What to expect on Intellectual Property as Colombia joins the OECD

Álvaro Ramírez Bonilla
CEO, Latin American IP LLC 

Colombia has recently been accepted to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is the third Latin American country to join this organization after Mexico and Chile.

In the region, Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico and the fourth largest economy after Argentina.

The OECD is an international organization composed of 37 countries. The main objective of this organization is to promote policies to improve social and economic well-being, as well as to achieve the strongest possible expansion of the economy and employment in the member countries and the developing non-member countries.

Belonging to the OECD “club” means to share standards, public policies and good practices common in the most developed countries. This makes a positive impact in terms of investments, services and international business exchanges, which are good news for European SMEs.

The road to accession

Accession demands considerable efforts to fulfill the requirements and minimum standards set out by the OECD.

Intellectual Property (IP) regulations were one of the obstacles Colombia had to face during the process to join OECD. The United States of America included Colombia on its last 301 USTR report (an annual report that “evaluates the level of adequacy and effectiveness provided by U.S. trading partners’ countries on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) protection and enforcement” as it was explained in a previous article here).

Colombia has made significant progress to live up to its responsibilities and must continue to do so. As a result of the taken measures, the country has dramatically reduced its prosecution timeframes. Nowadays, registering a trademark can take as little as four months while in 2000 it took 24 months. The same happened with patents — the time frame was reduced from 55 months to 37.

Colombia to adapt its regulation to demands and policies of the OECD, also has carried out several actions, among them a new copyright law that seeks to protect economic rights for writers, actors, artists and other creators.

What to expect

The OECD will probably propose to create an independent IP authority. Currently the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) is the IP authority, which is also in charge of competition law, and consumer and data protection. Many countries already have a specialised office devoted exclusively to IP matters.

We agree with this proposal of an independent entity with its own court system, including the ability to review the granting decision. This function is now on the hands of the highest court of the Administrative law, the Council of State. Unfortunately, this court has a big backlog and IP is not in its priorities. This is a very sensitive matter as most conflicts between parties involve disputes around the validity of IP rights. At this time, civil courts cannot determine the validity of an IP right so cases get suspended until the Council of State makes a decision.

Challenges Colombia must overcome

The Colombian economy is highly dependable on commodities. Coffee, coal and oil have been the major legal Colombian exports. The biggest challenge is to diversify the Colombian offer and the manufacturing of higher value goods and services.

The use of IP by Colombians has been strengthened. Although the number of patent applications filed by locals is very small, the government, through Colciencias, has made an effort to support inventor’s initiatives, but there is still much more to be done.

International organizations like CAF (Andean Development Corporation- Development Bank of Latin America) is also working on increasing the use of the patent system. It has achieved an important growth in Panama, where the pilot project was performed.

Regarding geographical indications, Colombia has more than 26 geographical indications, related to artisanal and agro-food products, among which the most important one is “Café de Colombia”. The SIC has made efforts to seek the protection for more indications that have an impact on international markets.

Colombia has to improve its agenda on IP for innovation. Both the public and private sector must work closely in optimizing the use of IP as an engine for development.

Conclusion

We are confident that Colombia is taking the right steps and will create a safer environment for innovation and foster trust among EU SMEs interested in entering the Colombian market. We strongly believe that, as a new member of the OECD, Colombia will improve its overall innovation process and IP system.

GDPR: a simple approach for European and Latin American SMEs

Alessio Balbo di Vinadio – Trainee at Clarke, Modet & Co. Spain

Following our previous publication on data processing, this article will address the issue of the first few small repercussions of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (hereinafter ‘GDPR’) on the online world.

In that same aforementioned article, the author rightly stated that companies should hurry up for compliance, as time was running out and the road to achieving full compliance is a very long one (depending on the activity the company carries out, obviously!). One would think that now, approaching the end of the first decade of June 2018, most businesses have already taken care of the privacy matter, in light of its pivotal importance. Well, as we all know, that is not true (not for everyone, at least).

This article is intended to provide a useful overview of important aspects not only for European SMEs but also for Latin American companies operating in the European Union (EU), since one of the highlights of the new regulation is its broadened scope: it is applicable to all companies in the world that handle personal data from European customers, even if the processing takes place outside of the EU.

Preliminarily, it is worth noting that in contrast to the European Union, at present, Latin America has no harmonised legislation on data and privacy, due to different national legislations. This inevitably leads to different levels of protection, all of them still considerably lower than the EU standards (i.e. Guatemala, for instance, still lacks a specific legislation on data protection).

Bearing this in mind, the Latin American region is making serious efforts to respond to the demands of today’s global market. Notwithstanding the current situation, through the Ibero-American Data Protection Network (RIPD) some regional standards have been set as a reference for future implementations. There is still a long way to go and striking differences between countries yet remain. However, it must be acknowledged that Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile stand out for their domestic legislations on the matter, by virtue either of their age or the existence of local authorities specialized in data protection.

Indeed, all these relative progresses both national and regional, have been developed in accordance with the model established by the EU-GDPR. Therefore, these countries are likely aware of the need to bring Latin American legislation in line with Europe’s in order to attract foreign investment and create a better climate for European SMEs.

Let’s quickly analyse the GDPR: the main changes concern the personal data definition, the increased territorial scope, the penalties, the consent, the newly introduced rights (to access, to be forgotten, data portability), the immediate (within 72 hours) and compulsory data breach notification and, finally, the introduction of the Data Protection Officers (DPO – compulsory only in some cases). Furthermore, companies need to comply with the definitions of ‘Privacy by design’ and ‘Privacy by default’ when dealing with personal data.

Certainly, it can be affirmed that consent is at the very centre of this legislation. The Consent has to be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”, “clearly distinguishable, intelligible and using clear and plain language”, according to, respectively, articles 4 and 7 of the GDPR.

