Next level collaboration: an exclusive inside look at the European Union Intellectual Property Network
Earlier today, WTR released the latest special report, focused on the topic of innovation at national IP offices. To coincide with its launch, we share exclusive insights from Christian Archambeau, executive director of the EUIPO, on the continued development of the EUIPN and what it means for trademark owners.
A key area of the report is the 2021 IP Office Innovation Ranking, which ranks 60 registries by the various non-core tools and services they offer to users – from e-filings and website features to offering dispute mediation and public events. It also features exclusive insights from representatives from the intellectual property offices of Singapore, the UK, and the EU, as well as from the director general of WIPO, the former head of the Chilean IP Office, and the founder of the International Intellectual Property Standards Group.
Below is an additional update from the EUIPO that builds on its work on the European Union Intellectual Property Network (EUIPN), recent developments, and why this work matters for the global trademark community.
Insights from Christian Archambeau, executive director of the EUIPO:
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, the EUIPN’s collaborative efforts have moved beyond digitalisation by incorporating concepts of innovation and disruptive technologies within the scope of the European cooperation projects. From blockchain to artificial intelligence, an impressive number of projects are taking advantage of today’s latest technological developments.
The Network’s flagship tools, TMview and DesignView are the largest trademark and design databases in the world, allowing businesses to search from a staggering 96 million trademarks and 17 million designs. This free access to trad mark and design information is complemented with classification support offered through the TMclass and DesignClass.
These databases are a shining example of what cooperation can achieve: they not only cover all EU member states but they have been adopted by international offices all over the globe, and they keep evolving. In April 2021, the EUIPO introduced blockchain technology into TMview and DesignView, to bring super-fast, reliable, and secure delivery of IP rights information.
Blockchain technology improves speed while maintaining high quality data transfers. Data integrity and security are taken to another level opening the door to new services that improve connectivity between users and their IP rights and speed up the connection between IP offices. On 1 July 2021, Malta was the first member state of the EU to transfer its records to TMview and DesignView through a blockchain network.
The technical and financial support provided to the Maltese office through the EUIPO’s European cooperation projects, has been instrumental to the success of this implementation. The same cooperation framework will allow more offices in Europe to join the initiative still in 2021.
The emerging technologies incubator
Open innovation often relies on ‘communities’ or ‘labs’ where R&D activities are centralised. This is the inspiration behind the EUIPN’s Emerging Technologies Incubator. This project examines how innovative solutions can serve the IP community in high-potential technology areas such as Big Data and Robotic Process Automation.
In this context, the EUIPN works on mapping the next technological and business developments affecting IP services and setting out a roadmap that takes advantage of these technologies. The project team will identify valid business cases, where the overall workflow efficiency could be improved and provide relevant benefits for the users (i.e. faster examination, a reduced examiner backlog).
The incubator has already achieved tangible results: the IP offices of Estonia and Finland are implementing a Robotics Process Automation system to automate searches in the examination process of trade marks. The offices of Lithuania and Estonia are using Big Data and Process Mining to handle the large volumes of data produced by their back offices and apply their findings to help streamline the examination processes.
The software package
Ongoing cooperation projects where innovation plays an essential role include the Software Package initiative. This is a major cooperation forum that touches upon both back and front office elements within IP offices with the aim of enhancing and streamlining examination procedures. It includes e-filing for trademarks, e-filling for designs and a powerful back office system.
The Software Back Office project manages the lifecycle of the applications behind the scenes, and has been implemented in 13 IP offices, while six are currently in the process of adopting it. The approach to this project follows that of other EUIPN initiatives and does not stay within confined default settings, closed to innovation: the EUIPO and IP offices enjoy a continuous dialogue with users. This dialogue adds value to the daily work of the examiners and helps identify, and implement, new functionalities while keeping the system aligned with the latest technological advances.
Under the Software Package projects, Decision Desktop aims to facilitate the decision drafting process of examiners to increase the consistency and predictability of decisions issued by the IP offices. The project team is working on a new interface so that the implementing IP offices can create, and maintain, standard paragraphs and templates. This new system will support the examiners during the decision-drafting process with automatically generated content.
This project is being developed with the collaboration of the Bulgarian and Lithuanian IP offices, who are piloting the project’s implementation.
The Front Office, which includes e-filing and other tools targeted at applicants such as the user Area dashboards, is in many cases the first point of contact for companies within the IP world. The role of the EUIPO, together with the Network, is to provide reliable and adaptable tools that meet the needs of both seasoned IP professionals and companies filing for the first time. To date, 21 out of 27 IP offices in the EU have implemented the Software Package Front Office. The next steps include adding a B2B functionality to the Front Office tools and the User Area making it easier for users to manage their applications and to improve communications with them.
Another Software Package project, Integrated Multiple Assessment Solution (IMAS), is aimed at supporting the examination process, and requires input from various sources. This tool gathers and evaluates all relevant trade mark and design information for examiners to allow for coherent and consistent decisions, thus increasing predictability for applicants.
Another important area of collaborative work is Cloud Computing, ie the delivery of computing services through the internet. This project gathers knowledge and experiences from the EUIPO, and IP offices from around the EU, to provide a roadmap for migrating their IT systems into a cloud infrastructure.
One of the objectives of the Cloud Computing project is to ensure that IP offices can benefit from the EUIPO's initiatives and experience in the field, and that ultimately all users of the EUIPN tools can count on highly stable, reliable and accessible IT systems.
The IP User Repository project
The IP User Repository project focuses primarily on data integrity audits and data cleansing so that both the EUIPO and IP offices avoid user data duplications or inconsistencies. One of the key features of this advanced application is the ability for it to identify information shards that may be related to one person, and unify that information under one single master file.
The repository project uses human-assisted AI technology, as each IP office has a different view of what constitutes a duplicate. This ‘clean’ database, when properly connected to the front and back office, affords users, and examiners alike, high quality information and reduces the number of errors throughout the e-filing process.
The Capture and Store Historical Files project
The Capture and Store of Historical Files initiative, aims to digitise paper dossiers across EU IP offices enabling easy, rapid access to documentation and data related to trademarks and designs. Paper files, 10 years old or less, are digitised and made searchable in operational databases or search tools like TMview and DesignView.
The project supports the participating offices in creating a paperless working environment, and it helps users interact digitally with EU intellectual property offices.
Now with over one million digitised trade mark and design dossiers, 18 million pages from 11 national IP offices, the focus has shifted from pure digitisation and upload to the operational databases, to targeted data extraction and categorisation. All of this in an effort to tap into the potential efficiency gains that big data analytics and machine learning can offer.