EUIPO OBSERVATORY PLENARY MEETING (28-29 September 2022, Alicante)
In the framework of the IPR enforcement-related activities in which CIOPORA is engaged, our Legal Counsel, Selena Travaglio, attended, in late September, the Observatory Plenary Meeting, in Alicante.
This year, the event coincided with the Celebration of the 10th anniversary since the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights was entrusted to the EUIPO, to which the whole first day was dedicated.
The Observatory´s Work Programme 2023, presented on the second day, is promising. It covers initiatives relating to IP in the digital world, international cooperation, enforcement and legal matters: domains where CIOPORA is particularly active and will be even more active in the future. Indeed, starting this year, CIOPORA has enhanced its collaboration with the EUIPO and other European Agencies, stepping up its commitment to the activities of the Observatory. In particular:
CIOPORA has extended its participation in the Observatory´s Working Groups (WGs), being now present in the “IP in the Digital World” and “Enforcement” WGs, respectively represented by the CIOPORA lawyer-member, Nicola Novaro, and CIOPORA Legal Counsel, Selena Travaglio. The next meetings are set on November 15 to 17. Updates will follow.
CIOPORA made it also known to the Observatory its willingness and readiness to provide its expertise in initiatives related to online platforms and intermediaries as well as awareness‑raising about illegal activities online.
To strengthen contacts with intermediaries (i.e., the online service providers) in order to reinforce cooperation on law enforcement activities against online counterfeiting is among the Observatory´s key-objectives for 2023. CIOPORA stressed the importance of greater involvement and accountability of online platforms in the fight against online counterfeiting and confirmed its willingness to be actively involved in the matter.
Thanks to the valuable input received by some CIOPORA members, we also drew the attention of the Observatory to the need to extend the cooperation to other platforms, as Facebook, where infringement activities are also carried out.
Further to the Observatory’s expression of interest in focusing more on Plant Variety Rights, in the upcoming period, a closer cooperation with CIOPORA was envisaged, especially in collecting data on the trend of the Plant Variety Rights protection framework and its weaknesses.
Among the activities already in the pipeline, CIOPORA will support the EUIPO and the CPVO in the planning and realisation of an enforcement seminar dedicated to Plant Variety Rights and addressed to law enforcement officials. It represents an important opportunity for exchanging information and experience relating to the enforcement of plant variety rights between law enforcement authorities and sector practitioners. CIOPORA members will be actively involved.
Lastly, as you may know, the EUIPO made available to IP owners the IP Enforcement Portal (IPEP), at present in a refining phase, that is aimed at easing the direct contacts between rights owners and enforcement authorities. As from 2023, the electronic Application for Action (e-AFA) function will be fully implemented and the big data dashboards for rights owners will be launched. Moreover, the new mobile version of the tool will be developed to permit front-line enforcers to further use the tool for exchanging information swiftly with rights holders and easily notify detentions through the tool.
We invite those of you who make use of this tool to come forward with reporting us about any inefficiencies encountered with the platform as well as providing suggestions for improvement.
We warmly encourage your active participation to make our contribution to the Observatory´s activity fruitful and remarkable. Feel free to reach out to our Legal Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CPVO AC MEETING (14 October 2022)
In mid-October, CIOPORA also participated in the second and last meeting of the CPVO Administrative Council, hosted at the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency, in Amsterdam.
The President of the CPVO, Mr. Francesco Mattina, presented the Strategic Plan 2022-2026, including the strategic goals and objectives for his Presidency, which outlines a new chapter for the Office.
The Strategic Plan entails a number of improvements, aimed at providing to the breeders a more seamless, richer and yet simplified set of services. These also include significant changes in the organization chart of the office and allocation of resources:
A Legal & Governance Affairs (L&GA) Unit has been created from the merger of the Legal service, the Procurement Sector, and the Register.
The former Technical Unit will give way to the Variety Testing and Technical Assessment Unit, committed to:
ensure high-quality DUS testing;
§ improve efficiencies in processing PVR applications and related processes;
§ create a Research and Innovation sector to foster applied R&D in PV-testing;
§ increase data portability and exchange between Examination Offices, CPVO and other stakeholders (i.e. UPOV/European Commission/European Patent Office (EPO)).