Prior to this introduction, privacy had not been changed this radically for over 20 years and the “data market” was ‘wild’ and uncontrolled. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy lawyer, filed a complaint in 2013 against Mark Zuckerberg’s social network Giant due to the lack of Privacy compliance by Facebook. In his unveiling to the general public, Mr Schrems disclosed 1,200 pages of data that Facebook possessed on him and proved the flaws of the social network’s privacy policy (and its consequent conduct) to be enormous. As an example, prior to those decisions, Facebook would transmit personal data to app developers, with no reason or legally obtained consent. The ‘profiling’ (“any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person”, as defined by article 4 GDPR) was an activity that allowed Facebook to provide Page Managers with users’ precise information for the advertisement targeting. Advertising was a very relevant source of income for Mark Zuckerberg’s tech Giant.

We are only a few days away the entry into force of the new GDPR and the email boxes of half the planet have been filled up with newsletters, data processing requests, “We care about your privacy” statements and so forth. Notwithstanding, when analysing those emails, not all of them appear to be fully compliant and actually, most of them, have not achieved the ‘simplification’ requirement of privacy law, which was one of the many targets of the GDPR. In fact, emails with excessive material and written in “legalese” (technical-juridical language) do not allow the consent to be informed for the majority of the public, due to the extremely complex language used by the policies.

This new regulation has re-shaped the online (and offline) world, as we have moved from an (online) environment with full access to websites and limitless actions available, to almost completely blocked websites until full GDPR compliance is achieved. To this regard, in these days, when accessing websites, very disturbing banners do not allow the correct displaying of the website (or will ‘bother’ you until you click “I agree”). Additionally, if you are an ‘informed user’ and want to know the purposes of the processing of personal data on the accessed website, a “More information” button should be available (usually next to the “I agree” box) and you should be provided with full disclosure of the data processing carried out on such page. Normally, clicking on that button will redirect the user to a special page displaying the cookies implied (which can be essential, functional and targeting). That particular page is where your preferences will be saved by the “Controller” (the legal entity that determines the purposes of the processing) or the “Processor” (the legal entity that actually processes the data) so that each user’s data will (or will not) be processed and, especially, inform the user for what purposes.

Before the introduction of such law, privacy was almost “disregarded”, as it referred to lengthy and boring legislation with few implications. Nowadays, we can undoubtedly assert that there was – and there still is – indeed a big business on (personal) data used with no legitimate consent. The change derives from the concern that companies have developed about the newly regulated sanctions, in accordance with article 83(4) and 83(5) of the GDPR (20 Million or 4% of the global revenue – whichever is higher – for the harshest fine and 10 million or 2% of the annual global revenue – again, whichever is higher).

In recent days, we have seen many blocked non-EU websites, which, prior to the entry into force of the GDPR, were accessible for European users. Many businesses from all over the world are still not yet compliant with the GDPR, mainly due to the investment required, both economically and in terms of time-management. Full compliance will come with time and dedication, and hopefully, companies that process big amounts of personal data will stop seeing it as an asset and start approaching it in a more intimate and personal manner. The temporary blockage of the access from the EU (until full compliance is achieved) has to be merely momentary, as the GDPR is an issue that has to be addressed compulsorily, as the repercussions can be relevant (sanctions). An incentive to avoid permanent blockage of the website to EU customers would be to avoid losing a considerable market share (significant to most businesses – 508 million inhabitants). As a suggestion, quick GDPR compliance companies have found a niche market at the moment (i.e.Trustarc or OneTrust); these provide a minimum level of compliance and allow to ‘buy’ some time in order to align the business to the newly introduced legislation.

In short: how can we know if the EU GDPR applies to my company?

Due to its wide range, it appears to be difficult not to be affected by the GDPR, but let us summarize in which cases it will be mandatory to implement its measures:

  • When the company tracks EU customers’ data;
  • When the company is based outside the EU but provides goods and/or services (even when free of charge) to EU customers;
  • EU-based companies’ data is collected and processed regardless of the place of collection. This means that EU SMEs operating in Latin America must comply, in any case, with the EU GDPR (even if the data comes from Latin-American customers only) due to the nationality of the company itself.

Generally, compliance is always suggested and carefulness is needed when processing any kind of personal data originating from the EU, so be carefully compliant!

TMview steps in Latin America

Teresa Colaço
Quality Manager – INPI Portugal

The idea behind the creation in 2010 of TMview, the online trademark consultation tool currently managed by EUIPO -formerly known as the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM)-, was the incorporation of the trademarks from around the EU network into its database, allowing easy and effective search among the participating EU national offices and EUIPO.

TMview was launched with trademarks from Benelux, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, the OHIM and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)- around 4 million trademarks in total, being Greece the last European country to join in 2013.

As regards Latin America, the Mexican integration in 2013 became TMview’s first steps into the region. Since then, five more LA countries have joined this platform: Brazil (February 2016), Colombia (June 2017), Peru (October 2017), Argentina (November 2017) and Chile (April 2018). The entry of these six countries of Latin America, enriched this database with more than 9.3 million trademarks, and currently, they represent over 20% of its content.

TMview provides access to more than 47, 5 million trademarks from 65 participating offices, providing valuable first-hand information about both trademarks applications and registrations in different economies and regions.

European SMEs seeking to internationalize their business will find below some key benefits of using the platform that may increase legal certainty and help to better plan their strategy on IPR protection:

  • Accurate and reliable information is provided at any time (online) since the respective/corresponding national Office updates it daily.
  • The service is free of charge and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Data is available in more than 35 languages, including all the official EU languages.
  • Materials are ready for printing and/or downloading, so that users could bring them to legal administrative procedures and court proceedings in case of conflict or infringement, as well as before customs authorities.
  • Easy-to-use and all-in-one tools: directly linked to the EUIPO and national databases through a unique platform, providing first-hand information from the official registers.
  • Provides online knowledge database with articles, tutorials, and support for users.
  • Enables an easy and efficient search through all TMs: national, regional, and international.
  • Enables companies to know what products and services its competitors on the market are protecting.
  • Allows users to know the availability of their ideas for a trademark name.
  • Due to its constant updating, users can check both the updates on trademarks legal status and the deadlines for opposition proceedings.

