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!

Brazil new regulation proposal and measures for reducing patent backlog

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,

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.


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…

Litigios de infracción y nulidad de patentes en el Perú: Un caso sui generis de bifurcación

Technical Secretary at the Commission of Inventions and New Technologies

La Comunidad Andina es el resultado de la búsqueda de un desarrollo equitativo y armonioso por parte de Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú, que firmaron el Acuerdo de Cartagena el 26 de mayo de 1969, estableciendo el marco de creación de una comunidad subregional conocida inicialmente como el Pacto Andino y que posteriormente fue renombrada como Comunidad Andina. Con el fin de conseguir el objetivo en mención, la Comunidad Andina promueve un proceso continuo de integración, así como de cooperación económica y social. En particular, este proceso de integración involucra la necesidad de tener reglas comunes en relación a aspectos que fomenten la unificación del mercado, tales como los derechos de propiedad industrial.

El sistema de propiedad industrial de la Comunidad Andina es establecido por la Decisión 486, la cual busca garantizar un escrutinio riguroso del cumplimiento de los requisitos requeridos para el otorgamiento de una patente. Así, la Comunidad Andina no solo prevé la realización obligatoria de un examen sustantivo por parte de las autoridades nacionales de patentes de sus Países Miembros, sino que también incluye mecanismos que permiten a terceros probar que una invención no cumple con los requisitos de ley, procurando la denegatoria de la patente (a través de una oposición anterior al registro) o, si la patente ya ha sido concedida, su revocación (a través de un pedido de nulidad).

De otro lado, la exclusividad que es conferida por la patente puede ser resguardada por medio del derecho del que gozan sus titulares para interponer denuncias por infracción ante las autoridades competentes. Debe señalarse que la legislación andina no establece quiénes habrán de ser estas autoridades competentes, por lo que los Países Miembros son libres de asignar tal competencia a órganos judiciales o administrativos.

En el caso particular de Perú, tanto los casos de nulidad e infracción pueden ser revisados a nivel administrativo, lo que ciertamente otorga una apreciable celeridad a la solución de estas disputas (la que regularmente no tomará más de 360 días útiles, incluyendo tanto primera como segunda instancia). Si bien el sistema judicial constituye una alternativa desde el año 2009, se conoce que ordinariamente los procesos que son vistos ante las cortes toman en promedio cuatro años, considerando el tiempo total que toman la primera y segunda instancia.

Más aún, los casos de nulidad e infracción administrativas son vistos por la Oficina de Patentes peruana (Dirección de Invenciones y Nuevas Tecnologías, un órgano perteneciente al Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual – INDECOPI), lo cual dota a estos casos de un alto grado de tecnicidad, lo cual es muy necesitado en las decisiones correspondientes.

Sin embargo, el sistema administrativo referido tiene ciertas limitaciones, dado que ambos procedimientos pueden ser seguidos de manera separada. Así pues, es imposible interponer una defensa de nulidad dentro del procedimiento de infracción, por lo que, si el denunciado considera que la patente en la que se basa la denuncia no cumple con uno o más requisitos legales, únicamente podrá presentar en pedido de nulidad independiente. Tal como se puede ver, éste es un caso sui generis de bifurcación, en donde es la misma autoridad la que decidirá ambos casos.

Considerando que es muy frecuente que un caso de infracción sea procesado antes que el inicio de la acción de nulidad respectiva, es teóricamente válido decir que una decisión que determine la nulidad de la patente podría resultar un acto tardío frente a la decisión anticipada que establezca la comisión de una infracción si es que ésta ya ha sido totalmente ejecutada. Al respecto, debe hacerse hincapié en que, de acuerdo a la legislación peruana, el efecto retroactivo de la invalidación de una patente no afecta aquellas decisiones en casos de infracción que hayan quedado firmes antes de dicha invalidación.

No obstante, la Oficina de Patentes peruana ha encontrado cierto modo de mitigar el problema antes referido. Así, cuando un caso de nulidad es presentado no mucho después del inicio de un procedimiento de infracción, la Oficina procura emitir las decisiones correspondientes a ambos casos en la misma fecha, de manera que, si el caso de nulidad es exitoso, se emite a continuación una decisión que determina la improcedencia de la acción de infracción. Esta medida busca la emisión de decisiones no contradictorias y solo es posible porque es la misma administración la que decide ambos casos.

