The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union
Around 70 external experts from national offices and users associations travelled to Alicante this week to take part in working groups set up under the OHIM Cooperation Fund. The meetings are a critical stage in the definition of how best to deliver common tools and standards that will shape the future of the EU offices for the next decade.
The Cooperation Fund is the biggest investment drive ever set in motion by OHIM and is designed to promote convergence of practices and further modernisation of trade mark and design systems among EU IP offices. It also represents an opportunity for OHIM to further improve its own systems and practices.
Since 2009, the Cooperation Fund has acted as the main vehicle for continuing a variety of cooperation activities including TMview, and EuroClass, and supporting a wide range of new projects.
In addition to the two key ongoing projects, eight new projects are currently being supported under the first “package” of projects drawn from an initial list of 23 selected by the Cooperation Fund Management Board following consultation with all stakeholders. The projects are grouped under our broad headings: “harmonization”, “software tools”; “information services” and “enforcement”.
At Alicante this week, working groups were meeting for each of the eight new projects. All the meetings have a team-building goal since, for reasons of efficiency, physical get-togethers will be rare in future. Hence, it has been important to lay down the ground rules for collaboration and make sure that everyone has access to the necessary tools to take part.
Technical progress is expected in several meetings, particularly for the common software architecture project, where two working groups have been set up to cover different aspects.
The search image project covers the creation of an image search functionality that could later be integrated into TMView, DesignView or other software. The working group will examine the list of questions for a forthcoming marketing study.
The seniority project aims to support national offices in including details of seniority claims in their databases. The working group will examine the text that offices use to reflect prior rights claims and seek to make a concrete proposal that can be shared with a broader range of interested offices.
Sharing and harmonizing quality standards
The quality standard project is designed to enhance work on quality certification of processes and systems, initially by achieving agreement on a Common Service Charter. The working group will examine performance indicators that could form part of a common charter.
The DesignView project is intended to apply the principles of TMview to designs. The working group will set the ground rules for work on the remainder of the project.
Similarity of Goods and Services
The similarity of goods and services project aims to create a collaborative website including a searchable database with the aim of harmonizing methods for assessing the similarity of goods and services. The working group will look at the resources that need to be assembled to “form a baseline” for the project, including for example, the database already being developed by OHIM’s Department of Industrial Property Policy.
Common Examiner Support Tool (CESTO)
The “CESTO” project is intended to assist examiners in making consistent, more predictable decisions which take account of all appropriate sources of information. The working group will look at the broad range of tools that already exist and any other relevant research, in order to consider how best to support examiners.
The e-learning project is intended to provide a platform for electronic training on CTM and RCD matters, as well as national registration systems. The working group will consider presentations on the numerous existing tools which members have experience of, in order to determine the best approach for the future.
Common software architecture
The common software architecture project is making sure that all the new tools being developed are able to “talk to each other”, thus ensuring interconnectivity of the future software packages to be developed under the Fund.
In all, it is expected that over 1700 person/days will be dedicated to these projects by the external experts in the working groups, while OHIM will devote almost 5700 person/days. Two further new projects, drawn from the original list of 23, are expected to get under way later this year.
Welcoming the working groups, OHIM’s President Antonio Campinos said that this was an historic step forward in cooperation between the main stakeholders involved in intellectual property in the EU.
“We are all talking together and working together with a common goal – delivering an IP system in which all the parts work effectively and efficiently.
This is a true partnership in which we all have something to offer. The aim is to do away with unnecessary differences in the way we work, establish a level playing field with regard to technology, and deliver the kind of harmonized IP system that the EU’s internal market needs in order to flourish”, he said.
Further information is available in the section on the OHIM Cooperation Fund on the OHIM website, and future editions of Alicante News will include interviews and updates from many of our partners drawn from both the public and private sectors.