As Miguel Angel Margáin, Director General of the Mexican Intellectual Property Office expressed in June 2013, “Users can search for trademarks which are being examined or look at trademarks that are registered at international level which helps them to analyse and monitor applications in IP offices which form part of TMview” (in European TDMN News 02/2014).

It is also important to mention the existence of the DesignView database, which collects the same type of information as the TMview but related to registered designs. It is worth pointing out that unlike Europe, the majority of Latin-American countries’ design laws provides no protection for unregistered designs. Only three countries in that region provide such protection: Panama (2 years), Nicaragua and Guatemala (3 years) in a similar way to the European Union. Therefore, European SMEs interested in operating in Latin America should not rely on unregistered protection of their designs in this region.

In conclusion, EU companies that are considering to internationalize their businesses should not forget that, to properly manage and develop their IP portfolio, they have at their disposal a variety of means devoted to reduce the risks and doubts that may arise when entering new markets. It is advisable in any case to carefully plan and seek IP expert assistance to ensure a strong protection of the intangible assets.

Colombia: a true step towards patenting procedure optimization

Sara Isabel Tortosa –  Partner at Tortosa Gadea Lawyers
Ana A. García Torralba – Junior associate attorney at Emilio García y Abogados Asociados

Colombia set, as an objective, the consolidation of an effective and reliable patent system. This objective has been reached as it has been statistically proven. According to the Colombian Intellectual Property Office, namely the Industry and Commerce Superintendency (SIC), the whole patent procedure now takes, depending on the technical field, from 1 to 3 years, which entails an improvement in comparison to the last decades, where a patent application could last more than 5 years.

In such a context, it is worth recalling the latest developments made by the Colombian patent system in order to reduce both filing fees and decision times.

However, improvements regarding national legislation is not the only driving factor. Indeed, the signature of several international agreements with other national and regional patent offices has meant significant advances in improving patent proceedings and services. Through these agreements, Colombia has contributed to the economic development, offering greater trading opportunities to Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

All these measures have effectively increased the number of patent applications (between 2011 and 2016, SIC reported an increase of 345% in the number of patent applications) and it is expected to continue growing over the next years.

Protecting your inventions in Colombia

After drafting a patent application, you have to decide where to file it. A patent granted by the Intellectual Property Office of Colombia, provides only national protection, due to the territorial nature of IPRs.

In order to acquire protection in multiple territories, investors and entrepreneurs as the European SMEs may submit their applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty system; which Colombia joined on February, 2001.

The PCT is an international cooperation agreement, that enables to file a single “international” or “PCT” patent application valid across all the countries/regions in the PCT system, (see the full list of the 152 PCT members here), instead of filing several separate regional/national patent applications requiring multiple tasks such as translations and even taxes.

Keep in mind that whether or not the patent is finally granted remains under the exclusive competence of each national or regional intellectual property office. Each office will examine the application according to their national or regional laws. Thus, even if the application is international, the granting process, decision and its effects remain national.

The PCT is not only a cost-effective route to protect IPRs internationally. It will also allow to save and “buy time”, since the applicant gets up to 18 additional months to delay both:

  • the decision of whether or not to pursue patent protection and;
  • the substantial costs of the patent procedure arising in the national phase: appointing a foreign attorney, paying official fees and translate the application and documents required to the official language (when necessary). Take into account that some IP Offices offer reduced fees for SMEs.

This additional period may be crucial for European SMEs seeking to expand their own market, since it allows them to adequately evaluate where to pursue patent protection, and get more information regarding the novelty and the technical value of  their invention.

Colombia joins the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH)

Examining patent applications is a complicated task. Patent application are technical and complex documents, the examination carried out by patent examiners is exhaustive and the workload important. These were one of the main reasons that led to the creation of the so-called Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH): they constitute a work-sharing initiative between different IP offices, allowing patent applicants to request accelerated processing in the national phase.

The Global PPH (GPPH) Pilot Program launched in 2014, involves 24 patent offices around the world. Colombia, effectively joined on July, 2017, being the first and only (so far) adherent from Latin America. Under the GPPH, applicants can benefit from an accelerated examination through a simple procedure at their request.

To that end, patent examiners in a national or regional office are allowed to reuse the documents issued in the framework of a prior exam accomplished by another participating PPH office such as the Written Opinion issued by the international search and examination authorities.

The main goal of this procedure is to provide a fast-track prosecution and ease search and examination tasks, which directly benefits stakeholders. However, these documents are not binding, thus the final decision about whether or not to grant the patent rests within the hands of the national IP Office where the application has been filed according to its own applicable law.

It is, therefore, to be expected that such an agreement will be a boost for business, innovation and commercial growth of European SMEs. Indeed, shorter timelines stimulates SMEs’ creative intellectual endeavor for the benefit of public interest.

In order to be eligible for the GPPH, the applicant shall comply with the two following indispensable conditions:

  1.   A patent application must have been already filed before at least two GPPH participating offices by the applicant.
  2.   One or more claims should have already been deemed as patentable by any of the other offices involved.

The Global PPH pilot program superseded bilateral PPH pilot programs between the Colombian patent office and the other PPH partner offices. Participating Offices of the Global PPH pilot are listed here.

Since it is a pilot program, the limit of patent application before SIC is of 30 per month or 300 per year.

Benefits arising from the use of GPPH:

  • Effective reduction of patent pendency, (the amount of time between the filing date and the final decision’s day granting or refusing the patent).
  • Shortening of the examination period, because of the possibility to reuse search/examination history.
  • Allows to save time, money and effort for both applicants and GPPH participating offices.
  • Harmonization of qualifying requirements.
  • Improvement in the quality, since the previous work serves: as a basis for an accurate assessment of the patentability criteria; and also as an exchange of good practices between offices.

