17th INTA-EUIPO Industry Day Focuses on IP and the Automotive Industry

Published: October 28, 2020

INTA and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) held their 17th annual Industry Day on October 13, focusing this year on the high-tech topic of intellectual property (IP) and the automotive industry and highlighting the importance of protection and evolving strategies.

The annual event exemplifies the longstanding cooperation between INTA and the EUIPO, allowing interaction between industry representatives and participants. This year, for the first time, the event was organized by INTA’s Trademark Office Practices Committee (TOPC)–EUIPO Subcommittee, and it was held virtually, rather than in person at the EUIPO. More than 120 participants from the EUIPO, national EU IP offices and, for the first time, non-EU offices joined the event.

The topic “IP and the Automotive Industry” focused on a branch of industry whose technical developments are on everyone’s lips. The constant change in the industry has an impact on the IP strategy of companies, both for enforcement and prosecution. Patricia Garcia-Escudero, Director of the Academy of EUIPO, and Hélène Nicora, INTA’s Chief Representative Officer–Europe, as well as Diane Nickl, Seconded National Expert at the EUIPO Academy, welcomed the participants.

Anja Franke (Grünecker PartG mbB, Germany), a member of the TOPC–EUIPO Subcommittee, gave a short introduction to the topic and, as in previous years, moderated the event.

The industry speakers—from BMW, AUDI, and Zenseact—each provided insights into the challenges that changes in the automotive industry pose for their companies and the respective IP strategies.

Opening the round of individual presentations, Tim Heitmann (BMW, Germany) explored “Non-Conventional Trademarks in the Automotive Industry.” He emphasized the importance of protecting even outdated car models and, with regard to electromobility, the importance of sound marks as source identifiers.

Robert Sterner (AUDI, Germany) followed with a presentation on “IP Protection 4.0 in the Automotive Industry—Guideline for Force Strategies,” in which he notably identified digitization, sustainability, and electrification as new and current challenges for IP protection. Mr. Sterner also pointed out that with new technologies, new approaches for the right-preserving use of trademarks must follow.

Maria Winckler (Zenseact, Sweden) discussed the importance of software, especially in the area of autonomous driving, in her presentation, “The Challenges of Being a Pure Software Company in the Automotive Industry.” In this area, at least currently, technical property rights are of greater importance than trademarks and designs. She also reminded the audience that one of the challenges in this context is the management of large amounts of data.

A panel discussion followed in which the speakers answered questions from the moderators and the audience. For this second part of the event, Ms. Franke was joined by Jean Marc Nicolai – Head of Customer Care Service, Customer Department at EUIPO, as co-moderator. The panel discussed in greater depth questions that had arisen earlier, as well as some of the challenges of enforcing IP rights in the automotive sector.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2020 International Trademark Association