In 2007 Serbia set out to strengthen its Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to enhance relations with the European Union, gain admission to the World Trade Organization, stem economic losses from intellectual property infringement, and promote investment.
Under a grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Nathan Associates worked with Serbia’s IPO to develop and execute a strategy for transforming the office so it could better serve the public and expand its mission to help Serbia use intellectual property to spur private sector growth.
The strategy for transforming the IPO had four parts:
(1) make the IPO more responsive to stakeholders’ needs
(2) reach out more to the public and raise general awareness of the value of intellectual property
(3) make operations more effective and efficient
(4) secure the authority and resources necessary to realize 1-3.
Engaging Stakeholders and the Public
Nathan Associates participated with the IPO in a first-of-its-kind roundtable at which the IPO gave a candid presentation of its situation and asked stakeholders, how can the IPO better serve Serbia Stakeholders offered recommendations and expressed approval and support when the IPO followed up with a progress report two months later.
Stakeholder roundtables are now an annual event. To reach out to the general public, the IPO has instituted an Education and Information Center, issues a newsletter, communicates with the public regularly through the local news media, and organizes workshops and training on IP matters.
Our team also provided detailed recommendations for a number of technical issues: how to tackle the growing backlog of unexamined patent applications, apply more effective criteria for supervision of copyright collective societies, develop performance metrics that reflect expected workloads, develop measures to ensure high-quality examination, and devise a budget that reflects the true cost of operations. Our experts also worked closely with IPO staff to help implement recommendations.
Making the Case
Finally, we helped the IPO make its case for the authority and financial support necessary to carry out expanded functions, identifying how IPO operations affect Serbia’s trade and economic and scientific goals.
We recommended that the IPO integrate financial planning with other management decisions, evaluated whether the IPO would have sufficient income to become self-supporting, developed contingency plans in case of a budget shortfall, and recommended that the IPO seek to become a public agency, with possible continuing support from the Republic of Serbia if necessary to address any difference between projected and actual income.
By 2008, Serbia was invited to become a member of the European Patent Convention, foreign investor interest was signaled by the growing number of foreign-filed applications for patents and trademark registrations, the IPO’s outreach activities had expanded dramatically, and the IPO had become an independent agency in the Government of Serbia.
IPO managers now have much more flexibility in meeting demands as the office now receives almost one-third more income from the government than in previous years, in addition to funds from other sources.