Colombia’s accession to the GPPH, is a clear sign of the active role that the country wishes to play in the international scene, in order to strengthen investors’ confidence. 
If your company wishes any further detailed information about protecting your IPRs in Latin America, do not hesitate to visit the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk website or to contact our Helpline, it is free, fast and confidential.

Buenas noticias para la PYME europea en Perú: cooperación en materia de Propiedad Intelectual

Sara I. Tortosa

América Latina se está configurando como una de las regiones más atractivas para la PYME europea. Cada vez más empresas se proponen internacionalizar su negocio y adentrarse en esta región del continente americano. Las PYMEs representan el 99% de las empresas en la UE, por lo que su impacto en las economías emergentes ha aumentado notablemente la competitividad y nadie quiere dejar escapar las oportunidades que ofrece Latinoamérica.

Perú es uno de los territorios con mayor atracción de inversión, gracias a los acuerdos comerciales alcanzados con instituciones y organismos de la Unión Europea, con el fin de reforzar la cooperación y concienciación en materia de protección de derechos de propiedad intelectual de las empresas, tanto locales como extranjeras.

Diversificar la inversión en territorio extranjero es una estrategia clave para los operadores que compiten en el mercado globalizado.  Sin embargo, antes de adentrarse en territorio extranjero, debemos conocer ciertos aspectos que nos ayudarán a utilizar con acierto los recursos humanos y económicos para obtener una protección adecuada de nuestros derechos de propiedad intelectual: nuestras marcas, nuestros diseños, nuestras patentes, nuestro know-how, etc… en definitiva, todo el valor que nos diferencia del resto de competidores, y cuya regulación varía de un territorio a otro.

Debido al carácter eminentemente territorial de los Derechos de PI, gozar de una protección adecuada en nuestro mercado local no garantiza protección en el mercado al que nos dirigimos, de allí la necesidad de contar con una estrategia adecuada. Desde Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk, te ayudamos con algunos consejos para reducir los riesgos de conflicto entre tus derechos de Propiedad Intelectual y los de terceras empresas que ya se encuentran operando en el territorio de destino, sin perjuicio de que sea aconsejable contar con la orientación de un profesional en la materia para la región de que se trate.

Tmview y Designview: también en Perú

Desde octubre de 2.017, INDECOPI (Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y de la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual en Perú), gracias a un acuerdo con la EUIPO  (Oficina de Propiedad Intelectual de la Unión Europea), forma parte de los sistemas internacionales TM View (desde el 10 de Octubre de 2017) y Design View (desde el 18 de Septiembre de 2017).

TM View y Design View son dos herramientas esenciales en materia de Marcas y Diseños. Se trata de dos de las bases de datos más extensas y completas del mundo, con información relevante sobre Diseños y Marcas, registradas o en trámite, (más de 44 millones de marcas y signos distintivos, y alrededor de 12,4 millones de dibujos y modelos) procedentes de 59 bases de datos de diferentes Oficinas de Propiedad Intelectual del mundo.

Estos sistemas permiten, tanto a particulares como profesionales, realizar consultas en línea, de manera gratuita, centralizada y fácil, en cualquiera de los países que integran la red.

Contienen información sobre los Diseños y las Marcas, los productos o servicios que designan, su tipología (denominativa, figurativa, mixta, entre otras) y su fecha de publicación. De este modo, podrás conocer la situación jurídica en que se encuentran y si están en vigor, así como los plazos para presentar oposiciones de terceros a las solicitudes de marca que estén en tramitación.

TM View y Design View están disponibles las 24 horas al día, 365 días al año, siendo actualizadas diariamente por cada oficina de Propiedad Intelectual.

Este convenio PERÚ-UE beneficia tanto a empresarios, emprendedores y ciudadanos peruanos como a las PYMEs europeas que pretendan abrir mercado en el país andino, ya que aumenta la seguridad jurídica tan importante para el empresario que cruza fronteras.

5 tips básicos

Te dejamos algunos TIPS a tener en cuenta antes de (i) introducir tus productos en mercados extranjeros, o (ii) de usar y/o registrar tu Marca, Diseño, o cualquier otro derecho de propiedad intelectual en dicho territorio:

  • MARCAS: Comprueba si la Marca elegida para identificar los productos y servicios de tu empresa es idéntica o similar, tanto a nivel denominativo como gráfico, a otras Marcas ya conocidas, utilizadas o previamente registradas por terceros.
  • NOMBRES DE DOMINIO: Comprueba la disponibilidad de los nombres de dominio que incluyan tu Marca o puedan asociarse con ella, o si están siendo utilizados en el país de destino y para qué tipo de productos o servicios. Esto es importante para mantener la imagen, el prestigio y los valores de la Marca.
  • DISEÑOS: Los Diseños, al igual que otros derechos de propiedad intelectual, sólo tienen efecto en el país en el que han sido registrados y concedidos. Puede solicitarse protección en otros países. Algunas legislaciones permiten la protección del Diseño no registrado, pero NO es el caso de Latinoamérica, por lo que es importante tener en cuenta este aspecto.
  • PATENTES/MODELOS DE UTILIDAD: Verifica si tu idea o invención es realmente nueva (requisito imprescindible para su registro como Patente o Modelo de Utilidad) o si ya ha sido registrada por otra persona/empresa. Recuerda que, aunque no esté registrada, es posible que ya la hayas publicado a través de otros medios (internet, o cualquier otro medio de difusión accesible al público), lo cual también impediría registrarla por carecer de “novedad”.
  • EXPLOTACIÓN DE LOS DERECHOS: Tu plan de internacionalización y expansión, debe contar con una estrategia clara de protección del patrimonio intelectual de tu empresa, para asegurar el respeto a la imagen corporativa y a los valores que deseas transmitir. Por ejemplo, es conveniente definir una política de explotación que prevea posibles acuerdos de transferencia (licencia, cesión, franquicia, outsourcing, asistencia técnica, formación, ingeniería, etc…).

