Overview National cooperation projects and User Advisory Council on Patents / Utility Models
The DPMA and its competent partners, everywhere in Germany, form a network for IP rights. Trade associations, chambers of industry and commerce, innovation-promoting universities and customs provide their services locally wherever enterprises — especially small and medium-sized enterprises — and inventors have questions about the protection of their intellectual property.
The patent information centres (PIZ) also make an extremely important contribution to this cooperation. They play an important role especially in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They offer services such as search support, commissioned searches, initial consultations for inventors and advice on strategic IP management, IP portfolio analysis, IP enforcement and the defence against product piracy, and provide information on IP rights.
Last year, the patent information centres, like all facilities where there is customer traffic, had to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the opening of individual facilities to visitors, some of which had to be closed again due to the development of the pandemic situation, they adapted well to the situation, especially by providing remote consultations, and purposefully expanded their services. As the pandemic continued, digital services, which had only been used in special cases until 2020, have increasingly become the norm.
The patent information centres used video conferencing, web tutorials and messenger channels to stay in touch with users, offer advisory services and disseminate information on industrial property protection in Germany, Europe and worldwide. As there were practically no trade fairs or other public events, a lot of creativity was needed to reach the interested public in other ways.
The second year of the pandemic naturally had an impact on the business community, which the patent information centres focus on as contacts in the regions. However, these effects were not exclusively negative, but led to a surge in innovation in many areas. The patent information centres intensively supported this development.
The patent information centres are important contacts for SMEs in particular, as they provide information on IP rights and offer special services such as search support, commissioned searches, initial consultations for inventors, strategic IP management, advice on IP portfolio analysis, IP enforcement and the defence against product piracy.
Further information on our national cooperation partners can be found on our website.
Information services offered by the Patent Information Centres in 2021
- Search support
- Commissioned searches
- Initial consultations for inventors
- Services relating to strategic IP management
- Services relating to IP enforcement as well as the defence against and prevention of product piracy
- IP data management
- IP assessment/IP portfolio analyses
- IP analyses/IP statistics
Once a year, in late autumn, the DPMA holds a conference with the 19 patent information centres (PIZ). These PIZ conferences have a long tradition and are an integral part of the cooperation between the DPMA and the patent information centres. As the 2020 conference did not take place due to the pandemic, it was held in January 2021 instead.
For the first time, the participants attended by video conference. And since the event was very successful and well attended by a large group, the next conference, which took place in December 2021, was also planned as a virtual event from the very beginning.
Even though many attendees regretted that they had no opportunity to meet face-to-face, one advantage of such virtual meetings is that more staff of the patent information centres than usual were able to attend the conference. Traditionally, the discussions deal with changes at the patent information centres in addition to new developments, plans and projects of the DPMA.
Thus, in January, the new responsible body of the patent information centre in Bremen had the opportunity to present itself to a larger audience. The DPMA gave an overview of cooperation with European and international institutions.
And a summary of the results of the evaluation of the patent information centres in the years 2015 to 2019 was also included. Intensive discussions dealt with the application of the PATLIB 2.0 standard of the European Patent Office and its significance as a quality benchmark for the work of the patent information centres.
The second PIZ conference in December 2021 focused on information on the envisaged transfer of new awareness-raising tasks to the DPMA by section 26a of the Patent Act (Patentgesetz), which was introduced with effect from 1 January 2022. In addition, an account of the 2021 Action Week of the network of patent information centres (PIZnet) was given and the PIZnet search standard was discussed.
In addition to the regularly covered topics, PIZ conferences provide good opportunities to share information on extensive changes and trends. At the conference in January, this included, above all, the experience gained with the provisions of the Trade Mark Modernisation Act, which came into force in 2020. In December, new funding structures for SMEs by the EU Commission and developments in using AI for the examination of patents were on the agenda.
In spring 2021, the DPMA User Advisory Council on Patents and Utility Models in its partly new composition started its second term of office, which now lasts four years instead of two. The advisory body of the DPMA again comprises highly qualified members, who represent all user groups. Due to the pandemic, the DPMA User Advisory Council held only virtual meetings, in which all members and their representatives were able to participate.
The User Advisory Council of the DPMA intensively discussed numerous topics, including the duration of examination procedures, the use of artificial intelligence in the field of IP rights and the use of video conferencing technology at hearings and oral proceedings at the DPMA. The committee proves to be an important source of inspiration, providing valuable contributions to discussion by delivering diverse feedback and observations. The DPMA thanks all those involved and looks forward with excitement to the forthcoming meetings.
