09.09.21

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EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XVIII – A Baltic Circus in Riga

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part I – More Captured Delegates?
  2. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part II – Old Wine in New Bottles…
  3. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part III – Introducing the Finnish “Facilitator”
  4. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part IV – Martti Enäjärvi and His “Good Brother” Networks
  5. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part V – A Man With a Conviction…
  6. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VI – “A Good Friend of Estonia and a Steady Cooperation Partner”
  7. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VII – A Self-Appointed “Select Committee”
  8. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part VIII – Pulling for the Portuguese Pretender?
  9. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part IX – António’s Faithful Acolyte in Alicante
  10. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part X – A Pan-European “Good Brother” Network Celebration?
  11. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XI – With a Little Help From My Friends…
  12. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XII – Battistelli and His Baltic Fiefdoms
  13. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XIII – Out With the Old, in With the New?
  14. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XIV – Business as Usual in Tallinn
  15. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XV – Worse Than “a Backward Kolkhoz”…
  16. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XVI – A Promising Start Followed by an Unfortunate Cock-Up
  17. EPO Exposé: The Besieged Baltic States – Part XVII – Secret Bank Accounts in Switzerland and Germany
  18. You are here ☞ A Baltic Circus in Riga

Directors of the Latvian Patent Office
The directors of the Latvian Patent Office between July 2010 and September 2013.
Clockwise from top left: Jekaterina Macuka, Reinis Bērziņš, Guntis Ramāns, Ieva Viļuma.

Summary: In this part we look at the high turnover of “directors” and “acting directors” at the Latvian Patent Office over the last decade

AS we mentioned in the last part, the first “acting director” who appeared on the scene following the departure of Zigrīds Aumeisters in June 2010 was Jekaterina Macuka.

Macuka came from the Latvian Ministry of Justice where she had headed the Board of Religious Affairs which is responsible for supervising the activities of religious institutions in Latvia.

“Macuka then moved back to the Justice Ministry and, almost a decade later, in February 2020 she was appointed to a new position at the head of the Latvian Data Protection Authority.”She remained in charge of the Patent Office for about a year until she was replaced by Reinis Bērziņš in August 2011. During her time at the head of the Patent Office it seems that she failed to discover the secret bank accounts operated by her predecessor Aumeisters.

Macuka then moved back to the Justice Ministry and, almost a decade later, in February 2020 she was appointed to a new position at the head of the Latvian Data Protection Authority. [PDF]

“Macuka’s successor at the Patent Office was Reinis Bērziņš who comes from Cēsis, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants located about 90 km to the north-east of the capital Riga.”Let’s hope that she does a better job protecting the privacy rights of Latvian citizens than she did protecting the fundamental rights of EPO staff during her time on the EPO‘s Administrative Council at the start of Benoît Battistelli‘s presidency.

Macuka’s successor at the Patent Office was Reinis Bērziņš who comes from Cēsis, a town of about 15,000 inhabitants located about 90 km to the north-east of the capital Riga.

Bērziņš studied law and attended the Riga Graduate School of Law where he completed a master’s program “Law and Finance”. He also attended the BA School of Business and Finance in Riga and completed the Swiss Business School Master’s Program in Business Management.

Before taking charge at the Latvian Patent Office, Bērziņš had been a Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and a Legislative Adviser to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Defence.

“Before taking charge at the Latvian Patent Office, Bērziņš had been a Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and a Legislative Adviser to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Defence.”His main achievement as Director-General of the Patent Office appears to have been the discovery of the secret bank accounts operated by Zigrīds Aumeisters and the recovery of the funds contained in those accounts for the state treasury.

Berzins and Battistelli
Bērziņš posing for a photo-op with Battistelli during the EPO President’s visit to Riga in May 2012.

Bērziņš turned up for a photo-op with Battistelli during the latter’s visit to Riga in May 2012 (warning: epo.org link). However, he didn’t stay long at the Latvian Patent Office.