Internacionalización: sí

En resumen: apuesta por la internacionalización de una forma segura y eficiente, gracias a la multitud de recursos y herramientas que existen a disposición de la pequeña y mediana empresa. No dejes de consultar nuestro blog, encontrarás contenido de interés que te ayudará a despejar tus dudas a la hora de adentrarte en el mercado latinoamericano.

Te invitamos  suscribirte a nuestra newsletter si quieres estar al día de las últimas novedades en propiedad Intelectual en Latinoamérica.

Argentina: Keep an eye on the IP changes to come

Eli Salis – Partner attorney at Disain IP
María Dolores Cavoti Sadonio – Associate attorney at Kors Noviks 

Argentina is one of the countries that will introduce in 2018 some major changes in its Intellectual Property Law.

That´s why all SMEs should be aware that change is coming and make sure to count on specialized practitioners to guide them through these changing times.

The Decree Nº 27/2018, published on January the 11th, 2018, seeks to reduce and simplify proceedings and timeframes before Public Offices. The main aim of these measures is to ensure a public administration synonym of efficiency, effectiveness and quality in its relations with the citizens.

The Decree is in force since January the 12th, 2018, but some of the changes need to be implemented and developed through specific guidelines, which are still under issuance and revision period. Additionally, resolutions issued by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) should also be taken into account.

Given the major and substantial changes introduced by the Decree, the same has also been sent, in parallel, to the Houses of the Congress to be studied and approved under the form of a law.

What are the most relevant changes?

Regarding trademarks:
  1. Rhe opposition procedure is changed: if the parties cannot reach a settlement regarding oppositions within a 3-month time period, the PTO will be in charge of resolving about them. Said resolution can be appealed before Federal Courts;
  2. Be aware that partial cancellation for lack of use is introduced;
  3. There is now an obligation to declare the use of the mark, between the year 5thand the end of the year 6th of validity;
  4. Nullity actions may be solved by the PTO, instead of a Court of Justice.

One of the most important changes is the one operated regarding the opposition proceeding: mediation and Court actions are no longer mandatory to overcome an opposition, being the PTO in charge of taking a decision on the subject. This will reduce the costs for SMEs when solving oppositions in this country.

Regarding Patents and Utility Models:
  1. It is no longer necessary to submit the certificate of priority, being enough to claim the priority specifications. It is during the substantive examination that the Examiner might request a copy of the priority document and the corresponding translation;
  2. Reduction of the terms for the proceedings, i.e., the term to pay the substantive examination is reduced from 3 years to 18 months, for example, for Patents, and from 3 years to 3 months, for Utility Models;
  3. For Utility Models once the examination fee is payed, the PTO will conduct the substantive examination, then publish the application and if no observations are filed, the application will be granted.
Regarding Industrial Models and Designs:
  1. Hand-made models and designs can now be protected.
  2. New exceptions regarding the loss of novelty
  3. Possibility to request delaying the publication of the grant for up to six months,
  4. An application may include up to 20 models/designs, as long as they belong to the same class according to the International Classification,
  5. Renewals can now be filed six months before the expiration date and up to six months after said due date (with the corresponding increase in the fees).

IP owners and practitioners will have to monitor further developments and interpretation of this new piece of law, not only from the PTO but also from the House of the Congress. There are still several interesting issues that will be subject to a follow up report. Stay tuned!

Firma del nuevo TPP y sus exclusiones: ¿puede este acuerdo afectar mi estrategia de Propiedad Intelectual en Chile?

Diego José Acuña Domínguez
Associate lawyer at Beuchat, Barros & Pfenniger, Abogados

Después de años de rondas de negociaciones, el pasado 08 de marzo de 2018 se firmó en la ciudad de Santiago de Chile el denominado “Tratado Integral y Progresista de Asociación Transpacífico – CPTTP”, antes llamado Acuerdo Transpacífico de Cooperación Económica o TPP.

Tras la retirada de Estados Unidos en enero de 2017, este acuerdo de libre comercio ha sido celebrado entre 11 países de la Cuenca del Pacífico, a saber, Brunei, Chile, Nueva Zelanda, Singapur, Australia, Canadá, Japón, Malasia, México, Perú y Vietnam (por lo que también es conocido como TPP-11), y entrará en funcionamiento dos meses después de ser ratificado por los parlamentos de al menos 6 de los 11 países firmantes.

La entrada en vigor del acuerdo no solo eliminará entre el 65% y 100% de las barreras arancelarias, sino que también supone un aumento de las ventajas comerciales y mejor acceso a mercados extranjeros como Canadá, Japón o Malasia. Cabe mencionar que el conjunto de estas naciones supone un mercado de cerca de 500 millones de personas y representa entre un 13% y un 15 % del comercio mundial, lo que resulta sumamente interesante en términos económicos para cada uno de sus integrantes.

El objetivo principal de este Tratado de libre comercio es rebajar las barreras comerciales que actualmente existen entre los países firmantes. En cuanto a Chile, único país del Acuerdo que ya contaba con tratados de libre comercio con los restantes 10 miembros, verá mejoradas sus condiciones en virtud de la suscripción del CPTPP.

El nuevo acuerdo establece la incorporación por referencia de todo el contenido del TPP original, entre el que se encuentra el relativo a los derechos de Propiedad Intelectual, materia la cual ha sido especialmente sensible dentro de las rondas previas de negociación. En particular, y como consecuencia de la dificultad para alcanzar los correspondientes consensos, este nuevo acuerdo ha visto suspendida la aplicación de 20 de sus normas, de las cuales 11 precisamente pertenecen al Capítulo de Propiedad Intelectual, a la espera de que los firmantes decidan ponerle fin a esta suspensión.

El resultado, es toda una serie de disposiciones sobre PI que hubieran afectado radicalmente a los empresarios con idea de aterrizar en territorio americano y que podrían entrar en vigor en un futuro. Por ello, si sus previsiones comerciales a corto plazo pasaban por ver aprobadas estas normas, le recomendamos que reconsidere su estrategia y se atenga al estatus actual (normativa local vigente + lo que sobrevivió del TPP).

