10.18.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVI: The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:17 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. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part III: Three Missing Votes
  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IV: The Founding States
  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part V: Germany Says “Ja”
  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VI: A Distinct Lack of Dutch Courage
  7. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VII: Luxembourgish Laxity
  8. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VIII: Perfidious Albion and Pusillanimous Hibernia
  9. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IX: More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
  10. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part X: Introducing the Controversial Christian Bock
  11. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XI: “General Bock” – Battistelli’s Swiss Apprentice?
  12. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection
  13. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli’s Iberian Facilitators – Spain
  14. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIV: Battistelli’s Iberian Facilitators – Portugal
  15. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XV: Et Tu Felix Austria…
  16. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper

Friedrich Rödler with António Campinos
Friedrich Rödler (right) exchanging pleasantries with António Campinos (left) at the pan-European “good brother” network celebration to mark the centenary of the Estonian Patent Office (March 2012).

Summary: Friedrich ‘Rude Liar’ Rödler is notorious in the eyes of EPO staff, whom he was slandering and scandalising for ages while he himself was the real scandal

In this part we continue our in-depth look into the career of Friedrich Rödler, the head of the Austrian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council in 2013.

As already mentioned in the last part, Rödler managed to remain off the radar of public scrutiny for a few years following his reappointment as Director of the Austrian Patent Office in 2010.

“As already mentioned in the last part, Rödler managed to remain off the radar of public scrutiny for a few years following his reappointment as Director of the Austrian Patent Office in 2010.”However, in 2013, he was back in the headlines again when revelations surfaced about his management of serv.ip. This was a “partially autonomous” unit of the Patent Office which had been established prior to Rödler’s arrival as Director for the purpose of providing “intellectual property information services” on a commercial basis.

The serv.ip unit was initially set up without a proper legal basis. However, that particular problem was remedied retroactively by means of an amendment to the Patent Act in 2009.

“This second salary came on top of his already generous monthly remuneration as Director of the Patent Office, which amounted to € 8,900 (pre-tax).”Things started to get uncomfortable for Rödler following an audit of the Patent Office conducted in 2012, when it was revealed that since 2004 he had been receiving a second salary as managing director of serv.ip. The contract with serv.ip had been concluded in November 2014 when Rödler was acting as ad interim Director of the Patent Office.

This second salary came on top of his already generous monthly remuneration as Director of the Patent Office, which amounted to € 8,900 (pre-tax).

More precisely, Rödler’s contract with serv.ip granted him an additional monthly salary of € 6,250 (pre-tax).

These revelations prompted Gabriela Moser to submit a statement of facts to the branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office responsible for Economic Crime and Corruption, accusing Rödler of abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds.

“These revelations prompted Gabriela Moser to submit a statement of facts to the branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office responsible for Economic Crime and Corruption, accusing Rödler of abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds.”The Public Prosecutor discontinued the proceedings against Rödler in February 2013, on the grounds that the accusation of a paid second job “did not merit prosecution”.

Rödler for his part proceeded to file a complaint against Moser for reputational damage. He also refused to comply with an order issued in June 2013 by his Minister, Doris Bures, instructing him to refrain from taking his second salary.

The affair was reported on by Die Presse in August 2013 in an article entitled “Peinliche Posse um das Patentamt” (“Embarrassing farce at the Patent Office”). English here. [PDF]

The SLAPP proceedings which Rödler had initiated against Moser were discontinued in July 2015 on the grounds that her statements were “permissible value judgments”.

“Rödler for his part proceeded to file a complaint against Moser for reputational damage. He also refused to comply with an order issued in June 2013 by his Minister, Doris Bures, instructing him to refrain from taking his second salary.”In the meantime, Moser proceeded to submit her third parliamentary question about Rödler [PDF] in September 2013. In this submission, she quoted in full the text of the article published in Die Presse and asked a number uncomfortable questions about Rodler’s second salary.

Rödler had some initial success in defending his claim to the second salary which he had awarded to himself as “managing director” of serv.ip.

The Social and Labour Court of Vienna delivered a judgment in his favour in December 2014.

However, this turned out to be a pyhrric victory for Rödler.

The public outrage generated by his audacious “double-dipping” at the expense of the taxpayer, resulted in a government decision against renewing his appointment when his second term as Director of the Patent Office expired in April 2015.

“The public outrage generated by his audacious “double-dipping” at the expense of the taxpayer, resulted in a government decision against renewing his appointment when his second term as Director of the Patent Office expired in April 2015.”In the meantime, in proceedings which took place before the Court of Appeal on 29 March 2016, the Ministry succeeded in overturning the first instance verdict which the Social and Labour Court of Vienna had returned in Rödler’s favour.

The “stern master of the Patent Office” took his case to the Austrian Supreme Court which delivered [PDF] its judgment on 28 July 2016 – and the outcome was not in Rödler’s favour. [PDF]

The Supreme Court found that Rödler’s contract with serv.ip was null and void because he lacked any lawful authorisation to conclude such a contract.

“The Supreme Court found that Rödler’s contract with serv.ip was null and void because he lacked any lawful authorisation to conclude such a contract.”His claims for over € 150,000 – based on the assertion that he had been unlawfully stripped of his remuneration as managing director of serv.ip at the end of 2013 – were dismissed.

On 25 August 2016, Garbriela Moser submitted her fourth and final parliamentary question about Rödler [PDF]. This time she inquired about a possible reclamation of his illegal remuneration in the light of the Supreme Court ruling.

