16 September 2014Trademarks

AIPPI 2014: OHIM plan expected to focus on SMEs

A new strategic plan being discussed by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) is likely to focus on, among other matters, small and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how they can be helped to protect their IP, WIPR understands.

OHIM is now close to completing its first strategic plan that has been worked on since 2011 and is expected to be finished next year. That will be followed by a new five-year strategic plan and, although details have yet to be finalised, SMEs are likely to figure significantly in it.

In a briefing on the fringes of the AIPPI World IP Congress in Toronto, WIPR was told that OHIM regards SMEs as the engine that drives the EU economy. While large companies are also seen as important, OHIM believes it should help SMEs to protect their innovation, creativity and new ideas, with IP rights playing an important role in that protection.

Preparations for the new plan are therefore likely to begin with an investigation of SMEs’ needs and a discussion on how to foster a better understanding among them of IP protection and the IP tools available. Information on the difference between trademarks and designs is also expected to be included.

OHIM has already looked at the contribution of IP to the European economy, IP protection for EU citizens and the cost of piracy not just to IP right holders but also to taxpayers through, for example, the need for specialist police units such as the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit in the UK.

Meanwhile, the AIPPI congress was told that OHIM’s experience of joining The Hague System for the international registration of designs has been a positive one. In a keynote address, OHIM vice president Christian Archambeau said the agency supported any decision by any other office to sign up to the Hague agreement.

It is clear that the ability to register designs internationally has benefits in a global market, said Archambeau, although he stopped short of urging countries such as the US, Japan and Korea, which have not yet signed up, to do so.

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