Borghildur Erlingsdóttir, Director General of the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office
These are unusual times. The world is facing a new and unexpected challenge, as the COVID-19 pandemic slows down the economy and paralyses entire communities.
A large proportion of Icelanders and the world at large are now working remotely, and the Intellectual Property Office is among the workplaces that were able to transition to working remotely almost overnight. We were able to prepare for these major changes swiftly by utilising teleconferencing solutions and other means of electronic communication. The staff of the Intellectual Property Office has coped with the situation with positivity and energy, and has shown remarkable endurance and flexibility in these new circumstances.
The name change
On 1 July, the Icelandic Patent Office changed its name to the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office (ISIPO). The change marked a turning point in the Office's activities and will enable it to better support Icelandic industry, innovation, and research and development.
The ISIPO's current logo.
The Icelandic Patent Office's logos through the years
Why the name change?
The change of name was primarily intended to meet the needs of Icelandic industry and business. The new name gives a clearer indication of the Office’s activities than the previous name of Patent Office, which only referred to one type of intellectual property rights and was therefore a very narrow definition of the Office’s actual activities. The name could be misleading for customers and other stakeholders and indicated that the Office was only concerned with patents, despite the fact that its activities and responsibilities related to intellectual property rights in general. It is important to ensure that all fields are treated equally and that the name does not focus on one field at the expense of others.
The change is in line with developments abroad where there is a growing focus on intellectual property and intellectual property rights and their inherent value. In recent years, several patent and trademark offices have changed their name and are now known as intellectual property offices, including theintellectual property offices of the EU (EUIPO), the UK (UKIPO), Australia (IPAustralia), Hungary (HIPO), Ireland (IPOI) and Sweden.
This change was one of the projects laid out in Iceland’s Intellectual Property Policy for 2016-2022, and is one of the measures to strengthen the framework and legal environment for intellectual property rights in Iceland.
A new name is also in line with the Patent Office's strategy for the years 2018-2021, which was the result of an analysis of the Office’s operating environment and consultation with major stakeholders,which included discussions of a potential name change.
Frequently asked questions
How was the change implemented?
The law took effect on 1 July 2019. The name was changed in thePatents Act No 17/1991 and in other laws referring to the Patent Act.
The change only applied to the name of the Office and not its role or operations. The main website domain in English was changedto www.isipo.is and the email addresses of staff was changed to firstname.lastname@example.org on 1 July 2019. The old email addresses will remain active for some time.
What did not change?
The role and operations of the Office remained the same after the name change. Furthermore, the address and phone numbers remained the same.
Will this affect my intellectual property and/or my application?
No, the change did not affect registered trademarks, designs or patents. The change will not affect applications, the application process or rights.
What about copyright?
No, copyright still appertains to the Ministry of Education. However, everyone is welcome to the office to learn more about intellectual property in general, including copyright.
What is the name of the Office in Icelandic?
The Icelandic Intellectual Property Office is called Hugverkastofan in Icelandic and the main website domain is www.hugverk.is.
Activities and mission
The Intellectual Property Office had a staff of 38 at the end of the year, of which four were on leave due to maternity/paternity leave and studies. One employee was deployed at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) as a Seconded National Expert (SNE), the first time that an employee of the ISIPO has taken on such a position.
The Production Department is where formal and substantive examination of applications for the registration of trademarks,patents and design takes place. The department decides on registering or rejecting applications and its legal examiners prepare reasoning for rejecting applications. The department handles opposition and revocation matters and as well as requests for the re-establishment of rights. The department also receives applications for maintenance of rights, i.e. payments of annual fees for patents and renewal of design and trademark registrations, as well as handling requests for change of ownership, mortgaging of rights and more. In 2019, the division handled over 13,000 applications and other communications.
The Operations Department handles a variety of tasks. The department receives communications and provides services and advice to customers, handles educational and promotional matters, publishes the ELS Gazette and manages matters relating to international cooperation projects. The department also manages human resources, IT, system administration, procurement, payroll processing, finances and strategy formulation. In 2019, a main focus of the department was the continuing development of customer services in accordance with the ISIPO’s Strategic Policy.
ISAC Accreditation is an independent department within the ISIPO and is the national body responsible for accreditation in Iceland. The department has two employees who handle day-to-day and professional operations. When conducting accreditation assessments and/or surveillance, the department recruits technical assessors or experts to help with assessing conformity with technical requirements. The Accreditation Department strives to provide good service to customers,participate in essential international cooperation and promote cooperation between accreditation stakeholders, including claim holders, conformity assessment bodies and users of the service.
Services of the ISIPO
In 2019, various measures were taken to develop and improve the services of the ISIPO in line with the needs of customers and stakeholders. These measures are in line with the ISIPO’s Strategic Policy 2018-2021 to increase the Office’s professionalism and visibility, improve the digital user experience and implement new and improved services.
