Winds of change are blowing in the international Copyright panorama

Rebeca Nieto
IP Expert at Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

Francis Gurry, WIPO’s Director General, pointed out in a recent interview the challenges posed by new scientific and technological developments for IP administration, policy and governance.

In this sense, it is nothing new that Intellectual Property Law, as any other field of law, lags behind technological, market and social realities. For this reason, it is in the hands of law-makers, authorities and industry to take all the necessary steps to adjust current regulations to the existing scientific and technological development.

However, if we actually look at the European and Latin American national and regional legislation panorama, we can notice that most of them require an update and adjustment in their copyright regulation to match the new digital reality.

In this regard, the major challenges to be addressed are the digitalization and distribution of content over Internet, the improvement of access to online content and cross boarder access, the current and future development of the “Internet of the Things”, appropriate protection of creators and fair payment for the online use of their works, among others.

Nonetheless, the digital revolution not only involves difficulties, but also opportunities. As regards copyright, creators such as Imogen Heap, are becoming aware of the business prospects that new technologies like Blockchain can bring to them. Imogen Heap, through her Mycelia project, has been the first author that has distributed her song, Tiny Human, by means of a smart contract using block chain.

Given the current context, it is not surprising that the negotiating and adopting a new Copyright legislation is not a piece of cake.

In Europe, for instance, the proposal of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, has received nearly 1,000 amendments. Even so, the approval of said Directive is getting closer. On the 10th of October, the Juri Committee is expected to vote on the content of the new EU Copyright Directive.

The key issues at debate are:

  • The creation of ancillary rights for press publishers (art.11).
  • The obligation for online service providers to monitor and prevent copyright infringements by users (art. 13).
  • The mandatory exceptions related to teaching activities, text and data mining and preservation of cultural heritage (art. 3-5).
  • Fair remuneration in contracts for authors and performers (art.14-16).

It must be note that In Europe, a Community Directive of 2001 is in charge of regulating the Digital Market.

In Latin America, most national and regional copyright legislations (such as the Decision 351 of the Andean Community) also require an update to match the requirements of the digital era. It should be borne in mind that the majority of them were approved long before the irruption of the information and communication revolution.

Nonetheless, these region are taking action as reflected in the last Regional Meeting for Directors of the Copyright Offices of Latin America held in Colombia. The participating countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela) addressed current global issues. “Rights management in the digital environment: initiatives to make the management and ownership of digital rights more efficient” and “Orange Economy, Challenges and Opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Intellectual Property Rights and Entrepreneurship” are one of the topics that were addressed during the Meeting.

Even though many Latin American countries have introduced modifications in their national Copyright laws over the last years, such as for Colombia, Ecuador or Brazil, as a rule of thumb, it can be said that digital challenges have not yet been fully addressed in this region.

Expect legislative changes in the near future. To be up to date about Latin America’s latest copyright and IP developments, do not forget to visit our news section or subscribe to our newsletter.

In addition, if you are planning to internationalize your creative business to Latin America, please read our Factsheet Copyright in a nutshell and our Factsheet Protecting your creations in the Andean Community, or contact our Helpline for further information.

Intellectual Property for SMEs: 6 common errors

Having their own business is a yearning for many employees tired of a working life that does not fill anything else than their bank account. They endure frustrations and abuses for a not always decent salary, and feed their dream with the massive DIY-tools that the Internet provides.

More than a few are eventually convinced by the siren calls of tempting opportunities offered by the digital world to exploit an idea in a profitable way with no (or less) tangible means and leap into the void without a second thought.

In order to prevent your savings, hair and other valuable resources to be wiped out by a temporary insanity, we are listing some of the most common Intellectual Property (IP) – related mistakes Start-Ups make too often and that you must avoid if you want to succeed.

1. Poor knowledge of the sector

Working at Disneyland is not the same as visiting it. Likewise, being a (more or less specialized) consumer does not give you a complete picture of the sector. It’s key to know the internal mechanisms.

Given that experience is the best teacher, during the initial stages you’d overcome this deficiency with a deeper prior analysis and better planning.

However, many start-ups embrace adventure without being aware of the frequency or speed of technological developments in the sector, where to find new opportunities for growth or licensed-technology, or what patents are relevant to their products.