He was the archetypal “young man in a hurry” and clearly destined for greater things. In March 2013, it was announced that he had been appointed as a legal advisor to the Latvian President [PDF], Andris Bērziņš.

[Note: Bērziņš is a relatively common family name in Latvia and there is no indication that Reinis Bērziņš is related to the politician Andris Bērziņš.]

“He was the archetypal “young man in a hurry” and clearly destined for greater things.”A few years later in October 2015, Reinis Bērziņš was appointed Chairman of the Board [PDF] of ALTUM, a specialized development finance institution operated by the Latvian government which provides state support to private business through a full range of financial instruments: loans, credit guarantees, mezzanine loans, and co-investment in venture capital funds.

Bērziņš also serves as a member of the supervisory board of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, an investment vehicle for financing key transport, energy and digital infrastructure projects in the eastern European region spanning the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas.

In November 2019 it was reported [PDF] that Bērziņš was a candidate for the position of Governor of the Latvian Central Bank. The position became vacant after the former incumbent – Ilmars Rimsevics – had been arrested and charged with accepting a bribe. As far as can be gathered from media reports, criminal proceedings against Rimsevics are still pending and he has recently come under suspicion of witness tampering.

In the end, Bērziņš was not successful in his bid to become Governor of the Latvian Central Bank and the job went to Mārtiņš Kazāks.

“In the end, Bērziņš was not successful in his bid to become Governor of the Latvian Central Bank and the job went to Mārtiņš Kazāks.”Meanwhile back at the Latvian Patent Office, following Bērziņš departure in 2013, there were two ad interim directors, namely Guntis Ramāns, the head of the patents department, and Ieva Viļuma, a lawyer in charge of the legal department.

This interregnum period ended on 1 October 2013 when a newly appointed Director-General, Sandris Laganovskis, took up his position.

Sandris Laganovskis
Sandris Laganovskis took up his position as head of the Latvian Patent Office on 1 October 2013.

With the arrival of Laganovskis the semblance of stability was restored and it was back to “business as usual”, including the signing of bilateral “cooperation agreements” with the EPO and photo-ops with Battistelli.

Battistelli and Sandris Laganovskis
Sandris Laganovskis posing for a photo-op with Battistelli in March 2017.

Battistelli in Riga
Laganovskis and Battistelli in Riga in March 2017. EPO “bagman” François-Régis Hannart is on the left beside Guntis Ramāns, head of the patents department at the Latvian Patent Office.

“Laganovskis seemed to be the new rising star of the “IP community” in the Baltic region.”Under Laganovskis, the Latvian Patent Office hosted a number of regional seminars on “the enforcement of intellectual property rights”, co-financed by the EPO and EUIPO.

Laganovskis in EUIPO-EPO event
Laganovskis speaking at a conference co-sponsored by the EPO and EUIPO in May 2017.

Laganovskis seemed to be the new rising star of the “IP community” in the Baltic region.

However, at the end of December 2020 it was announced that Baiba Graube, the director of the trademarks and industrial design department, had been appointed as acting director of the Latvian Patent Office [PDF]. Baiba Graube is the wife of Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube, who is Latvia’s Chief of Defence.

“Lārmane is the director in charge of the “examination of inventions”, in other words the patent department of the Latvian Patent Office.”At around the same time it was announced that the representation of Latvia on the Administrative Council of the EPO would be taken over by Līga Lārmane [PDF]. Lārmane is the director in charge of the “examination of inventions”, in other words the patent department of the Latvian Patent Office.

Baiba Graube and Liga Larmane
Baiba Graube, Acting Director of the Patent Office and Līga Lārmane who represents Latvia on the Administrative Council of the EPO.

But what about Laganovskis? Where did he disappear to?

“But what about Laganovskis? Where did he disappear to?”In order to understand what happened to the new “IP whizz-kid” in Riga we need to take a look at the relationship between the national patent offices of the Baltic States and the EU trademark agency OHIM/EUIPO. This will be the focus of our attention in the last two parts of the series.

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