The establishment of the Patent Department under the Government of the Republic on January 26, 1992 may be viewed as the first step in the formation of the industrial property market in the Republic of Armenia (RA). Its main objectives, stipulated in the Statute of the Patent Office adopted by the RA government decree No. 432 of August 5, 1992, became: receiving and processing applications, registration of the objects of industrial property, international collaboration, computerization of the Office, and the implementation of new information technologies.
On April 22, 1993 the Republic of Armenia announced of its membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization; on May 17, 1994, Armenia declared prolongation of the validity of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, of the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Trademarks, and of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in the Republic of Armenia; in 1996 the Republic acceded to the Eurasian Patent Convention.
Clearly, the Office was able to meet its objectives and obligations only if working within the legislative framework for the protection of industrial property. Development and adoption of the required legislative acts started from the very first days since the establishment of Armpatent. In particular, in 1993-1998 the following laws have been adopted for the protection of industrial property in the Republic of Armenia:
Similar collaboration agreements have been signed with the governments of Georgia, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Three of the Laws mentioned above have been amended according to the requirements of TRIPS because of the RA's intention to join WTO by the end of 1999.
The analysis of the results achieved by the Armpatent in the area of industrial property protection is performed on the basis of the Armpatent annual reports from 1995 to 1999 and the 12 issues of the Official Bulletin of the Office entitled "Industrial Property". Information on the average number of applications for inventions received by Armpatent from the national and foreign applicants in 1993-1998 is presented in Table 1.
Number of applications for inventions received by Armpatent, by year
As one can see from the data above, as of January 1, 1999 Armpatent received 1260 applications for inventions. Of this number, 832 applications were from national applicants and 428 from abroad.
Of foreign applicants, the USA and British ones turned out to be most active (29.9% and 10.5%, accordingly). The number of domestic applications fluctuated widely. Before 1996 it was from 160 to 200 per year, but dropped suddenly after 1996 as a result of the adoption of the Law "On Fees" by the National Assembly in July 1996, which significantly increased the patent application fee. On the Armpatent proposal, the Law "On Fees" was amended in November of 1997: benefits were introduced for individual inventors and companies depending on the number of employees. The lowering of fees by the factor of 4 resulted in a certain increase in the activity of local inventors, but not of the foreign ones. While before 1996 the number of applications was steadily increasing (from 33 in 1993 to 154 in 1996), it dropped sharply in the years that followed.
In 1999 the number of application filed by national applicants increased by 49.3 % as compared to 1998, the number of applications from foreign applicants increased twice, and 5 of these 16 applications were filed under the terms of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
In 1999, 202 applications were examined and 43 re-examined. The result is as follows:
Thus, out of 1388 applications filed with Armpatent in 1993 - 1999, as of January 1, 2000 932 (67.1%) received a positive response, i.e. two out of every three inventions were granted protection in the territory of the RA.
In 1999 Armpatent, as the receiving office, had just one PCT application, which was examined for meeting the requirements, after which it was re-directed to the International Bureau of WIPO.
Armpatent grants approximately 150 invention patents annually. It is interesting to analyze the distribution of these patents by industry branches. Annual reports of Armpatent from 1993 to 1996 classified applications according to 8 industrial categories, of which the highest number belonged to such traditionally developed branch as chemistry and biology (30%). Machine building was second (16%), which also matches the structure of the industrial potential of the RA. The low percentage of the consumer goods industry applications (3%) came as a surprise. A possible explanation is that practically all consumer industry facilities stopped during the transition period because of lack of raw materials.
Since 1997 patents were classified according to the requirements of the International Patent Classification (IPC).
Unlike in the case of classification by industry branches, the breakdown of applications into 8 categories of the IPC resulted in Class A applications (Human necessities) occupying first place, which fully matches present-day realities. Class C applications moved from first to second position.
Since the calculation to determine the most active branches of industry were made using the total number of applications that included foreign applicants, the numbers above to some extent characterize the preferences of foreign inventors as well.
Automation and the upgrade of the Office's equipment are worthy a special mentioning. Presently the Office has 29 computers, 27 of which have Intel Pentium microprocessors. Two networks - Microsoft and Novell Netware - in a "star" arrangement are in place. These networks encompass all the subdivisions of the Office except that the Department of Invention Examination. Internet and e-mail access are available.
Figure 1 shows how the Automated Information System functions. Databases work in Windows NT, Windows 95, or Windows 98 environments.
As one can see from Figure 1, the examination subsystems in the Departments of Trademarks and Trade Names (Subsystems 1 and 3) have been fully automated. The applications received are entered into the current database, from which, following their registration, they are sent to the register database. The users are able to conduct searches using several parameters or their combinations, view the current and main databases, use built-in directories on the Vienna and Nice classifications, and the RA Law "On Fees", and see information on patent attorneys, registered in the RA. The System is able to automatically compile and print letters, decisions and notifications, calculate fees and monitor the payment of these, receive and print out various statistical data, plus search and forward data into the publication system automatically.
