MITLA Will Guide CounteR’s Partners on Key Legal Aspects, Related to Project’s Workings

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An interview with Dr. Michael Zammit Maempel, project manager at Malta IT Law Association (MITLA), published in CounteR newsletter #4.

Dr. Maempel, what are MITLA‘s specific roles in, and contributions for, the CounteR Project within the consortium?

In simple terms, MITLA’s role on the CounteR Project is to research the legal areas into which the project will venture. These are primarily related to the fundamental right to privacy of the individual, especially as expressed in the General Data Protection Regulation. MITLA will also be contributing to those aspects that involve intellectual property. Overall, MITLA will be guiding the partners on the key legal issues that affect the workings of the project to ensure that it is legally compliant at all times.

What are the key outcomes of the discussions with relevant project partners, initiated by MITLA, for the identification of intellectual property assets developed within the project?

The project is roughly in its middle, which means that the exciting times when things start to come together and the intellectual property issues are examined are about to start. In this sense, MITLA will firstly be educating the project partners on what their respective rights are, and what third party rights they need to watch out for; and, secondly, will be compiling a full registry of IP rights that have been used or created in the project. This registry will then form one of the bases on which the commercial exploitation of the project can be assessed and mapped out.

What are the planned steps ahead for designing an IPR protection strategy?

Once the collection of the raw information from all the partners is complete, it will be possible to assess whether there is any basis in hand for the registration of any trademarks, designs, or patents. Since copyright is not registrable, those elements of the project that are subject to copyright will be highlighted either as challenges or opportunities.

MITLA and ICON hosted CounteR’s consortium meeting in September in Malta. What are your key takeaways from the interaction with the project partners?

Due to the pandemic, face-to-face meetings could not occur during the project’s first year, and the Malta meeting was only the second in-person meeting in the course of the project. This gathering highlighted how direct communication is often more effective than virtual meetings and how – despite our love for technology – human interaction is always stronger and more impactful than its digital counterpart.

What experience does MITLA have so far with EU Horizon 2020 projects?

Since 2017, MITLA has been a project partner on three Horizon 2020 projects, including CounteR, and all of which have drawn on MITLA’s knowledge and research skills in ICT law. The RED Alert Project had aims and objectives that were similar to those of CounteR, and was successfully completed in 2021. Meanwhile, MITLA is also working on the BorderUAS Project which aims at monitoring Europe’s land borders by using lighter-than-air unassisted aerial vehicles equipped with sensors that can detect illegal human movement or activity across the densely-forested and often inaccessible terrain on the EU’s Eastern frontier.

Dr. Michael Zammit Maempel

Dr. Michael Zammit Maempel is a graduate of the University of Malta and Queen Mary University of London, with specialist degrees in Computers and Communications Law. He has been a practising lawyer for 21 years and a MITLA member since its earliest days, and also a member of its Executive Committee.
In 2017, Dr. Maempel took on the role of Project Manager for the first EU Horizon 2020 project taken on by MITLA, a role which he carries to this day. In this respect, he coordinates the work carried out by MITLA’s team of researchers, all of whom are members of the organisation.

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