World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
NIPO represented Norway at the General Assemblies at WIPO and on underlying committees in the field of industrial property rights in 2017. NIPO also regularly takes part in the work of several standing committees: systems for classification of inventions so that they can be found in later examination of new inventions, classification of goods and services for applications for trademark protection, the committee on patent law, and the trademark and design committees for the international application systems for patents, trademarks and designs.
European Patent Organisation (EPO)
NIPO represents Norway on the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation and underlying committees. In 2017 NIPO attended meetings of the Administrative Council and meetings of the Budget and Finance Committee, the Committee on Patent Law and the Technical and Operational Support Committee. Ahead of the meetings, Norwegian positions are clarified by 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 form the meetings of the Administrative Council and other committees where there are matters of significance. NIPO is also an observer on the Select Committee. This committee is preparing the practical introduction of the unitary patent in the EU. Norway cannot join this scheme, because participation is dependent on EU membership.
European Patent Network
Cooperation between the EPO and the member states on the standing committees is supplemented by cooperation in what is known as the European Patent Network (EPN). Each member state has a bilateral cooperation plan with the EPO, which through activities are organised into standardised projects. Our cooperation has been concerned with IPR training of the patent representative sector and our own case officers, ICT tools and work to strengthen the work of the European patent system.
In cooperation with the EPO, NIPO arranged a conference in Bergen in July for the EPN with 90 participants from 37 countries. Such meetings are important and enable patent authorities to exchange ideas and share experience to raise awareness and improve knowledge of IPR in trade and industry and in society in general. The then Ministry for the EEA and the EU, Frank Bakke-Jensen, attended parts of the meeting and held talks with the EPO President Benoît Battistelli in addition to company visits under the auspices of Bergen Technology Transfer.
European Patent Organisation (EPO) – ten years on
Norway became a member of the European Patent Organisation on 1 January 2008, and it is interesting to reflect on what has happened over these 10 years in comparison with what was assumed when the decision on membership was made. Norway is now well integrated into the European patent system, on a par with the other member states. The private IPR sector appears to have adapted its operations to the new situation. And, above all, NIPO has managed to retain sufficient expertise in the patent area and is able to serve Norwegian trade and industry as a centre of expertise on intellectual property rights. The establishment of the Nordic Patent Institute from 2008 as expected has contributed to this development by providing relevant work tasks in the area of patents – the examination of international patent applications and preliminary search examinations for foreign trade and industry.
Revenues in the area of patents fell roughly as expected by around NOK 27 million in 2010/2011 compared with 2008, since foreign applicants no longer had to apply direct to NIPO to obtain patents in Norway. From 2012 onwards, patent revenues gradually increased in line with forecasts, primarily due to revenues from annual fees from an increasing number of European patents made valid in Norway. Accession to the London Agreement, which means reduced translation requirements for European patents, has contributed to a continued rise in the number of European patents.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
Increased predictability is important to trade and industry in Norway. To achieve this, identical rules must be practised in the same way in the different countries. In the area of designs and trademarks, NIPO therefore plays an active part in meetings of EUIPO, and in EUIPO's adaptation programmes. The countries cooperate through the programme to make case management practice in EUIPO and in the national European trademark and design authorities more uniform.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
At the request of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, NIPO in 2017 took part in the preparations for and delegations at a number of free-trade negotiations under the auspices of EFTA (with Ecuador, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mercosur, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam). We have taken part here in the preparations and in the negotiations on a special annex on the protection of industrial property rights. The relationship with China has normalised, and the bilateral free-trade negotiations between Norway and China, including work on an intellectual property rights chapter, were resumed in 2017.
NIPO has also taken part in EFTA/EEA work in the area for protection of industrial property rights. We have attended meetings of the special committee on intellectual property rights and the working group on intellectual property rights in Brussels which meets the European Commission.
Link to: European Free Trade Association
Nordic Patent Institute (NPI)
Norway is a partner in the Nordic Patent Institute together with Denmark and Iceland. The NPI has two main activities:
- To process PCT applications as one of WIPO's PCT authorities.
- To carry out NPI tasks, for example novelty examinations for foreign customers.
NPI processes PCT applications from Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic applicants. In addition, Swedish applicants can use the NPI. The NPI delivers services of good quality and at the same time acts as a "local" PCT authority adapted to the needs of our national applicants. In 2017 WIPO re-appointed the NPI as a PCT authority for a new 10-year period starting on 1 January 2018. The NPI also carries out tasks for foreign trade and industry in Europe and the United States, corresponding to the preliminary search examinations performed by NIPO for Norwegian businesses.
NPI is organised as a virtual organisation with its own staff which is responsible for administration, sales and contact with WIPO. Case officers at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office and NIPO in Norway carry out preliminary search examinations, reviews and IPR-related harmonisation and quality assurance on behalf of the NPI.
The processing of PCT applications and NPI assignments is very similar to the processing of national applications. There is therefore a significant synergistic effect between these activities and other assignments performed as a national authority. Work for foreign trade and industry additionally gives NIPO important expertise, on search strategy, customer follow-up and how international trade and industry uses patents and patent information in its business strategy. This experience in turn benefits Norwegian trade and industry.
Link to Nordic Patent Institute
In 2017 NIPO received 191 PCT applications for processing for the NPI, a pleasing increase of more than 19% compared with 2016. Around 25% of Norwegian applicants chose to use the NPI as an international examining authority in 2017. The other applicants principally used the EPO, but also to some extent the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) as an international examining authority.
The processing of PCT applications for the NPI is part of NIPO's operations. In contrast to national patent applications, the processing of PCT applications is under-financed, as the application fees set by WIPO do not cover the actual costs of application processing. The financial result for PCT consequently shows a deficit of around NOK 2.2 million.
NIPO received 152 NPI assignments in 2017. Despite an increase in the number of assignments compared with 2016, the volume and therefore revenues were lower than budgeted. This was partly due to the assignments being less extensive and NIPO in 2017, under an agreement with PRV, having processed a smaller proportion of the assignments in order to be able to reduce the patent backlogs. The financial outcome for NPI assignments shows a deficit for 2017 of around NOK 705,000. It is important for NPI assignments that they are carried out with full cost coverage. And we are working on several measures to achieve balance in 2018.