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At the beginning of this year, Hager Group invited representatives from the German and French patent offices to exchange their experiences at a meeting in Blieskastel, Saarland. Employees from the National Industrial Property Institute (Institut national de la propriété industrielle, INPI) in Strasbourg and the Saar Patent and Trademark Centre (Patent- und Markenzentrum, PMZ), part of saaris, were joined at the meeting by specialists from the patent departments at Hager Group's sites in Obernai and Blieskastel.
The aim of the event was to identify opportunities for cooperation that could provide extra support for companies on both sides of the border, assisting them with the process of applying for patents and monitoring these patents. Hager Group currently has 3,000 patents in force, publishing 90 patents in 2017 alone. The corporation has a huge vested interest in this subject and is extremely enthusiastic about coming up with concrete ideas for future collaborations.
A joint presentation of the two patent institutions in Saarbrücken is already planned for 2018 as a follow-up to this knowledge-sharing event. This event will give innovative companies who cooperate closely with neighbouring France an opportunity to learn important information about applying for property rights and monitoring these rights in the two countries. They will also find the answers to questions relating to their line of business. An event like this was previously held in 2016.
saaris spoke to Pierre Albe, Head of the Patent Department at Hager Group, and asked him about the importance of collaborations and patents:
Mr Albe, what is the role of patents at Hager Group?
Patents are industrial property rights that we use to protect the technical inventions featured in our products in the country of sale, which in turn enables us to defend ourselves against forgeries. Thanks to the title of the patent, we can fight and challenge forgeries of our products. Patents and patent applications are closely connected to our innovative work. They allow us to retain our market share in the countries where our patents are registered. They also help us to form partnerships with important stakeholders in our industrial sector.
Can you tell us more about one of your many existing patents in the market?
We presented a new solution called ‘hello’ at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Built into the distribution cabinet, this plug-in device uses an app to alert the consumer to any possible electrical failures in the home, for example, when the fuse blows in the fridge. We will be launching the product in the French market in spring 2018. Cooperating with the innovation, development and patent department enabled us to get applications for two different patents off the ground to protect the innovations featured in these products. The patents deal with the technology that is used to detect the failure and the way in which the information is communicated to consumers via the app.
What are your key takeaways from the talks with saaris and the INPI?
The meeting with saaris and INPI has given us a deeper understanding of the remit and network of these two institutions. As a result, we will be able to manage our portfolio of patents more effectively in the future and gain easier access to information regarding new technologies and players in the market.