The IT Unit will be renamed to the Digital Transformation Unit. Within the Digital Transformation Unit, a new sector, the Transformation Office, will be created to pilot and sustain transformational programmes and new practices.
QAS, Internal Control and Risk Management will be consolidated under the Vice President to group all control activities outside of the other Units/Sectors.
A communication and stakeholder relations sector has been setup with a broader scope of activities, to better focus on advocacy, public policy, stakeholders’ relationship, international and outreach activities.
Support to European breeders and right holders, in particular SMEs, is confirmed as focal point of the Office´s activity. It will be mainly ensured by:
Continuing to promote, also in cooperation with the EUIPO Observatory, educational activities (seminars, workshops, practical trainings and courses) for stakeholders and IP enforcement practitioners, agents and the courts, aimed at raising awareness. In this regard, the idea of building a PVR section in the Academy Learning Portal of EUIPO was envisaged.
Working for the harmonisation of DUS testing procedures and ensuring cost-effective, high-quality DUS testing as basis of CPVR protection. The Strategic Plan draws Office´s commitment in strengthening the incentives for Examination Offices to reduce cost and at the same time maintaining high quality level. An increase in fees to examination offices up to 15% has been estimated for the upcoming period, but awaits confirmation based on the breakdown of the costs of the technical examinations to be provided by the Examination Offices.
Providing any other tool made available under the IP Action Plan for SMEs, such as the SMEs Fund, or other initiatives that may be adopted within the execution of the Strategic Plan.
Highlights from the meeting encompass the following aspects:
1. updates on the latest developments on the implementation of the SME Fund for Plant Variety Rights. The tool - initially designed to support SMEs with respect to a partial reimbursement of the fees to be paid to protect trademarks, design registrations and national patents - will be now extended to Plant Variety Rights. Here, what we know at the moment:
An investment of 100.000 EUR from the SME Pillar of the European Commission has been envisaged for 2023 in support of plant varieties.
The funding system will be implemented by the EUIPO, which will perform first an eligibility check of the SME before granting the fund.
The available fund should cover the reimbursement of 50% of the application fees (i.e. 225 EUR based on the online application fee of 450 EUR) for new plant variety rights filed with the CPVO as of January 2023.
Subsidies will take the form of IP vouchers.
One voucher per SME will be granted.
The amount of the voucher has to be determined, yet. It is likely to be up to 450 Euros (1 SME may file 2 CPVR applications and be reimbursed of half the amount for both applications).
Validity of the voucher: the current validity for trademarks and designs is 6 months. It is likely to be the same for plant varieties. Applicants for SME funds will thus have 6 months to apply for PVRs after being granted with the Voucher.
The applicant will need first to ask for subsidies, through the SME Fund dedicatedpage, and then apply for PVRs before the CPVO by using the Voucher.
A communication campaign by EUIPO with further information will follow.
2. To support cost reduction for 2023, it was anticipated that no call for R&D co-funding applications is planned for 2023. However, this aspect will be further discussed.
3. As for applications received in the course of this last year, ornamentals are confirmed the sector with the highest number of applications filed, with stable percentage compared to last year. Stable is also the situation for fruits, slightly up this year.
Among the ornamental species, the highest number of applications in 2021 has been filed for Rosa L., Phalaenopsis and Doritaenopsis and Chrysanthemum. For fruits, Fragaria x ananassa Duchesne ex Rozier, Prunus persica (L.) Batsch and Vaccinium, followed closely by Malus domestica Borkh.
As regards the country of origin of the applicants: in the EU, the first places are taken by the Netherlands, France and Germany; while outside the EU, United States have a leading role, followed by Switzerland and UK.
4. Lastly, unfortunately, no developments seem to be expected in the short term as regards the revision of the Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994 on Community plant variety rights. Ms Dorothée André, Head of Unit of DG SANTE, has pointed out that there are at the moment other priorities on the agenda of the European Commission.