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Key messages of the AmCham Business breakfast on the topics of IP in Slovenia and worldwide IP trends can be summarized as: “The need for clear governmental guidelines on encouraging innovation and for a more intensive education on IP.”

Joseph Straus, a leading authority in the field of intellectual property, shared an interesting fact on the number of new patents in individual EU countries within a year, and on how this affects innovation and protection of IP. “Slovenia registered 123 patents. A small country – Austria, however, registered twice as many patents as all new EU member states combined. This shows that newer member states do not innovate and have not done enough in the field of intellectual property protection.”

“Slovenian politicians don’t talk about IP, while the world is fully aware of its importance. Former Japanese prime minister emphasized that the most important intangible assets in the world are information and innovation. Former prime minister of China stated that our future is based on IP. Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce also noted that IP is the backbone of the American economy. Therefore a change in the Slovenian mindset will be crucial here,” emphasized Straus.

Slovenia is in the process of joining the unitary patent regulation in the EU. Bojan Pretnar, the first Director of the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office, noted that a common internal market requires a unitary patent. We already have a single brand and design, what we need is a unitary patent. The problem is in the structure; it is necessary to carefully examine the advantages and possible consequences of such changes.

Ankit A. Shukla, Frost&Sullivan Global, emphasized the following, based on his experiences; Companies have a problem primarily in deciding what (not) to protect and in what way. One of the possibilities is protecting the intellectual property. Pointing out the examples of the sale of Slovenian brands and Slovenian knowledge at a low price, he highlighted that businesses should be aware of whether or not its solutions are unique and whether or not they even want to be sold, prior to evaluation. The problem arises when companies are being sold despite skipping this important prior step and are thus unaware of their true value. With regards to the attitude to IP itself and to its protection, he added: “In the case of intellectual property, the background administration is very important and requires technocrats with sufficient knowledge, rather than bureaucrats.”

Maja Bogataj Jančič highlighted the key problem, which is related to the uncertainty in the changing IP legislation: “We have been debating the amendments of IP legislation for more than three years. Experts find it difficult to consult their clients, if government policies for the next 3 to 4 years remain uncertain.”

Straus warned: “Although Slovenia has functioned quite well under the current conditions, a change in attitudes is essential. With more and more patents reaching Slovenia, it will no longer be enough to invest in research and development, but to also understand that the costs of intellectual property protection are an investment for the future. We must understand that patents are not the only means of protection. Without adequate protection, Slovenian enterprises can expect more problems in the future.”

Several panelists discussed the lack of dialogue between the professional and public administrations and the dilemma of education in the field of intellectual property, which would lead to an attitude shift. Dr. Pretnar highlighted: “IP rights are entrepreneurial rights and the state should play a key role in establishing the dialogue with its companies. There is also a need for greater cooperation and integration between Slovenia and foreign experts in key areas. Systematic training of the judiciary would be essential, however, our judges are not present at international conferences. “

AmCham Intellectual Property Committee prepared a position paper on improving the field of IP in Slovenia, available here.

The sponsor of this AmCham Business breakfast was Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Hewlett Packard is undergoing a global reorganization and is divided into two parts; Hewlett Packard INC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Despite the closure of offices in 50 countries and its initial announcement to withdraw from Slovenia, the company decided to strengthen their presence in Slovenia, partly due to the ‘Slovenia, a green reference country in digital Europe’ program.

You can find photo gallery HERE.