Interview With Catherine Chammartin, Director General Of The Swiss Federal Institute Of Intellectual Property 29/10/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Catherine Chammartin is the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI). A former specialist in international tax policy, she took office at IPI in November 2015. In an exclusive interview with Intellectual Property Watch‘s Catherine Saez, she explained the priorities of the office under her leadership, and the office’s contribution to the success of Switzerland’s innovation record. She also talked about current discussions on intellectual property legislation in Switzerland, the revision of the Swiss copyright law, the impact of the 2016 “Swissness” legislation, Switzerland’s priorities at the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the country’s considerations on joining several WIPO treaties. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WATCH (IPW): I understand that you are coming from a financial background. What would you say this background is bringing to your role leading the IPI? IPI Director Catherine Chammartin CATHERINE CHARMMARTIN (CC): In my previous position, I was dealing with international tax policy. I have therefore accumulated experience in international negotiations as well as in relation with Swiss political processes. When I started at IPI, I had basic knowledge of intellectual property. The advantage was that I did not have any pre-conceptions, but, when I came into the office, I listened to people and asked many questions in order to be able to judge the issues based on their merit. IPW: Could you describe your views on the priorities of the IPI under your leadership for the years to come? CC: Our overarching goal is to provide a state of the art IP protection system and ensure that the level of protection provided is appropriate and effective. One of the advantages IPI has when striving for this goal is that we are not only the registration authority for industrial IP rights, but that we also advise the Federal Council and Parliament on all intellectual property matters. We are responsible for preparing legislation and representing Switzerland in the relevant international organisations. I believe that the fact these different roles are united under one roof enables us to do better work. We can for example bring our experience in applying the law into the drafting of legislative amendments. But you asked me about priorities, let me mention three. First, we want to maintain our position as a centre of competence for IP in Switzerland and be actively involved in shaping international developments in intellectual property. We want to be a competent and reliable partner for IP matters on the international scene. This has been a tradition in Switzerland for a long time. Second, we want to make sure that the IP system is known within the general public. The primary goal is not to increase the number of registrations, but to make sure that companies are aware of the IP system, analyse IP questions at an early stage and are thus in a position to define the IP strategy that fits their needs. We target our efforts towards SMEs as experience shows that they are not always sufficiently aware of these issues. Third, we aim to provide innovative and user-oriented services. Our procedures should be simple, transparent, swift and as inexpensive as possible. Our decisions should be lawful, appropriate and as predictable as possible. In order to offer that level of service, we are proactively analysing developments in digitalisation and artificial intelligence and examining how these should be implemented. We must ensure that our examiners have state of the art tools that enable them to do high quality work. On a more general level, we strive at ensuring that IPI is fit for the future. We have established a so-called “lookout group” within the office. Its role is to identify developments that will likely have an impact on the office in the future, to raise awareness about these developments within the office and thus start a discussion about how we expect they will impact us. IPW: Can you give examples of such topics? CC: The first topic we looked at is artificial intelligence. Everybody is talking about it, but thanks to the lookout group we could bring in external knowledge, structure the discussions and focus on how artificial intelligence will impact the office. The next topic we will look at is big data. IPW: The issue of patents backlog is often cited as an issue for patent offices. What is the situation at the IPI? CC: We have no backlog. Switzerland is a member of the EPO [European Patent Office]. Over 90% of patents valid in Switzerland are examined at the EPO and not at the IPI. In fact, although general numbers regarding Swiss patents are strong, we have been observing a decline in the number of patent applications at IPI over the years. This has most likely to do with the fact that the economy is becoming more and more globalized. Even small companies are active in several countries making a European application attractive. IPW: Some time after the entry into force of the so-called “Swissness” legislation for trademarks, seeking to prevent companies using Swiss signs or names for products that were not actually produced in Switzerland, have you seen an impact? CC: The law came into force on 1 January 2017. Despite controversial discussions during the legislative process, we see positive developments. With the new law, IPI has new competencies in the fight against the wrongful use of designations such as “Made in Switzerland”, the Swiss cross and the Swiss coat of arms. We view it as very positive that in most cases where the IPI sends warning letters, the companies involved respond in a cooperative manner and make the necessary changes. We are also creating a network to exchange experience with trade associations and other authorities involved in the fight against misuse. IPW: Switzerland has been designated as the world’s most innovative country by the Global Innovation Index for several years. How do you see the role of the IPI in the fostering of an innovation-friendly environment? CC: We are proud that Switzerland is at the top