Subsystem 2 is used for the monitoring of the Office's technical base and contains information on the equipment, programs, books, disks etc. This Subsystem permits the viewing of data on the physical location of equipment and printing the required information.
Database 4 was developed and implemented in 1998. This database contains information on the administrative and territorial composition of the Republic of Armenia, and is used for the examination of trade names, appellation of origin, and trademarks.
Subsystem 5 has information on the international exchange of information and on patent offices with which Armpatent collaborates.
Subsystem 6 was developed and implemented in 1998. It allows the entry, storage and editing of information on license agreements and on the agreements on the assignment of patents and trademarks, searching for and forwarding of data into the publication system, preparation and printing of decisions, and the receipt and printing of statistical information.
As a result of the implementation of the subsystems described above, in effect representing the transfer to paperless technology, the work in the corresponding subdivisions became much more efficient and simple.
In 1998 for the first time during a single year 4 issues of the Official Bulletin "Industrial Property" were published: No.1(5), No. 2(6) and No. 3-4(7-8). These bulletins were published in two languages: Armenian and Russian. They contain information on 69 patents granted, of which 61 are for inventions, 3 for utility models, and 5 for industrial designs. Information on 2000 trademarks and service marks, one registration of the appellation of origin, and 5 certificates on the right to use the appellation of origin was also given in these bulletins.
The Law of the Republic of Armenia "Trademarks and Service Marks and Appellation of Origin", adopted in 1997, "The procedure of drafting and filing of an application for registration of trade name", "The procedure of the submission of appeals and their examination in the Appeals Board of Armpatent", and "Regulation on the drafting and filing of the amended description of invention (utility model)", approved by Armpatent and registered in the Ministry of Justice of RA, and "The procedure of handling the inventions, protected by authors' rights and certificates of the USSR, classified as not subject to open publication" have been published in these Bulletins.
These official bulletins were availed to ArmSRISTI, the Fundamental Library of the RA National Academy of Sciences, libraries of the Erevan State University, Yerevan Enginering University, and Yerevan Academy of Agriculture, State Public library free of charge. In accordance with the agreements achieved earlier on the exchange of patent information Armpatent send 19 copies of its official bulletins and 20 copies of the annual report to the patent offices of foreign countries.
In 1998 Armpatent received 366 CD-ROMs and 443 journals from 20 countries and three international organizations (EPO, WIPO, and EAPO). Of these, 308 journals were transferred to the patent library of the Armenian Scientific Research Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (ArmSRISTI), which was a significant addition to its fund of patent literature.
Armpatent remains active in further developing the legislative framework for the protection of industrial property. The need to engage into such type of work is explained by the following three circumstances:
Thus the new version of the Law "On patents" was rewritten and presented for approval, and came into effect on December 16, 1999. Appropriate changes were made to the Law "On state fees". The draft of the new Law "Trademarks and Service Marks and Appellation of Origin" was read for the first time in the Republic's National Assembly on December 28, 1999.
The new RA Law "On Trade Names" came into force on January 7, 2000.
Acting within its jurisdiction, Armpatent participated in the discussion of the draft of the RA Law "On the protection of consumer rights".
The main direction of international collaboration for Armpatent is the development and strengthening of cooperation with WIPO, EPO, and EAPO, participation in international agreements and treaties, professional development of the Armpatent staff by staff exchange and on-the-job training in foreign patent offices, as well as the development of bilateral and multilateral relations with patent offices of the CIS states and foreign countries, and with international or regional organizations.
In 1998 the Armpatent experts took part in the most important meetings of the working bodies of WIPO and in seminars organized by EPO under the TACIS and ICON programs.
Collaboration with the European Patent Organization may serve as an example of successful international collaboration. Ms. Nina Formby, Administrator of the International Technical Cooperation Department of the European Patent Office, was in Armenia with a three-day visit in September of 1998. She became acquainted with the work of the Office and discussed directions of further collaboration between EPO and Armpatent.
Mr. Van Bogart, Chief Administrator of the Documentation Department of EPO (Hague) visited Armpatent in February of 1998, and trained the staff of the Inventions and Utility Models Department on the use of the Mimosa CD-ROM.
EPO also rendered active methodological help in various aspects of Armpatent activity. In particular, 22 titles of patent literature, dictionaries, encyclopedias, manuals and journals on intellectual property were received.
In 1999 24 employees of the Office took part in similar seminars and symposia held in Vienna, Munich, Almaty, Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kishinev, Tbilisi, and Tashkent. The Armpatent head S.L. Khantardjian was voted to the post of Vice Chairman of the PCT Union Assembly at the 34th session of the WIPO Member States Assembly in Geneva, September 1999.
In September of 1999, for the purpose of holding consultations on making the RA legislation conform to the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement, the head of Industrial Property Law Enforcement Section of WIPO Mr. Jeno Bobrovszky visited Armpatent. In December of 1999, for the purpose of confirming the list of topics for the seminar to be held in Yerevan in October 2000, the Administrator of the International Technical Cooperation Department of the European Patent Office Ms. Nina Formby visited Armpatent. Among other issues, an agreement was reached on continued financing of the foreign language training for the Office staff in 2000.