After a year-long courtroom battle justice has finally been served: the show trial conducted against the whistleblower was completely unlawful – declares court verdict.
Today’s topic is a little out of our main profile since it is not about a specific trademark or patent dispute or a related legal institution. However, it is about innovation, IP management and matters of (un)competitiveness. This story also gives us a little insight to how things are handled in the post-soviet bloc. Attention: absurd content is about to be revealed, reader discretion is advised.
At the online user section of The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) every trademark application was made available via a direct link, like hipo.gov.hu/…..M123431, where M stands for mark and the following number is the trademark application’s case number. If somebody was to change the M to P (patent) and also change the number, he could
easily access undisclosed and confidential patent applications.
Let us face it, this does not require hacker skills. That is what an expert’s testimony claimed as well. After reconstructing what happened, it turned out that this leak existed for almost a year at least.
After exploring this extraordinary negligence, Georg Pintz, president of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Association reported the situation to the Ministry of Justice for two reasons. First, the Hungarian act on Whistleblowing declares that such report must be submitted to the authority with supervisory jurisdiction (in this case, the Ministry of Justice). Secondly, this tremendous negligence was so outstanding that a reasonable suspicion could be held that somebody was disclosing trade secrets from the inside.
The Ministry mandated the president of the HIPO
Miklós Bendzsel to conduct an investigation against Miklós Bendzsel
who is the responsible person for data security of the HIPO. The “investigation” surprisingly concluded that there was no security leak and the system was under systematic and constant hacker attack. And what a coincidence: he claimed that the hacker was the whistleblower. How convenient.
The next step in this story (just like if Franz Kafka would have written it) was the punishment of the “hacker” in a form of a show trial. Of course, the most severe punishment has been rendered, namely exclusion from the Chamber of Patent Attorneys, regardless that the Hungarian ombudsman concluded that the prosecution of the whistleblower resulted in loss of confidence towards state institutions.
At the court trial, the defendant was represented by the Hungarian Civil Liberty Union. The court claimed that the whistleblower was denied of the right to defence, the decision to exclude did not even contain why his act was guilty, and the circumstances were not investigated properly.
The Union’s lawyer told that as a reaction to a benign whistleblowing,
a systematic prosecution began in the form of a show trial.
It is fortunate that the court annulled the Chamber’s decision.
Dr. Marton Csirik
Georg Pintz & Partners