Increased professionalism and visibility
A new customer service team was established in the spring as a part of increasing professionalism and coordinating in-house knowledge. A greater emphasis was placed on the use of social media to promote awareness and provide information on intellectual property rights. Part of this was the launch of the ISIPO’s Instagram page
A better digital user experience
An online chat feature was introduced with the new website and the response has been positive. It is now possible to book a telephone interview with an IP specialist, a visit to the offices and a remote meeting via the website, as well as a collaborative search for patents and a comparison search for trademarks. New services are constantly being developed and reviewed.
Quality certification and quality system
Since 2013, the ISIPO has had in place a quality system certified according to the ISO 9001 standard and audited by the German certification agency DQS. The ISO 9001 standard addresses management responsibilities, resource management, the development of production and service processes, performance measurements and identification of deviations to promote continual improvement.
One of the key components of the standard is to take note of the needs of customers and adapt activities to their wishes,to the extent possible. The ISIPO’s quality system extends to the handling of cases and customer service, as well as management, finances and human resources.
Strategic measurements are built into the quality system, and results are reviewed an analysed according to the standard’s spirit of continual improvement.
Celebration of the new name
On 5 September 2019, a reception was held at Kjarvalsstaðir to celebrate the new name of the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office, which entered into effect on 1 July. Many of or our biggest partners and customers celebrated the name change with us. Borghildur Erlingsdóttir, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office and Þórdís Kolbrún R.Gylfadóttir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation, gave speeches on the 28 year history of the Patent Office and the important role that the Intellectual Property Office will play in the years to come. We wish to thank everyone who was able to celebrate with us, and we look forward to working with you in the years to come.
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Accreditation is the assessment of the competence of testing, inspections and certification bodies to assess conformity with technical requirements laid out in e.g. regulations and/or standards. Accreditation has to be a non-competitive activity because of its role in ensuring that standards are not compromised by competition between bodies providing services and products. Accreditation is an international co-operation whereby a product tested, inspected or certified by an accredited body in country is recognised in all the member countries. In Europe,accreditation bodies operate in over 40 countries.
ISAC, the ISIPO's accreditation department operates according to Act No 24/2006 on Accreditation etc., Regulation No. 566/2013 on market surveillance and accreditation and the standard ÍST EN ISO/IEC 17011 (Conformity assessment -Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies). ISAC also operates according to the requirements and guidelines of European Accreditation, of which the department is a member.
European Accreditation (EA) is an association of European accreditation bodies, appointed by the European Union to develop and maintain a multilateral agreement of mutual recognition based on a harmonised accreditation infrastructure. The EA has various technical committees that ISAC representatives meet with, along with attending the association’s general meetings.
The Accreditation Department collaborates with the Swedish accreditation body SWEDAC in the assessment of several testing laboratories. There is also close cooperation between the Accreditation Division and the accreditation bodies of Denmark and Norway, and the department has access to their technical assessors, including experts in vehicle and lift inspection bodies.
There were 41 active accreditations at the end of the year. There were five accredited test institutes for food products and metrology, one certification body for organic production and two certification bodies for management systems. There were also 33 inspection bodies for vehicles, tachographs, vessels, electrical installations,playgrounds, lifts, market surveillance and construction industry. In 2019, two applications for accreditation were received, two new accreditations were granted and two accreditations were withdrawn.
In 2019, the full financial separation of the Accreditation Department from other ISIPO operation was completed, and the department now has its own budget number and ID number, and submits its own annual accounts. This has increased the department’s independence to a significant degree.
Recently, the employees of the Accreditation Division have worked to better adapt the activities of the department to the requirements that are made to it. This work is expected to be completed in the first months of the new year, and plans are underway to apply for so-called peer evaluation from the EA, the purpose of which include sensuring the harmonisation of accreditation within Europe.
Measures to strengthen the infrastructure of accreditation in Iceland were highly successful during the year, and there is challenging work ahead.
Intellectual property registrations in force in Iceland at year-end 2019:
Intellectual propert registrations in force
7.500 registered by
85 registered by
135 registered by
Applications in 2019
Registrations in 2019
Number of applications
The number of Icelandic applications for intellectual property registrations decreased somewhat in 2019 compared to the previous year.
Trademark applications from Icelandic entities decreased by 26% between years.
Meanwhile, trademark applications from foreign entities increased by 2%.
Patent applications decreased somewhat between years.
European patents (EP) that took effect in Iceland increased slightly.
There was a significant reduction in trademark applications from Icelandic entities in the year 2019. The ISIPO received 639 trademark applications from Icelandic entities, which is a 26% reduction compared to 2018. However, it must be kept in mind that a record number of domestic trademark applications were filed in 2018. It is difficult to ascertain the reason for this reduction, but trademark applications are often an indication of economic fluctuations and activities. These numbers could be a sign of Icelandic companies holding back on investments and innovation in 2019.
Meanwhile, the number of trademark applications from foreign entities increased. In 2019, the ISIPO received a total of 3,405 trademark applications from foreign entities, compared to 3,337 applications in 2018, which is an increase of 2%.
There was a slight reduction in the number of patent applications after the record year of 2018. A total of 62 patent applications were filed in 2019, compared to 66 applications in 2018. The number of applications from Icelandic parties decreased from 57 to 46, while applications from foreign entities increased from 9 to 16.
