The entire world’s population has been facing a previously unknown challenge this past year due to the pandemic, and everyone has had to adapt to new and unfamiliar circumstances. The operations and services of the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office are not exempted in this regard, and in a very short span of time all the Office's services were put on electronic form and transitioned to working remotely. The ISIPO's employees deserve much praise for their flexibility, adaptability, patience and resilience in these uncertain times where changes occur frequently and unexpectedly.
We have learnt a great deal in a short amount of time and some of the changes will doubtless result in new and improved processes and a better workplace once the world returns to normal. I also hopee that our experience will be of use to improve our services and communication on a permanent basis.
It is worth noting that in adversity a multitude of opportunities arise. Despite the uncertainty it is good to see how many Icelanders have seen the volatile situation as a cause for initiative and prioritising innovation in order to overcome this obstacle. At the same time, the government’s investments in innovative projects have been a cause for celebration. The results can be seen not only in the many innovative ideas and entrepreneurs who have received deserved attention, but they are also clearly reflected in our statistics for the year. It is a very positive experience to witness the increase in trademark and patent applications from Icelandic entities. The number of applications we receive is often considered to be a measure of the status of innovation and marketing operations in Iceland and therefore it is good to see this flurry of activity in Icelandic companies during hard times. Let’s hope that this is an indication that the Icelandic economy will bounce back in a swift and secure manner when the pandemic is over. Still, the statistics indicate that, like in previous years, foreign entities form the largest customer group of the ISIPO. This applies to all the applications and rights that come into effect in this country every year.
Working remotely and using technology for work and teleconferences was one of the most extensive alteration to the operations of the ISIPO in 2020. It nevertheless tended to result in more rather than less output, and we achieved a total increase of 47% in decisions regarding the publishing of trademarks during the year. Also, the entry into force on 1 September 2020 of an amendment to the Trademark Act had no less of an impact on the work procedures and activities within the Office. The new provisions of the Trademark Act function to increase the consistency between trademark law in Iceland and elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA), for the benefit of Icelandic companies. There will also be new and exciting opportunities for the protection of trademarks, as by the entry into force of the Act it will now be possible to register new types of trademarks such as sound, motion and multimedia marks.
In these trying times for companies and the economy it is fitting that the theme of the World Intellectual Property Day in 2021 is: “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market”. Intellectual property rights are no less important for smaller companies than bigger ones. A recent report from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) indicates that small and medium-sized enterprises that protect their intellectual property achieve higher revenue, pay higher wages, and are more likely to grow rapidly. It is therefore more important now than ever to increase the awareness and the amount of education regarding intellectual property rights and the opportunities they offer companies and entrepreneurs.
The ISIPO made the decision at the end of the year 2020 to begin the new year by reviewing the Office's policy. When it comes to the strategic guidelines of the ISIPO there will still be an increased emphasis on efficient and user-friendly services, including in the form of digital transformation. There will still be an emphasis on strengthening awareness and making the Office more visible, and on imparting knowledge and issues concerning intellectual property rights, both within and outside the Office. Solid and environmentally sound operations will still be at the top of our list and, as always, the aim is that the ISIPO will set a good example when it comes to job satisfaction.
We stress the importance of adapting our services to the needs of our clients, and that the services are available at any place and time. Therefore the ISIPO will continue to place particular emphasis on digital improvements and solutions in its services, for the benefit of our clients. We will also strive to reduce the Office’s environmental footprint, and have already reached a milestone in that regard as witnessed by an award from the The Environment Agency of Iceland for having reached the first milestone in the Green Steps Programme.
Despite digital solutions and more electronic and digital methods to provide services, the ISIPO still offers to book consultancy meetings at the Office’s premises as part of its services. The importance of human interaction must always be kept in mind and assessed with regard to its efficiency, especially at the same time as digital service methods are on the rise.
We are putting our best foot forward as there is a great deal of work to be done in order to resurrect the Icelandic economy and create more value and employment in this country. We are quite clear about our role in this regard, as innovation and intellectual property rights play a fundamental role in resurrecting economies all over the world, creating new value and employment and making the world a better place.