• 18 May 2023


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    “Most of the time a patent is the success of a business”

    La Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas define patente como: un título que reconoce el derecho de explotar en exclusiva una invención. Esto impide a otros su fabricación, venta o utilización sin consentimiento del titular

    Today we talk to Pedro Cartagena, industrial property expert at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) and coordinator of the European cooperation project in Egypt that has been working for two years to improve the Egyptian patent system. 

    Why is it important to have a patented product?  

    In a company, whether small or large, it is important to have a patented innovation, because most of the time this patent constitutes the success of your business. Keep in mind that a patent not only gives you a monopoly on the exploitation of what you protect, but also prevents your competitors from commercialising the innovation you have patented. In addition, a patent generally gives prestige to your company and, when necessary, can also become a means of financing. Patents can be sold, or you can allow another company to use them in whole or in part in exchange for an agreed remuneration. 

    How many innovations are patented each year in Egypt?  

    About 2,000 patents are applied for in Egypt every year, which is a rather low number considering the population of about 100 million. However, more than the population, what usually influences patent applications is the degree of development of the country and its spending on R&D, as this is what generates innovations, and these innovations could be patented. In the case of Egypt, we are talking about a developing country with a per capita income considered to be medium-low, so it is quite logical that it has this number of applications. 

    Is it more difficult for SMEs and researchers to patent their innovations? 

    SMEs and researchers are two completely different sectors, but they have in common that they patent very little. This is mainly because they are largely unaware of both the patent system and the advantages of patenting.  

    In the case of researchers, they still give priority to publishing the results of their research before applying for a patent, when the two things are completely compatible, if they are done in a synchronised way. In other words, first you apply for a patent and then you can publish the results of your research. 

    In the case of SMEs, sometimes they don’t even know that they have something they can patent, and they think that it is an expensive and complicated procedure and that it is only for big companies. In the European project we have done with the Egyptian office, we have worked to strengthen the office’s relations with the research community in universities and research centres in Egypt. In addition, we have also established a strategy to bring patents closer to small and medium-sized enterprises and a whole series of informative materials have been developed to inform them of the advantages of patents for their business. 

    How can the public benefit from an innovation being patented? 

    The public will generally benefit from any innovation that is commercialised and, on the market, whether it is patented or not. What is important for society is that what the patent system does is to encourage innovation, and by encouraging innovation, new products or processes will be produced that will be innovative and will contribute to the greater well-being of society. 

    What has been achieved with this project in Egypt and what challenges remain to be addressed? 

    During these more than two years of the project, beneficial results have been achieved for the Egyptian office in terms of greater outreach to researchers and SMEs, as I mentioned earlier. But in addition to this, more than 50 patent examiners have been trained so that they in turn can train future examiners who join the office and can also participate in giving talks to SMEs and researchers about the patent system and its advantages, which in some way will also contribute to increasing patent applications.  

    In addition, different work manuals have also been drawn up for some of the departments and units of the office. But perhaps the most important thing, as I also mentioned before, is the achievement of the ISO 9001 2015 certification for quality management systems for companies and institutions. This makes the Egyptian office one of the most relevant offices in the African region.  

    As for the challenges facing the Egyptian patent office, it is like most patent offices in the rest of the world, which is basically to ensure that small and medium-sized companies integrate a patent culture into their business strategies, that they patent more, and that these patents are also of high quality. 

    What do you bring back to Spain both professionally and personally? 

    As a professional, during this time I have learned a different way of working and of approaching things and problems, since living in Spain we don’t realise that in general, in the European Union, everything is standardised and if you move from one country to another there are no major differences in terms of developing your professional activity.  

    However, when you arrive in Egypt, although it is a country that in your normal life is not excessively different from what you are used to, because it is a Mediterranean country, on a professional level you do notice a lot of differences.  

    On a personal level, I have brought back an incredible experience, and, above all, I have realised how privileged we are to have practically everything and sometimes even more than we need, not only to develop our professional activity, but also for our personal life. 


  • 18 May 2023


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    Cooperation to strengthen community policing in Lebanon

    Joaquin Plasencia Garcia, Chief Inspector of the National Police and director of the project “Support to Community Policing in Lebanon” together with Valentina Salvato, project technician, give us an overview of the work done and some of the objectives achieved by the National Police during the first two years of implementation of the project to strengthen community policing in Lebanon.

    A CHALLENGE FOR LEBANON: People’s trust in the security forces

    Lebanon remains a fragile country politically and economically. The explosion in the port of Beirut disrupted the country’s economic activity. Moreover, this tragedy came at a terrible time when Lebanon is struggling with a deep economic and social crisis that was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Frustration with the government and the political elite had been building up for years, and the country’s long-term economic problems increasingly clash with the daily lives of its population. Public anger has grown in recent years and, since October 2019, protesters have taken to the streets across the country, accusing the leaders of Lebanon’s sectarian-based political system of widespread corruption that has left the country with poor infrastructure, few services and a sinking economy.