A pesar de la medida adoptada por la Oficina de Patentes peruana, es todavía probable que, debido a razones muy particulares, esta solución de facto no funcione en todos los casos. En este sentido, sería muy positivo que el sistema andino sea modificado de manera tal que se incluya un instrumento que permita a los denunciados por infracción interponer una defensa de invalidación dentro del procedimiento de infracción. Esta solución de jure permitiría a la administración peruana contar con un mecanismo que asegure la emisión de decisiones coherentes, lo que, sumado a la celeridad y alto grado de tecnicidad reconocidos, dotaría de gran fuerza a su sistema de propiedad industrial.

Time: a competitiveness factor on patented innovation

Vicente Zafrilla Diaz-Marta
Intellectual Property expert at the Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

Why should some Latin American IPOs improve their patent granting procedure?

According to OECD´s Oslo Manual innovation is defined as “the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations”.

Therefore a country´s ability to innovate does not exclusively rely on how much research is developed in a country but on how much of this research reaches the market, directly or indirectly.

Despite a certain degree of debate concerning patents as boosters of innovation, it is true that there is a relevant percentage of innovation that reaches the market by means of patents.

Delays in registration are traditionally perceived as barriers for the entrance of foreign innovators and companies. However, this is only a partial view, since such deficiencies also entail a negative impact on their national innovation and entrepreneurship environment.

Effect on the Industrial Application analysis: the priority period

Since Paris Convention patent applicants in any of the member countries of the convention, enjoy a 12-month priority period to file their patent in any other member countries, while keeping its first application date as the priority date.

In terms of market entrance, 12 months is a very short period of time to assess whether the market accepts a product or not, especially if it is an innovative one. Therefore, only those companies that are very sure of the success of the product and/or have the means to predict such a success will invest their resources in seeking patent protection.

In such a scenario, only few SMEs and inventors would decide to invest their time and money to protect their inventions abroad and/or, once decided, would limit the number of international filings.

Fortunately, the Patent Cooperation Treaty extends the priority period. Once the PCT filing fee has been paid (around €1200) applicants can decide in which countries they want to protect their patent within approximately 30 months (depending on the country). Under this timeframe, even SMEs can assess if they want to enter certain countries.

Therefore, Latin American countries that are not members of the PCT (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) are not only discouraging foreign IP applicants to protect their inventions, but also limiting the access of their own nationals’ patents to international protection.

This barrier has a stronger deterrent effect for foreign SMEs and inventors rather than big companies, which file their applications regardless of there being a PCT or not.

Effect on Application: Search and Examination Report

All those IP offices that are able to provide the Search and Examination Report within a short period of time are giving their applicants a competitive advantage.

If the IP office is able to issue the Preliminary Search Report and/or the Examination Report in a short timeframe, the IP applicants will be able to save money by:

  • Withdrawing the application and/or not filing the PCT if the patent is not new or inventive or;
  • Limiting or erasing claims that lack novelty or inventiveness to prevent facing delays related to other IPOs’ objections.

Thus, Latin American IPR Offices that cannot issue the PSR and/or the ER in twelve months from the priority/filing date are forcing their nationals to face the International Phase of the PCT or the filing in third countries without information concerning the strength of their patents or at least an overview of the expectations of succeeding in the granting of the patent; this is a scenario that may lead to losing all the amounts invested in the application, translations and any other administrative costs.

In recent years some Latin American IP Offices seemed to notice this negative impact and have started to take measures to improve their performance at internal level; by improving their internal practices, and thanks to international cooperation both at interregional level (e.g. the PPH agreements signed with EPO, Spanish IP Office and USPTO) and at intraregional level, with tools like the Prosur PPH or CADOPAT. 

Effect on Exploitation and Enforcement: Granting

Delays in granting the patent also have direct consequences in the use and defence of the patent. Despite the “standard” 20-year term of a patent, a patent’s lifecycle in certain sectors, such as smartphones, tends to be shorter. In some cases, a patent granted five or six years from the filing date have no or very reduced economic interest.

In addition, and generally speaking, pending patent right holders benefit from very little or any rights concerning enforcement until the patent is granted. Such a circumstance prevents them from bringing actions against infringers, which does not only harm their interests, but also their licensees’, including local companies.

Furthermore, long granting periods also harm competitors. A pending patent operates as a “warning” advice for competitors, who are very likely to avoid incurring in acts that may be prohibited by the patent owner once the patent is granted. Hence, a patent office that incurs in delays in rejecting a null patent creates uncertainty to its nationals about whether or not they are able to use the invention.

For instance, in the case were the same patent is rejected by National IP Offices, if country A rejected it in year 2 from filing date and country B rejected it in year 5, country A competitors would enjoy three additional years when they can freely use and exploit the invention in the country, whereas country B competitors will be subject to uncertainty until the patent is rejected.