Si quiere saber más sobre cuál es el marco normativo vigente, le invitamos a que consulte nuestros Fact Sheets o nos haga llegar su duda a través de la Helpline.

Para aquellos que quieran ahondar en las normas suspendidas, y más concretamente, en lo que concierne a Chile, a continuación, abordamos las que consideramos de un posible mayor impacto para los empresarios europeos que operen en el país suramericano o tengan intención de hacerlo.

1.- Materias patentables. Nuevos usos de un producto conocido e invenciones derivadas de plantas.

En virtud de esta suspensión los países contratantes no estarán obligados a otorgar patentes para invenciones en sus territorios respecto de nuevos usos de un producto conocido, nuevos métodos de uso de un producto conocido, o nuevos procedimientos de uso de un producto conocido, como tampoco respecto de invenciones derivadas de las plantas.

En el caso de Chile, éstas se encuentran expresamente excluidas como materias patentables por la Ley de Propiedad Industrial vigente, por lo que la aplicación de esta norma del Tratado habría obligado a efectuar un cambio legislativo.

2.- Ajuste de duración de la patente por retrasos irrazonables de la autoridad otorgante.

En virtud de esta suspensión, los países firmantes no se encuentran obligados a extender la duración de la protección de una patente a través del mecanismo de la denominada “protección suplementaria”.

En el caso de la Chile, la legislación actual ya contempla el mecanismo de la protección suplementaria para las patentes, pero sujeta a ciertas restricciones, a saber:

  1. i) que la solicitud sea presentada dentro de los seis meses de otorgada una patente;
  2. ii) que el plazo de otorgamiento hubiere sido superior a cinco años contado desde la fecha de presentación de la solicitud o de tres años contados desde el requerimiento de examen; y

iii) que hubiere existido una demora administrativa injustificada por parte de la Oficina de Patentes encargada de su registro.

3.- Plazos de protección para los Derechos de Autor y los Derechos Conexos.

Ha quedado suspendida la obligación de los países miembros de elevar el periodo de protección de una obra, interpretación, ejecución o fonograma en los siguientes términos:

  1. a un plazo no inferior a la vida del autor y 70 años después de su muerte en caso de ser una persona natural, o
  2. de 70 años a contar del final del año calendario de la primera publicación autorizada; o
  3. a falta de publicación autorizada, dentro de los 25 años contados desde la creación de la obra, interpretación, ejecución o fonograma, no inferior a 70 años desde el fin del año calendario de ese hecho.

Dentro de las rondas de negociación se llegó a discutir incluso un plazo de protección de 120 años luego de la muerte del autor, pero finalmente se mantuvo el criterio de los 70 años. México es el único país firmante que concede 100 años de protección después de la muerte del autor. Ahora bien, incorporó en el TPP una cláusula para no dar a autores extranjeros protección por un periodo mayor al que le concede su país de origen.

En el caso de Chile, la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual ya establece un plazo de protección de estos derechos durante la vida del autor y 70 años después de su muerte en caso de ser persona natural, y de 70 años a contar de la primera publicación en caso de ser persona jurídica.

4.- Medidas tecnológicas de protección (TPMs).

Con la exclusión de este artículo queda sin efecto la obligación de regular pormenorizadamente lo relativo a mecanismos de protección legal y recursos legales contra la elusión de medidas tecnológicas efectivas que los titulares decidan usar para proteger sus derechos, restringiendo así actos de explotación no autorizados en relación con sus obras.

Estas medidas tecnológicas de protección son procedimientos, técnicas, dispositivos, componentes o una combinación de ellos cuya función es controlar, impedir o restringir de alguna forma el acceso o la utilización de las obras (por ejemplo, los sistemas anti-copia, de encriptación, marcas de agua, firmas digitales, entre otros).

En el caso de Chile, no existe una legislación específica sobre este tema, sino que le son de aplicación las reglas generales de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual o la Ley de Delitos informáticos, por lo que la exigibilidad de esta disposición implicaría un cambio legislativo en esta materia.

5.- Información sobre Gestión de Derechos (RMI).

En virtud de la suspensión, queda sin efecto la obligación de que las Partes establezcan sanciones civiles, administrativas o incluso penales, para quienes alteren o supriman información sobre la gestión de derechos de los autores en obras protegidas, retomando lo dispuesto en el Tratado de la OMPI sobre Interpretación o Ejecución de Fonogramas.

La Información sobre Gestión de Derechos es aquella que permite identificar una obra, a su autor, al artista intérprete o ejecutante, al productor, o al titular de cualquier derecho sobre la misma. También permite identificar la información sobre términos y condiciones de utilización de la obra.

En el caso de Chile, la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual vigente establece sanciones de carácter civil para quien suprima o altere cualquier información sobre la gestión de derechos, y para quienes distribuyan, importen, emitan, comuniquen o pongan a disposición copias de obras a sabiendas de que la información ha sido suprimida o alterada sin autorización de su titular. 

6.- Protección de señales de satélite y cable encriptadas portadoras de programas.

Con la suspensión de esta disposición, queda sin efecto la obligación de considerar como un delito penal la manufactura, ensamble, modificación, importación, exportación, venta, arriendo o distribución de dispositivos o sistemas destinados a desencriptar, recibir o distribuir sin autorización señales de satélite y/o cable encriptadas, sin la autorización del distribuidor legítimo de dicha señal.

En el caso de Chile, no existe una legislación específica en esta materia, sino que son de aplicación las reglas generales de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual, la Ley General de Telecomunicaciones o la Ley de Delitos informáticos, por lo que la aplicación de este artículo implicaría un cambio en el marco legislativo.

7.- Recursos legales y limitaciones (Proveedores de Servicios de Internet).

Con la suspensión de esta norma, queda sin efecto la obligación de los países contratantes de contar con un Sistema de “Safe harbours” o “puertos seguros” que permitan, cuando se cumplan determinadas condiciones, excluir la responsabilidad de los proveedores de servicios de internet por los contenidos que circulen en sus redes y sean susceptibles de violar derechos de autor o conexos.

