European Patent Organisation (EPO)
The Norwegian Industrial Property Office represents Norway on the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation and underlying committees. In 2016, NIPO attended meetings of the Administrative Council, the Budget and Finance Committee, the Patent Law Committee and the Technical/Operational Committee. Ahead of the meetings, Norwegian positions are clarified with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. NIPO reports to the ministries from the meetings of the Administrative Council and other committees that deal with relevant matters. NIPO was also an observer on the Select Committee. This committee prepares the practical introduction of unitary patents in the EU. Norway cannot join this scheme as participation is dependent EU membership.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
NIPO represented Norway in 2016 in the General Assemblies of WIPO and on underlying committees in the area of the protection of intellectual property rights. NIPO also regularly took part in the work of several standing committees: system for classification of inventions for retrieval in a later review of new inventions, classification of goods and services for applications for trademark protection, the patent law committee, the trademarks and design committee and the committees for the international application schemes for patents, trademarks and designs.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
At the request of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, NIPO in 2016 took part in the preparations for and delegations at a number of free-trade negotiations under the auspices of EFTA (with Canada, Ecuador, the Philippines, Georgia, Turkey, Vietnam, Mexico and Malaysia). In such cases we have been involved in the preparations for and negotiations on a special annex on the protection of intellectual property rights. In December the relationship with China was normalised, and it is expected that the bilateral negotiations between Norway and China, including the work on an intellectual property rights chapter, will be resumed in 2017.
NIPO has also taken part in EFTA/EEA activity in protection of industrial property rights. This takes place through meetings of the special committee for intellectual property rights and on the working group for intellectual property rights in Brussels, which meets the European Commission.
Link to: European Free Trade Association
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
It is important for trade and industry in Norway that this area of law is predictable. To achieve this, the same regulations must be followed and implemented in the same way in the various countries. In the area of designs and trademarks, NIPO therefore plays an active part in meetings of EUIPO and the adaptation programme in EUIPO. The countries cooperated through this programme to make case administration practice in EUIPO and at the European trademark and design authorities more uniform.
Nordic Patent Institute (NPI)
Norway is a partner in the Nordic Patent Institute together with Denmark and Iceland. NPI has two principal activities:
- processing PCT application as one of the PCT authorities in WIPO
- carrying out NPI assignments, for example novelty examinations for foreign customers
NPI processes PCT applications from Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic applicants. In addition, Swedish applicants can use NPI. NPI delivers services of at least equally good quality as other PCT authorities in Europe and is at the same time an easily accessible "local" PCT authority that is adapted to the needs of our national applicants.
NPI also carries out assignments for foreign trade and industry. These are the same type of preliminary examinations as NIPO performs for Norwegian enterprises.
The NPI staff unit is responsible for most administration and sales, development tasks and contact with WIPO, while the case officers at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (PVS) in Denmark and NIPO in Norway carry out preliminary examinations, reviews and IPR-related harmonisation and quality assurance.
The financial model with full covering of costs by NPI requires all parties to work in as cost-effective a way as possible. NIPO therefore cooperates closely with the partners in NPI to achieve this.
The processing of PCT applications and BPI assignments is technically very similar to the processing of national patent applications. There are therefore great synergies between these activities at NIPO. Work for foreign trade and industry additionally gives NIPO important expertise, in search strategy, customer follow-up and on how international trade and industry uses patent analyses in its business strategy. This experience in turn benefits Norwegian trade and industry.
The partnership in NPI further leads to close technical cooperation with PVS. This contributes to a continuous improvement in the processing of applications and procedures at NIPO, and in particular to increased customer focus.
Link to Nordic Patent Institute
In 2016 NIPO received 160 PCT applications for processing for NPI – an increase compared with 2013 and 2014 and on a par with 2012. This is equivalent to around 20% of those Norwegian patent applications for which international protection is applied. Some applicants choose, for various reasons, to use the European Patent Office (EPO) or the Swedish Patent and Registration Office as an international examining authority.
The processing of PCT applications for NPI as an international examination authority is part of NIPO's operations. In contrast to national patent applications, the processing of these PCT applications is underfinanced, as the application fee set by WIPO does not cover the actual costs of application processing. The financial outcome for PCT consequently shows a deficit of just under NOK 2 million.