The year 2020

The University of Iceland signs an agreement to increase awareness of intellectual property rights

At the beginning of the year, the University of Iceland signed an agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) regarding participation in the Pan-European Seal programme.

The objective of the programme is to increase the knowledge of intellectual property rights among students and staff of universities in Europe and thereby bridge the gap between universities and the economy with regard to the utilisation and protection of intellectual property. The universities that are part of the programme will get access to teaching material and other forms of support with regard to teaching and the organisation of events in connection with intellectual property rights.

Through their participation, students at the University of Iceland will also have an opportunity to attend paid internship programs at the EPO and EUIPO. This will provide students with unique work experience at international organisations and receive comprehensive education on intellectual property rights, in addition to which the internships offer various benefits such as language studies. Students in the relevant fields of study can apply for internships at the University, which will nominate a specific number of students every year for the EPO and the EUIPO. Internships are open to students who study the sciences and technology, engineering, law, economics, business administration, international relations and communications.

A total of 56 universities in 26 countries in various parts of Europe are participants in the programme. According to Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector and President of the University of Iceland, this cooperation will improve the access of students and staff to education on intellectual property rights, increase the quality of intellectual property education, and create opportunities for students to learn about the protection of intellectual property rights through working for international institutions. Rector Jón Atli thanked the ISIPO for acting as intermediary regarding this cooperation.
The EPO is the second largest institution in Europe, with more than seven thousand employees from more than 30 countries. The EPO headquarters are in Munich, and the institution also has offices in the Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels. The EUIPO is the largest independent subsidiary institution of the European Union, with about 1,200 employees and located in Alicante. The ISIPO works extensively in cooperation with the EPO and the EUIPO on behalf of Iceland, and acted as intermediary in the institutions’ cooperation with the University of Iceland regarding participation in the Pan-European Seal plan.

More information on the Pan-European Seal programme can be found on the website of EPO.

The ISIPO at Career Days 2020

The ISIPO presented the career opportunities in the world of intellectual property rights on Career Days 2020, held on Reykjavík University campus on 30 January. At Career Days companies and institutions present their activities and vision for the future to students and other job seekers.

The event was opened by Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland, who also visited the booth of the ISIPO along with Ari Kristinn Jónsson, the Rector of Reykjavík University, to discuss the activities and role of the Office with its employees.

The ISIPO has participated regularly in Career Days in recent years. Career Days have been held annually at Reykjavík University for some time, sponsored by the organisation AIESEC.

UT messan 2020

In February, the ISIPO participated in UTmessan, one of the largest events in the IT sector in Iceland, for the fourth  time.

The ISIPO's booth was designed by Elsa Nielsen at Kontor advertising agency. At the ISIPO booth, guests could learn about the importance of intellectual property rights in the IT sector and the ways software can be protected with intellectual property rights. Visitors at the conference could also participate in an entertaining trademark game where they had the opportunity to win a drone. Over 500 people participated in the game and at the end of the day, one lucky contestant was selected at random to win the prize. All major Icelandic computer and tech companies are involved with UTmessan in some capacity, and they encourage people to familiarise themselves with the latest developments in the world of information technology. The conference is a great opportunity to reach IT companies, whose assets are mostly intangible.
Japanski vísindamaðurinn Akira Yoshino sigraði í flokki uppfinningamanna utan EPO-landa. Mynd: EPO

Daren Tang elected for the position of Director General of the WIPO

Borghildur Erlingsdóttir, Director General of the ISIPO, represented Iceland at a meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) where Daren Tang of Singapore was elected to serve as Director General for a term of six years. Mr Tang served as the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) for many years, and has extensive and detailed knowledge about issues concerning intellectual property rights at the international level.

Borghildur og Daren Tang
Hack the Crisis

Hack the Crisis and Datathon for the Environment

The ISIPO lent its support to two “hackathons” in 2020. Hack the Crisis and Datathon for the Environment were innovation competitions where the goal was to encourage innovation and try to find new solutions to contemporary problems. The ISIPO provided participants with education about intellectual property and intellectual property rights, and how participants could maximise their the value of their innovation with intellectual property rights. In addition, a specialist from the Office was on hand to provide guidance to participants as a mentor.

Startup Supernova

A new startup accelerator, Startup Supernova, was launched in the summer of 2020 as a cooperation project between Icelandic Startups and Nova.

Ten start-up companies were selected for participation and each of them received a grant of ISK one million, access to work facilities and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs, investors, managers and consultants.

The ISIPO gave a presentation and hosted a workshop for participants, where they learned everything about what must be kept in mind regarding the protection and utilisation of intellectual property, and also what opportunities lie in intellectual property as a business tool.
Startup Supernova

Iceland declines by one spot on the WIPO Global Innovation Index (GII)

Iceland dropped by one place on the Global Innovation Index (GII) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for the year 2020. Iceland is now ranked in21st place on the index, having gone up by three places on the index to 20th place last year, after being in 23rd place in 2018.

Switzerland tops the table again, followed by Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The Nordic countries are all highly ranked high like in recent years, Sweden coming second while Denmark is in 6th place, Finland 7th and Norway 20th.