In other words, they do not know what Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are needed to operate and its availability.

In regard to the first, sectorial guides (i.e. Machinery and IP in Mercosur and Chile) may help you to identify the relevant IPR to your case and understand why and when should them be protected (i.e. a graphic designer would need to know more about copyrights and trademarks, and pay less or no attention to patents).

In regard to the second, “Out of sight, out of mind” is not a good IP policy, since not knowing the law does not allow you not to obey it. Other’s IPR infringement may take place though you did not want to. You’d better check the trademarks, patents or copyrights owned by your competitors to avoid it.

Thanks to that, you’d not only escape a costly legal proceeding, but you’d have a deeper knowledge on how innovative you are and be able to adapt your commercial strategy.

Performing a prior search is hence indispensable. Unfortunately, you cannot always access comprehensive, reliable, free-of-charge databases that can be easily handled by the average user.

The solution calls for expert advice.

2. Fail to identify IPR and deficient valuation

The idea that inspires a different business’ birth tends to be unique to the father’s eyes.

Nonetheless, just a few know exactly what part can be protected (i.e. technical feature, aesthetical aspect, name, information itself, etc.) and how is it given material form. No, the answer is not always “patent”.

You can also find utility models, designs, trademarks, trade secrets or copyrights, among others. Generally speaking, commercialization of a new product involves many IPR simultaneously. For example, the technology used by Goretex (registered trademark) was patented and the shoes appearing on the catalogues and brochures (protected by copyright) have been previously registered as designs.

Though, if you think that IP is only for technology-based or big companies, you are wrong. Any company has some potential (or current) IPR.

In fact, all companies daily work with intangibles that could be protected as IPR –and, thus, be exploited-, but have no clue about it.

Your company or product name can be registered as a trademark and reach an incredible value. If you don’t believe me, you’d better check Forbes’ rank of the 10 most valuable trademarks.

If you are not aware of what you have in your hands, you can hardly assess its value properly and protect it accordingly. This error can cost you dear if we bear in mind that for most Start-Ups, IPR often represent the most important asset of the company.

3. Bad timing

Sadly, IP protection is way too common done as an after-thought or be left for a later stage.

Thus, many entrepreneurs figure out that the innovative product on which the business project is based cannot be patented anymore, either because:

  • Since they began to develop it until they finally were ready to launch it, it has been too long and in the meantime other company applied for similar patents (first-to-file wins, remember?); or
  • They disclosed it (via online or at a trade fair) and it is not new anymore. Many Latin-American countries do provide a grace period for patents, but you need to know which and its requirements.

Those of them who’d rather release the product and protect it depending on its success can be committing IP offenses unknowingly. At best, the product was really innovative and they could face any of the mentioned scenarios.

The same situation may be seen as respect to the trademark. Before naming your company or product, be sure that it is available in your countries of interest (think internationally!). Otherwise, you’d have to choose a new name or be forced to negotiate with the right holder (i.e. the “iphone” trademark dispute between Gradiente and Apple that took place in Brazil was a good example).

Usually, the first to apply for its registration gets the exclusive right (first-to-file principle). But some Latin-American countries have a different regulation. Hence, it is recommended to be assisted by specialized professionals from the beginning and have a case-by-case approach.

On the other hand, there are some opportunities that apparently cannot be missed. However, a trade fair or a meeting with a promising client can be a double-edge sword. You’d better calm down and perform a good search and design -supported by an IP expert preferably- involving all the relevant parts (e.g. designers and marketing team).

4. Ownership: absence of clarity and awareness

Creative processes tend to be convulsed and it’s hard to distinguish who created what and in which proportion (particularly, when ideas arise from brain storming or daily work).

Moreover, when you deal with external providers or a team, many of them do not know who is the real owner of the work. The assignment rules are usually contained in the IP regulation and the employment or project contract. This is why you must pay attention to its content and try to clarify rights and obligations of each part and adapt them to your needs before your start working.

In this regard, many disputes arise when the employee thinks that everything he/she creates belongs to him/her (while it tends to be the other way around).

