Intellectual Property Rights in the European Union
Earlier this month the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) together with the Malta Commerce Department hosted the Intellectual Property Information session on the European Trademark and Design session.
During this session the OHIM president confirmed that Malta is in the forefront of implementation and advancement of intellectual property from all the European Union Member States. Malta has implemented 18 of the 19 initiatives and projects suggested by the OHIM, which places our island in the forefront. This session dealt mainly with how the OHIM will be implementing a common infrastructure / database in respect of all intellectual property.
It is noteworthy to point out that a recent study has established that:
Intellectual property rights (IPR) intensive industries generated almost 26% of all jobs in the European Union between 2008 and 2010. This translates to 56.6 million Europeans who are employed by IPR intensive industries. Over the same period, IPR intensive industries generated almost 39% of the total economic activity in the EU, worth €4.7 trillion. The above citied numbers are only in respect of the direct contribution – needless to say there is also a considerable contribution being made from indirect contribution.
Aside from employment, IPR intensive industries also contribute to economic output – which is measured in terms of the GDP. In total, over 39% of the EU’s GDP is generated in IPR intensive industry, 34% of this is attributed to trademarks intensive industry and 13% to design intensive industry.
The Maltese islands have seen to be very active in the intellectual property Malta sector and is also in the forefront. The Malta Commerce Department contributes with various international bodies, amongst which we find the following:
- The European Union – EU;
- World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO;
- World Trade Organisation – WTO;
- European Patent Office – EPO;
- Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market – OHIM.
The trend with respect to the registration of intellectual property rights in Malta over the last few years has been as follows:
- Significant decrease in trademark applications and searches; but
- Significant increase in patent search, validation and renewal.
Although there has been a notable decrease in demand for the registrations of trade marks in Malta, this does not mean that the need for national trademarks will be rendered obsolete. Community Trademarks (CTM) and national trademarks should be seen as complimentary to each other. One should see trademark registrations as layers; the national trademark registrations is one layer, the European trademark registration is a layer, while the international trademark registration is another layer.
The opposite can be said for patents, patents cover a novelty and a novelty must be protected globally.
- The Malta Commerce Department went live with the e-filing form for Trademarks in June 2014;
- The Malta Commerce Department went live with respect to the e-filing form for Design in September 2014;
- In December 2014, the Department went live with the back office for Trademarks.
It is also pertinent to point out that the E-services implemented by the Commerce Department is in line with the green policy of the Government of Malta.