeisters was in his early sixties when he took up his position in Latvia and he had just passed the 80 mark when he departed in 2010.”The youngest of the bunch was the Rimvydas Naujokas who was in his early forties when he took over at the Lithuanian Patent Office and was “only” 64 when he stepped down as director in June 2014. But even then he stayed around for another year and a half as a “chief advisor”.

The main focus of the present series is the relationship between the Baltic States and the European Patent Organisation.

The first thing to be noted here is that all of these countries were accepted as members of the EPO within a decade and a half after independence.

Estonia was the first through the door on 1 July 2002 [PDF], followed by Lithuania some time afterwards on 1 December 2004 [PDF] and joined by Latvia six months later on 1 July 2005. [PDF]

“The main focus of the present series is the relationship between the Baltic States and the European Patent Organisation.”At around the same time, all three Baltic States became NATO members (29 March 2004) and also joined the EU (1 May 2004).

On the Administrative Council of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli seems to have got on like a house on fire with the representatives of the Baltic States, Päts, Naujokas and Aumeisters.

These were old-school autocrats who seem to have viewed “democracy” and “fundamental rights” as some kind of abstract academic nonsense that shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of the practical business of “administration”.

“These were old-school autocrats who seem to have viewed “democracy” and “fundamental rights” as some kind of abstract academic nonsense that shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of the practical business of “administration”.”When Battistelli put his name forward as candidate for the position of EPO President in 2009, all three Baltic patent bosses are reputed to have been enthusiastic supporters of his efforts to crown himself as the “Sun-King” of EPOnia.

Once he had been elected they continued to support him with unwavering loyalty for the duration of his eight-year term of office.

One of the best kept secrets of Battistelli’s relationship with the Baltic triumvirate is the role played by the then head of the Finnish Patents and Registration Office, Martti Enäjärvi.

“One of the best kept secrets of Battistelli’s relationship with the Baltic triumvirate is the role played by the then head of the Finnish Patents and Registration Office, Martti Enäjärvi.”Enäjärvi is reputed to have acted as the intermediary or “facilitator” who helped to open doors for Battistelli in the Baltic region.

In the following parts, we will take a closer look at this little known elder statesman of the the “European IP network” and his controversial career as head of the Finnish Patents and Registration Office which spanned almost a quarter of a century between 1986 and 2010.

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