For this purpose, a well-drafted contract is crucial. Be as much specific as possible and try to think on the most -and less, but harmful- likely scenarios and include a clause for that.

Start-Ups rarely avoid application of knowledge gained from the company they previously worked for or achieved the final result without using its means (although it was during their leisure time).

This is of central importance when you are looking for funding or partnership (ascertaining the correct IPR assignment is one of the key points of any due diligence conducted by investors to give the green light) or when license agreements are signed.

At internal level, it is equally important that the rest of the company members know the scope of the IPR they work with (i.e. what countries are covered, can it be modified for an online campaign, is there a limit to the number of licenses, what happens with any improvement on it). For-profit use of open source technology or under for personal use only license; inclusion of copyright-protected works without permission in catalogues or social networks; or utilization of patented technology without realizing it, are some of the most common errors and can be prevented with an active IP awareness policy by trainings like those provided by the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk.

5. Lack of (or improvised) protection strategy

The absence of a clear short/medium term IP strategy is a serious handicap to the business project’s success –or event survival-. It’s impossible to identify the needed tools to achieve the objectives if they are not well defined.

Moreover, many entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of own and other’s IPR or overrate the power of a registered IPR (patents to not enforce themselves automatically: you have to negotiate with infringers or start legal actions). Additionally, some businessmen forget that IPR also entail certain obligations (i.e. trademarks’ obligation use was set to avoid defensive registrations in many Latin-American countries).

As a result, they find themselves:

  • with weak IPR to save money in legal assistance
  • with IPR that they don’t use; or
  • forced to request lawyer’s support to solve a non-registration related problem

Notwithstanding, the vast majority of the mentioned mistakes so far can be prevented with correct planning.

Or, to put in other way, you have to invest in IP and avoid relying upon improvisation.

Do not forget that the IP strategy must be aligned with the business strategy (and not vice versa). Short, medium and long term must be taken into account, too; and plans must be regularly updated and suited to change.

6. Who needs a lawyer?

You can find many infinite templates, examples and tutorials on how to elaborate your own agreements across the Internet. As a matter of fact, it is really tempting to take four of them and adapt them to your case –at high risk of copy-paste abuse-.

The so termed Frankenstein effect is one of the most frequent errors, given the high cost of legal assistance and low awareness of the importance of a well-drafted contract (in particular when no problem arose).

It must be however noted that IP is a very complex matter, that varies a lot from country to country, and that an in-house lawyer (if the company has one) -that already deals with tax or sales legal issues- can hardly ensure a high level of efficiency.

Although most of the entrepreneurs are used to do it all by themselves, they must know their limits, be wise and delegate to experts (when needed).

Do not forget that if you trust a lawyer from the beginning, you can save a lot of money (fixing the mess created can be two or three times more expensive).

Indeed, the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk was created in response to all those EU SMEs that want (and must) to know more about IP and how to use it as a profitable business tool, in particular when they operate in Latin America –or are intending to do it-.

Moreover, some of the mentioned trainings (and much more) are explained in depth in the training sessions they organize (i.e. Start-Ups in Latin America: Most Common IP errors).

Nonetheless, when the problem you have is beyond your knowledge –gained thanks to the E-learning documents and trainings offered by the Helpdesk-, you could always use the Helpline. All any of its services, it is free-of-charge and totally confidential.

Furthermore, it is available in 5 different languages (English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese) and the experts provide first-line assistance within 3 working days.

For further information, you can check their website www.latinamerica-ipr-helpdesk.eu.

Nuestro interés por patentar en el extranjero

Maximiliano Santa Cruz Scantlebury
National Director of the National Institute of Industrial Property – INAPI

Han pasado poco más de dos años desde que el Instituto Nacional de Propiedad Industrial, INAPI, empezara a operar como Administración encargada de búsqueda y examen preliminar internacional (ISA/IPEA) del Tratado de Cooperación en materia de Patentes (PCT), tanto para los solicitantes chilenos como para aquellos pertenecientes a los países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe, miembros de PCT.