En el caso de Chile, la vigente Ley de Propiedad Intelectual ya cuenta con un extenso capítulo dedicado a este tema, que describe una serie de limitaciones a la responsabilidad de los proveedores de servicios de internet en la medida en que se cumplan las condiciones señaladas.

8.- Trato Nacional.

Con la suspensión de dos frases de esta norma, queda sin efecto la obligación de los países de extender el alcance del concepto de “protección” para prohibir la elusión de las medidas tecnológicas efectivas, establecidas en el artículo sobre Medidas Tecnológicas de Protección y en las disposiciones concernientes a la información sobre la gestión de derechos antes señaladas.

Con ello se busca dar consistencia al resto de las normas suspendidas, que, como hemos visto anteriormente, abordan las disposiciones relativas a las medidas tecnológicas de protección y a la información sobre gestión de derechos.

La mayoría de las disposiciones suspendidas en materia de Propiedad Intelectual fueron impulsadas por Estados Unidos y, tras su salida, como ya se adelantó al principio del artículo, las partes acordaron suspenderlas indefinidamente. El futuro dirá si los países deciden ir renegociándolos e incorporarlas de manera definitiva al acuerdo, con una formulación que sea capaz de contentar a todas las partes, o si, por lo contrario, seguirán suspendidas de cara a evitar desacuerdos o rechazos, como lo es en Chile la obligación que tendrá de acceder al Convenio de la UPOV 91.

Para despistados y recién llegados, en nuestra sección de “Noticias” puede seguirse la actualidad sobre Propiedad Industrial e Intelectual en América Latina. Para recibir información actualizada sobre próximos eventos y noticias en América Latina, nada mejor que suscribirse a la “Newsletter” del Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk.

Considerations for EU SMEs when transferring personal data to Latin America

Laia Esteban Guinea
ICT Lawyer

As many of you may know, next May 25, 2018, the new European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be fully implemented for European companies. The GDPR, which was adopted on May 2016 establishing a two-year transition, will replace the Data Protection Directive (DPD 95/46/EC).

The main aim of this new regulation is, not only to harmonize the different national regulations existing at European level, in order to guarantee equality on the protection of personal data regardless of the nationality or place of residence, but also to ensure a legal framework adapted to the digital era.

Because the implementation of the GDPR is almost upon us, companies need to hurry up if they want to comply with the new obligations arising from said Regulation. Among other aspects, EU companies should be aware of:

  • The need to comply with the principles of accountability and transparency. This involves quite a significant amount of documentation requirements. Other principles such as privacy by design and by default, must also be observed. This entails designing and implementing appropriate technical and organisational measures.
  • Making an analysis of the potential risks in order to find weaknesses in the treatments performed by the company as regards personal data management.
  • Obligation to provide, at the time of the collection, some information regarding the identity of the controller (i.e. who decides how and why such data is processed), the purposes of the processing, the legal basis for the processing, the period for which the personal data will be stored and, where applicable, if the controller intends to transfer personal data to a third country or international organisation.
  • Attend and inform the data subject (i.e. individuals whom the data is about) about several data protection rights such as the right to be forgotten, right to restriction of processing, right to object an automated individual decision-making or right to data portability.
  • Notify the supervisory authority about any breach regarding personal data (e.g. in Spain, the Spanish Data Protection Agency) without undue delay and, where feasible, no later than 72 hours after being aware of it.
  • Designate a Data Protection Officer, if the core activities of the company consist of processing operation which require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or if the core activities of the company is to process special categories of data, as may be the case of business performing profiling activities.
  • And if the company processes personal data using new technologies, it will be necessary, prior to the processing, to carry out an assessment on the impact of the envisaged processing operations on the ability to ensure appropriate protection of personal data.

Rather than extending myself in the description of the obligations imposed by the GDPR, I will highlight the impact that this new European regulation might have in Latin American countries.

In Latin America, data protection is a very topical issue. One of the major developments in the region was the creation in 2003 of the Ibero-American Data Protection Network (RIPD). This network began with representatives of 14 Ibero-American governmental agencies and focused its first activities in trying to advance in the adoption of a new regulatory framework and implementation of data protection authorities in its member states.

After the advances in the legal and institutional fields, the network switched its focus to cooperation activities: exchange of information and experiences, as well as the development of common actions and policies.

In this context, and now enlarged to 21 member states, the RIPD has recently recognized in the “RIPD in 2020”, that there are some countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panamá, Paraguay and Venezuela, where an additional impulse regarding the legal framework is required.

Thanks to the RIPD’s labour, in June 2017 the “Ibero-American data protection Standards” was presented in Chile. Its main objective is to facilitate the flow of personal data, not only between Ibero-American states, but also beyond their borders, in order to foster innovation and economic growth in the region.

Those Standards were developed taking into consideration other international regulations, such as for instance the GDPR. It seems that one might say that the GDPR has a positive impact beyond the European borders, particularly in Ibero-American States; where the European example seems to inspire them to work towards homogeneous rules in the region facilitating the flow of personal data.

All the aforementioned, is important for European companies: if they are considering to transfer personal data to Latin-American companies, they will need to comply with the GDPR and, in particular:

  1. Make sure that the third country where the company towards which personal data will be transferred is located in a country that ensures an adequate level of protection according to the European Regulation. Currently only Uruguay and Argentina comply with this requirement.
  2. In the absence of the above, it could be possible to guarantee appropriate safeguards through binding corporate rules or standard data protection clauses.
  3. Otherwise, companies could try to have the data transfer covered by one of the exceptions provided in article 49 GDPR: for example, because they have obtained explicit consent from the owner or because the transfer is necessary for the conclusion of a contract.

To sum up, if your company is considering transferring personal data from Europe to Latin America your company must comply with the GDPR. Do not forget it! Time goes by and 25 May 2018 is there!

