Implications of pandemic for protection of intellectual property rights
IP is unique for its stability against all kinds of infections and viruses. Therefore, I am not inclined to talk about the pandemic’s direct or drastic impact on IP. Of course, quarantine and other restrictions have an effect on workflow and approaches to doing business in general. The IP sphere is rather inertial. For example, the patenting process is stretched out in time, and it’s very unlikely that this process will be wound down. Patenting cannot be postponed or put on hold. The essential part of this process is the novelty which is time sensitive and can expire, but it cannot be controlled by quarantine. In my opinion, specialist IP boutiques will not suffer much in the immediate future. As for full-service law firms, the IP practice is an excellent “buffer” to smooth over any difficulties in other practices.
It is too early to talk about changes, though we definitely see certain trends.
First, increased activity in patenting on the part of pharmaceutical companies is naturally expected. At this stage, it is important for Ukraine not to lose this opportunity for rapid development and not to support populist calls for legislative restrictions on pharmaceutical patenting. It should also be advantageous for the Ukrainian pharmaceutical sector, as new niches should open up.
There will, undoubtedly, be a burst of activity in the field of products for medical use, such as protective equipment, masks, instant testing systems, disinfectants and sanitizers, etc. Manufacturers will try to protect these products as much as possible by seeking registrations for utility models and industrial designs in the first place, and, of course, trademarks. The other sector, which is expected to develop rapidly, and will consistently generate additional activity in the IP field, is electronic commerce in all its forms.
Unfortunately, border closures and reduction of personal income almost inevitably activate counterfeit activity. And naturally, demand will rise in this niche. Moreover, quarantine restrictions increase consumption of online entertainment, so copyright protection should see a rise.
If we talk about deferred demand, two factors should be considered. First, Ukrpatent has been able to swiftly manage remote work and continues to operate practically in full. Second, the courts are currently forced to postpone hearings. Consequently, I suppose that judicial practice will, in particular, experience the consequences of deferred demand. But the situation will undoubtedly recover by the end of 2020.
I think that the business will become “faster”, and long-term projects will be put on hold. A majority of product manufacturers will likely reduce their advertising and marketing budgets. All these developments will affect the IP market. I assume that for some period of time there will be lower demand for the recognition of marks as well-known, wide-scale registration of advertising slogans as trademarks and of foreign patenting.
By Michael Doubinsky, managing partner of Doubinsky & Osharova