El sistema PCT es la columna vertebral del registro de patentes internacionales. Es el Tratado más importante en materia de tramitación de patentes. Chile ingresó a este Tratado en 2009, y actualmente 148 países son miembros, y de ésos solamente 21 son ISA/IPEA (Autoridades de búsqueda y examen preliminar internacional), una categoría que habilita a emitir una opinión que puede ser utilizada por las oficinas de patentes de los restantes países miembros del tratado. Una de esas 21 oficinas es el INAPI, lo que la hace la segunda en la región en conjunto con la oficina de Brasil y la segunda en tener como idioma de trabajo el español, junto a la oficina Española.

Durante el primer año que INAPI ha funcionado como ISA/IPEA, desde el 22 de octubre de 2014 a diciembre de 2015, se presentaron 169 solicitudes internacionales PCT que designaron a INAPI como ISA, de las cuales 123 fueron chilenas y el resto de países latinoamericanos, quienes eligieron y confiaron en INAPI para realizar búsquedas internacionales.

Al respecto, debo destacar que de las solicitudes que nos han designaron como ISA/IPEA en ese periodo, 44 corresponden a universidades chilenas (más 5 extranjeras). Ese número es muy alto, y reafirma las cifras que se tuvieron durante ese período como Oficina Receptora, en donde 22 solicitudes de un total de 90 que se recibieron (equivalente a un 24,4%) fueron de universidades nacionales. Estos números superan claramente en forma porcentual las cifras globales respecto del patentamiento de universidades en PCT y, por otra parte, confirma el acierto de INAPI de fijar tasas diferenciadas y de menor valor para las casas de estudios superiores, como una manera de facilitar y promover la acción de las universidades en la innovación. Ello queda demostrado con las solicitudes presentadas por universidades con menos experiencia en el patentamiento de sus innovaciones, como la Universidad de Talca, la Universidad Andrés Bello y la Universidad del Biobío, las que se unen a otras ya más consolidadas como la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, la Universidad de Concepción y la Universidad de Santiago.

Las universidades son la fuente primaria de la mayoría de las innovaciones tecnológicas y son el puente perfecto para establecer un intercambio de doble vía entre la investigación por un lado y los negocios y la comercialización por el otro. En Chile las universidades están haciendo un buen esfuerzo en patentar y que deberían seguir haciendo y promoviendo.

La generación de nuevo conocimiento a través de la actividad científica de las universidades es un instrumento fundamental para llegar al desarrollo económico, social y cultural. Chile posee una tradición científica que lo sitúa en posiciones de vanguardia en términos de productividad a nivel latinoamericano y eso es lo que reflejan estas cifras.

Quiero decir que en INAPI estamos muy satisfechos con el número de solicitudes que nos han designado durante dicho período como ISA/IPEA de PCT, ya que ello da cuenta de la alta confianza que despierta INAPI en la comunidad de la Propiedad Industrial tanto chilena como de la región y a la vez nos genera una enorme responsabilidad con aquellos solicitantes que confiaron en nosotros para prestarles un servicio de búsqueda de calidad y eficiente.

Future of Globalization: No Time to Waste

Juan Antonio Enciso
Director, MBA in Global Business & Strategy, EGADE Business School, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey

On April 20, in a session at the Global Network for Advanced Management Fifth Anniversary Symposium, a panel of experts, including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will lead a discussion of the future of globalization and the implications for business and management education. Watch the discussion live.

Globalization encouraged companies to design and implement their business strategies to take advantage of the competitiveness of each region, configuring and adapting the value of their supply chains in manufacturing, investment, and trade. It’s clear that the global value chains took years to configure, with the flexibility to respond quickly to changes in technology and consumer trends, and regulations and financial cycles, among many other global economic factors.

However, this status seems to be facing challenges, mostly from political events and apparent anti-globalization postures in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K., and many others around the world. The question that arises is how these politically led movements and governments will impact the competitiveness of the current global value configuration? In practice, what does it mean in terms of changes to regulations and benefits of trade and direct-investment agreements, double-taxation treaties, property-rights protection, environmental regulations, and quality standards, among many other economic factors that define the feasibility of both production and consumption?

The impact of the future of globalization or anti-globalization depends on several factors. Some of these factors are the political and economic views of the new generation of leaders and governments on how profound and deep the changes in trade and foreign-direct investment regulations will be, new tax configurations, changes in rules of origin within trade agreements, environmental and logistics regulations, and the non-trade-related issues that governments would probably like to tie to trade, such as immigration, security, border crossings, and democratic processes, among other issues.

