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.

Brazil new regulation proposal and measures for reducing patent backlog

IDS
Instituto Dannemann Siemsen de Estudos Jurídicos e Técnicos

This article has been written by Natália Barzilai and Gisela de Lamare de Paiva Coelho

As a result of the massive backlog of two hundred and forty-four thousand patents applications as of May, 2017, the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) has been studying multiple measures to continually reduce the already famous tardiness of its examinations. The BPTO has come up with some controversial ideas.

Successfully, the BPTO has created categories in order to speed up its process, the first one being the “Green Patents”, reducing by 90% the processing time regarding the analysis of environment related innovations. After such a positive outcome, in June, 22, the BPTO extended this project to innovations from the Science and Technology Institutions (STI). Although it is still a temporary strategy limited to a certain number of “STI Patent” applications, the BPTO seeks to reduce from the average time from 10,8 years to 10 months as it is already the case with “Green Patents”.

Another conservative approach to reduce the backlog created by the reduce number of technical examiners, is to join forces with ANVISA (Brazilian Health Agency). As required by the Brazilian IP Law, the BPTO must send all pharmaceutical patents to the Health Agency to be analyzed and check out if there is no forbidden substance in it. Only after obtaining prior approval the BPTO’s technical exam can start. Having such a relevant role in the process of the analysis, the BPTO has proposed ANVISA to send its examiners to the BPTO facilities. Such small measure can help optimize the proceedings not only because the BPTO has an automatic system but because it also prevents losing time between Agencies’ transfers. In addition, the BPTO and ANVISA have established two guidelines in 2017 to fasten ANVISA’s analysis. Now granting of prior approval is based only on the presence of forbidden substance – not on the patentability of the innovation as it used to be. These guidelines not only shorten the analysis period but also provide more legal security as the Health Agency is obliged to grant the approval based only in public health requirement.

Besides those measures, facing the original source of the backlog, the BPTO is studying the possibility of implementing the successful method applied by the Japan Patent Office (JPO). As presented by Takuya Yasui in December, 2017, Japan successfully tackled its backlog by adopting two measures. First, by sub-contracting all preliminary activities, such as research before technical decisions. Today JPO has 10 companies providing its research and, even though they are private companies, supervisors are often retired JPO’s examiners. Second, hiring temporary examiners for 5-year periods which can be renewed for 5 more. With such changes, the time until the exam was reduced from 2,4 years in 2008 to 10,4 months in 2014.

Regarding the most controversial proposals, the BPTO has issued Resolution nº 193 seeking to expedite the examination of Brazilian patent applications under the PCT. In this Resolution, the BPTO has regulated that it will not perform a search of its own and will only incorporate the search already performed by an “office of reference”, meaning, International Searching Authorities (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authorities (IPEA).

The BPTO also started a public consultation for a proposal establishing that patent applications filed or with the national phase initiated up to the date of publication of the future regulation, will be granted 90 days, following a notice of admissibility, to decide whether they want to opt or not for a simplified patent application procedure, provided that they meet certain requirements and are not the subject of third-party observations (also called pre-grant oppositions). Patent applications for pharmaceutical products and processes are, in principle, excluded from this simplified procedure, potentially for political reasons and because of the scrutiny of ANVISA regarding these patents.

As reported in a previous publication at Dannemann Siemsen News[1], according to the proposed simplified procedure, the patent applications to which it applies will be automatically allowed without substantive examination, provided that a few requirements are met:

  1. Certificates of addition, divisional applications and, as above-mentioned applications covering pharmaceutical products and processes are not eligible;
  2. The filing of the patent application or request for entry into the national phase (in the case of PCT applications) should have occurred before the publication date of the proposed regulation;
  3. The application has been published or the early publication requested up to thirty days from the date of publication of the future regulation;
  4. Examination of the patent application should have been requested within 30 days following the publication date of the future regulation;
  5. Annuities payments must be in order; and
  6. No official actions regarding patentability have been published.

