Since the first IP offices were established in the late 1800s, there has been a consistent and ongoing effort by them to provide services outside their central remit of registering trademarks and patents. Raising awareness of the benefits of brand protection has long been a priority for agencies, which regularly arrange exhibitions and events. The arrival of the Internet allowed IP offices to radically improve the speed of their core services and to offer additional tools for users, most notably e-filing. As emerging technology looks set to transform the lives of trademark practitioners – including AI, blockchain and cryptocurrency – some registries are already working on new and cutting-edge tools.

While many of the major IP offices are keeping up with new technology developments, some are falling behind – especially in the digital domain. For that reason, this special report takes a deep dive into the innovative measures implemented at IP offices, including extensive research projects conducted by World Trademark Review (WTR) and exclusive insights from leading industry figures.

First and foremost, we present the 2021 IP Office Innovation Ranking, which analyses 60 leading IP offices in terms of the non-core tools and services that they offer. Representatives from WIPO and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) both delve into how greater cooperation between trademark agencies is needed and what that should look like, while the chief executive of the IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) expands on the organisation’s journey from administrative registry to ‘innovation agency’. Elsewhere, the former head of the Intellectual Property Office of Chile sheds light on unexpected breakthroughs in innovative services that arose from the upheaval caused by covid-19.

Of course, being advanced in the digital domain means little if a web platform is not accessible to everyone. In another exclusive piece of research, we rank the websites of 60 leading IP registries according to their accessibility. While this reveals positive momentum compared to the findings of previous analysis, roadblocks still exist for users with long-term illnesses, disabilities or age-related ailments. With that in mind, a representative from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) offers some timely advice on how to take a practical approach to accessibility.

Finally, the CEO of Alt Legal unveils the launch of a new non-profit organisation that aims to address the numerous issues of innovation disparity and standardisation raised throughout this special report. As we look to the future, this development – alongside cooperation efforts spurred on by agencies including WIPO and the EUIPO – should provide a catalyst for improvement at IP offices that will, in turn, better the professional lives of all IP stakeholders.

WTR would like to take this opportunity to thank representatives from WIPO, the EUIPO, IPOS and the UKIPO for sharing their insights and expertise in this report.

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