    Despite the progressive professionalisation of the Internal Security Forces (FSI), the organisation still suffers from organisational weaknesses. Hence, recent events during the demonstrations have seriously undermined public confidence in the security sector, and the need to reinforce and strengthen community policing.

    Community Policing

    When we talk about community policing we refer to a reciprocal and participative relationship between the police and the population. The idea is to maintain contact and dialogue between the police and the citizens in order to find out what the priority problems are for the community, encouraging the population to participate proactively in their security, and being able to promote the solution of these problems. Proximity policing is to ensure that the population sees the police as an ally in case of need, bringing citizens closer to the police.

    The project

    With funding from the European Union, the FIIAPP is working with the Spanish National Police and the collaboration of CIVIPOL on the project “Supporting Community Policing in Lebanon”, with the aim of improving the service provided to citizens and in that sense facilitating the transition from a force-based policing approach to a citizen-oriented policing service.

    In two years of work, specialists from the National Police have exchanged experiences with their Lebanese counterparts on issues such as crowd control, first response in emergency situations, gender-based violence and stress management for police personnel, among others.

    So far, more than 900 police officers, including 52 female police officers, from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), the equivalent of the National Police, have been trained. Instructors from the ISF academy have been involved in order to achieve maximum sustainability of the project and to be able to continue and reiterate the training to the rest of their personnel.


    Various activities are being carried out in the project, many of them by specialists from the Judicial Police, the Forensic Police and the Police Intervention Unit. Likewise, in order to serve and protect the population and at the same time take care of the Lebanese police itself, priority is given to both internal and external communication, so training in assertive communication techniques has been carried out following the model of the National Police.

    Victim identification in major disasters

    On 4 August 2020, an explosion took place in the port of Beirut, causing widespread destruction of homes, businesses and infrastructure. In addition, this explosion left more than 200 people dead, more than 7000 injured and some bodies missing. This disaster revealed the weaknesses of ISF personnel in identifying victims in major disasters.

    But it also made it possible, as part of the project to support community policing in Lebanon, to organise an activity in which members of the General Commissariat of the Scientific Police of the National Police trained members of the Scientific Police of the ISF for ten days, with the aim of providing a professional response to the families of the victims at the time of identification and avoiding some of the mistakes that have been made in traumatic events such as the explosion in the port of Beirut, although it is normal in such situations and pressures that mistakes are made, hence the importance of continuing training for any situation that may arise.

    First response in emergency situations

    In recent years there have been a large number of terrorist or “lone wolf” attacks in Europe. The first responders to these attacks are elite special teams such as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team). However, the reality is that the first responders in such situations are the patrols, who were not trained in how to handle such scenarios. These patrols were formed to be able to mitigate, minimise and neutralise while awaiting the arrival of the special forces that intervene in these cases.

    In Lebanon, it was decided to implement this same approach based on lessons learned from Europe, due to the high number of weapons circulating among the population and public disorder events such as bank robberies or shootings that require responses from emergency and imminent danger units.

    For this reason, within the framework of the European project, specialists from the National Police’s Prevention and Reaction Units have carried out six training activities for the benefit of the Lebanese ISF emergency units. More than 100 Lebanese police officers from the municipalities of Beirut, Dekwaneh, Saida and Tripoli, involved in direct response to 112 calls, have been trained. The main objective of this first response is to “save lives” and minimise the risk and danger to citizens in case of imminent danger. In addition, personnel from both the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the municipal police are being trained in first aid techniques and equipped with the necessary equipment, so that they can react to any type of damage or injury.

    Domestic violence

    Domestic violence is an endemic problem in Lebanon. In 2020, the number of cases of gender-based violence increased from 747 to 1,468 according to statistics collected by the FSI.

    Dos expertas de la Policía Nacional han realizado una evaluación con diferentes unidades policiales de las FSI, organizaciones de la sociedad civil y del sector de la justicia y se han formulado unas recomendaciones para la creación de una Unidad de Violencia de Género.

    Two experts from the National Police have conducted an assessment with different police units of the FSI, civil society organisations and the justice sector and recommendations for the creation of a Gender-Based Violence Unit have been formulated.

    In order to promote the creation of this specialised unit, a training plan has been established and carried out, consisting of four courses lasting ten days each, which have been carried out by specialists from the General Commissariat of the Judicial Police and the Family and Women’s Attention Units (UFAM). 117 members of the FSI belonging to the Judicial Police, Control Room, Human Rights Division and Investigation Department have been able to benefit from this specialised training. These units lead investigations into this type of crime and provide direct assistance to victims of domestic violence, minors and vulnerable groups.

    After participating in the training on domestic violence carried out by the Judicial Police and the UFAM, police officer Taghrid Fayad states “We, as female police officers, consider that any woman who suffers domestic violence can be a sister or a mother. These training sessions are very beneficial and help to strengthen our skills to reduce domestic violence cases“.

    For his part, Colonel Elie Al Asmar says “we have found that we can refer to good practices and long experience in the fight against domestic violence in Spain and we try to learn from them and make these good practices work in our police stations”.