Our general advice would be to remove patent applications related to important inventions from the simplified procedure due to the following reasons: (i) the future patents are more likely to face validity challenges; (ii) BPTO’s delay would be compensated somehow since our IP Law currently guarantees a minimum of 10-year patent term from granting date; and (iii) it is possible to put an application to a fast-track examination in case of unauthorized exploitation or through a writ of mandamus.

In particular applicants having a large number of pending patent applications in Brazil should begin to chart a strategy in relation to their portfolio in view of possible new regulations. Meanwhile, we are hoping for the best.


[1] Ahlert, I. B., Murari Calazans, S. “Brazilian Government considers adopting simplified procedure for granting patents without substantive examination”, 1st december 2017, http://www.dannemann.com.br/dsbim/Biblioteca_Detalhe.aspx?&ID=1094&pp=1&pi=1

Food labelling vs Trademarks in Chile: a conflict not yet settled

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

When two constitutional rights are at odds, it is always a difficult conflict to solve, not only for the Government authorities but also for the Courts of Justice, which are often responsible for settling the dispute.

This is precisely the current situation in Chile, which has taken the decision to go further than the rest of the countries in terms of food labelling. Chile has, indeed, decided to implement a legislation that restricts both the nutritional composition of the same, as well as the way to advertise and offer them to the consumer of the relevant market, especially in those cases where aimed at minors.

The Government is basing its decision on the need to protect public health, due to the obesity pandemic that has been afflicting Chile for a decade now and which is causing 1 in 11 deaths in Chile. In fact, according to national studies, one person dies every hour from obesity and 5 out of 10 children are overweight.

The problem is under the spotlight because of the new Health regulation. The new regulation establishes that no manufacturer can disseminate “advertising” aimed at attracting the attention of children under 14 years old regarding products whose nutritional composition includes concentrations of nutrients that exceed the established limits, and which ultimately is an indicator of high levels of sodium, saturated fats or sugars.

In turn, companies manufacturing, distributing and marketing this type of products claim that their industrial property rights regarding the trademarks used on their packaging is being restricted, without previous expropriation or compensation by virtue of such limitation.

The conflict has escalated and has eventually reached the Civil Courts of Justice. The claims were filed by the affected companies against the administrative decisions of the Ministry of Health (under which fines have already been filed against these manufacturers of foodstuffs), requesting for these fines to be waived and to be authorized to use their figurative marks on the packaging of their products.

One of the arguments put forward by these private companies refers to the fact that they are complying with the current legislation on food labelling. They have done so by incorporating the so-called “HIGH IN” warning disclaimers on the packaging of their products in compliance with the “daily food guide”.

They also point out that they have terminated their involvement in the “advertising” activity aimed at children under 14 linked to the “HIGH IN” products, calories, saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Currently, these figurative elements are only used on the packaging of the products and in retail outlets, but not in mass media such as television, newspapers or similar media.

The main argument is that the registered figurative trademarks used on their products cannot be consider as “advertising” directly targeting children under 14, since Trademarks are used to identify or distinguish their products on the market from the ones of their competitors. In other words, the main use for trademarks is to provide distinctiveness, not for advertising purposes.

According to them, the concepts of “brand” and “advertising” are not synonyms; they have a different nature. The main function of a trademark is to “distinguish” products (emanating from the very definition in the Industrial Property Act), not to “advertise” them. The main purpose of advertising is to “promote the consumption of a given product”.

There, the use of the mark on the packaging is for distinguishing purposes, not advertising (mark cannot be placed on the food product itself). It is this distinctive function that allows the consumer in the relevant national market to associate or identify a certain product with the figurative mark that represents it (such as Nike’s check or Apple’s chewed apple), and the quality associated with the product and the producer.

They also pointed out that, according to previous statements from the administrative authority trademarks would not be affected by the new legislation when used for identification purposes. However, it appears that there has been a unilateral change of criterion.

