Djura Mijatović, General Director of Živko Mijatović & Partners d.o.o.

No Progress Without Innovation

Law Office Živko Mijatović & Partners (ZMP) was established in Belgrade in 1939 as a general practise law firm, while over the last 30 years its lawyers have become experts in intellectual property rights. ZMP has a network of offices in 15 countries of Central and Eastern Europe

By aligning its regulations with the legislation of the EU, Serbia is advancing well on the road to establishing legal certainty and effective enforcement of intellectual property rights, which will result in the creation of a more favourable environment for technological development and advancing protections in the turnover of goods and services.

Innovations are taking over the place that used to belong to material items – resources and raw materials. Does this mean that intellectual capital is among the most important resources today?

– Intellectual capital is undoubtedly one of the key resources of the modern age. Now that we are at the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, which represents the upgrading of digitalisation that began in the middle of the last century, the emphasis is increasingly shifting from the mass production of material goods to the creation of new technologies.

This new kind of “production” is erasing the boundaries between the physical and digital, and placing innovative solutions at the top of our priorities when it comes to the advancement of civilisational flows.

The headquarters of your office is located in Alicante. Apart from Spain and Serbia, where else do you have offices?

– The office of Živko Mijatovic & Partners provides intellectual property protection and advisory services in a total of 15 European countries. Apart from offices in Alicante (Spain) and Belgrade (Serbia), we also have a direct presence in Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

To what extent are our intellectual property laws harmonised with European Union regulations; do we need a further alignment?

– National laws in the domain of protecting intellectual property rights are largely aligned with EU regulations. According to the European Commission’s latest report, Serbia has achieved a good level of alignment in this area. Significant progress is considered as having been made with the adoption of amendments to the Law on Patents, as well as with the adoption of a new strategic framework for the 2018-2022 period.

In the period ahead we also expect the adoption of the new Law on Copyright and Related Rights, the new Law on the Protection of Topographies of Agricultural Products, as well as important amendments to the Law on Trademarks.

The objective of amendments to the existing legislative framework in this area is to create a favourable environment for future business operations as a full member of the EU’s internal market.

EU Accession Negotiation Chapter 7, which regulates the issue of harmonising laws in this field, aims to establish legal certainty and the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Republic of Serbia, which will actually result in the creation of a more favourable environment for technological development and the improvement of protection in the turnover of goods and services.

How would you assess existing procedures in Serbia for the registration and protection of any form of intellectual property, or any creation of the human mind?

– Formal procedures for the registration of industrial property in the Republic of Serbia are conducted by the National Intellectual Property Office. Here I’m deliberately singling out the industrial property, given that copyright protection and related rights are not subject to formal protection procedures. The length of procedures at the National Intellectual Property Office are largely within the boundaries of the practice of most European institutes of this kind, and even considerably shorter compared to some countries of the region. As an example, I would like to single out the trademark protection procedure, which lasts – from the moment of filing until final registration – between six and nine months in Serbia.

Intellectual property rights are historically relatively young compared to all other acquis, so these types of challenges are equally present in our country as they are around the world

New technologies have imposed new demands and challenges on authors and national legislatures. Are we dealing with this in the right way?

– Familiarisation with new technologies and their constant advancement primarily represents a challenge for users. By extending on existing foundations, it is actually authors themselves who are pushing the boundaries when it comes to new technologies. They don’t represent a challenge for them, but rather, on the contrary, they provide the impetus for further creation.

The legislator, on the other hand, faces certain challenges that relate primarily to the adequate implementation of innovations within the scope of existing legal solutions. However, given that intellectual property rights are historically relatively young compared to all other acquis, these types of challenges are equally present in our country as they are around the world.

How important is it for exporters to think in advance about the protection of the origin of goods through geographical indication?

– Geographical indications of origin by their very nature can be, and most often are, a significant marketing tool that guarantees an advantage for the authorised user over the competition on the market, given that its use guarantees the origin, control and, ultimately, the quality of a product or service provided.

In the case of Serbia, when it comes to geographical indications of origin, we usually mean agricultural or artisan products, such as “Homolje honey” or “Pirot rug”, the protection of which enables their producers to enjoy a certain monopoly on trade. Moreover, they perhaps also play a significant role in promoting domestic culture and craftsmanship beyond the borders of our country.

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