A new standard – an introduction

Since WTR first started investigating the innovation landscape at IP offices in 2017, there has been a constant through line in our ranking of the world’s leading registries - the glaring disparity between the top innovators and those trailing behind. The main issue holding many back is lack of digital tools and services, with some trademark agencies struggling to maintain functioning websites or run online filing services. In such jurisdictions, there is usually a reliance on in-person services, which in turn puts the burden on applicants to travel to a physical building in order to apply for rights or conduct trademark maintenance work.

Of course, with covid-19 lockdowns making in-person filing impossible, the necessity of adequate digital services has been starkly highlighted. Around the world we have seen IP offices forced to close and employees required to work remotely (or in some cases, left unable to work at all). Yet despite these unprecedented measures it has been business as usual for those at the top of our ranking, with users able to carry on with their brand protection work digitally. Unfortunately it has been a very different story for lesser-resourced agencies, where in many cases closures made it impossible for customers to meet deadlines or file for new IP protection.

It is for this reason that Alt Legal CEO Nehal Madhani – a regular contributor on WTR’s IP Office Innovation Ranking since its founding – has formed a new non-profit to advocate for improved digital standards at trademark agencies around the world. Launching imminently, it will propose standards for digital services, develop shared resources that facilitate the adoption of these and further the digitalisation of global IP offices. On page 46, Madhani gives exclusive insights into how the organisation came about and how WTR readers can get involved.

The aim of the new body, over time, is to close the innovation gap that has seen some IP offices fall behind. In doing so, it will ensure that trademark practitioners (and the general public) have effective digital tools to protect their brands and uphold trademark rights – no matter where in the world they are based.

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