The Minister in charge of the BMVIT, Jörg Leichtfried, responded with a terse statement to the effect that “all legally required steps would be taken”.

“To this day it remains unclear whether or not the Austrian state managed to reclaim the public funds which were misappropriated by Rödler between 2004 and 2013.”The story was covered in the Austrian daily Der Standard in July 2016 and a follow-up article appeared [PDF] in the Austrian edition of the Swiss Neue Züricher Zeitung on 3 November 2016 under the title “Der Beamte Rödler will mehr Geld vom Staat” (“The civil servant Rödler wants more money from the state”).

To this day it remains unclear whether or not the Austrian state managed to reclaim the public funds which were misappropriated by Rödler between 2004 and 2013.

But whatever about that, Rödler himself has long since sailed off into the sunset of retirement.

“But whatever about that, Rödler himself has long since sailed off into the sunset of retirement.”In addition to operating his own management consultancy business, Rödler-Consult, he occupies himself with worthy causes such as the Austrian Superbrands Council and the initiative “Rettet das Bargeld” which campaigns against restrictions on the right to make cash payments. He was also nominated by the FPÖ as a member of the University Council of the University of Vienna for a five year term of office starting from 1 March 2018.

Rödler is also a leading member of the Order of St. George, a European and non-partisan “order of chivalry” under the sponsorship of the Habsburg family, which supports the transnational idea of “Mitteleuropa” and enhanced cooperation between the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe.

Rodler and Habsburg family-funded Order of St. George
Rödler (centre) is a member of the Order of St. George under sponsorship of the Habsburg family.

In the course of his active retirement, Rödler has also occasionally found time to comment on EPO affairs.

For example, in June 2018 he published [PDF] a commentary about Benoît Battistelli‘s controversial "EPO Treasury Investment Fund" (EPOTIF), inspired by an article which had appeared in the German weekly Wirtschaftswoche.

“In the course of his active retirement, Rödler has also occasionally found time to comment on EPO affairs.”This commentary starts off by announcing that “the EPO is allowed to misuse Austrian funds for stock exchange speculation with the blessing of the SPÖ”. Although it raises a number of valid points of criticism about the EPOTIF, the main tenor of the piece is an attempt to settle scores on the domestic political stage.

Rödler’s most scathing criticisms are reserved not for the Machiavellian despot Battistelli – for whom he probably had a sneaking admiration – but rather for the SPÖ Minister Jörg Leichtfried and Rödler’s SPÖ-appointed successor at the Patent Office, Mariana Karepova.

It should be noted here that Leichtfried was the Minister who promised that “all legally required steps would be taken” to recoup the public funds which Rödler had misappropriated via his unlawful serv.ip contract. That might account for Rödler’s animosity towards him.

In fairness to Rödler it must be acknowledged that he was speaking from direct personal experience when it comes to the matter of speculation with public funds. That much is clear from an article published [PDF] by the Austrian news magazine Profil in January 2013 under the title “Friedrich Rödller: The strange dealings of the Patent Office boss”.

“Rödler’s most scathing criticisms are reserved not for the Machiavellian despot Battistelli – for whom he probably had a sneaking admiration – but rather for the SPÖ Minister Jörg Leichtfried and Rödler’s SPÖ-appointed successor at the Patent Office, Mariana Karepova.”In this article it was reported that Rödler indulged in highly speculative investments with public funds from serv.ip, which at the time in question held securities worth around € 3.95 million.

Rödler entrusted the Austrian Patent Office “treasury investment fund” to the prestigious Viennese private bank Gutmann which operates under the slogan: “Money. And How to Keep It”.

According to Profil, Rödler made decisions about the investment of the funds at his own discretion, even against the advice of his advisors at Gutmann. His investments included Turkish government securities and bonds denominated in Icelandic krona.

Rodler - Gutmann banking
During his time as head of the Austrian Patent Office, Rödler speculated with serv.ip funds using the services of the prestigious Viennese private bank Gutmann.

Rödler enjoys putting himself in the spotlight and seems to have something to say about almost every topic under the sun.

“According to Profil, Rödler made decisions about the investment of the funds at his own discretion, even against the advice of his advisors at Gutmann.”But so far he has kept “schtum” about his own role in supporting Battistelli’s “reign of terror” at the EPO during his time as head of the Austrian delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Given his long-standing and well-documented animosity towards the staff of the EPO, it’s hardly likely that he will break his silence at this belated stage to offer an apology for his complicity in Battistelli’s misguided efforts to trample on the fundamental rights at the EPO.

“Given his long-standing and well-documented animosity towards the staff of the EPO, it’s hardly likely that he will break his silence at this belated stage to offer an apology for his complicity in Battistelli’s misguided efforts to trample on the fundamental rights at the EPO.”It only remains to be noted that Rödler’s departure didn’t bring any change for the better, at least as far as EPO staff were concerned.

His successor as head of the Austrian Patent Office, Mariana Karepova, seems to be more style than substance. Her voting record as head of delegation on the Administrative Council indicates that she was just as supportive of Battistelli’s “reign of terror” at the EPO as her predecessor.

Mariana Karepova
Rödler’s successor Mariana Karepova, was just as supportive of Battistelli’s “reign of terror” as her predecessor.

At the 155th meeting (warning: epo.org link) of the Council in March 2018, Karepova was elected to the Board of the Administrative Council, the exclusive “inner circle” which carries out the preparatory work for Council meetings. Presumably this little sinecure was intended as a reward for her earlier collusion with “le système Battistelli”.

In the next part we will turn our attention northwards and take a look at the delegations representing the EPO’s Nordic states.

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