Automation Assistance to IP Institutions
IP offices around the world are under constant pressure to deliver efficient services by reducing the time and costs associated with granting of IP rights, and by improving their quality of search and examination.
As the work of IP offices in developing countries is often still manual and paper-intensive, many find it difficult to cope with these demands and are experiencing long delays in processing backlogs of applications for trademarks, patents and industrial designs. To meet the needs of their clients and constituents, these offices have made the automation of their business processes a top priority and many turn towards WIPO for assistance.
WIPO also receives a growing number of requests from collective management societies for assistance in digitizing their national musical databases and automating their processes for distribution of royalties to the rights owners.
WIPOs program for providing automation assistance was established in 2001 in response to the emerging need of IP offices in developing countries. It aims to enhance the efficiency of IP registration activities through simplification and automation of business processes.
The program covers small to medium IP institutions (offices) from over 130 developing countries. Automation assistance to these institutions ranges from:
- advice and guidance,
- needs assessment,
- infrastructure upgrade, and
- customized automation solutions for training, knowledge transfer and technical support.
WIPOs automation assistance strategy takes into account the wide disparity among the requesting offices and the available resources, including:
- the nature and volume of work of the individual offices,
- the national IP laws,
- the office rules and work procedures,
- the level of technology available in a given country, and
- the existing level of automation in an office, and its capacity to deploy and maintain an automated system in a sustainable manner.
To meet this challenge, the program has developed a composite strategy which, through a dynamic process, standardizes the automation procedures and yet fully customizes the assistance to adapt to the individual needs of the offices. Standard "needs profiles" are matched to standard automation solutions, then refined with the active involvement of the offices. The focus is on leveraging knowledge, expertise and best practices across WIPO and other offices.
Training of office staff during and after the project provides the capacity-building and knowledge transfer necessary to ensure the sustainability and ownership of the automation systems by the offices.
The strategic approach also includes a post-implementation evaluation to measure the impact of automation on the office. The lessons learned are used to refine the subsequent assistance activities.
The program covers all aspects of automation assistance for the different types of offices dealing with trademarks, patents and industrial designs, as well as with collective management of copyright and related rights. The assistance is initiated in response to a request by the office. Typically it covers the pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment stages of an automation project.
- advice and guidance,
- needs assessment,
- streamlining of IP business processes,
- customization of standard automation solutions,
- establishment of IP databases,
- upgrade of IT infrastructure,
- knowledge transfer to technical staff and ongoing training,
- technical support, and
- post-implementation evaluation.
Automation workshops are held regularly in different regions. These also facilitate the exchange of experiences amongst the offices on the use, operation, support and enhancements of the common automation systems provided by WIPO.
The program invests in continuing improvement of standard automation solutions with new functionality, technology and value-added services as required, and in response to feedback from the offices. New releases are distributed via the Internet.
The volume and diversity of requests for assistance, the evolving changes in IP business requirements, and the emergence of new technologies, mean that WIPOs automation assistance program must continue to meet significant challenges in order to remain attuned to the changing circumstances.
Since its establishment, about 350 assistance activities were undertaken in 75 developing countries. This includes input to 7 regional and expert workshops.
As of July 2006, a total of 45 IP institutions have been automated using the WIPO standard automation solutions. These systems have made a significant positive impact on the daily work and efficiency of these institutions as demonstrated by some of the post-deployment evaluation indicators.