50 years of BOIP: proud heritage, bright future
2021 was a special year for BOIP.
50 years ago, on 1 January 1971, we opened our doors as the Benelux Trademark Office. Under the motto 'Proud heritage, bright future' we used our anniversary in 2021 to take you on a digital tour through 50 years of intellectual property (IP).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone the physical celebration of our half-century anniversary. In September 2022, however, we will celebrate our anniversary with our partners and stakeholders from the IP community– something we are very much looking forward to.
In 2021 – just like in 2020 – we received more than 10% more trademark applications than in the 5 previous years. This led to a longer processing time for the applications. However, we cleared these backlogs before the end of 2021 and in November 2021 we again met the critical performance indicator that trademark applications should be processed on average within 10 business days.
Since 2021, it is no longer possible to submit paper trademark applications to us. We decided to do this because the number of paper trademark applications has been declining for years. In 2020 only 0.03% of all trademark applications were filed on paper. From now on, all applications will be processed digitally via My BOIP. This will speed up the processing of applications and the correspondence with our clients will be entirely digital from now on.
In 2021, BOIP employees largely carried out their work from home. We made sure that everyone could work at home in a healthy and responsible way.
Communication and promotional activities
Switching to online events
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of our promotional activities. For example, we have invested in an in-house studio where we can create and broadcast our own video material. This has resulted in, among other things, a series of three webinars for IP professionals, which we organised in cooperation with the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law (BMM). These webinars were a great success, with over 350 participants per webinar and an average satisfaction score of 4 on a scale of 1-5.
For entrepreneurs, we organised several online events, such as 'Durf-te-vragen' (Dare to ask) sessions, consultation hours and webinars.
Expanding our online presence
In 2021, we established a dedicated content team that shares news and information on a daily basis through various channels. This daily news coverage has allowed us to take our online visibility to the next level. In addition, we strengthened our relationship with our online community by launching a quarterly newsletter for entrepreneurs and creating a social media page for IP professionals.
In 2021, we started to work intensively on our principle that the customer is at the centre of everything we do. We developed a customer-experience strategy and started to implement it. We focused on listening to our customers by mapping the customer journey of users who register a trademark for the first time. This has yielded some important points of improvement for our information provision and services, which we will implement in the coming years.
In October 2021, together with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, we organised the DesignEuropa Awards in Eindhoven. Ragnar Gustafsson, Director General of BOIP, was one of the 11 jury members at the award ceremony. The event brought together hundreds of guests (designers, creators and representatives of the IP community) from all over Europe.
New Deputy Director for Communications & Customer Services
Since September 2021, the new Deputy Director General Yves Hoffmann has been responsible for Communication & Customer Services.
Yves: ,,It is a pleasure and an honour to take on my new role as a deputy director at BOIP. I am looking forward to working with the Communication and Customer Service team and meeting my colleagues from the three countries. My ambition is to further improve the services we provide to our customers and to enhance BOIP's reach."
BOIP Trademark Alert
In May 2021, we launched our online alert service for trademarks: BOIP Trademark Alert. This smart subscription service warns trademark owners when someone else applies for a trademark that is similar to their registered trademark.
Awareness campaign in the Netherlands
In April 2021, we launched the awareness campaign 'IE: de kroon op je werk' in the Netherlands. This campaign emphasises the importance of IP for entrepreneurs and illustrates how they can use IP to strengthen their market position. The campaign was created in cooperation with the IP Platform in the Netherlands, consisting of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Change, the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, the Netherlands Patent Office, the Dutch Council for Plant Varieties and BOIP. The campaign's social media statements were viewed 30 million times, with approximately 73,000 clicks to the campaign page.
In the Benelux
In 2021, we cooperated with various partners in the field of intellectual property in the Benelux countries, focusing specifically on trademarks and designs. We also intensified cooperation with the national authorities of the Benelux countries in the field of IP promotion.
Our existing cooperation with our partners in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg is taking more and more concrete shape. Both in Belgium and in the Netherlands, we worked intensively with 4 partners: FPS Economy, The Netherlands Patent Office, SOWALFIN and VLAIO. For the joint project 'Create, Protect & Benefit' we made preparations for the launch in April 2022.
As in previous years, we actively cooperated with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the European Intellectual Property Network (EUIPN) and with other national IP offices.
For example, we worked together on the promotion of the IP voucher (SME fund). This reimbursement for the application costs of a trademark registration is part of the SME Fund, an initiative of the European Commission to financially support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union when they apply for intellectual property rights.
In 2021, the first steps were taken to create a virtual European Intellectual Property Information Centre. This EU network of intellectual property offices, including BOIP, brings together all relevant parties in the intellectual property, business and innovation ecosystem. The aim of this virtual network is to strengthen the innovation and growth capacity of SMEs in the EU by providing them with concrete, accessible and easy-to-understand information and support in the field of intellectual property.
Evaluation of language regime
Based on an opinion given by the Benelux Council for Intellectual Property in 2021, we have been working with our political authorities on a fundamental simplification of our language regime, including modifications of the BCIP Implementing Rules. As there are two official languages at BOIP (Dutch and French) but three working languages (users can also choose English for all their operations at BOIP), the applicable rules are relatively complex, especially in 'inter partes' proceedings (opposition and cancellation). In 2022, we will make further progress with the evaluation of our language regime.
A selection of our projects and activities:
Introduction of a new internal customer service tool, which will allow us to track and follow up customer queries through a single digital platform;
Implementation of a new service desk on our website for easier access to frequently asked questions and our Information Centre;
Conduct and publish a study on IP protection by Belgian companies, together with FPS Economy;
Launch of a new platform: Create, Protect & Benefit, for entrepreneurs with IP questions, together with 4 partners in the Netherlands and Belgium;
Celebration of our 50th anniversary in September 2022 together with our network;
Launch of a new version of our online environment for filing trademarks applications.
Sustainability is more than ever an important theme, also for BOIP. In recent years, we have started to work more sustainably in all kinds of areas:
In our office building in The Hague, we no longer use disposable plastic items, such as coffee cups;
We work digitally as much as possible and print as few documents as possible;
We have reduced our waste volume by 30% in the period 2020-2021.
In 2022, we will replace the current lighting system in the building, increasing energy efficiency by 20%.
By 2023, we will have improved the energy label of our office from D to A+ through an extensive renovation of our office building.
In 2022 and beyond, we will continue to learn from our customers' feedback in order to improve the customer experience, our services and our information delivery. We will continue to work to perfect the services we provide to our customers by continuously improving our technologies and processes.
In addition, it is essential that BOIP, as an expert in the field of intellectual property, continues to play its leadership role. It means that we must continuously remain at the forefront of IP. By working together with our Benelux and EU partners, we will further strengthen the IP system and help entrepreneurs find their way within the IP landscape.
We can only achieve our ambitious goals with the commitment of all BOIP employees. They are the determining factor for BOIP's success.
The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) is the official body responsible for registering trademarks and designs in the Benelux. In addition, BOIP can record the existence of an idea as at a specific date in an i-DEPOT. More about BOIP
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