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!

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.

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

How to overcome business challenges from a policy perspective: recommendations of the EU-LAC Business Forum

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

On 6 November, EUROCHAMBRES presented the recommendations of the Business Forum between the European Union (EU) – Latin America and Caribbean States (LAC) (click here to refresh what we highlighted one month ago).

In words of our Eurochambres colleagues, the conclusions of the document reflect that the “private sector pushes for deeper EU–LAC bi-regional economic relations as political agenda stalls”.

The recommendations focus on promoting inclusive and sustainable growth through enhancing the role of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in bi-regional economic relations.

The presentation took place during the seminar “The future is today: The European Union and the Americas facing a unique opportunity”, organized by the Euroamerica Foundation at the European Parliament in Brussels, with the participation of EU high-level authorities.

The Business recommendations are a result of the EU-LAC Business Forum, which took place in Mexico City on 12th October 2017 with around 200 participants from the business community, and financial institutions, as well as policy makers and academics from both sides. The event proved to be a successful example of economic diplomacy in a challenging bi-regional political environment which ultimately lead to the postponement of the EU-CEL that was planned for last month.

Arnaldo Abruzzini, CEO of EUROCHAMBRES, said: “These recommendations are a testament to the private sector’s continued commitment to deepening EU-LAC economic relations. Business as usual would be a wasted opportunity for our regions in times of rising global protectionism and political volatility. We need greater continuity in our bi-regional economic agenda, more deliverables in terms of trade deals and their implementation and stronger joint leadership in shaping globalisation based on our shared values”.

Recommendations of the EU-LAC Business Forum

The Declaration outlines tangible recommendations which should help guide decision-makers in adopting an EU-LAC policy framework that is conducive to sustainable growth. It covers key topics in the bi-regional economic relationship, such as trade and investment, a partnership for productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and strengthening MSMEs.

The document –endorsed by EUROCHAMBRES, the IberoAmerican Association of Chambers of Commerce (AICO) and the Association of Latin American Industrials (AILA)– emphasizes the importance of establishing an institutional mechanism to guarantee an effective follow-up on proposals tabled by the public and private sectors from both regions. This mechanism should ensure continuity to the bi-regional strategic partnership.

The EU-LAC Business Forum was organized by EUROCHAMBRES and CAINCO (Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Santa Cruz, Bolivia), as leader of the EC-funded AL-Invest 5.0 programme with the support of AICO, AILA and ProMexico.

You can check the entire text of the Recommendations of the Business Forum EU-Latin America and Caribbean here

Moreover, if you want to know more about any Intellectual Property related issue in Latin America, do not hesitate to contact our Helpline. Our experts will be delighted to provide you with free, confidential, fast, first-line assistance.

Enhancing the protection of Geographical Indications in Latin America

Lesly Nowak
IP expert at Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

Spanish producers of “Turrón de Alicante” or “Sobrasada de Mallorca” fear no more! Producers of products protected under Geographical Indication in the European Union are getting closer and closer to have the protection of these Geographical Indications extended to Brazilian territory.

But what is a Geographical Indication? How can they benefit your business?

Geographical indications (GIs) are a specific Industrial Property Rights (IPRs) protecting products originating in a given geographical area whose quality or characteristics are due to a particular geographical environment (with its inherent natural and human factors) and all or part of the production steps taking place in the defined geographical area.

GIs involve regulating the already existing methods of production and traditions associated with the protected product so that only those companies producing or marketing products in compliance with the regulated standards can use the GI to distinguish their products. Unlike other categories of IPR, such as Patents (new inventions), Trademarks (new brand names) or Designs (new aesthetical characteristics), GIs do not require innovation. Instead, they tend to protect tradition (existing goods, existing methods of production and existing names of those goods) and are owned only in a collective manner.

GIs are a key tool for groups of SMEs producing local agri-food products in a defined geographical area. Indeed, consumer associate agri-foods with their place of origin and a certain guarantee of quality. In addition, their collective ownership and management (which fits with the nature of the rural and agricultural economy), the lack of innovation required and their commercial attractiveness make GIs one of the most suitable IP rights for agri-food SMEs.

In general, to register a GI you have to go through the following steps*:

1) Identify the specificity of the product, which may derive from its quality, characteristics or reputation.

2) Define the place, territory or region within which the product presents the specificity.

3) Identify the specific conditions of the geographical environment existing in the defined place, territory or region and make sure that the singularity of the product is essentially or exclusively due to those conditions.

4) Define and describe in detail the product and method of production.