To conclude, time is a key factor for the patent system. Although inefficiencies in patent registration procedures may harm foreign companies and innovators’ interests, the harm caused to its own national innovation system is even worse. Moreover, very long and formal procedures lead to a negative perception over the patent system in general, and discourage national innovators from protecting their inventions both nationally and abroad, which directly affects the country´s ability to compete in a knowledge-based economy.

Get your patent grant quicker with the Pacific Alliance and PROSUR PPH

Rebeca Nieto
IP Expert at Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

Over the past few years, Intellectual Property Offices around the world have been busy preparing and negotiating Patent Prosecution Highways (PPH) agreements.

Better known by its abbreviation, the PPH is a system of bilateral and multilateral agreements particularly aimed at reducing the costs and time of patent examinations among applicants and participating patent offices. For doing so, the system enables an applicant with allowable/ granted claims in a patent application of an Office of Earlier Examination (OEE) to obtain an accelerated process examination of sufficiently corresponding claims in applications filed (but not yet examined) in other offices -Office of Later Examination (OLE)-.

It must, however, be noted that under PPH the OLE agrees to expedite the examination process by using the data and information provided by the OEE; but following the territoriality principle of patents, it reserves the right to grant or deny the patent.

In Latin America, two regional key networks have been created, namely, Pacific Alliance and PROSUR.

On July 1st, 2016 the PPH Pilot Program of the Pacific Alliance, made up of Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Peru, came into force. Some months later, on September 15th, the PPH Pilot Program of PROSUR, formed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, came into force. Nonetheless, Brazil adherence to the PPH was on December 19th, 2016, while the final entry into force of Ecuador still  awaits the internal approval of its Government.

These Pilot Programs are expected to last 3 years, and renewable for an additional one. As we will see below, their implementation is carried out according to the guides prepared by the participating Industrial Property Offices, which establish the requirements, conditions and procedures to participate in the PPH Pilot Program.

For the purpose of giving certain flexibilities to the applicants, both networks decided to follow the “Mottainai” and the “PCT- PPH” modalities.

According to the PPH MOTTAINAI modality, an applicant can request to expedite its patent examination process at OLE using the results of the OEE, regardless of the office in which the first deposit occurs, provided that the OEE and OLE have signed a PPH MOTTAINAI agreement. By eliminating the directional requirement of the original PPH model, this alternative relaxes the requirements related to the order in which the applications were filed and the priority which they claimed.

Regarding the PCT- PPH, the OLE could utilize the positive results obtained in the PCT international phase to request accelerated processing in the national phase. In particular, in this modality OLE´s patent examiners can use the following work products:

  • the written opinion of the International Searching Authority (ISA),
  • the written opinion of the International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA), or
  • the international preliminary examination report issued within the framework of the PCT, subject to certain conditions.

In this region, WIPO has designated INPI (Brazil) and INAPI (Chile) as ISA/IPEA offices. According to this, the country members of the Pacific Alliance and PROSUR may benefit from the international PCT work elaborated by those offices.

To get a closer look at the system, let’s now see how the Pacific Alliance PPH system has worked for the Mexican inventor Sergio Fernando Grijalva, who was the first applicant within the PPH of the Pacific Alliance in filing and obtaining a patent granted.

His application was filed on March 3rd, 2016 in the National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI). Once the PPH was requested, it was necessary to check if the application met the requirements set in the INAPI- IMPI’s guide to participate, which are:

  • The Chilean and the Mexican application must be equivalent, which means that they must have the same initial date, either the same priority date or the same filing date.
  • The corresponding application must have been examined substantively and have one or more claims considered by IMPI as patentable/ allowable.
  • All claims submitted for INAPI’S examination -as originally filed or as modified- must sufficiently correspond to one or more of the claims found patentable/ allowable by IMPI.
  • The application filed before INAPI shall has been published in the Official Gazette.
  • The substantive examination of the application of INAPI has not yet begun. In other words, the PPH must be requested before the examiner is appointed.

In the present case, the Mexican applicant was required to modify his application before INAPI as to make its claims sufficiently corresponding to the ones granted by IMPI. Thanks to this correction, the research and examination results done by IMPI could be used during INAPI´s patent prosecution.

As result of the prosecution of this patent by the PPH, the substantive examination process was executed in less than 3 months, which contributed to grant the patent in less than 12 months, rather than the 36 months that non-contentious patent application may take.

