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Harmonization is the Name of the Game in Albania: A Buzz Interview with Renata Leka of Boga & Associates

Harmonization is the Name of the Game in Albania: A Buzz Interview with Renata Leka of Boga & Associates

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Albania is going all in on harmonizing with European Union standards – especially in the realm of intellectual property, according to Boga & Associates Partner Renata Leka. Despite plenty of ground left to cover, the Boga Partner is optimistic the country will see "significant progress in the coming years."

"The harmonization of Albania's legislation with EU standards is a dynamic and ongoing process," Leka begins. "This involves numerous ministries and agencies working together to reshape our legal landscape, especially in terms of intellectual property. Over the past 30 years, we've seen significant changes, however, we still lack specialized courts dedicated to IP matters, which hinders the speed and effectiveness of legal proceedings," she says.

Leka continues by saying that enforcement has been a particular focus. "Despite the progress made, there are still considerable challenges. For instance, our State Inspectorate of Market Surveillance needs more human resources and better infrastructure to detect and address infringements effectively and customs face logistical issues related to storage space for seized counterfeited products." According to her, these problems have persisted over the years, but efforts to harmonize legislation with the EU continue.

Leka reports that an Intellectual Property & Innovation conference will be held next week, "where stakeholders – including the newly formed Ministry of Economy, Culture and Innovation – will discuss recent changes and future plans." Commenting on the newly formed ministry, she explains that "this merger of ministries aims to streamline IP administration and avoid duplication of efforts, given their organic connection to economic and cultural matters." Specifically, the merger is intended to "facilitate the administration of IP matters and economic issues more efficiently, by reducing redundancy and streamlining processes, ultimately leading to better policy implementation and enforcement," in addition to other goals. As for the conference itself, Leka says it will serve as a roundtable for discussing the challenges businesses face and the legislative improvements needed. "The focus will be on harmonization and the journey toward EU integration, bringing together various stakeholders to address pressing issues in the IP and innovation landscape.”

Sidestepping into other legislative matters, Leka reports that there are several initiatives underway. “A new draft law dedicated to trademarks is now up for public consultation. It aims to fully align with relevant EU legislation. In this context, both the WIPO and EUIPO have reviewed and commented on the draft and provided their positive views." Moreover, she reports that there is a "new cybersecurity law partially aligned with EU Directive no. 2022/2555, and there's a proposal to fully harmonize our competition law with EU standards." On the data protection front, Leka reports that "a draft law aligned with GDPR is also expected to pass soon."

Looking ahead, Leka feels that the future is promising, but that there is also much work to be done. "Continued collaboration among stakeholders and sustained efforts to align with EU standards will be crucial. With the right resources and infrastructure, I believe we can achieve significant progress in the coming years," she concludes.

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