11.01.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXXX: The EPOnian Micro-States – Monaco and Malta

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:02 am 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. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVI: The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper
  17. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVII: The Non-Monolithic Nordic Bloc
  18. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVIII: Helsinki’s Accord
  19. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXX: The Baltic States
  20. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XX: The Visegrád Group
  21. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXI: The Balkan League – The Doyen and His “Protégée”
  22. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXII: The Balkan League – North Macedonia and Albania
  23. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIII: The Balkan League – Bulgaria
  24. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League – Romania
  25. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXV: The Balkan League – Fresh Blood or Same Old, Same Old?
  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVI: A Trojan Horse on the Budget and Finance Committee
  27. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVII: Cypriot Complicity
  28. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXVIII: Benoît and António’s Loyal “Habibi”
  29. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The EPOnian Micro-States – Monaco and Malta

Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Iceland, and Malta
A look at the delegations representing the EPO’s microstates.

Summary: As it turns out, the enablement of dictatorship is possible by controlling a very large number of tiny states which are inexpensive to bribe

There is no universal consensus on what criteria should be relied on for the purpose of categorising a political unit as a “micro-state”.

Nevertheless, five of the EPO‘s member states are generally considered to qualify as such:

• Monaco (area: 2.02 sq. km; population: 37,308);
• Liechtenstein (area: 160 sq. km; population: 37,313 );
• San Marino (area: 61 sq. km; population: 32,742 );
• Iceland (area: 103,000 sq. km; population: 317,351);
• Malta (area: 316 sq. km; population: 514,564).

There is another relatively small EPO state, namely the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg with an area of 2,586 sq. km and a population of 633,622 according to the latest census estimate from March 2021. However, notwithstanding its relatively small population, Luxembourg has a somewhat larger land area. For this reason it is not usually considered to be a “micro-state”.

Despite their small size and relatively low level of patenting activity, these miniscule political entities are able to punch above their real-world weight in the “Bizarro” world of the EPO’s Administrative Council.

“There is another relatively small EPO state, namely the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg with an area of 2,586 sq. km and a population of 633,622 according to the latest census estimate from March 2021.”As a matter of fact, they often end up exercising a disproportionate and detrimental influence on the affairs and governance of the EPO.

The reason for this remarkable state of affairs is to be found in the voting arrangements laid down in Article 34 (warning: epo.org link) of the European Patent Convention, which grants one unweighted vote to each state on the organisation’s Administrative Council.

Article 36 (warning: epo.org link) of the Convention makes additional provision for the use of a system of weighted voting whereby the weight allocated to each state is based on the scale for special financial contributions defined in Article 40 (warning: epo.org link) and depends on the number of patent applications filed in that state. However, this modified voting arrangement is only applicable to budgetary and financial matters, including the level of fees charged by the EPO.

“As a matter of fact, they often end up exercising a disproportionate and detrimental influence on the affairs and governance of the EPO.”In any event, the weighted voting procedure of Article 36 has never actually been invoked in the almost fifty years of the organisation’s existence, and nobody seems to know how exactly the votes would be distributed if it were to be applied.

In terms of EPO realpolitik, the EPO’s smallest members typically adopt a position that is closely aligned with that of their larger neighbours.

Thus, for example, Luxembourg generally tends to align itself with its larger Benelux neighbours, the Netherlands and Belgium, whereas Iceland will tend to follow the position adopted by Denmark.

Similarly, Liechtenstein tends to align itself with Switzerland, Monaco with France and San Marino with Italy.

In the case of Malta, its membership of the British Commonwealth means that it is most likely to align itself with the UK.

In an earlier part of the current series, we saw how the Liechtenstein delegation failed to turn up for the vote on Benoît Battistelli‘s “Strike Regulations” in June 2013.

Profiles of Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler
AWOL at the 136th meeting in June 2013: Liechtenstein delegates Isabel Frommelt and Esther Schindler.

Meanwhile, the Luxembourg delegation followed the lead of the Netherlands and the Icelandic delegation aligned itself with Denmark.

The remainder of this part will focus on two other EPO micro-states, namely Malta and Monaco. In the next part we will look at San Marino.

“…Liechtenstein tends to align itself with Switzerland, Monaco with France and San Marino with Italy.”All of these micro-states contributed to the rubber-stamping of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations” in June 2013.

