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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part III: Three Missing Votes

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part I: Let the Sunshine In!
  2. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part II: A “Unanimous” Endorsement?
  3. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Three Missing Votes

Hungary's Bendzsel and Ficsor
Hungary’s Bendzsel and Ficsor were evidently too busy with other matters to come to Munich in June 2013.

Summary: A look at who declined (or failed) to participate in Benoît Battistelli‘s attack on workers; or, put another way, who failed to object to unlawful EPO regulations

We begin our “deep dive” investigation into the rubber-stamping of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” in June 2013 by looking at the three Administrative Council delegations that absented themselves from the vote.

The delegations in question are: Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein.

“The delegations in question are: Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein.”In the case of Hungary, the nominated representatives at the time in question were Battistelli’s "friends in Budapest", Miklós Bendzsel and his deputy Mihály Ficsor.

However, neither Bendzsel nor Ficsor turned up in Munich for the 136th meeting of the EPO Administrative Council.

According to the records [PDF] of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO), Ficsor was off attending a diplomatic conference convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Marrakech for signing a “Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled”.

That sounds impressive but it’s rather surprising to learn that to this day Hungary does not appear to be a contracting party to the Marrakech Treaty.

“…the statement in the Hungarian records concerning Bendzsel’s participation is contradicted by the minutes of the 136th meeting of the EPO Administrative Council which list the participating Hungarian representatives as Judit Hajdú and Johanna Stadler.”So it’s a bit of a mystery what exactly Ficsor was up to in Marrakech in June 2013 when the Administrative Council was voting on Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”.

As for Bendzsel, the records of the HIPO refer to “Participation by the President of the HIPO and his delegation in the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation in Munich. Main topics: developments concerning the European patent with unitary effect, cooperation activity with member states and other countries, questions relating to the operation of the European Patent Organisation.”

However, the statement in the Hungarian records concerning Bendzsel’s participation is contradicted by the minutes of the 136th meeting of the EPO Administrative Council which list the participating Hungarian representatives as Judit Hajdú (pronounced like “Heidi”) and Johanna Stadler.

“Bendzsel’s absence is a bit of a riddle given the fact that he was the Deputy Chairman of the Administrative Council at the time.”From this it would appear that Bendzsel was not in fact present in Munich or at least that he did not attend the Council meeting on the occasion in question.

Bendzsel’s absence is a bit of a riddle given the fact that he was the Deputy Chairman of the Administrative Council at the time. But he obviously had some more urgent business to attend to than protecting the fundamental rights of EPO staff.

Judit Hajdú
Judit Hajdú who unfortunately appears to have missed the vote on Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”!

If the EPO records are to be believed, the acting head of delegation for Hungary at the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council was Judit Hajdú, an electrical engineer and head of the HIPO’s Patent Department.

A hymn of praise to Ms Hajdú can be found on the HIPO website:

Judit Hajdú is an outstanding personality in the field of patent law. Her leadership and professional guidance have contributed greatly to the development of a uniform, high quality and modern patent examination practice and to the establishment of legality. Her focus, organisation and humanity have made her a respected and respected figure in her department and throughout the [Hungarian Patent] Office. [...]

In recent years, she has been particularly active in the field of the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, and has shown great professionalism in this field. She is also closely involved in the harmonisation of patent law and the further development of the European patent system. She regularly represents the Office at meetings of the relevant committees of the EU, WIPO and EPO.

“In the case of the Czech Republic, the nominated representatives at the time in question were Josef Kratochvíl and his deputy, Svĕtlana Kopecká.”By a mysterious stroke of misfortune, when Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” came up on the agenda during the June 2013 meeting, it would appear that Ms Hajdú missed the vote.

In the case of the Czech Republic, the nominated representatives at the time in question were Josef Kratochvíl and his deputy, Svĕtlana Kopecká.

In the EPO records, Kratochvíl is listed as an attendee at the meeting but, as in the case of Ms Hajdú from Hungary, he appears to have missed the vote on the “Strike Regulations”.

Josef Kratochvíl confused
Josef Kratochvíl is listed as an attendee at the 136th meeting of the AC but it seems that he forgot to vote!

In the case of Liechtenstein, the nominated representatives at the time in question were Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler.

According to the EPO records, nobody attended the meeting on behalf of Liechtenstein and it is not clear on what grounds the nominated representatives absented themselves.

Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler
Liechtenstein delegates – Isabel Frommelt (l.) and Esther Schindler (r.) – absent without explanation.

Readers will no doubt be reassured to learn that none of the delegates who were absent for the vote on Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” suffered any prejudice to their subsequent careers as a result of their dereliction of duty to EPO staff back in June 2013.

The former head of the Hungarian delegation, Miklós Bendzsel, sailed off into the sunset of retirement in 2016.

“The former head of the Hungarian delegation, Miklós Bendzsel, sailed off into the sunset of retirement in 2016.”As previously reported by Techrights, his deputy Mihály Ficsor the "well connected IP maximalist" from the Hungarian IPO recently became a Principal Director at the EPO in charge of Legal Affairs. According to comments posted on the Kluwer Patent Blog, Ficsor’s name is even being touted as a possible successor to António Campinos.

As for Josef Kratochvíl, who to this day remains the head of the Czech delegation, he was elected as Chairman (warning: epo.org link) of the Administrative Council at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, in Liechtenstein, both Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler have continued to pursue successful careers in the diplomatic service of the alpine micro-principality.

“Meanwhile, in Liechtenstein, both Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler have continued to pursue successful careers in the diplomatic service of the alpine micro-principality.”Frommelt was appointed as Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to Germany in August 2017 and Schindler is her deputy. Schindler was also appointed as a “Brexit Coordinator” at the Liechtenstein Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2018.

In the next part we will look at how the majority of the delegations from the EPO’s founding states voted in favour of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”.

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