Interview: Matthias Knöbel, head of PIZ Dresden, on services for SMEs “We are service providers for research projects and small enterprises”
Matthias Knöbel, head of the Patent Information Centre Dresden (PIZ Dresden), talks about learning processes in the pandemic, attractive information services for start-ups and the importance of his team for future-oriented research projects.
The coronavirus pandemic poses challenges for service-oriented sectors that have face-to-face contact with customers and are open to the public. How are you dealing with these challenges at the Patent Information Centre Dresden?
The pandemic of course also presents a great challenge for us. We have made use of the situation to think about our range of services and check what we can also offer virtually. As an institution of TU Dresden (Technische Universität Dresden), we benefit from the very good technical facilities and organisational conditions at our university. We have already been able to offer meetings, seminars and lectures as video conferences for some time. In the meantime, we also have a virtual alternative to assisted searches on site, in the search room, in the form of searches via remote access — what is known as remote support. In this way, users benefit from the very refined and effective technologies of commercial IP databases and our expertise, just as in our search room, and obtain sound search results with our help.
Last year, the European Patent Office awarded the European Inventor Award to Professor Karl Leo from Dresden for his ground-breaking research on organic semiconductors (see also here). ausgezeichnet. The Dresden Elbe valley is also called “organic valley” and considered the largest cluster for organic electronics in Europe.
How is the Patent Information Centre Dresden supporting innovation at your university and in your region?
We are a service provider for research projects as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises. PIZ Dresden is an institution with a long tradition. Its history as a patent library and patent display office dates back to 1828 and coincides with the founding of the predecessor institution of TU Dresden. After the university library was split off from TU Dresden in 1996, the patent information centre was integrated into the Transfer Department of TU Dresden. Since then, the patent information centre has been directly involved in the innovation activities at TU Dresden. The broad range of technical expertise of several staff with university degrees in engineering enables us to provide informed support to the university’s innovation and patent management.
“We offer on-site and remote access search services.”
Our IP searches for research projects play an outstanding role within TU Dresden. In the best of cases, this allows us to make a comparison between the planned topics and the global state of the art as early as during the search for new research projects. PIZ Dresden was also involved at a very early stage in the aforementioned research in the field of organic semiconductors. We also support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our region by organising a semi-annual seminar series to raise awareness of IP rights and by conducting infringement searches and prior-art searches for intended IP applications. The Free State of Saxony supports the Patent Information Centre Dresden in implementing these tasks.
The 19 patent information centres in Germany work closely together in an association that is known as the PIZnet network (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Patentinformationszentren e.V.).
What is the contribution of PIZ Dresden in this context?
Since the beginning of its membership in 1990, PIZ Dresden has been almost continuously represented on the board of this association and also participates in many joint projects of the German patent information centres. Among other things, we have developed a search standard of the PIZnet network that facilitates cooperation among each other and with our customers. With clearly defined criteria for the individual types of searches, we can ensure high quality searches. We are also involved in the development of the project “PIZnet SME action week”. For several years, we have organised this action week every September to support SMEs and start-ups in dealing with industrial property rights and to advise them of the commercial use of IP. PIZ Dresden acts as an intermediary between the DPMA and all patent information centres and provides for the closest possible contact between all institutions.
And how do you as PIZ Dresden benefit from this network?
First and foremost, like our colleagues at the other patent information centres, we benefit from the exchange of experience. Over the many years, a very close relationship of trust has developed, which helps us in our daily work to offer the best possible services. A project management platform, initiated and maintained by the chairman of our PIZnet association, Arne Krüger, enables us to foster this exchange very effectively.
What will be the focus of your work/projects in the next year?
We want to further support and expand cooperation between our university, spin-offs and other young enterprises in our region. We want to even more actively raise awareness of intellectual property among SMEs by using our experience from previous projects and by even more directly approaching the companies, holding on-site seminars and fostering the exchange of ideas.
How does cooperation with the DPMA work?
The DPMA is our most important cooperation partner. We are very grateful to the office for the exceptionally great support of our work. The DPMA and the PIZnet network jointly organise an annual training conference with speakers from both organisations. Every year, on 26 April, DPMA colleagues assist us by giving exciting lectures on current IP topics at our traditional event on the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day, organised together with the Patent Information Centre Chemnitz. The DPMA makes reference to the patent information centres in a prominent place on its website and is the most important point of contact to direct customers to us. On our part, we and eight other patent information centres assist the DPMA by receiving IP applications on its behalf. Furthermore, we attend to DPMA customers in our region and help to improve the quality of IP applications by providing information and search support to SMEs, self-employed people and inventors in order to help them to prepare IP applications.