5) Register the GI and enjoy the protection granted in the territory for which it has been registered.

GIs are still a sensitive subject. The first indicator is an international system of protection of GIs (Lisbon System). This system enables the applicant entity to obtain protection in several countries (as long as they are part of the Agreement) through a single application filed before the International Bureau. However, so far, this Agreement has had very limited success. In Latin America, only Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru are part of this system. As far as the EU is concern, only the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia have ratified the Agreement.

Secondly, GI owners might have to deal with the fact that Trademarks consisting of or containing the expression protected by the GI (in the country or territory of origin, e.g. the European Union) might have already been registered and/or used in connection with the same goods in third countries. Unfortunately, applicable Law in most Latin America grants priority to those earlier trademarks, unless you can prove that earlier trademarks are deceptive or were applied for in bad faith.

Thirdly, GIs protected in the EU and, consequently, identifying products originating from a specific area and complying with specific characteristics, may, however, be considered generic names in third countries (“Queso Parmesano” in Argentina, for example). In such cases, the offices of third country will deny registration of these Geographical Indications. In some cases, it is the own national legislations that assigned a generic nature to the. This is the case of the Argentinian Food Code, which assigns a generic nature to several GIs protected in the European Union, e.g.: “Turrón de Jijona”, “Turrón de Alicante”. In these cases, registration of the GI will only be possible if it is preceded by negotiations between both parties’ Governments aimed at the mutual recognition of GIs and the abolition of that regulation.

Finally, whereas producers in the EU can benefit from a single registration procedure (with unitary effects in all Member States), recognition of GIs in Latin American countries, in most cases, requires a separate procedure before each national competent authority

It is in this context that bilateral agreements, concluded between the EU and certain Latin American countries, establishing mutual recognition of GIs, become important. In particular, the EU has concluded agreements for mutual recognition of agricultural GIs with Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. We can now add Brazil to this list.

Indeed, as part of the negotiations between Europe and Brazil, in the framework of the MERCOSUR-EU negotiations, the Instituto Nacional da Propiedade Industrial (INPI) published the much-awaited Normative Instruction 79/2017. Take into account that this is all the more important since Brazil is not a member of the Lisbon Agreement or the Madrid System (for GIs protected through collective trademarks or certification mark). This Instruction, from October 30, established the first basis of this publication. The list of GIs was finally published on November 7, including well-known Geographical Indications, such as “Oporto” for Portugal, the Dutch “Gouda”, the Italian “Grana Padano” or even the French “Roquefort”. The list is accessible through INPI Brazil’s website. Be aware, though, that third parties have now 30 days to submit oppositions to the registration of these GIs in Brazil and you can expect opposition.

Take into account that producers are already commercializing most of these products in Brazil. Which leads to the following questions: how will the agrifood related industries be affected? Might this then generate some friction between local producers and GI’s owners in the EU? What EU Gi’s will be next? How will these IPR going to be really enforced? The situation will certainly lead to interesting developments and we will keep you informed from the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk.

Do you want to know how your business can benefit from Geographical Indications? Are you planning to commercialize your products in Latin America? Do you require further information on costs or proceedings before taking the decision? If so, do not hesitate to check the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk’s Factsheets on Geographical Indications (general or on Chile).

The EU-funded initiative will provide EU SMEs (either current or potential) with first-line, business focused information on any Intellectual Property related issue in Latin America.

If you require a tailor made consultation, please do not hesitate to contact the Helpline. It is free, fast and confidential! Moreover, the IP experts will support you in English, Spanish, French, German or Portuguese.

*(Source: Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk)

The Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk team contributes to the EU-LAC bi-regional dialogue in the field of Intellectual Property

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

Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are a fundamental component of the productive fabric of the majority of the world’s economies. The European Union, CAINCO (Chamber of Commerce of Santa Cruz in Bolivia), ECLAC (the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), EUROCHAMBRES (the Association of European Chambers of Commerce) and PROMÉXICO organized a series of thematic events in Mexico City on 10th– 14th October in order to share experiences and to consolidate the cooperation between the European and the Latin American and the Caribbean private and public actors that support the development of the MSMEs. Other EU-funded programmes, such as the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk, ELAN Network, ELAN Biz and ADESEP for Central America have also been involved in the organization of the economic cooperation week.

The EUROMIPYME seminar “Latin America and Europe facing technological disruption: a new era of policies and institutions for MSMEs” organized by ECLAC opened the series of events. The seminar facilitated the discussion on how to build a common language for the design of a new generation of development tools for MSMEs, where cooperation between both regions, supported by a fluid public-private dialogue, can become a key factor for transformation. Eli Salis, IP expert of the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk intervened as panellist during the session on public private dialogue.

