Trevor Little

This week OHIM was officially entrusted with responsibility for The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. While a number of projects are underway, the office has launched a consultation to gain feedback on the role its planned IP think tank can play.

As previously reported in WTR, the Council of the European Union adopted the proposal to entrust OHIM with the EU Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights on March 22. While the move will effectively expand OHIM’s role, the council stressed that the new tasks will not extend to participation in individual operations or investigations carried out by national authorities. OHIM stated in March that the observatory is rather “expected to ensure, among other things, the collection analysis and dissemination of relevant, objective and reliable data regarding the value of IP rights and the infringements of those rights.” 

Yesterday the regulation entrusting OHIM with the observatory officially took effect - under Regulation 386/2012, the office has been given formal responsibility for a range of tasks relating to research, training, communication, the development of advanced IT support tools and the enforcement of all types of IP rights.

In comments that suggest the office may take up the challenge of putting a figure on the contribution IP makes to the European economy, OHIM’s president António Campinos explained: “In our view, for the observatory to be a success, we need to become an effective, credible, transparent and inclusive IP think tank, capable of providing independent and evidence-based contributions. We need to start with the positive. We rely on the creativity and innovation of our entrepreneurs and SMEs to pull us out of recession but we don’t even know the real contribution of intellectual property to growth and jobs. We are a long way behind our international competitors in this regard and we need to catch up.”

While the observatory will continue with the projects currently under way, OHIM has launched a consultation to receive stakeholder feedback on the role the observatory could play, with Campinos stating: “We need to make sure that everyone – with no exceptions – who has a view on these issues has a chance to be heard on what tasks or activities the observatory should undertake within, of course, the bounds of the regulation.”

In addition to soliciting general views on the challenges facing intellectual property, the consultation, which closes on July 6, aims to establish stakeholder priorities in four specific areas:

  • Supporting policymaking by providing research-based knowledge.  
  • Supporting enforcement bodies by providing intelligence and knowledge, as well as tools and techniques.
  • Supporting businesses and right holders to improve their strategies with knowledge and tools.
  • Raising awareness of all relevant actors.

Following analysis of the feedback, the observatory’s work programme for 2013 will be prepared and submitted for information to observatory stakeholders in a plenary meeting in Alicante in September and to OHIM’s Administrative Board in November.

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