Celebrating 20 years of OHIM

27 November 2014

EPO President Benoît BattistelliAnniversaries are a good opportunity to reflect on the past, to review achievements and to imagine future improvements. In this regard, I think it is fair to say that the celebrations at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, in Alicante last week, illustrated their impressive results in only two decades. OHIM’s geographical coverage has developed in parallel to the growth of the EU: from just 12 member states in 1994 to some 28 today. Starting with the Community Trade Mark, the scope of their activities was broadened with the launch of the Community Design in 2003 and most recently the Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights in 2012. The regular increase in filings of trade marks and designs demonstrates the trust of users from all over the world in the quality of this institution’s services. The opening of their new building further illustrates OHIM’s confidence and continuous development.

Being ever more conscious of the integration of different IP rights in users’ overall business strategies, as well as being the daily practice of many practitioners and most national IP offices, the EPO and the OHIM have developed closer ties in recent years. In May 2011 we signed a comprehensive MoU for cooperation activities which covers areas like IT tools, training and IP awareness. For example, next month both Offices will jointly hold their second annual IP training session in Brussels for staff from the EU institutions and the permanent missions to the EU, helping to disseminate an IP culture among many European decision makers.

Moreover, the OHIM and the EPO have also combined their expertise to deepen the understanding of the economic impact of IP rights. A joint study about the IPR intensive industries and their impact at macro level was published in September 2013, with the support of the European Commission. This study attracted a lot of public attention revealing unexpected patterns of IP usage in different countries and sectors. A complementary study focusing on various industries will be published early next year. Furthermore, the famous “Patstat” conference this year became the “IP Statistics for Decision Makers” conference, by integrating OHIM for a more complete treatment of IP data.

With both the OHIM for trade marks and designs, and the EPO for patents, Europe has two efficient and powerful institutions which provide the services needed by the European economy and which also provide a European voice to be heard at global level. For both offices, the original expectations of their founding fathers have been exceeded within just a few years.

I wish the OHIM and its staff many more years of success and I have no doubt it will continue its steady development under the dynamic leadership of President Campinos.

Benoît Battistelli


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