On the 11th of October, Paolo Baldan, from EUROCHAMBRES, as partner of the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk, presented the services of the Helpdesk to the CEOs of the European Bilateral chambers and EUROCAMARAS of the 7 countries covered by the ELAN BIZ programme (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Perú). He reiterated the full availability of the Helpdesk to organize free of charge training modules on Intellectual Property (IP) on use and protection of trademarks, designs, patents and copyright in Latin America. The Helpdesk will obviously adapt the session according to the priority countries, sectors and topics and time availability. The Helpdesk was also represented on the 12th of October at the EU-LAC Business Forum organized by CAINCO and EUROCHAMBRES bringing in the role of IP protection in the market access facilitation and innovation process. The importance of the bi-regional cooperation on building information schemes on Intellectual Property and the provision of training and capacity building programmes such as the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk was underlined in front of an audience of 200 EU and LAC private and public sector representatives. The event was also an occasion to outline a series of business driven proposals and recommendations which should guide decision-makers in adopting an EU-LAC policy framework for a business friendly environment that is conducive to sustainable growth.

Lastly, César Elvira Fernandez, IP expert of the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk, presented the Helpdesk services and business cases of success at the annual event of the AL-Invest 5 programme, organised by CAINCO on 13 October 2017.

Compulsory licenses in Latin America

Lesly Nowak
IP expert at Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

Issues regarding competition law and IP can, on their own, provoke sever headaches. However, these are not isolated subjects that never cross paths. Problems can grow exponentially when they do and require every bit of our attention and perspicacity.

Competition law and IP cannot be considered as pursuing opposite goals. Quite on the contrary, they must be seen as complementary. Granting exclusive rights through IP promotes innovation and competition between undertakings, the final beneficiary being the customer. This affirmation is also true when talking about Competition law: ensuring competition on the merits and avoiding distortion of the competition, which in the end will promote general economic welfare. In their dynamic relation, competition does not seek to impede the existence of exclusive rights, rather it seeks to avoid an abuse in the exploitation of those rights.

Compulsory licensing is one of the important ‘flexibilities’ recognized under Article 31 of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This is true since it makes it easier for WTO members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector to avoid the trouble of negotiating expensive licenses with big pharmaceutical companies who are in a clear position of power in these negotiations. So far, only two countries in Latin America (Brazil and Ecuador) have made effective use of compulsory licensing provisions.

A compulsory license is generally ordered as a remedy when intellectual property law is not capable to offer a suitable remedy to a situation, usually because the owner of the IPR and the licensee are incapable of reaching a satisfactory settlement. Through these licenses, the owner of intellectual property is required to provide at least one other firm or a government with a right to import, reproduce, and/or sell the intellectual property.

Patent legislation in Latin America provides for different grounds for the granting of compulsory license:

  • Failure to exploit (ANDEAN, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica).
  • Public interest (ANDEAN, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica).
  • National emergency (ANDEAN, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica).
  • As a remedy against anti-competitive practices (ANDEAN, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica).
  • In case of failure to obtain a license under reasonable terms (Argentina, Dominican Republic and Uruguay).
  • In case of dependent patents (ANDEAN, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica).

Although some Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have been signed between Latin American countries and Europe (with Mexico, Chile and Colombia, for example) such agreements have not introduced any limitations on the possible grounds for compulsory licenses.

When granting a compulsory license, the competent authority will face a number of different challenges. First, it must justify the grant of such a license under one of the conditions above mentioned. Second, the authority will have to establish the life of the compulsory license. Finally, setting a correct level of royalty payment is another challenge to ensure proper retribution of the patent owner.

Real life cases: Brazil and Ecuador

In 2007, Brazil decided to override the patent on an AIDS drug in order to make it available under the country’s free treatment program.

Prior investigation lead the government to note that Merck was selling its drug at cheaper prices in countries at the same development level but with fewer people in need of treatment than Brazil; the Indian generic versions were much cheaper than Merck’s product.

Prior to the grant, the Brazilian government engaged in negotiations with the patent holder in order to achieve an acceptable price reduction. During these negotiations, Merck offered a price reduction from US$1.59 to 1.10 per dose, which was deemed unsatisfactory by the Brazilian government. Hence, through Presidential Decree No. 6.108 (4 May 2007) the government decided the grant of a “compulsory license, on the ground of public interest, of Efavirenz’s patents, for public non-commercial use” for a period of 5 years (renewable for the same period31) and a royalty fee for the patent owner of 1.5 % of the finished product.

