For a large proportion of businesses, IPR has little relevance. For a very large number of businesses, IPR is something they are aware of, and they make use of these rights to protect their intellectual property assets. Other enterprises use IPR more actively in their business operations, often in the long term and strategically. For some enterprises, ownership of intellectual property rights is their actual business concept.
It is important to NIPO that those enterprises where intangible assets and intellectual property rights are relevant, are actually aware of and make use of the system to register their own rights, monitor their competitors and opportunities, or acquire the right expertise in the area. There are three indicators applicable to IPR maturity: use of preliminary examinations and the search and alert service, and the number of Norwegian applications filed abroad.
Preliminary examinations from Norwegian applicants
The use of preliminary examinations by the Norwegian Industrial Property Office increased by around 15% in 2016, for both trademark and patent assignments. We have actively provided information on preliminary examinations when we have been out meeting people in trade and industry, and the increase may suggest that this has proved effective.
We launched two new services adapted to these customers in 2016, and it is also these services that account for the increase in the number of preliminary examinations.
Patent landscape analyses
In cooperation with the Norwegian Research Council, NIPO presented proposals in 2015 for a survey of the patent landscape for the directors of an SFI (Centres for Research-based Innovation) programme. A patent landscape analysis is a type of preliminary examination that analyses the scope for action on a particular type of technology and may contain information on
- which countries patent in the particular specialist field
- what different countries focus on within this specialist field
- who are the largest players in the different geographical areas
- our view concerning the results that emerge
It may be of great value to R&D projects to conduct landscape analyses in the introductory survey. When the knowledge base from the outset includes patents, research effort can be saved, possible partners can be found for cooperation, increased knowledge can be gained from development work in industry, and the number of failed investments can be reduced by focusing efforts on greater innovation opportunities.
In 2016, NIPO completed a report to SFI Exposed (SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture), and we have been working on a patent landscape analysis for Invent2. We have also analysed specialist fields for SFI Manufacturing (SINTEF Raufoss Manufacturing AS) and SFI Subpro (NTNU), and the reports are now being written. A student has surveyed Norwegian players in the area of salmon lice and has analysed the patent landscape in a master's dissertation under our guidance. This assignment will be relevant to several groupings, such as NCE Aquaculture and SFI Sea Lice Research Centre.
Patent, trademark and design applications from Norwegian applicants abroad
The combined intellectual property rights activity of Norwegian players provides an indication of IPR maturity. In addition to the number of applications from Norwegian applicants for patents, trademarks and designs in Norway, it is therefore also relevant to look at how many applications are submitted by Norwegian applicants in other countries.
After a sharp increase at the beginning of the 2000s, the trend has levelled off somewhat in recent years. The number of applications filed by Norwegian applicants in other countries (19 380) is 3.4 times higher than that of applications filed by Norwegian applicants in Norway (5 763). Note that the number of applications for EU trademarks and EU designs is multiplied by the number of countries covered by the scheme, while European patent applications are counted only once.
Customer use of registers and databases
All publicly available applications and rights are accessible through the NIPO database online. We can see that Norwegian and foreign enterprises need this type of information. They make active use of this tool to obtain information and guidance concerning rights and applications that may have an impact on their investments. The number of visits to the search pages (search.patentstyret.no) has increased by 25% in the past two years, and stood at 232 000 in 2016. Ever greater numbers return to make new searches, and the number of users who have visited the pages more than 200 times during the course of 9 months has risen by 85% since 2014. At the same time, we are seeing an increase in new users, and alerts in particular can be emphasised, with 60% more users than in 2015. We can see from the customer surveys that 7 out every 10 used the search for guidance before or after filing an application at NIPO.