Accessibility and IP offices – an introduction

Digital innovation at IP offices has progressed in leaps and bounds in the past decade, with some platforms showcasing modern design and market-leading web tools. As well as making the lives of trademark practitioners easier, these sites update users on the latest developments and raise awareness of brand protection among the general public. Every IP office website needs to be approachable for both professionals and laypeople – both in terms of content and layout.

However, digital innovation is redundant if the web platform is not accessible to everyone, including those with blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities and photosensitivity – or a combination of these. Taken together, these represent a significant proportion of the population.

On page 35, we present our latest in-depth analysis into the most accessible websites of global IP offices, using an advanced measurement tool to rank the best and worst. This analysis is crucial, because identifying accessibility factors on a digital platform should be a top priority – yet, in some cases, it does not appear to be. Anything that prevents these platforms from being accessible effectively discriminates against these users on the basis of their disability and bars them from participating in the IP ecosystem.

The UKIPO is a consistent leader in digital accessibility in the IP office space. On page 39, the agency’s head of campaigns and channels, Mike Bastin, reveals how the registry designed its digital platform to be the most accessible of any IP office in the world. Considering the requirements of users that use assistive technology (eg, screen readers, braille displays, screen magnifiers and speech recognition software) has been a key focus. Finally, on page 42, representatives from the EUIPO, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the Chile’s INAPI share their approaches to digital accessibility.

In outlining the different ways to achieve effective digital accessibility, we hope that it will provide inspiration for readers to investigate how accessible their organisation’s web platform truly is.

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