The number of European patents (EP) that take effect in Iceland in 2019 was very similar to the previous year. There has been a significant increase in confirmed patents through the European Patent System since Iceland became a member of the European Patent Convention (EPC) in 2004, and they now constitute the vast majority of patents in force in Iceland.
The number of applications for design registration was the same as the year before (15).
Registered IP rights
The number of intellectual property registrations by Icelandic entities decreased in 2019, compared to the previous year.
The total number of trademark registrations remained almost unchanged between years.
Trademark registrations by foreign entities in Iceland increased by 6.1% between 2018 and 2019.
The total number of patents granted remained almost unchanged between years.
European patents that took effect in Iceland increased slightly.
As to trademarks, the total number of trademark registrations was practically the same in 2019 as in the previous year. 2,728 trademarks were registered in Iceland in 2018 and 2,709 trademarks in 2019. Trademark registrations by foreign entities increased by 6.1% in 2019 compared to the previous year: 2,297 were registered in 2019 compared to 2,165 in 2018. Meanwhile, Icelandic registrations decreased by 26.8%, from 563 in 2018 to 412 in 2019.
The total number of patents granted remained almost unchanged in 2019 compared to the previous year. A total of 1,498 patents were granted in Iceland in 2019 compared to 1,499 patents in 2018.
The number of Icelandic national patents granted remained the same, 6 in 2019, while the number of foreign national patents granted decreased from 10 to 3 between years.
The number of European patents confirmed in Iceland in 2019 was very similar to the previous year. There has been a significant increase in confirmed patents through the European Patent Office since Iceland became a member of the EPO in 2004, and they now constitute the vast majority of patents in force in Iceland.
The number of Icelandic design registrations increased slightly from one year to the next: there were 11 in 2019 compared to 10 in 2018. At the same time, national design registrations by foreign entities decreased from 6 to 3.
Human resources and operations
Key figures for 2019
The operation of the ISIPO is in many ways different from that of other government agencies. The operation is financed with service fees from the domestic and foreign parties who have chosen to protect their intellectual property in Iceland. The Office’s scope of operations is therefore determined by the number of applications and other matters processed at each time. Various external factors can influence a number of applications, such as exchange rate developments and economic conditions in Iceland and abroad.
The ISIPO operates under Group A of the Treasury, and its budged appropriation is determined in each year’s general budget, without any contributions from the Treasury except as regards the operation of the Accreditation Department.
As regards the operation of the Accreditation Department, Article 3 of Act No 24/2006 on Accreditation etc.stipulates the financial separation of the department from the Office’s other activities. 2019 was the first year in which the Accreditation Department operated under a special Budget number, which means that its budget appropriation is defined specifically in the Budge, separate from the total budget appropriation of the Office. Two annual accounts are issued, one for the Intellectual Property Office and another for the activities of the Accreditation Department. Concurrent with these changes, a service agreement is being prepared whereby the Accreditation Department will pay a proportion of the Office’s joint operation.
Operation of the ISIPO
On the whole, the operation of the ISIPO was successful during the year. The Office’s budget appropriation was ISK 448.6m but the operation is totally financed with service fees. The operating income was somewhat higher than expected, or a total of ISK 468.9m. The largest proportion of the income was for trademarks, or 65.5% of the total income, income for patents accounted for 34.3% and design for 0.2%. Other income was ISK 11 million in repayments from international organisations for travel costs and incurred expenses due to cooperation projects. The Office's total income amounted to ISK 479.9m.
Expenses were somewhat higher than expected, mainly due to costs related to the Office’s name change, work on a new website, development costs for a new patent and design database, and the development of electronic application methods. Total expenditure amounted to ISK 491.7 million, with wage costs being the largest single item of expenditure, or 73%.
468.9 million ISK
11 million ISK
491.7 million ISK
Operation of the Accreditation Department
The budget appropriation for the Accreditation Department was ISK 50.8m in 2019. The department’s income in 2019 was according to the operational schedule, or a total of ISK 48.5m, ISK 33.3m of which was the government contribution and ISK 15.2m other income. The Accreditation Department’s total expenditure amounted to ISK 41.5m, with wage costs being the largest single item of expenditure, or 62.3%.
Average length of employment
One of the main goals of the ISIPO is to be a desirable workplace where employees show each other respect, share and maintain their knowledge and provide clients with professional and reliable services. The Office’s staff is composed of multi-talented and dynamic individuals who strive to make a good workplace even better with positive communications. The ISIPO performs regular performance measurements to ascertain the view of staff on factors such as job satisfaction, independence to make decisions, support from managers, training and job development. The results of these surveys are an important tool for managers, enabling them to receive regular feedback on their work. The ISIPO had a staff of 38 at the end of the year, of which four were on leave due to maternity/paternity leave and studies. One employee was deployed at the EUIPO as a Seconded National Expert (SNE), the first time that an employee of the ISIPO has undertaken such a position. The Production Department had 19 employees, plus the head of the department, and the Operations Department had 12 employees, plus the head of the department. The Accreditation Department had two employees. Full-time equivalent positions at year-end 2019 were 34.7.