20 May 2016 - No comments »
Last week I was delighted to represent the EPO at the first Casablanca IP week, organised under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy and the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC). The event included various conferences, round tables and exhibitions which proved invaluable in raising awareness of industrial property in Morocco. I would also like to congratulate OMPIC for their organisation of the first Moroccan Patent Market Place, where inventors had the opportunity to present their inventions to potential investors. It is truly encouraging that many of these recent inventions have already been commercialised, demonstrating the maturity of the Moroccan IP system.
During the visit, I was also honoured to represent the EPO at the Morocco Awards in Casablanca. The event is now in its seventh year and has become a fixture in the annual IP calendar. With 72 nominees competing for awards in categories such as ‘Innovation’ and ‘International brand’, the strength of the field was truly impressive. The finalists and the award winners are a testament not just to the innovation sector in Morocco, but an economy driven by pioneering new products and services.
The IP week and the awards were fitting ways to mark 100 years of the Moroccan IP system, since the first law protecting Industrial property was introduced in June 1916. It is clear that the Moroccan companies honoured during the Awards and the first Casablanca IP week must be supported by robust intellectual property rights if they are to continue treading new ground and strengthen their market position. I was therefore pleased to have the opportunity during the opening conference of the Patent market Place, to speak on the ties that exist in emerging markets between patents, high legal certainty, the transfer of technology and foreign direct investment. It was also an opportunity to underline the excellent cooperation between the EPO and OMPIC that has worked towards the development of a strong and balanced patent system in Morocco.
Just over one year ago the first ever validation agreement entered into force in Morocco. Firmly anchoring the country’s patent system in the international system, it offers a win-win situation. Under this ground breaking agreement, anyone filing a European patent application can request validation for Morocco. European applications and patents validated for Morocco have the same legal effects there as Moroccan ones and are subject to Moroccan patent law. At the same time, resident applications from Morocco benefit form a modernised national patent system as a result of OMPIC examiners delivering an early and complete search report for each national filing. This is also supplemented by a written opinion on patentability, which has also attracted more resident applications from the Moroccan Research and Development sector. In addition the EPO has provided training to OMPIC examiners to help ensure high search and examination standards.
At the time of entry into force, the agreement expanded to 41 the number of countries for which patent protection could be obtained on the basis of a single European patent application. Now, the evident benefits have proved to be attractive to other states and resulted in further validation agreements. Moldova implemented a similar agreement last November and it is expected that Tunisia will do the same this year. With these agreements, our applicants will have access to 43 countries and a market that will soon approach 700 million potential consumers. This would not have been possible without the commitment of our international partners, such as OMPIC. I therefore hope that our cooperation continues to go from strength to strength in the next 100 years of their intellectual property system.