In the uncertainty and turmoil that have characterised the world in recent months, many opportunities can be found. We have all seen how the situation has brought forth fresh ideas, accelerated various kinds of development and, perhaps most importantly, shown us what the human spirit can do when faced with a sudden problem.

Those of us who are involved, in one way or another, with the world of innovation and intellectual property have observed with admiration how health workers and the staff of deCode Genetics have used their expertise, experience and cutting-edge technical solutions to achieve amazing results in combating Covid-19. It was also a great pleasure to see how the orthotics company Össur used its resources, innovation experience and staff expertise to produce capsules to transport infected individuals in a secure manner. The healthcare company Sidekick also provided a technical solution for health authorities to facilitate the monitoring of infected individuals in isolation. In addition, numerous companies, schools and government agencies were able to miraculously transfer their services to an electronic format and into homes in a matter of days. None of this would have been possible if not for the technological advances brought about by ingenuity and innovation.

At the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office, we expected the sudden lockdown of society to result in a significant reduction of Icelandic trademark registration applications, that the momentum of individuals and businesses would slow down, at least for a while. The fact is that one of the indicators of innovation is the number of applications filed for the registration of design, trademarks and patents for technological inventions. So far, these concerns appear to have been unnecessary. On the contrary, we have noticed increased interest and momentum, as can be seen by the fact that there were more registration applications for Icelandic trademarks in March and April than in the two previous months or in March and April of 2019. It is interesting to note that a large portion of trademark registration applications is from entities that service tourists in one way or another. There has also been an increase in the number of intellectual property registrations by foreign parties, compared to the previous year. Similarly, we have experienced a significant increase in the number of inquiries on how best to secure intellectual property rights. As previously noted, there are various opportunities in times of uncertainty and turmoil, and our interactions with Icelandic people and business in the past months give cause for optimism. It is furthermore worth noting that the response of the government, which has decided to provide firm support for innovation as a way into the future, is not only admirable but prudent, positive and forward-thinking because innovation and ingenuity will enable us to overcome these current problems, both in the short and in the long term.

Experience has shown us that innovation thrives when people use all their powers to rise above uncertain and chaotic circumstances. New problems call for new ways of thinking and provide new opportunities. Although many companies are struggling to stay afloat and many are facing troubles, a temporary downturn may in fact provide an opportunity for strategy development and reconsideration.

It seems that some companies have used the time in recent weeks to take stock of their intellectual property and apply for registration of trademarks that have long been in use. It is important to keep in mind that successful trademarks and other intellectual property can be a company’s most valuable assets; assets that can be bought, sold, leased and pledged like any other property; assets that investors and credit institutions consider when making decisions. However, many of the trademarks that have been submitted to us during these uncertain times are new ones, and serve as indications of the dynamism and perseverance of people and companies. The new intellectual properties that will emerge in the near future are a clear indication that things will get better before long.

The article was first published on Visir.is on 16 May 2020.

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Pétur Vilhjálmsson

Pétur Vilhjálmsson

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