As Director General of the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (French acronym "OMPIC")—one of the highest performing IP offices in Africa—Adil El-Maliki is tasked with the overall management and implementation of OMPIC’s strategies, as well as representing Morocco in international negotiations and discussions. Mr. El-Maliki has chaired WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) for seven years and is working to further strengthen OMPIC’s international position by improving processes that will bring it up to international standards in a number of areas.
Mr. El-Maliki shared more about OMPIC’s achievements, operations, and objectives with the INTA Bulletin
Can you explain what it means that OMPIC is “a public institution with legal personality and financial autonomy,” and how that unique model works to the Office’s advantage?
OMPIC benefits from a direct and flexible management model. Indeed, we are able to design our own strategies, action plans, and to define our own budgets, although this is obviously based on the national policy and priorities. The OMPIC governance model relies on a Management Board chaired by the Minister of Industry and made up of members representing both public and private actors, including ministerial departments, governmental agencies, and professional federations involved in industrial property, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
The objectives set out by the Minister of Industry and the collective external experience of the other Management Board members provides a more accurate picture of OMPIC’s performance toward its strategic objectives and financial goals.
OMPIC is classified as a commercial and industrial public institution with corporate accounting and is subject to corporation tax and VAT. The Office must, from its own revenue, be able to cover all its operating expenses and finance all its development projects and investments.
Adil El-Maliki graduated from Mohammadia Engineering School in Rabat, Morocco, in 1992 with a degree in chemical process engineering. Soon after, he began his career with the Moroccan Ministry of Industry and Trade and spent eight years in various positions among the Ministry’s staff, including managing the Commercial Studies Division and the Central Trade Register Department. Following the creation of OMPIC in 2000, he was put in charge of the Information and Communication Department while also serving as Deputy Director of the Office. He served as an Acting Director-General during 2007 and was named Director General in 2008.
OMPIC is one of the leading IP offices in the region; can you describe some of the Office’s priorities and how you are accomplishing them?
OMPIC strives to make industrial property a driving force for the economic and social development at both the national and regional levels. To this end, we have identified 11 strategic business areas. There are two core areas we will be emphasizing in the years ahead:
Regarding the use of IP tools, we try to make the Moroccan legislative environment attractive for both high value-added investments and local innovators, including start-ups, university researchers, designers, and SMEs developing brands or manufacturing local products using geographical indications. To this end, several reforms of the law have been undertaken that have made the Moroccan industrial property system conform to the highest international standards.
- Strategic use of IP tools by economic operators to enhance their market value;
- Capacity building and knowledge transfer to manage and use IP rights.
In terms of capacity building, Morocco is currently conducting several practical training programs which mix onsite trainings and online trainings through elearning.amapic.ma. These programs deal with different aspects of industrial property management and enjoy regular and effective participation from African countries. The most notable is the “Industrial Property Animator Certificate,” which is spread over a six-month period and is conducted in partnership with WIPO, OAPI, and INPI (France).
What are the biggest challenges still facing OMPIC?
The most important operational challenge is granting IP rights with a strong presumption of validity. To this end, we are focused on improving the quality of examination and granting procedures for patents and distinctive signs. We also promote the effective use of mechanisms and legal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of IP rights.
Secondly, we want to capitalize on the opportunities of the digital revolution by improving our www.directinfo.ma platform in order to cover all IP protection and information services.
Another key challenge is to introduce made-to-measure support services to help Moroccan SMEs increase their ability to develop a management plan or strategy to make their IP grow their business.
Your 2020 Strategic Vision outlines a number of strategic objectives to improve efficiency and overall operations. Can you highlight a few of the key goals of the plan and what you are doing to implement them?
Granting high quality IP rights in a timely manner is central to effectively securing business assets and investments. To this end, our operations are being engineered for optimum efficiency through the deployment of the Lean Six Sigma methodology, which includes making our services and processes as straightforward and as fast as possible. Further enhancements will be made to update our technological infrastructure to deal with the increasing demand for our IP protection services. We are focusing on making our services as customer centric as possible, minimizing costs for applicants, and increasing our productivity.
How can partnerships with organizations like INTA help OMPIC? What kinds of collaborations would you like to see?
The development of strong Moroccan brands is one key objective we are trying to achieve through a range of initiatives. The Morocco Awards is an annual competition that rewards the efforts made by Moroccan companies which have invested the most in the development of their trademarks. Another initiative is the “Morocco Brands Club,” which aims to put in place an environment favorable to the emergence of new brands in Morocco and to strengthen the role of major locomotive brands that create value. We believe that such activities should be joined with other efforts being undertaken in a similar vein, particularly those of international actors. We seek to generate consistency and synergies by coordinating work with national, regional, and international offices and organizations.
We share the same business goals with INTA, which is one of the most active organizations in the field of trademarks. Therefore, collaboration with INTA will help to foster an IP culture among Moroccan businesses, which can be spread out throughout African economies.
What goal would you most like to achieve during your term?
Every time I witness a success story based on the effective use of intellectual property in which OMPIC played a role, my team and I feel that we moved a step forward towards economic development. My wish is to advance the field of industrial property as much as possible in Morocco, in order to prepare an easier path for my successors.
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