    Tras mirar hacia atrás y realizar un análisis para proyectarnos en los próximos dos años del proyecto hasta su finalización, seguiremos trabajando con la participación de la Policía Nacional en actividades previstas para el 2023. Una de las próximas actividades que tendrá lugar entre el 28 de enero y el 10 de febrero será sobre cómo gestionar las denuncias por parte de los ciudadanos hacia miembros de la Policía. Especialistas de la Unidad de Régimen Disciplinario de la Policía Nacional proporcionarán una formación específica a los miembros de las unidades de régimen interior de las FSI sobre cómo gestionar las quejas de la población libanesa.

    After looking back and conducting an analysis to project the next two years of the project until its completion, we will continue to work with the participation of the National Police in activities planned for 2023. One of the next activities that will take place between 28 January and 10 February will be on how to handle complaints from citizens to members of the police. Specialists from the Disciplinary Regime Unit of the National Police will provide specific training to members of the FSI’s internal regime units on how to handle complaints from the Lebanese population.



  • 16 February 2017


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    “They are inspired by the enthusiasm of contributing to the improvement of justice in a country like Turkey”

    Vanessa Untiedt, FIIAPP's special envoy in Turkey, tells us how a project to strengthen free legal aid in Turkey is being implemented in spite of the difficult context of the country.

    Views of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.

    The project to strengthen free legal aid in Turkey, managed by FIIAPP, started on 16th June 2016. After barely a month, there was an attempted coup d’état, which we refer to colloquially as the “15th of July”. Whenever we make any official mention of the failed coup d’état, we are talking about: before 15 July or after 15 July, but without using the words “coup d’état”.

    The situation in Turkey after that date is complicated. There have been mass arrests and suspensions, which have affected all areas of society, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers… However, the progress of the project has not been directly affected. As a result, we continue working, and many Spanish experts are still coming to Ankara to work on the objectives we set over a year ago. Five of these experts were in Ankara the night of 15th July and, even so, they have come back on several occasions. In my opinion, they are inspired by the enthusiasm of the sense that they are contributing to improving justice administration in a country like Turkey, where the refugee crisis has accentuated the need for strengthening the system for accessing justice. Without the work of the experts, this project could not be carried out, nor would it be possible without the help of the project leader, Amparo Mahiques, and the technical assistant, Esther Utrilla. The ongoing support of the Spanish embassy in Ankara is also noteworthy, especially that of Ambassador Rafael Mendivil.

    The free legal aid and access to justice project is complicated:

    • On one hand, we have two beneficiaries: the Turkish Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice. Two beneficiaries whose relations, before the project started, were less than fluid when not non-existent. Nevertheless, over these months, we have managed to bring them together each time there is an activity, and they have travelled to three countries together (in these seven months of the project, they have completed 12 activities and made three study visits, to Lithuania, Spain and France).
    • On the other hand, although Spain is leading the project, we are working in a consortium with Lithuania and France. This circumstance is often enriching, but other times it is quite complicated to combine the different visions on implementation of the project.

    Although the Twinning projects of the countries applying to join the European Union are aimed at facilitating the country’s entrance into the Union, in this project we try not to look too far ahead but to take things one step at a time.

    Right now we are working on a rather interesting component that involves raising the visibility of the project and working on ways to make justice more accessible to citizens. Firstly, we establish the groups that, due to their vulnerability, should be targeted for greater attention: refugees, women who are victims of gender-based violence, people living in rural areas, minors, disabled persons…Then we establish the channels through which to show them what their rights are when accessing justice, as well as the possibility of having a lawyer defend them in court.

    We are ambitious. In each component, we try to expand the objectives negotiated initially. We aren’t always successful, but if we can at least achieve one or more of those set at the beginning, we consider that a reason for satisfaction. 

    In the seven months of the project, we have achieved the following goals, among others:

    • There has been a discussion of the convenience (and need) for there to be a single law on free legal aid. You see, today’s regulations on free legal aid are dispersed in various legal texts. Publication of this law will be a great help both to lawyers and to judges and prosecutors.
    • We have managed to conduct a satisfaction survey of the users of the free legal aid system. Although this is an apparently simple task, in the end it turned out to be quite complicated. Firstly, due to the reluctance shown by the beneficiaries; secondly, because once these were overcome, it was necessary to reach agreement with the two beneficiaries on how to go about it; and lastly, because the costs of conducting the survey had to be covered by the beneficiary country, as stipulated in the project contract.
    • A catalogue was designed so that law graduates could learn about the steps to be followed to access the lists of legal-aid lawyers.
    • The possibility of eliminating the taxes legal-aid lawyers pay on the fees they receive was assessed.
    • A strategic communication plan was designed which contemplates the existence of a bus that would circulate between the different cities providing information about the right to free legal aid and the channels and requirements for exercising this right.
    • Work has begun on building a website where citizens can find out in a simple and accessible manner about the steps to take when they need a lawyer and lack the economic resources to hire one.