INTA Bulletin

July 1, 2018 Vol. 73 No. 11 Back to Bulletin Main Page

António Campinos Reflects on Eight Successful Years of EUIPO Leadership

António Campinos

Prior to his role as Executive Director at the EUIPO, Mr. Campinos served as the President of the Directive Council of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) of Portugal from 2005 to 2010 and as the Chairman of the EUIPO’s Administrative Board (now called the Management Board).

António Campinos, who served as Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) from 2010 to 2018, has assumed his post as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), effective July 1.

Mr. Campinos was elected in October 2017 for a five-year term by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation to succeed Benoît Battistelli. INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo has said that “Mr. Campinos is sure to bring tremendous value to the EPO,” and INTA looks forward to continued collaboration with him in this new capacity.

During his eight-year tenure as EUIPO Executive Director, Mr. Campinos achieved significant improvements of relevance to users, focusing on the quality of the trademark and design-related services and involving users in the Office’s initiatives and management. He was also instrumental in enhancing overall IP awareness, launching the first study in 2013 that quantified the value of IP to the global economy. Published by EUIPO’s European Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights (the Observatory) and the EPO, the study was the first in a series of reports aimed at better understanding how IP factors into economies, the impact of counterfeiting on the economy, and user perceptions of IP rights.

Mr. Campinos also successfully saw the Office—then known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM)— through the 2015 EU Trade Mark Reform, which changed the organization’s name to EUIPO and overhauled its tasks and governance.

In 2016, Mr. Campinos initiated an ambitious strategic plan for the Office, which will continue through 2020 and aims to modernize the EUIPO. It focuses on delivering excellence via a user-centered office and European and international cooperation, notably with national IP offices. The Office has been successfully implementing the strategic plan by, among other goals, improving transparency, fostering digitalization and enhancing customer services, thereby strengthening the EU trademark and design system.

Just a few days before starting his post at the EPO, Mr. Campinos shared with the INTA Bulletin some of his reflections on the eight years he spent at the EUIPO, as well as his hopes for the future of both EU IP offices.

What would you say were the biggest changes for the EUIPO during your tenure?
From the beginning, it was clear to me that the Office needed a strategy lasting more than one or two years. Bearing in mind that the EUIPO’s main products—EU trade marks and designs—showed significantly higher growth rates than was originally imagined, the early years of the Office’s life were all about keeping pace with demand.

Moving beyond that, we needed to engage in fresh thinking about the Office’s role and how that would change in the future. By 2010-2011 it was already evident that the EU’s largest agency dedicated to intellectual property needed to be more than simply a top quality registration office. Under successive strategic plans since then, the Office has evolved substantially. It has taken on an international coordination role and, since being entrusted with the Observatory in 2012, has responsibilities covering all types of IP, including some aspects of enforcement.

In order to allow room for this growth in responsibilities, significant improvements were introduced to the Office´s systems and processes, and to working methods. The headquarters building was enlarged to create a modern IP campus, providing state-of-the-art facilities designed to encourage team working, and the digital systems were systematically updated, simplified, and modernized. All of these things have contributed to delivering higher quality products and services to users. At the same time, cooperation between national and regional IP offices and users within the European Union Intellectual Property Network has been steadily moving us towards interoperability and complementarity between the different parts of the European Union’s two-tier trademark and design system.

To achieve all this, the Office has had to reinvent itself, but the creation of a true European Union Intellectual Property Office has also resulted in the EU starting to take a more holistic approach to IP in general. There’s still some way to go, but this last aspect is one of the biggest changes—and, arguably, one of the biggest achievements as well.

What are the biggest challenges to come for the EUIPO and national offices?
We need to avoid getting exhausted or complacent. There has certainly been lots of change and progress, but nothing stands still. There is a technological revolution under way with artificial intelligence [AI], big data, blockchain, and 3D printing, among other [technologies], posing big challenges and opportunities for IP rights. Since intangible assets are now the biggest asset class, global demand for IP rights continues to grow. We need to use the latest technology to make sure that the IP system is transparent and delivers quality rights that are mutually recognized. We also must ensure that the rights can be enforced both within the EU and in the global marketplace.

AI, big data, and blockchain will undoubtedly play a part in helping us to make sense of the very complex system of inter-dependent global IP rights, as will new translation tools. Perhaps the biggest challenge, though, will be in making sure that IP rights are user friendly, accessible, and fulfill their promise of producing innovations in the marketplace that lead to jobs, growth, and ultimately economic and social well-being.

You focused on making the Office a truly user-driven agency. What do you consider your biggest achievement in bringing the Office closer to its users, and what can be done to enhance this going forward?
Users were pushing at the door, so to a large extent, all the Office had to do was to let them in. Once we did, it was clear how much could be achieved working together. It would have been foolish not to take advantage of the wealth of talent both inside and outside the Office.

As always, there is a period of trust-building and the work done on cooperation, convergence, and tool building within the EU Intellectual Property Network laid very important foundations. Now the users have a much bigger say in what projects are undertaken within the European Cooperation Projects, and they also contribute to the revision of the Examination Guidelines.

Most recently, we have been asking users to help us define what is really important to them in terms of quality. This goes beyond analyzing the regular user satisfaction surveys, to inviting them to audit our examination decisions. What we call the Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels started in oppositions and have now been extended to Absolute Grounds. The auditors come from the user associations and this process is giving us insight into what our users really value. I don’t know of any other public office that puts itself through this kind of scrutiny, but it is certainly delivering worthwhile results. The gap between our perception of quality and the perception of users has narrowed; we have adjusted our quality benchmarks, and are feeding the results back into the revision of the Guidelines.

Of course, we have to balance the need to provide a user-friendly and responsive system with the requirement to have objective and impartial examination. However, this should not mean keeping things hidden or maintaining some sort of imbalance of power. Moving forward, the Office has the goal of providing users with all the tools that are available to our examiners so they can make higher quality applications that are more likely to be problem free. This is what being “user driven” really means.

Do you see any future areas of cooperation between the EUIPO and EPO?
This moment of transition is probably not the right time to go into a lot of detail, but the answer is clearly “yes.” The EUIPO and the EPO already cooperate in a number of areas. We cooperate on research and training. We exchange staff, act as observers at each other’s governing bodies, jointly operate the Pan European Seal Professional Traineeship Programme and share knowledge. We also share a lot of users who rely on a bundle of IP rights to work together—often patents, trademarks, and designs, but also geographical indications, trade secrets and domain names, among others. It is in the interest of users that the main organizations and agencies involved in IP rights cooperate and ensure that the rights that we grant are dealt with in a complementary manner.

At the EUIPO, there is the example of what has been achieved by cooperation within the European Union Intellectual Property Network. The European Patent Network, with its 38 Member States and patent offices, includes many of the same stakeholders. It clearly makes sense to take advantage of synergies and avoid duplication in areas where we are trying to address similar problems. Let’s take, for example, the issue of how to improve access to the IP market for SMEs. If we want to help small businesses become more innovative and successful, these users will expect to see partnership and cooperation, not artificial barriers, between different IP rights.

The EUIPO has not yet appointed a new Executive Director.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

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