AmCham Macedonia 1/2019 - Page 17

Patent Court. The Unitary Patent System together with the centralized patent system for judiciary protection (the establishment of the European patent Court in Paris and the special divisions in Munich and London) which was expected to start with the performance in the first half of 2018 will simplify the patent protection procedure and will unify the practice. In such manner the unjustified national protectionism will be eliminated in the field of patents. The arbitration and mediation center is headquartered in Ljubljana and Lisbon. Challenges and Concerns for Macedonian Companies The “homework” in the field of IPRs protection may not be that extensive compared with their activities on the EU market. Namely, the IPRs regime in the scope of the EU is regulated by a large number of regulations, directives, and other legal acts that need to be followed. It is indisputable that, with the exception of a few larger Macedonian companies, the others do not pay much attention to IPRs and their protection. We can easily conclude that the Macedonian companies are not interested in protecting their patents, trademarks, and industrial design with the local IP Office and even less in the EU member states. This is primarily result of the lack of knowledge of the real value and also added value of the IPRs to the goods/services the company offers. But, this problem can become even bigger for Macedonian companies due to the fact that their trademarks and/or industrial designs do not enjoy protection in the EU member states. Even thought since independence until now our country has ratified almost all international conventions in the field of IPR (Patent Cooperation Treaty, European Patent Convention, Madrid Agreement and the Protocol to the Madrid Agreement for international trademark registration, Hague Agreement etc.), which eased the process of international registration of IPRs, the number of applications, and respectively registrations is very low. Our research of the available data dated February 27, 2019 show that 66.243 trademarks were registered and 691 applications are in the process of approval through the Madrid system in our country. The majority of these trademarks derive from Germany (17.222), France (10.002), Switzerland (9.592), Italy (8.451) and the Netherlands (6.295). Domestic companies, on the other hand, have only registered 346 trademarks through this system, whereas Croatia has 1.896 and Slovenia 2.957. Also concerning is that Macedonian companies have an insignificant number of applications and registrations with the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in Alicante, Spain. Only 44 trademarks have been submitted there, whereas Greek companies have 5994 trademarks. Our companies will have to change this practice if they to avoid a situation where their product is “legally removed” from the EU market, due to the fact that EU companies with registered trademarks have priority before our companies, regardless of the fact that Macedonian companies have national registrations in the Macedonian State Office for Industrial property. We would like to emphasize that when Slovenia and Croatia became EU member states they had to recognize the priority of the EU member states. In order to avoid this situation Macedonian companies will have to immediately (although it may even be a little late now) reconsider their approach to the European market in the area of IPR protection. When we take into account the fact that globally, and in certain aspects also regionally, there are attempts to bring back protectionism and a constant trend in the enforcement of IPRs protection by the introduction of high standards in different areas. In such manner there is an efficient mechanism for the removal of companies from certain markets. Therefore, I sincerely believe that our companies will not allow their lack of management, education, and vision to be the reason for losing the EU market.  EMERGING MACEDONIA 17