Beware of fraudulent invoices regarding your patent application or your trademark registration

INPI Portugal
Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial

In the last years, we have noticed in Europe an increase in the number of fraudulent invoices being sent to users relating to trademarks or patents applications. If you receive an invoice that is unexpected or from an unfamiliar entity, please contact your Industrial Property (IP) Office or attorney before paying the invoice.

While many of the fraudulent invoices are sent via regular mail, some are sent by email. In Brazil, for instance, users are also receiving phone calls from people pretending that they belong to the legal department of the IP Office and that the applicant is at risk of losing his trademark. Typically, the invoices seek payment for various services related to applications: registration fees, filing fees or monitoring fees.

Such invoices —which are intentionally designed to look like real invoices from an official source— have nothing to do with the processing of your patent application or trademark registration, and the services they purport to provide have no value beyond the services already provided by your national, regional office or an international organization, such as WIPO, EPO or EUIPO.

National Patent and Trademark offices, as well as relevant international organisations and user associations, are working to inform users about this trend and to help them avoid falling for such scams. For example, warnings have been posted on several websites that include names of known perpetrating “companies” and examples of misleading letters. The Trademark International Index and Trademark Info Corp. became very popular in Mexico a few years ago.

As regards criminal proceedings, the EUIPO closely cooperated with the Swedish public prosecutor’s office who brought to Court an extensive scam scheme principally targeting EUTM owners. The Court passed four custodial sentences ranging between two months and one year for four of the defendants for attempted aggravated fraud.

The more this practice spreads over the Latin American countries, (in Brazil has some significance), the more important it is for applicants of international trademarks or patents from these countries to be aware of this situation.

If you are a PCT or an International Trademark applicant and you receive one of these invoices, first check WIPO’S warning page and see if it matches any of the examples. If not listed there, send an e-mail to WIPO with a copy so it can be added to the collection.

If you registered by yourself, you are also recommended to contact the National Intellectual Property Office involved to be sure that there is no scam and make a complaint, if afirmative. Most of them provide assistance on this issue (i.e. Brazil), but if you want to know more about what to do in case you receive one of those invoices, do not hesitate to contact our free of charge, confidential, fast Helpline. Our experts will be happy to support you.

And most importantly: Do not pay!

2017 in review: summary of INDECOPI’s innovation in the field of Trademarks

Ernesto Barzola
Lawyer at Barreda & Moller

In recent years, many Intellectual Property Offices of Latin America have been enacting new provisions as to harmonize their IP systems according to the international standards. Countries such as Peru, through the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Intellectual Property (INDECOPI), have implemented new measures in order to improve the efficiency and speed of the registration and granting procedures of IPRs.

In this regard, it must be highlighted that INDECOPI ended 2017 with a total of 34.213 registered trademarks, which represents a grow th of 27,3 % with respect to 2016. This increase was achieved as part of INDECOPI’s resolution to reduce registration time for trademarks from 6 months to less than 4 months.

One of the measures taken by the INDECOPI (covering both trademarks and patents) was the online publication of the applications. The online publication not only reduced time of registration proceedings but has also helped reduce the costs associated to such proceeding. Before online publication, applicants had to pay an additional fee (between 40 to 150 euros, depending on the size of the publication).

Early 2017, rules regarding Industrial property proceedings were modified. Some of these modifications, aiming to reduce processing times are the following:

– Adoption of measures to reduce the workload of Administrative Courts. Mainly through a better allocation of competence regarding grounds of appeal. The Administrative Court will hear of appeals of opposition, revocation, nullity actions and infringement actions. Directorates and Commissions will hear about appeals regarding denial of registration when no opposition has been filled.

– To avoid further delays during a proceeding, there is now a prohibition to file additional documents or briefs when a proceeding is ready to be resolved. Unless it provides an out-of-court settlement satisfactory to the parties (for example, coexistence agreement or an agreed suspension of proceedings).

Regarding infringement actions, henceforth the Administrative Court will not be able to increase a fine imposed on the defendant unless the plaintiff had appealed the amount of the fine. This practice, which arose in the courts, has now been included in the Peruvian Trademark Law.

Finally, the Peruvian Trademark Office uploaded its database to the TMview instrument allowing interested parties in filling application in Peru to have access to this registry. Not only it simplifies the procedures but it also allows to reduce the costs.

Two decisions issued last year by the Andean Community are also worth mentioning.

First, the Andean Court of Justice clarified the difference between a well-known trademark and a renowned trademark. The importance of the decision is due to the fact that Decision 486 does not regulate the renowned trademarks and its rules are limited to the well-known trademarks.

According to this Decision, there is no need to prove the “renowned” character of the trademark in order to be recognized as such. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the specification made by the Andean Court of Justice consist on a quotation as a footnote, hence, it is very likely that the National Courts continue to require proof of the alleged well-known character of the trademarks. We will have to wait for a modification of the Andean Trademark Law which is expected for a near future.

Second and finally, regarding revocation proceedings (also known as cancellations for non-use) when complying with the required proof of use, the following should be taken into account:

–       Revocation proceedings are not intended to punish trademark owners who advertise and make their products available to the public if the number of sales is not as elevated as expected. Therefore, the analysis should not be limited to accountable documentation but also take into account advertisement and presence in the media or the market.

–       Sales should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis in order to determine whether or not the pause of sales is justified or not.

–       Given the above, if the owner of the trademark can prove the use of the trademark at any moment within the relevant period, revocation must be dismissed.

The repercussion of the latest decision is due to the reticence from the Trademark Authority to consider proven the use of a trademark, if the documents filed were not able to demonstrate an elevated quantity of sales or if the sales were sporadic.

In conclusion, 2017 was important for the Peruvian Trademark Office in terms of innovation and for the Andean Community in terms of a new vision on how to apply the different concepts of the Decision 486. We can expect the impact of these measures to be felt as of 2018 and, given the improvements implemented in 2017, further legislative developments can be expected for 2018.