Bonum Certa Men Certa

EPO Corruption Under António Campinos: Epilogue

Topic IP EPO
Extract from the EPO Official Journal for March 2019



Summary: Corruption prevails at the European Patent Office, Europe's second-largest institution, and named here are those liable or capable of clarification/rectification

IN the latest EPO mini-series we have looked at how not long after he departed from his job as EPO Vice-President in December 2018, Željko Topić "MBA", the self-styled "doyen of Intellectual Property in the region", suddenly and mysteriously resurfaced on the EPO's list of professional representatives in March 2019.



How exactly Topić achieved a place on this list is something of a riddle because there is no record that he ever passed the EQE which is a mandatory prerequisite for entry on the list.

So far nobody has been able to come up with a credible explanation as to how this could have happened.

The really interesting question here is whether it was all just a simple clerical error or whether "Team Campinos" actively colluded with Topić to facilitate his inclusion on the list despite the fact that he lacks the requisite formal qualifications.

"How exactly Topić achieved a place on this list is something of a riddle because there is no record that he ever passed the EQE which is a mandatory prerequisite for entry on the list."It is worth pointing out here that it is not within the gift of the EPO President to make such an exemption for any individual.

Under the terms of Article 134 (7) EPC, the President may grant exemption from "the requirement of paragraphs 2(a) or 3(a) in special circumstances" and from "the requirement of paragraph 3(c), second sentence, if the applicant furnishes proof that he has acquired the requisite qualification in another way".

In plain English, the first of these "exemptions" relates to the requirement that the candidate for inclusion on the list should be a national of an EPO contracting state. So for example if a US citizen passes the EQE, he can be included on the list of professional representatives if the President grants an exemption.

"So the buck stops with Mr Ernst to clarify the matter."The second of the "exemptions" relates to the application of the "grandfather clause" in the case of persons in a new contracting state who are normally required to have acted as a professional representative in that state for at least five years if entitlement to represent before the national office is not conditional upon special professional qualifications.

The bottom line here is that none of the "exemptions" listed under Article 134 (7) EPC have any relevance to the case of Željko Topić because the EPO President has no discernible authority to grant any individual an exemption in respect of the EQE requirement of Article 134 (2) (c).

The only thing that we can be reasonably sure about here is that Topić's application for entry on the list must have passed through the hands of EPO Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under the responsibility of Christoph Ernst as the Vice President of International and Legal Affairs.

So the buck stops with Mr Ernst to clarify the matter.

Of course it should not be forgotten that there are other people out there who could be expected to take an interest in a suspected irregularity in the list of professional representatives.

"This means that as of March 2019, Željko Topić has officially been a member of epi."Article 134a EPC (warning: epo.org link) establishes an "Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office" which generally operates under the moniker of epi.

According to pargraph (2) of Article 134a EPC, any person entered on the list of professional representatives "shall be a member of the Institute".

This means that as of March 2019, Željko Topić has officially been a member of epi.

One would have thought that the epi might have had some concerns about this mysterious addition to its membership and that it would be interested in clarifying Mr Topić's entitlement to be entered onto the list of professional representatives.

However, when we recall the role played by Tony Tangena of the epi in covering the controversy surrounding Topić's appointment as EPO Vice-President and his close collaboration with Raimund Lutz in that affair, we advise our readers not to hold their breath on that one…

In the meantime some cynical EPO insiders have been heard to remark that if Battistelli was still in charge at the EPO he would quickly respond by organising an official whitewash using the EPO's investigative unit.

"...according to inside sources the investigative unit has become a pale shadow of its former self."But Battistelli is long gone at the helm of the EPO and according to inside sources the investigative unit has become a pale shadow of its former self.

This time the ball is in the court of António the Unsteady. So let's wait and see how he deals with it – just as soon as he has had time to sober up, that is…

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