Trevor Little

Following an extensive consultation period, OHIM has unveiled a new organisational structure. While the precise timeframes for implementation have not yet been announced, the forthcoming changes provide a clear insight into Antonio Campinos’ priorities as president of the office.

The full plan, which has beenendorsed by the Administrative Board and Budget Committee, is to be published shortly and sets out three overall objectives: to build a strong, vibrant organisation, to improve quality and optimise the timeline of operations, and promote convergence of practice. To achieve this, six lines of action are identified:

  • Human resources reform and cultural renewal.
  • The simplification and modernisation of information systems (with the intention of  simplifying a system whereby 84 IT systems and 57 different databases currently coexist).
  • Expansion and optimisation of the working environment (which includes plans to extend the current OHIM building in Alicante and bring the whole organisation under one roof).
  • Establish the IP Academy and knowledge repository (which the office states is designed to “cascade knowledge among staff, as well as external sectors interested in IP”).
  • The improvement and broadening of quality.
  • The development of the European network (to enable international cooperation).

Structurally, the reshuffle creates five main departments (Operations, Operations support, International co-operation and legal affairs, Resources and Infrastructure) and five horizontal services (Internal audit, the IP Academy, Communications, Economics and Statistics, and Portfolio and Quality Management).

Examining the plans, three main themes become apparent, providing an insight into Campinos’s priorities as president. The first is a clear emphasis on staff engagement and professional development, fostering a results-oriented environment. The second is a focus on further improving and broadening quality, to offer users “a fast, coherent and reliable service that allows access to whatever information is required at any stage”. The third, and perhaps the most significant politically, is a vision of international convergence in trademark practices and procedures.

This comes at a time when much discussion centres on the co-existence between national trademark systems and the supranational Community trademark (CTM) system, as tackled in the recent Max Planck study on the functioning of the European trademark system. However, in a video presentation outlining the six lines of action, the office reframes the debate: “In order to have an efficient global system it is necessary to promote convergence and to eliminate inconsistencies. OHIM wants to promote a homogenous system of standardised practices, procedures and electronic tools.”

This emphasis on ‘convergence’ therefore signals a desire to shift the discussion away from co-existence, whereby different systems operate alongside each other, to one of convergence, whereby a common approach is developed (in fact, the only time co-existence is mentioned in the presentation is in respect to the multitude of IT systems in use at OHIM – and these too are due to converge!).

More detail will no doubt be included in the full plans but this goal is certainly in line with current co-operation fund projects and signals the clear intention of the office to foster a less conflictive relationship with national offices.  

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