This new interpretative criterion produces effects similar to an expropriation. It prevents the use of an industrial property right, who was previously granted registration by the trademark authority, and which, is now being denied the use, which is at the very essence of the exclusivity granted by IPR (as established in the Chilean Intellectual Property Act and in the TRIPS agreements). On this regard, companies point out that limitations based on public health reasons must be established by law, in compliance with the Constitutional principle of legal reserve regarding limitations on dominance (as is the case, for example, with tobacco, where the law expressly refers to trademarks), a requirement that is not met in this case.

Finally, they claim that the use of the marks complies with the authorization granted through registration by the Trademark Office, and only for distinguishing purposes of the protected goods in accordance with the International Classification. Therefore, there would be no legal ground for the prohibition.

On the other hand, the Chilean Government relies on the preventive nature of the legislation regarding the fight against obesity in Chile and the need to transform the current environment into a healthier one that protects the population.

One of the option to achieve this purpose is by providing clearer and more comprehensible information to the consumer through the “HIGH IN” warning discs. These labels indicate that the foods bearing them contain high levels of sodium, saturated fats or sugars, therefore exceeding the limits established by the Ministry of Health. Another option is to protect children under 14 from overexposure to food “advertising” exceeding health limits established by the Ministry of Health. In this sense, advertising should be understood as any form of promotion, communication, recommendation, propaganda, information or action aimed at promoting the consumption of a given product.

The Food Health Regulations prohibit all kinds of advertising directed to children under 14 “regardless of where it is carried out”. They consider that some elements lead to the conclusion that this age group is the main target of the advertising campaign: “characters and or childish figures, animations, cartoons, toys, children’s music, if it contemplates the presence of people or animals that attract the interest of children under 14”. Furthermore, the legislation also prohibits offering or delivering these products free.

Thus, and even though it is true that trademarks have a distinguishing purpose, it is nonetheless also true that they fulfil multiple functions. One of them is advertising, which allows to position the distinguished product or service and thereby facilitate its promotion, influencing the purchase decision of the final consumer (catchy trademarks are more likely to attract the interest of consumers).

The Government also claims that industrial property rights are not absolute, they do admit limitations. According to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health itself, IP rights do not and should not prevent Member States from taking measures to protect public health.

In addition, the definition of “advertising” given by the Food Labelling Act and the Health Regulations is broad enough and does not distinguish whether or not a figure constitutes a trademark. Otherwise, registration as a trademark would be enough to escape the application of the rules set out by the regulation.

Finally, they assert that if these products were to adjust their ingredients and composition to the tables drawn up by the Ministry of Health, they would be free to use the figurative elements on their packaging, even for advertising purposes directly directed to children under 14.

This is an ongoing discussion and both sides have already exposed their arguments. For now, all that remains is to wait for the outcome of these cases and the opinion of the Chilean Courts of Justice. Regardless of the outcome of the claims, the real impact of this legislative change is to be seen on the long term (one or two decades), after which Chile must analyze whether or not they had the intended effect: is there a reduction in obesity rates? Has physical inactivity decrease?

Meanwhile, Chilean consumers are getting used to a new packaging, where classic figurative elements that used to accompany them have disappeared (such as Tony the Tiger on the Frosted Flakes or the colorful M&M’s). The packages are now “plain” and the predominant element is the word mark.

Save the date: International IPR SME Helpdesk Annual Stakeholder Meeting 2018

Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk
Protecting your Intellectual Property in Latin America

The China, Latin America and South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesks are holding their Annual Stakeholder Meeting in Brussels on the 31st of January 2018. The event will include live case-study sessions with SMEs, training on the role of IP in a Technology Transfer strategy when going international and an interactive panel on Enforcement Strategies and Future Trends.

This meeting will be a key opportunity to have your say on the services of the Helpdesks and join discussions on what can be done towards its continuous improvement in terms of support to businesses and collaboration with partner organisations and experts.

To REGISTER and access the detailed agenda, please click here.

This event will also be available via simultaneous web streaming. To register for the web streaming and to receive the link, please contact Mr. Jim Stoopman: Jim.Stoopman@china-iprhelpdesk.eu