of the index. IP has an important role to play, but is at the same time just one of many elements having an impact on innovation in Switzerland. As mentioned, the role of IPI is providing a state of the art IP protection system and ensuring that the level of protection provided is appropriate and effective. We have to ensure efficient registration systems and awareness about IP. To reach these goals and maximize impact, IPI is striving to work with partners, such as for example Innosuisse, the federal agency that promotes science-based innovation. IPW: Can you give examples of IP legislation currently being discussed in Switzerland? CC: A revision of the Copyright Act is currently being debated in Parliament. A more rigorous fight against internet piracy is the main objective of the revision. The internet has significantly changed how society deals with culture. Films, music, novels, almost everything is now available online. Many of these offers are legal but others are not. One of the aims of the anti-piracy measures is to protect artists, and the music and film industries from the illegal use of their work online. In addition, copyright is to be adapted to technological developments to enable the best use of the new opportunities offered by digitalisation. To give you an example, the revision introduces an exception for scientific purposes that will facilitate the use of text and data mining technology, thus strengthening Switzerland as a location for research. IPW: Switzerland was on the US Section 301 Watchlist for its copyright legislation allowing in principle the downloading of protected material for personal use. Would the new copyright law change the situation? CC: We are effectively on the US 301 Watchlist. The main concern of the US is that Switzerland does not have enough instruments to fight internet piracy, especially since the “Logistep” decision of the Federal Supreme Court, which created uncertainty as to whether the collection of IP addresses is in conformity with data protection law. When copyright infringement occurs on the internet, rights owners usually do not know who is responsible for this infringement. In order to identify the responsible person, they need to take criminal action against the infringer and submit to the authorities the IP addresses from where the copyright infringement came. The revision would eliminate these uncertainties. We expect that the improvements in the fight against internet piracy will satisfy the US. At the same time, the revision of the Copyright Act was not initiated because of US criticism, but because of concerns of Swiss stakeholders. The revision being presented to Parliament was prepared in close cooperation with the stakeholders. A compromise was found where all stakeholders see some, but not all, of their concerns fulfilled. Together with the revision of the Copyright Act, the Federal Council has submitted for approval two WIPO instruments: The Beijing treaty [Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances] and the Marrakesh treaty [Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled]. The IPI is also currently preparing the necessary steps for the government to take a decision on Switzerland’s accession to the Geneva Act [Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications]. IPW: You attended the WIPO General Assembly earlier this month. What would you say are the topics which are most interesting for IPI at WIPO? CC: We have three main priorities. The first one is WIPO’s normative work. We are very interested in making progress in this area. It is important that a normative framework for IP is developed that provides for an appropriate and economically sound IP protection and that takes into account the needs of a variety of stakeholders and member states. Furthermore, it is important that WIPO remains an organisation where common solutions are developed. Switzerland is very active in the field of the IGC [Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore]. At the IGC we try to act as a bridge-builder in order to find mutually-supportive solutions. We have implemented a disclosure requirement in our national law and bring this experience into the international discussions. Another area where we have been active recently is at the SCT [Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications] in relation to the protection of country names and geographical names of national significance. ICANN [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], who is competent for the allocation of domain names, is planning on opening a new round of registrations for generic top-level domains and the regulations are still being discussed. It would be problematic if suddenly private parties can buy [dot]Spain or [dot]Switzerland domain names even if they have no connection with the country. We developed a joint proposal in March 2018, with 11 other WIPO members, that aims at protecting country names and geographical names with national significance against their monopolisation by third parties as trademarks or top-level domain names in the domain name system. We hope it will be adopted at the next SCT. The second point of interest are WIPO’s registration systems for trademarks, patents, designs, and geographical indications. The world and the economy are becoming more globalised, and WIPO as a first point of contact for potentially global protection has a very important role to play in this regard. It is important WIPO delivers timely and high quality services to users. We also do our best to ensure that the geographical coverage of the different agreements is as large as possible. Finally, the third point of interest is WIPO’s good governance. We have an interest in WIPO’s governance as a member state, but also because WIPO’s headquarters are located in Switzerland. It is important that institutional arrangements are sound, that the staff can deliver high quality work and that there is a good working environment. IPW: Thank you. Image Credits: IPI Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Interview With Catherine Chammartin, Director General Of The Swiss Federal Institute Of Intellectual Property" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.