A Beautiful Creation Of The Mind

Today is ‘World Intellectual Property Day’. The day was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Geneva) in 2000 to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe.

Each year’s ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ is dedicated to a different motto. This year’s claim is ‘Digital Creativity: Culture Reimagined or how to create, access and finance it.

‘Intellectual Property’ refers to creation of the intellect. ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ to their protection.

Among them are:

  • Trademarks – a name or symbol that is used to represent a product in the market
  • Patents – a license to an discovery or invention)
  • Copyrights – to avoid plagiarism in music, literature, software, including mobile apps.

Copyright-issues appear also on social media platforms: when you sign up to use a social media or other digital platform, you are bound to its ‘Terms and Conditions’ of use.

This often involves you giving the platform or service a non-exclusive license to use your content, even if you still retain rights over the content you post. In other words, depending on their concrete terms, platforms may have the right to use the content you generate or post. See for example, the Terms and Conditions governing the use of Facebook (Article 2) or YouTube (Article 6C).

But the copyright-law does not protect domain names. The rules governing the use and/or abuse of domain names are established and governed by the non-profit organization ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

Intellectual property contributes enormously to economies, if these creations and trademarks are protected. Industries rely on the adequate enforcement of their patents, trademarks, and copyrights, while consumers profit from protected intellectual property to ensure they are purchasing safe, guaranteed products.

However, with peer pressure of owning and presenting the ‘right brands’ amid tight budget or no sugar daddy at hand, buying counterfeit goods has become socially acceptable. Fake products account for up to 10% of the entire world trade.

Nonetheless, it’s a fact, that creation, innovation or discoveries and the subsequent protection thereof via copyrights, patents or trademarks is a good indicator how a society and economy are positioned for the future.

So let’s take the opportunity of the ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ on this April 26, to have a look at the number of trademark-applications in 2015 from Romania compared to other countries within the EU and around the world.

I’m aware that the quantity of filed applications does not necessary reveal their quality. Still, it gives a hint, whether a country knows the importance of creations of the mind and R&D-investments or not – and therefore will become over time a money-making producer/exporter or a money-spending consumer/importer of new and innovative goods or services.

As proposed recently in case of the GDP, to compare different countries, it’s only fair to take the size of a state in terms of population into account:

Fact # 1: 

89’420 applications for trademark protection were received in 2015 by EUIPO, the EU Intellectual Property Office from the Member States of the European Union (see table, 1st column), a number about four times higher that of the mid-1990s.

Fact # 2: 

Across the EU, Germany (20’447 applications, or 23% of EU total – see table, 2nd column) was the first Member State in terms of applications for in 2015.

Fact # 3:

In relative terms (per 1 million inhabitants) the highest number of trademark applications was recorded by Luxembourg with 2’190 (see table, 3rd column). This has to do with the fact, that a lot of big, globally active corporations which are the main source of trademark applications choose small Luxembourg as their official ‘home-base’ for corporate tax-reasons.

So let’s move to the more comparable EU-average: 176 patent-applications in 2015 per 1 million inhabitants. And Romania?  Together with Croatia, Romania (33 applications per 1 million inhabitants) has by far submitted the least applications for trademarks within the EU. Even Bulgaria – in EU-wide economic statistics usually the only country on the same ‘level’ as Romania – seems to be much more innovative.

Today’s ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ should be a wake-up call for Romania. Get up and:

  • start to use the potential of people in this country and invest in them
  • make a decisive strategy-move towards R&D-investments and innovation
  • stop being a nation of silly consumption with borrowed money
  • trademark

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