Relevance varies – for some businesses, only the right to a company name and trademark may be relevant, while ownership of intellectual property rights may be the actual business concept for others. Many use intellectual property rights primarily to protect their intellectual property assets, while other businesses use IPR more actively in their business operations, most often in the long term and strategically.
It is important to NIPO that businesses are actually aware of the existence of intellectual property assets and rights, and that they use them when relevant. It is also important that they use the system to register their own rights, monitor competitors and opportunities that become available, and acquire correct expertise in the area. There are three indicators linked to IPR maturity in NIPO's management system – use of preliminary search examinations, use of the search and alert service, and the number of Norwegian applications filed abroad.
Preliminary search examinations by Norwegian applicants
The total number of preliminary search examinations in 2017 was around the same level as in 2016, with a slight downturn for the area of patents. Professional actors are the largest customer group, while more small and medium-sized enterprises are using preliminary search examinations, particularly in the area of trademarks. Professional representatives act on behalf of large, medium-sized and small enterprises, and the total use of preliminary search examinations shows that the product is useful for Norwegian customers.
Trademark, design and patents applications from Norwegian applicants abroad
Combined Norwegian intellectual property rights activity provides an indication of IPR maturity. In addition to the number of patent, trademark and design applications from Norwegian applicants in Norway, it is therefore also relevant to look at the number of applications filed by Norwegian applicants in other countries.
The number of applications filed by Norwegian applicants abroad in 2016 (22,013) was 3.8 times higher than the number filed by Norwegian applicants in Norway (5,771) and the highest number we have seen. Data for 2017 is not available at the time of preparation of this annual report. The fact that the number has increased over time suggests increasing IPR maturity. Note that the number of applicants for EU trademarks and EU designs is multiplied by the number of countries covered by the scheme, while European patent applications are counted once only.
Customer use of registers and databases
All publicly available applications and rights are accessible through NIPO's online search service. We can see that Norwegian and foreign enterprises need this type of information, and make active use of these tools to find out about rights and applications that have an impact on their work. We can see from the customer survey that many customers use the search and alert services before filing an application at NIPO. Customers, particularly in the area of trademarks, say that the services are simple to use, and that they find the information they are looking for.
The number of visits to the search service "Søk" increased by 23% in the past year, and totalled 278,300 in 2017. Our customers are constantly automating their work processes, and several tasks that were previously performed by humans are now dealt with by a robot. The lookups made by these robots in the search service and our web services (APIs) are not included in our user figures. Total traffic in the services is therefore far higher. The alert service "Varsling" had 63% more users in 2017 than in the previous year.