This decision was far from popular. Although health activists, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, reacted positively, pharmaceutical industries were not pleased with the decision.

In Ecuador, the granting of compulsory licenses is based on the Presidential Decree No. 118 of November 16, 2009, that established “of public interest, access to medicines used for the treatment of diseases that affect the population of Ecuador and that are priorities for public health”. It also specifically specified that compulsory licenses could be issued for patents protecting medicines for human use that are necessary for the treatment of such diseases.

Following this Presidential Decree, the IEPI (Insituto Ecuatoriano de la Propiedad Intelectual) issued a Resolution (Resolution No. 10-04 P) with Guidelines on how to issue a compulsory license in the case of pharmaceutical patents.

Thanks to these instruments, on April 2010, the government of Ecuador granted a compulsory license for an anti-retroviral drug, to Eskegroup SA, a local distributor of a generic produced by an Indian company.

The government of Ecuador, on June 2012, granted a second compulsory license to Acromax Laboratorio Quimico Farmaceutico S.A. regarding a drug protected by and held by the Glaxo Group. After confirmation by the Ministry of Public Health that the pharmaceutical was a priority medicine, the compulsory license was finally granted. The compulsory license is available until the expiry of the patent in May 2018. This action was taken in order to enable the government to further expand access to more affordable treatments for HIV and facilitate local production of the product, leading to an important reduction in costs.

Conclusion

As examined above, although only used in three cases so far, compulsory licenses have been used against pharmaceutical patents. The European Court of Justice has been more inclined to use compulsory licenses as a “punishment” in cases of abuse of dominant position, rather than as a pressure element. In Europe, case law on the subject is rather abundant starting with Magill, which set the basic requirements, later on developed through IMS Health.

In any case, this opens up an interesting debate about pharmaceutical patents, drug prices, health imperatives and incentives. Some medicines are not even available -period- in some markets. One of the reason is that our current patent system does not provide sufficient incentives in R&D for solutions to problems that mostly affect the poor. Another challenge arises from the very nature of the patent regime: innovators are rewarded with a temporary monopoly. In the context of life-saving drugs or vaccines, this monopoly will have a more meaningful impact on poor people who cannot afford the essential drug.

One solution to face this challenge might be voluntary licensing involving contracts with generic manufacturers to distribute and sell drugs in markets where there is no profit to make for branded companies. Voluntary licensing could present several advantages: generic manufacturers would be able to distribute patented medicines in certain countries; multiple licensees can be granted allowing to sell generic versions at prices freely established in certain low and middle-income nations; royalties will be paid to patent owners or economies of scale can be made. All the above would avoid raising competition concerns by creating effective competition through licenses offered to multiple generic manufacturers.

Anyways, the topic surely gives food for thought…

International IPR SME Helpdesks Stakeholders Meeting

The China, Latin America and South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesks are holding their Annual Stakeholder Meeting in Brussels on the 4th of April 2017. Joining the three regional Helpdesks as a co-organiser is Business Beyond Borders (BBB), an EU-funded initiative supporting businesses and clusters when attending international trade fairs around the world.

As a valued partner and user of the Helpdesk services, we are delighted to invite you to this event where you will hear about our latest developments, success stories and planned activities for 2017. To register and access the detailed agenda, please click here.

The event will include the participation of complementary key EU initiatives that are all supporting EU SMEs in their internationalisation efforts, as well as various intermediaries and companies. They will all contribute to the interactive panel- and roundtable discussions and will be available for the matchmaking session.

Similar to previous editions, the 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.

THE MATCHMAKING SESSION

The Matchmaking Session will take place at the end of the Annual Stakeholder Meeting place on the 4thof April from 15.00pm – 17.00pm. The dedicated area is located in the premises of the European Economic and Social Committee – Rue Belliard 99-101, 1000 Brussels.

It will be a great opportunity to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders of pertinence to IPR and SME internationalisation. As a company you will get the chance to have your questions answered by relevant experts.

Attendees will include European SMEs with an interest in expanding their business abroad as well as companies already established in, or working with business entities overseas with specific focus on China, Latin America and South East Asia. The presence of business support organisations and other EU supported schemes focusing on internationalisation, makes this an event you simply cannot miss!

Following the Matchmaking Session there will be a Networking Cocktail, to conclude the day.

We look forward to welcoming you on the 4th of April!