We begin with the Republic of Malta, a rocky archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, which lies to the south of Sicily and is considered to be the word’s tenth smallest state by area.

In June 2013, the Maltese delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council was headed by Godwin Warr, the “Comptroller of Industrial Property” under the supervision of the Commerce Division of the Ministry for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers.

According to the official EPO minutes, Warr didn’t actually attend the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council. On that occasion, the acting head of delegation was his deputy Michelle Bonello, Director of Industrial Property Registrations who proceeded to cast the Maltese vote in favour of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”.

Godwin Warr and Michelle Bonello
The Maltese representatives in June 2013: Godwin Warr and Michelle Bonello.

More than eight years later, Warr still remains at the head of the Maltese delegation.

The only discernible difference in the meantime is that his supervising ministry has rebranded itself as the “Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business”.

In April 2019, his deputy Bonello moved to the “Small Business and Crafts Unit” of the ministry. Bonello’s position as Director of Industrial Property Registrations was taken over by Matthew Pisani, who now acts as Warr’s deputy on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Matthew-Pisani
Matthew Pisani, the current deputy head of the Maltese delegation.

The second micro-state that we want to look at here is the Principality of Monaco, located on the French Riviera, just a few kilometres west of the Italian region of Liguria.

“More than eight years later, Warr still remains at the head of the Maltese delegation.”Monaco, which is ruled by the Grimaldi dynasty, is effectively a French protectorate.

With French support it acceded to the European Patent Convention on 1 December 1991.

In June 2013, the Monegasque delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council was headed by Elodie Boisson Kheng. Prior to starting her career with the Monegasque administration in 2003, Kheng completed business studies in Paris and worked in the private sector. Between 2001 and 2003 she worked for MRM Partners, a global direct and digital marketing agency which forms part of McCann Worldgroup.

According to the official EPO minutes, Kheng didn’t actually attend the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council.

On that occasion, her the acting head of delegation was her deputy, Jean-Pierre Santos.

Elodie-Boisson-Kheng-and-Jean-Pierre-Santos
The Monegasque representatives: Elodie Boisson Kheng and Jean-Pierre Santos.

At the time in question, Kheng was the Assistant Director of the Monegasque Business Development Agency (BPA), a government authority under the control of the Finance Ministry. Her deputy, Santos, was head of the BPA’s “Intellectual Property Division”.

In May 2014, a year after the Monegasque delegation had helped to rubber-stamp Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”, Kheng was appointed as “counsellor for budgetary and economic affairs”, a senior position in the Monegasque Finance Ministry. At that juncture, she relinquished responsibility for EPO affairs.

“According to the official EPO minutes, Kheng didn’t actually attend the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council.”Kheng’s role as head of delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council was taken over by Thomas Lantheaume, her successor as head of the Monegasque BDA.

In November 2018, Kheng’s services were recognised [PDF] by the award of a Knighthood in the Order of Saint Charles.

Soon afterwards, Kheng was elevated to the lofty position of “Administrateur des Domaines” or Director of the State Property Authority of Monaco.

As the name suggests, this is the government agency responsible for managing the real estate assets of the Monegasque state. Its duties include allocating industrial, commercial and office premises and issuing authorisations to occupy state property. It is also responsible for drafting loan agreements approved by the state and managing the purchase of equipment and supplies required by the administration.

“As a consolation prize for his services to “le système Battistelli”, Santos was awarded a place on the jury for the EPO Inventor of the Year Award in 2021, where his co-jurors, included none other than the former EPO President Benoît Battistelli himself.”Kheng’s deputy on the EPO Administrative Council in June 2013 Jean-Pierre Santos – who holds a postgraduate degree in “industrial property” from CEIPI – doesn’t appear to have enjoyed such a dynamic career.

When last heard of, Santos was still stuck in his position as head of the “Intellectual Property Division” of the Monegasque BDA. He took over from Lantheaume as head of the Monegasque delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council some time in October 2019.

As a consolation prize for his services to “le système Battistelli”, Santos was awarded a place on the jury for the EPO Inventor of the Year Award (warning: epo.org link) in 2021, where his co-jurors, included none other than the former EPO President Benoît Battistelli himself.

In the next part, we will look at the remaining EPO micro-state, the Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

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