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EPO Virtue-Signalling on the Ukrainian Front

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Campinos, Putin, and Lukashenko
A fellow-traveller of the autocratic despots Putin and Lukashenko? The EPO’s virtue-signalling on the Ukrainian front distracts from the ugly reality of its controversial connections to the Belarus IT sector.

Summary: António Campinos persists in attention-shifting dross and photo ops; none of that can change the verifiable facts about the EPO’s connections to Lukashenko’s 'science park' in Minsk

The EPO’s efforts to engage in public displays of “solidarity” with the Ukraine continue apace as evidenced by a recent announcement (warning: epo.org link) that António Campinos met with Andrew Kudin at the EPO premises in Munich on 13 May 2022.

“If – as suspected by EPO insiders – the Chairman of the Administrative Council is relying on the Office Administration for his information, then there’s a fair chance that he is being given the “mushroom treatment” by Campinos and his cronies.”Kudin is the Director-General of the Ukrainian State Intellectual Property Institute (“Ukrpatent”).

According to the official press release, the EPO “decided to propose an enhanced package of support measures and cooperation activities to its Ukrainian partner”. Campinos and Kudin used the opportunity to sign a “Declaration of Intent” laying down the basis for future co-operation.

Campinos and Kudin
Munich Agreement: Campinos and Kudin sign a “Declaration of Intent” on 13 May 2022.

The EPO’s frantic virtue-signalling on the Ukrainian front appear to be designed to distract public attention from the ugly reality of the organisation’s connections with the Belarusian IT sector which were explored in a recent Techrights series.

The latest in-person meeting between Campinos and Kudin in Munich was preceded by an earlier online “e-meeting” (warning: epo.org link) in April – which Campinos opened with a dramatic statement informing his interlocutor that “In these difficult times, every one of us in the office [i.e., the EPO] feels Ukrainian”.

EPO on 'feel Ukrainian'
António Campinos claims to “feel Ukrainian” but evidently prefers to outsource EPO software development to Belarus.

Campinos may “feel Ukranian” – at least when it’s time for virtue-signalling via PR photo-ops – but when it comes to outsourcing software development at the EPO his true loyalties seem to lie with the Belarusian IT sector which is firmly under the control of the local autocrat, Putin’s ally Lukashenko.

The EPO’s governing body – the Administrative Council – is another enthusiatic participant in the latest wave of hypocritical virtue-signalling.

Back in March of this year, the Council held a symbolic minute of silence “in solidarity with Ukraine and as a mark of respect for victims of the Russian military aggression”.

EPO minute of silence
At its March 2022 “e-meeting”, the Administrative Council held a symbolic minute of silence “in solidarity with Ukraine”. The photo shows members of the EPO’s senior management – including Campinos (centre) – who participated in the online meeting from EPO premises in Munich.

Gestures of this kind – however well-intentioned they may be – ultimately ring hollow when they are accompanied by a refusal to address related matters of urgency such as the EPO’s Belarusian outsourcing arrangment and the risks which this poses for the organisation’s IT security.

EPO observers are waiting to see whether the Council will see fit to break its silence concerning this highly contentious affair at its forthcoming quarterly meeting next month.

This meeting which is due to be held in Munich on 29 and 30 June 2022 will be the first “in person” meeting of the Council in Munich since the declaration of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.

In the meantime, the Council Chairman – Czech delegate Josef Kratochvíl – seems to be "asleep at the wheel" as usual.

Despite being asked for comment by the Kluwer Patent Blog, Kratochvíl has so far failed to take a position on Campinos’ most recent display of execrable and "potty-mouthed" behaviour towards EPO staff representatives.

Against this background, it is hardly surprising that there is no indication that Kratochvíl has any intention to look into the EPO’s controversial Belarusian outsourcing arrangement.

As a matter of fact, it’s not even clear whether he is properly briefed about this affair.

If – as suspected by EPO insiders – the Chairman of the Administrative Council is relying on the Office Administration for his information, then there’s a fair chance that he is being given the “mushroom treatment” by Campinos and his cronies.

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