Albanian IP legislation and practice have recorded over the past years significant developments towards the recognition and enforcement of IP rights by harmonizing national laws with the EU legislation and by increasing the active role of various public institutions in the process. However, there are yet some areas in need of improvement, both in terms of legislative adaptation as well as in terms of actions to be taken in practice,as per the conclusions and recommendations included in the latest Progress Report of the European Commission.
In response to the present needs, the Albanian Government started to draft the new National Strategy on IP for 2016-2020 involving in the process various public and private institutions, both local and international. The new strategy aims at boosting the national economy towards an innovativeeconomy based on knowledge. Part of this strategy comprises the enforcement of IP rights, the proper functioning of the judiciary system, as well as the modernization of the involvedenforcement authorities. The strategy alsosuggests that the IP system should encourage the transfer of technology through its own market, focusing on the sale and purchase of patented technologies. Moreover, itprioritizes public awareness campaigns on the importance of IP and aims at setting a certain number of objectives related to research and development as well as at strengthening the national public and private sectors’ scientific research. As a result, certain public funds will be created for the benefit of scientific research institutes by allocating government subsidies forresearch activities.
Further, based on the requirements and obligations arising from the Albanian-EU accession process, the Albanian IP system has to effectively secure the same level of IP rights protection with the one existing in the EU. In this respect, ALPTO has started drafting a new bill to amend the current IP law having as main objective toaccomplish the recommendationsofthe European Commission,fulfill the Albanian Government’s commitments and goals on shortening the procedural terms and increase the quality of service,solve the issues arising in practice during the implementation of the current law andadapt to the best practices of other international institutions. Other important objectives of the new legislative amendments will focus, inter alia, on simplifying the application procedures by enabling the online application modalities,the introduction of IP financingmechanism by leveraging the IP assets (trademarks, design rights, patents and copyright) in exchange for finance,a clearer legal definition of the criteria for identifying well known trademarks and setting the legal basis for licensing by ALPTO of IP experts requiredduring litigation and investigation.
Besides legislative amendments, the new strategy also aims at introducing several changes in the administrative practice of several public authorities. The main mission of the newly created market supervisory inspectorate is to guarantee the safety of products for consumers. In this respect, itshall be also responsible for monitoring the observance of IP rights related to consumer products and services. In addition, the state police and the customs authorities are considered to be the main players in preventing infringement and abuse of IP rights. New special units shall be created within each authority with a particular focus on anti-counterfeiting practices. Another very important aspect is the lack of experience of judges and prosecutors on IP matters. The strategy revealed that the School of Magistrates program includes an insignificant number of hours and trainings on IP legislation and practice. Increasingthe number of judges properly trained and having the necessary knowledge on IP will not only guarantee the proper enforcement of IP rights but will also have a significant impact on the general public and companies regarding the importance of such rights.
The new IP strategy for the next four years is an ambitious project setting high goals for Albania. Specialists estimate that with proper political and public support, the four-year term will suffice in achieving such goals. The reforms to be initiated by the Albanian Government on IP matters are expected to have the same importance as other reforms when considering the accession of Albania to the EU.