The index surveys and grades the innovation capabilities and performance of the WIPO's member states, and among the factors considered are various metrics related to intellectual property and intellectual property rights, as well as the level of investment in innovation. Iceland scores relatively high in three of the seven foundations for the index: Institutions, Business sophistication and Creative outputs. At the same time, Iceland scores relatively low in the remaining four foundations: Human capital &research), Infrastructure, Market sophistication and Knowledge & technology outputs.

In the GII report this year particular attention is devoted to the financing behind innovation and the ways in which it is possible to encourage innovation-driven entrepreneurship, economic growth and increased quality of life. In light of the economic restrictions that the world is currently facing due to COVID-19, new options for the financing of research and development in these trying times are also explored.

In the report, Francis Gurry, the outgoing Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, pointed out that it is important that governments prioritise innovation in their plans of action during COVID-19: “Even as we all grapple with the immediate human and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments need to ensure that rescue packages are future oriented and support the individuals, research institutes, companies and others with innovative and collaborative new ideas for the post-COVID era. Innovations equal solutions.”

Iceland’s overall results can be seen by clicking here.

The entire GII 2020 report and its main conclusions can be viewed by clicking here.

New Trademark Act enters into force

On 1 September significant changes occurred regarding the registration of trademarks in Iceland with the entry into force of a new Trademark Act. Parliament passed the Act on 12 June 2020, thereby introducing the provisions of the Trademark Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU)2015/2436, which include a large number of changes.

Chief among them are new types of trademarks that can be registered in Iceland. This offers more opportunities for the protection of trademarks, for instance it is now possible to register audio marks, animation and multimedia marks in Iceland.

These amendments also constitute a harmonisation of the approach taken by European Union and EEA/EFTA member states with regard to the registration and use of trademarks and the term of protection that shall apply to them, and the provisions regarding related rights such as collective marks and guarantee and quality marks are set out in more detail than before.

More about the amendment to the Trademark Act

More about the new types of trademarks

More about the changes to procedure

Types of marks explained further

The new types of trademarks offer more opportunities for the registration of trademarks in Iceland. Participate in a fun game and guess all the marks.

How many trademarks do you know?

Immense technical developments have occurred in the history of the bicycle since its origins in the mid-19th century. But what role did innovation and intellectual property rights play in that process? And what will that role be in technical developments that are still to come?

Inventing the wheel:
Innovation and IP

This online event was organised in cooperation with Lauf Cycling and Auðna Tech Transfer Office on 7 October 2020 and focused on the importance of innovation and intellectual property rights in connection with the past and future of the bicycle and how these factors can promote progress and the value creation. The event was part of Innovation Week 2020, which was being held for the first time.

Jón Gunnarsson, Communications Manager at the ISIPO, presented an overview of how the history of the bicycle is intertwined with the history of innovation and intellectual property rights. Examination of patent documents from the last 200 years reveals that intellectual property rights have played a key role in these developments, which are still ongoing.

Benedikt Skúlason, Managing Director and founder of Lauf Cycling, gave a presentation on the company’s history with regard to innovation, the success of which is largely based on proper protection and utilisation of intellectual property.

Finally, Einar Mäntylä, CEO of Auðna Tæknitorg, went over the foundation and operations of Auðna, and how the advent of the technology transfer office in Iceland has provided parties involved in research and development work with additional opportunities to utilise innovation and create value.

Finally, an online roundtable discussion took place with Borghildur Erlingsdóttir, Director General of the ISIPO.

A recording of the online event can be found with the link here.

Heima awarded the Gulleggið

The app developer Heima won the 2020 Gulleggið, an innovation competition for entrepreneurs held by Icelandic Startups. The online wrap party and award ceremony for the event took place on the Friday of 16 October, where Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation, announced the winner.

The winning team of Gulleggið 2020: Heima. Photo: Gulleggið / Axel Fannar Sveinsson
The three winning teams. Photo: The Golden Egg / Axel Fannar Sveinsson)

Heima is an app that divides household work and the subjective burden of housekeeping equally among cohabiting individuals. The cash prize for first place this time amounted to ISK 1,000,000 from Landsbankinn.

Second place was awarded to Hemp Pack, which uses industrial hemp and micro-organisms to manufacture organic plastic that is completely biodegradable. Hemp Pack received ISK 500,000 from Landsbankinn. Hemp Pack also got the patent collaborative search as an additional prize from the ISIPO, and other additional prizes from KPMG and Össur.

In third place was Frosti, which produces Icelandic skyr flakes. Frosti received ISK300,000 from Landsbankinn. Frosti also got an additional prize from Advel Attorneys at Law.

The ISIPO has been a proud partner of Gulleggið in recent years. ISIPO experts communicate their knowledge about intellectual property in the competition’s workshops, and are on hand to assist the Gulleggið teams with protecting their intellectual property. Each year Icelandic Startups hosts the competition, which is a launch pad for entrepreneurs in every field who wish to implement their ideas. This year, about 170 ideas were submitted in the competition, by a total of about 300 people. More detailed information about Gulleggið and the competition this year can be found here.