How will this new status quo impact a trade-dependent country like Mexico? It depends on how fast governments and companies come to understand their current situation and potential changes, the effectiveness of their capacity to change their global value chains to maintain their competitiveness, and their capacity to negotiate or renegotiate trade regulations with potential partners. We need to remember that changes in a global supply do not come about from one day to the next; it might take years before a company can reconfigure its sourcing, manufacturing process, logistics planning, and so on.

There is no time to waste. The business leaders of multinational and domestic companies must be prepared to understand and evaluate the business environment, to foresee the possible changes, to evaluate challenges and economic impact; they must be able to reconfigure management and organizations, be assertive negotiators with governments as well as with suppliers and customers, and to evaluate and design new processes, products, and customer-service management.

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!

Intellectual Property is an intangible with significant economic potential

“Chile has built a balanced property system that seeks to protect the interests of creators and innovators, as well as users and society as a whole,” says Martin Correa, Head of the Intellectual Property Department of the General Directorate of International Economic Relations (Direcon) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Department coordinates and conveys Chile’s position on international negotiations before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Intellectual Property is precisely the focus of the Latin America Intellectual Property SME Helpdesk project, which belongs to the Directorate General for Research and Innovation (COSME Program) of the European Union. The Eurochile Foundation is a partner of this project.

The subject is highly relevant, since a wider knowledge and respect for intellectual property rights leads to improved opportunities for Chilean companies.

“Today, IP has been gaining importance, since it has been proven that it may be an intangible with a significant economic potential not only for consolidated and larger companies, but also for small and medium enterprises. In this sense, knowing the value of IP enables SMEs to value their trademarks and generate spin-offs when granting licenses,” states Correa.

“Additionally, having an invention patent, for example, can be a plus when applying for loans to continue the development of an SME or even for expanding. Finally, IP can encourage the sale of traditional niche products by granting geographical indications. They create communities among small producers of the same product by recognizing its added value. As you can see, being aware and knowing the economic potential of IP can allow SMEs to make better business decisions and to benefit from the profits IP can generate,” he adds.

– What is the state of Intellectual Property protection in Chile?

“The country has made great strides in recent years, introducing major changes to the intellectual property system, such as the enactment of Law 17,336 on Intellectual Property, the reform of Law 19,039 on Industrial Property and the creation of the National Industrial Property Institute (Inapi, in Spanish). There has also been progress in creating tools to bring people closer to IP through programs such as the origin seal and Inapi Proyecta, as well as in boosting the role of the intellectual rights keeper belonging to the Chilean Libraries, Archives and Museums Board (Dibam, in Spanish).”

– What are the pending issues in this regard?

“Chile has a strong intellectual property system with clear and strict rules, comparable to the standards of major international institutions that cover these issues, such as the WTO and the WIPO. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that new technologies and recent innovations in the digital environment pose new challenges not only for Chile, but for the international community. It should address the interaction between IP and these new developments.”

– What is Chile’s level of compliance regarding international agreements and obligations on this matter?

“Chile has fulfilled its international obligations on intellectual property. In this sense, the current institutional framework in Chile reflects the standards described in our free trade agreements (FTA). It even went beyond what was agreed on the FTAs. However, there are still some issues to be addressed internally, derived mainly from the FTA with the US. One example is complying with technological protection measures linked to copyright, which has not been addressed yet. Therefore, Direcon’s efforts have been instrumental in coordinating thematic working tables to address this issue internally in the near future.”

– What are the most common problems for a foreign company wishing to do business with Chile, in terms of IP?

“Even though the rules on intellectual property in Chile are relatively similar to those in most developed countries, there are some differences that must be taken into consideration when doing business. They have to do with the territorial nature of IP. In this regard, it is important to be aware of certain basics, such as the civilian origin of Chile’s legal tradition and the balance of our system when pondering the interests of creators and innovators, and the interests of users and society as a whole. They differ in each country. Therefore, it is indispensable to learn about the system as a whole in order to enjoy the economic benefits of IP in all its dimensions.”