In 2000, 19 Italian chambers of commerce and specialized agencies attached to the chambers of commerce, under the coordination of DINTEC1, developed a project for the creation of a "Network of Information Centers for the dissemination of a patent culture". The main objective of the project was to promote the development of an industrial property culture in Italy, especially within the private sector, in order to raise awareness on the importance of patents and patent information for the development of Italian enterprises.
The project was based on the idea that an increase in the supply of information on industrial property to the business sector would result in an increased demand and use of patents and trademarks.
It was considered that patent protection:
- would generate a competitive advantage for Italian business as it protects the costs sustained in research and development by assuring the enterprise the exclusive right to use the invention for a given time
and the use of information contained in patent databases would be important for enterprises in order to:
- verify if the same inventions that they intend to protect meet the requirements of novelty and non-obviousness (preventive action);
- learn about recent technological developments in order to obtain licenses from patent holders (development of new activities);
- obtain information on the R&D activities of competitors and learn about the direction of technological innovation in a given field (monitoring the competition);
- recognize patents and trademarks that may be infringing on their rights (surveillance activity).
Main actors involved
The main actors involved in the implementation of the project were as follows:
- The CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE or their specialized agencies where the Centers for the dissemination of a patent culture are based
- DINTEC, which provides assistance to the chambers of commerce for the development of specific activities
- The ITALIAN PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE, which provides assistance throughout the implementation of the project
The project includes the following activities:
- Establishment of the information centers within the Chambers of Commerce
- On-line connection of the centers to the Network
- Promotion and awareness-raising activities in order to sensitize enterprises on the opportunities offered by the industrial property system and services offered by the information centers.
Establishment of the information centers
The project aims to expand existing PATLIB Centers and establish new PATLIB centers or Patent Information Points (PIP) Centers within the Chambers of Commerce or their specialized agencies:
The PatLib centers are patent libraries with highly qualified personnel and CD-ROM databases provided by the European Patent Office and the Italian Patent and Trademark Office. Patlib Centers are connected on-line with other PatLib centers from the other 19 member states of the European Patent Office. There are currently 18 PatLib centers in Italy, 9 of which operate within the Chambers of Commerce. The "Network Information Centers for the dissemination of a patent culture" project has contributed to expanding the number of PatLibs.
The establishment of a PatLib Center requires substantial investments in terms of human and material resources. In areas where the demand for such services are not high enough to justify the establishment of a PatLib, information and technical support to clients are provided by PIP Centers.
The PIP centers have been devised by the Italian Patent and Trademark Office as Information Centers, with more limited tools and resources than PatLibs, but with a greater degree of dissemination throughout the Italian territory.
The project has led to the establishment of 20 new PIP centers within the structures of the Chambers. Through the PatLib and PIP Centers, the user may have access to complete information on trademarks and patents on the basis of Italian, European and International documentation. The user, in order to effectively determine the type of information needed, may benefit from the assistance of an employee of the Center; The user may also find information on the application procedure, on the legal status of a patent and information on patents concerning specific fields of technology as well as information material on how to apply for trademarks and patents.
In order to guarantee a certain degree of homogeneity in service delivery, all Centers receive a comparable support in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Certain minimum standards have been identified in terms of:
- Guidelines on professional qualifications of staff
- Guidelines on the acquisition of hardware and software (differentiated for the two types of centers)
- Guidelines on the supply of patent and trademark documentation and other bibliography (differentiated for the two types of Centers)
The staff of the PatLib and PIP centers are regularly trained on technical issues relating to the use of patent databases, legal issues pertaining to intellectual property and common procedures for developing and promoting the services offered by the centers.
The connection between PatLib and PIP Centers is motivated by the need to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and sharing of experience between them in order to raise the level of services provided and reach a homogeneous level of service delivery.
The on-line network consists of:
- A web site: http://www.infobrevetti.camcom.it . The web site contains information on the services provided by the Centers, links to the main on-line patent databases, a section on current IP legislation and a database of events. It is conceived as an instrument for promotional activities as well as a tool for interaction between the staff of the centers.
- A virtual communication network, developed with the aim of facilitating the greatest number of internal communications
The aim of the promotional activities is that of raising awareness on the activities of the centers as well as on the opportunities offered by the IP system, particularly in order to encourage the transfer of technology to companies that may be potentially interested in making use of it.
The Communication Plan of the network aims to:
- Promote the services of the Centers to the private sector as well as the press
- Organize meetings at the local level, with entrepreneurs, economic operators, individual inventors and universities. For the latter purposes brochures have been prepared as well as advertisements to be published in local newspapers and on-line banners to advertise events
- A monthly newsletter is distributed with news on industrial property issues worldwide and information on the activities of the Centers. The newsletter is aimed at the staff of the Centers themselves as well as to users of the Centers.
1 DINTEC is a company set up in June 1994 by UNIONCAMERE (Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce) and ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technology, Energy and Environment), for collecting and diffusing technical rules and standards and promoting a culture of certification and quality.