Interview With Vladimir Nika: Enforcing IP Rights In Albania 2010 – 2015

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In 2010, institutions in Albania created a strategy to help enforce intellectual property rights within a five-year timeframe. With the aim of social progress, foreign investment and European Union integration, Albania is working on creating an environment in which intellectual property rights are guaranteed. Intellectual Property Watch recently conducted a written Q and A with Vladimir Nika, Albanian office director for the Eastern European law firm PETOŠEVIĆ, on the progress and prospects for the Albanian legislature’s implementation of the 2010 IPR enforcement strategy.

Intellectual Property Watch (IPW): Mr. Nika, please tell us a little about the strategy and its implementation. Do you think it is possible to finish by 2015, and what do you expect the results will be?

Vladimir Nika (Nika): Albania is well aware that using the intellectual capital and providing a coherent framework for the protection of all types of intellectual activities is important for further social progress and for increasing the competitiveness of the country. Implementation of the IP strategy would create optimal conditions for foreign investments, for European integrations, employment opportunities and improve many more socially important aspects. In this context, the IP strategy document is a very important and useful instrument.

The National Intellectual Property Strategy 2010 – 2015 was adopted by the Albanian government on September 1, 2010. I expect the following results:
• amendment of the current Copyright Law
• amendments to the Albanian Penal Code to recognize counterfeiting as a criminal offense
• a law regulating the establishment of the Internal Market Inspectorate related to IP protection

IPW: What key actions of the IP rights enforcement strategy have been completed since
2010?

Nika: The main achievements since 2010 are:

- Cooperation agreements that have been signed between the General Directorate of Patents and Trademark and the General Directorate of Customs and between the Copyright Office and the General Directorate of Customs. They guarantee information exchange and training.

- The amended Copyright Law is drafted and is now waiting for the parliament’s approval

- The Law on General Safety of Food Products was passed in November 2011 and it came into force on December 26, 2011

- The Law on Food Products Trading and Surveillance of Food Products Market was passed in December 2011 and it came into force on January 11, 2012

IPW: Who worked on drafting the strategy and which institutions are involved in the implementation?

Nika: The IP strategy was prepared by Lukáš Lorenc and Čermák Hořejš Matějka, attorneys at law from the Czech Republic, together with a local working group headed by the deputy minister of the Ministry of Integration.

This project was supported by the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds.

The Albanian institutions directly involved are:
- General Directorate of Patents and Trademarks (GDPT)
- Albanian Copyright Office (ACO)
- General Directorate of State Police (GDSP)
- General Directorate of Customs (GDC)
- Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
- Market Inspectorate (MI)

IPW: Six key institutions are involved in this project. What are the most important points of their action plans?

Nika: The most important points of the action plans of the institutions involved are:

GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF PATENT AND TRADEMARK (GDPT)
Structural Amendments
Personnel training
Technical Equipment and Support
Program training for ACO, GDSP, GDC.

ALBANIAN COPYRIGHT OFFICE (ACO)

Structural Amendments
Technical Equipment and Support
Education and Training (participation in the training program organized by GDPT)
Amendment of the Albanian Copyright Law, including implementation of the Community Law and of all obligations set by the TRIPS agreement.

GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF STATE POLICE (GDSP)
Increase the number of professional staff members of the police in the field of the intellectual property rights protection
Active participation of police officers in training program organized by GDPT.
Investments in technical support

GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF CUSTOMS

Increase the number of professional staff members of the customs administration.
Active participation of customs officers in training program organized by GDPT.
Investments in technical support.

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

Continue process of amending Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code in order to strengthen the position of IP right holders.
Amend the legislation covering courts’ competences in Albania in order to establish only one court with competences in IP infringement.
Obligatory training courses in IP matters for judges and prosecutors.

MARKET INSPECTORATE
Draft the new Law on Market Inspectorate
Training of its inspectors in cooperation with GDPT and ACO in the field of IP.

IPW: What do you see as the major challenges facing the Albanian institutions?

Nika: In my opinion, the structural changes that need to take place will present the biggest challenge for Albanian institutions. Hiring qualified personnel, getting better organized and putting in place strong management are some of these structural challenges. Additionally, the improvement of technical support is another long-term challenge that will need to be met.

IPW: What are the major problems the Albanian legislature hopes to solve with the IP strategy?

Nika: It hopes to provide a more adequate and more effective protection of intellectual property rights in Albania.

IPW: Will external IP experts help Albanian institutions with the strategy implementation?

Nika: Yes, external IP experts are helping with implementing the strategy. The European Commission helped with amending the Copyright Law by providing their expert support.

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