Monday

28th May 2018

Magazine

EU intellectual property office puts Alicante on the map

Five kilometres north of Alicante airport in Spain is the EU's Intellectual Property Office's (EUIPO) headquarters.

Along the coastline, the EUIPO building offers a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. Presently, there are roadworks which make for stop-and-go traffic on one of the main routes to enter the city. But once completed, a new bicycle lane will be in place, connecting Alicante and the EU agency.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • EUIPO's presence in Alicante represents 2,400 qualified jobs worth €376 million. (Photo: Les Haines)

EUIPO, currently the largest EU agency in terms of staff (913), is responsible for trademark and design registrations in the EU. It issues titles, which are applications for trademarks that have been registered and accepted, that are valid in all EU countries, a market of more than 500 million consumers - at least until the UK leaves.

The EUIPO building has an imposing facade of glass and concrete, but on the inside it is bright and full of open space. The exterior hosts plenty of green areas, and the view is only disrupted by the ongoing construction of the third office extension, which is set to accommodate the learning centre and the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights by October 2017.

This European Observatory has its annual plenary meeting on Wednesday (27 September) and Thursday.

Socio-economic footprint

Antonio Campinos, the executive director of EUIPO, once stated that 42 percent of the economic activity and a third of all jobs in Europe depend on companies that make extensive use of industrial and intellectual property rights. But what is the socio-economic footprint left by the agency itself in the Spanish region where it is based?

The construction of the third extension is an obvious way of assessing the impact of the agency on the region. EUIPO's new building will cost €13.7 million for 14,000 square metres of office space. But EUIPO needed to launch an EU-wide tender to get the job done.

"The awarded provider can be a joint venture made up of different companies with different nationalities", said Luis Berenguer, head of communications at EUIPO.

EUIPO's office seen from above (Photo: EUIPO)

Although many may think that local companies hold a logistical advantage, there were no guarantees that the contract would be awarded to any of them. In the end, the tender was given to a firm with an office in Alicante, but headquartered in Madrid. EUIPO has not kept records of how often tenders have been awarded to a local company.

Sometimes the agency has a very direct impact on the region, like when it purchased a stretch of road from the Alicante municipality in 2016. The €250,000 price tag, however, only represented 0.001 percent of the municipality's €246 billion income that year.

Ecosystem

Another way to look at the agency's regional impact is to take into account the knowledge and expertise it brings to the area.

A 2015 study by the Chamber of Commerce of Alicante showed that EUIPO's presence in the area represents 2,400 qualified jobs worth €376 million - up by 26 percent since 2013.

According to the report, EUIPO's presence in Alicante has affected the region on different levels - socially as well as economically. The location of the agency in Alicante boosted an entire ecosystem of goods, services, capital, education and qualified professionals.

An entire intellectual property (IP) ecosystem has grown around EUIPO. "For example, the only Trademark Court in Spain is situated in Alicante, as a result of the office's presence here", Berenguer told EUobserver. "Many important law firms that deal with intellectual property matters opened branches in Alicante", he said.

Berenguer, a native of Alicante, considered the office's location "a very good fit" as Alicante "has always been a very international city". Nevertheless, he added: "It's fair to say that no matter what seat had been chosen for our office back in 1993, the same effect would have occurred".

Defend to the death

Ximo Puig, the president of the regional government of Valencia, has described EUIPO as "the most important European agency in the Mediterranean" and underlined its presence in the region as "our connection to a project that we defend to the death - that is Europe". This view is shared by Adrian Ballester Espinosa, an official at the county council of Alicante, who told EUobserver that "EUIPO helps the province to identify itself more with Europe".

Gabriel Echavarri, the mayor of Alicante, emphasised the importance of the agency for the city. "One can realise its importance when travelling to Brussels. There you find out that everybody knows where Alicante is because it is home to EUIPO," said Echavarri in an interview. He added that "Alicante would not be the same in any sense without EUIPO".

The socio-economic impact of EUIPO in the region is positive, although limited. As Berenguer said, "We are happy to see the city is growing and developing, but the objective of EUIPO is not, and should not be, to transform the city or the province".

The EU agency illuminates Alicante on the map - pushing the city beyond tourism, good food and long beaches - and makes it a bit more European.

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2017 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

The EU agency that has too much money

The office that sells EU trademarks has had a budget surplus for a decade. But new rules that allow that money to be spent for the benefit of all EU citizens are vague.

Visual Data

Mediterranean towns ready for EU-sponsored free wifi

The European Union's fund for free wireless internet connection hotspots is most popular in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania. Check if your municipality pre-registered.

Magazine

Decision day for EU agencies relocation race

EU ministers will decide on the future location of two London-based EU agencies on Monday. In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Magazine

History of the agencies (re)shuffle

The history of how EU agency seats were established shows that political deal-making, not logic or objective criteria, is the decisive factor.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations