12 February 2011

OHIM President Asks Users for Contribution to Strategic Plan - within 10 Days

As reported in this earlier piece, OHIM's new President, Mr. António Campinos, has great plans for the office, as he wants to transform it into "a true 'IP agency'".

On this way, Mr Campinos announced in his introductory letter dated 5 October 2010 to members of the OAMI Users' Group (members are international NGO's from the IP sector), that it is his "firm belief that an open and frank cooperation between the Office and the users' associations is a prerequisite for future success" and that he intends to discuss with stakeholders a strategic plan for the next 5 to 10 years enabling OHIM to better cope with the challenges ahead".

Now, Mr Campinos has asked "OHIM stakeholders, national offices and user associations to get their contribution on the main challenges and objectives to be set for the Office during the next years" in another letter. The questions posed to the user associations are rather abstract and each may be subject to a dissertation to be answered in sufficient depth:
  • What are the issues/challenges facing the OHIM over the coming years? What are the threads in the Intellectual Property landscape in Europe and beyond?
  • Which should be OHIM's most important goals and what objectives need to be set in order to achieve the OHIM goals?
  • What concrete initiatives would your organisation recommend OHIM to take to meet theses goals?
While the letter is dated 7 February 2011, the President "would be very thankful if the contributions could be sent [...] no later than the 17 February 2011", i.e. within 10 days. It appears that if the cooperation between the Office and the users' associations is really considered a prerequisite for future success, the users of the Alicante system should be allowed to spend a little more time on this central issue. Otherwise, their contributions to the "OHIM strategic plan for all" cannot be overly profound, I fear.

From my point of view, it would be an important and demanding task for the European Union's IP agency to not only play an active role in IP enforcement (see this posting), e.g. by overtaking the EU Commission’s "Observatory on Counterfeiting", but to also increase the awareness and expertise for IP issues among economic leaders, e.g. in the way IAM, one of the OHIM user associations, promotes the Chief IP Officer for a couple of years.

What actually is not needed so much is an active role of OHIM in the patent field, which is occasionally demanded by (e.g. Spanish) stakeholders or anti-patent campaigners in order to weaken the influence of the EPO, being not an EU office but a (formally) independent trans-national authority, on European substantive patent law.