INTA has long enjoyed the privilege of working directly with the European Union’s Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM). Traditionally this interaction has included the Association’s attending the Office’s annual Users’ Group meeting in Alicante, Spain, and the biannual meeting of senior OHIM officials with INTA’s Trademark Office Practices–OHIM Subcommittee at each INTA Annual and Leadership Meeting.
Over the past few years, however, opportunities for INTA to interact with OHIM and EU Member States’ trademark offices have dramatically increased.
In 2009, INTA and several European regional trademark associations were invited to begin attending the twice-yearly meetings of OHIM’s Administrative Board and Budget Committee as Observer Representatives, giving us more insight into OHIM’s governance and inner workings. INTA’s representative at these meetings is current Vice President Gabrielle Olsson-Skalin (Inter IKEA Holding Services S.A., Belgium). The last Administrative Board and Budget Committee meetings took place in May, and the next sessions are planned for November. Made up of representatives from EU national offices and the EU Commission, the Board and Budget Committee advise the OHIM President on the Office’s responsibilities and on budget and financial control, respectively.
OHIM's offices in Alicante, Spain
For several years, INTA has also participated in OHIM’s Cooperation Fund working groups. The Cooperation Fund is a series of projects coordinated between OHIM and EU national trademark offices to modernize IP offices in the EU and promote further harmonization. Members of INTA’s Trademark Office Practices Committee are taking part in the working groups for Quality Standards (Elia Sugrañes, Sugrañes Patentes Y Marcas, Spain), OHIM’s User Satisfaction Survey (Petra Herkul, DSM, Netherlands), Counterfeiting Intelligence Support Tool (David Gill, DaWei-IP, United Kingdom) and the Common Examiner’s Support Tool (Marek Łazewski, LDS Łazewski Depo & Partners, Poland). And just this month Michael Best (BEST Rechtsanwälte, Germany, member of INTA’s Design Rights Subcommittee) joined the Search Image project.
Meanwhile, OHIM’s Convergence Programme continues at full steam. Peter Gustav Olson (Maqs Law Firm, Denmark) represents INTA in the highly active project on class headings, with support from OHIM Subcommittee colleagues, particularly Reyes Campello Estebaranz (Campello Estebaranz Abogados, Spain) and Paola Ruggiero (Bird and Bird, Italy).
OHIM has now taken over responsibility for the EU Observatory on the Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights
from the European Commission. The Observatory is a network of public and private sector experts and stakeholders, set up to promote discussion, research, training, communication, the creation of advanced IT support tools and the spread of best practices in IP matters. INTA is participating in the five working groups that carry out the Observatory’s current work program. These include Statistics (INTA’s representative is David Gill), Public Awareness (Christina Sleszynska, INTA, Belgium), Legal (Jeremy Newman, Rouse, United Kingdom), Enforcement & Training (Elio de Tullio, De Tullio & Partners, Italy), and IP in the Digital World (Javier Fernandez-Lasquetty, Elzaburu, Spain). David Gill and Jeremy Newman are members of INTA’s Trademark Office Practices–OHIM Subcommittee, while Elio de Tullio and Javier Fernandez-Lasquetty are members of the Anticounterfeiting–EU Subcommittee.
The Observatory working groups were launched in February with kickoff meetings in Brussels. Projects are now well under way, and the next round of meetings will be held over the summer. Additionally, during the INTA Annual Meeting in Dallas in May, INTA’s participants in the Observatory working groups had the opportunity to meet with Paul Maier, the recently appointed Observatory Director, and Gerhard Bauer, past INTA President and current member of the Observatory’s Advisory Board.
Finally, since 2012, INTA has been invited to various “Liaison Meetings
” with OHIM and experts from EU national trademark offices, which offer workshops and discussions on topics such as trademarks, designs and technical cooperation. Verena von Bomhard (Hogan Lovells, Spain), Reyes Campello Estebaranz and Paola Ruggiero, all members of the Trademark Office Practices–OHIM Subcommittee, have represented INTA at these meetings throughout the year.
INTA welcomes the expansion of opportunities to be involved in OHIM’s initiatives and to increase our interaction with national offices in the EU. At the same time, we are appreciative that INTA members are bringing the users’ perspective directly to key projects that will ultimately improve the EU trademark system and lead to further harmonization across EU offices.
If you are interested INTA’s involvement in OHIM’s activities, apply for the Trademark Office Practices Committee for the 2014-2015 term! INTA’s Committee Selection portal
is open until June 28. The Trademark Office Practices Committee is listed under the Policy Development & Advocacy Group (PDA) Committees section.