As we have seen, the existing PPH networks in Latin America can contribute effectively to speed up the substantive examination process of the participating offices, by avoiding the repetition of unnecessary administrative actions, while at the same time reduce related institutional and applicants’ costs. Moreover, and not previously mentioned, using these services do not, as a general rule, require additional fees.

For all of the reasons above mentioned, companies and inventors are encouraged to benefit from the existing PPH schemes. As for this purpose, if you are seeking patent protection internationally, you are highly recommended to verify the PPH agreements of those countries you are planning to expand your patent protection, as well as check out the modalities they adopted (i.e. “Mottainai” and “PCT- PPH”), as they can provide you an additional chance to successfully accomplish your patent registration in Latin America.

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.

Radiografía (rápida) de la propiedad industrial en Chile durante el primer año de INAPI como Autoridad ISA/IPEA

Fundación Empresarial

Cuarenta de las 155 solicitudes de patentes internacionales que ha gestionado INAPI en su primer año como organismo encargado de Búsqueda y Examen Preliminar Internacional corresponden a casas de estudios superiores.

De Chile, América Latina y el Caribe pueden provenir las solicitudes que desde hace un año puede gestionar el Instituto Nacional de Propiedad Industrial de Chile, INAPI, como Autoridad ISA/IPEA. Bajo este estatus realiza análisis preliminares, como identificar documentos publicados que puedan influir en la patentabilidad de una invención y emitir una opinión acerca del cumplimiento de los requisitos.

En el primer año de funcionamiento con este nuevo rol, INAPI recibió 155 solicitudes internacionales de patentes, de las cuales 40 fueron de universidades chilenas. “Hoy en día INAPI es la puerta de entrada al sistema internacional de patentes”, afirmó al respecto el director nacional del organismo, Maximiliano Santa Cruz, en una columna publicada por el sitio web de INAPI.

A nivel regional, el instituto es la segunda oficina en tener esta categoría después de Brasil, y a nivel global es la segunda de habla hispana, luego de España.

A estas cifras se le suman las generadas este año en materia de registro de marcas, las que a septiembre llegan a 31.047. Los datos muestran un positivo panorama para la propiedad intelectual en Chile. El año pasado el país se ubicó en el lugar 24 del ranking IPRI (International Property Rights Index), elaborado por Property Rights Alliance, lo que lo sitúa en el primer lugar en la región.

Dado el panorama internacional de una creciente globalización comercial, la propiedad intelectual se ha convertido en un tema central para los principales mercados. En este contexto, INAPI, junto con la Fundación Empresarial Eurochile, son socios del proyecto Latin America IPR Helpdesk, que depende de la Dirección General Investigación e Innovación (programa COSME) de la Comunidad Europea. Esta iniciativa busca “facilitar la expansión de las pymes europeas interesadas en operar en América Latina, a través del aumento de conocimiento del uso y reforzamiento del sistema de propiedad intelectual y de los derechos de propiedad intelectual”.

“El fortalecimiento actual de la propiedad intelectual, sumado al hecho de que las pymes puedan aprender a utilizarlos de manera estratégica en sus negocios en la región, redundará en mejores condiciones para que empresas europeas puedan instalarse en nuestros países, lo que trae innumerables beneficios tanto en generación de empleo e innovación, como en intercambio de conocimientos y tecnología”, asegura Ivonne Palma, experta en propiedad intelectual de Eurochile.

Ventajas de las patentes

El registro de patentes constituye un fuerte incentivo para las personas e instituciones que han invertido esfuerzos en invención. Las patentes significan un reconocimiento por su creatividad y recompensas materiales por sus invenciones comercializables.

En Chile, la ley reconoce que el dueño de una patente goza de exclusividad territorial, para producir, vender o comercializar y explotar de cualquier manera el invento protegido. El titular de la patente tiene el derecho de decidir quién puede utilizar la invención patentada durante el período de protección, concertando permiso de licencia a terceros, según términos establecidos de mutuo acuerdo.

La norma también establece que en caso de que terceros comercialicen la invención protegida sin un consentimiento, el titular podrá ejercer acciones legales, incluso por el período de tramitación del derecho.

Datos de noviembre de 2015.

Gold Medal for Chile

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

In 1986 the world heard the breaking news on the field of medicine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of the first recombinant vaccine, product developed to fight the Hepatitis B virus, a potentially mortal infection.

The Chilean biochemist Pablo Valenzuela Valdés was behind this historic scientific achievement. He became a referent of the genetic engineering as well as a pioneer on the technology transfer at the University of California, San Francisco.

The invention was patented and then licensed to pharmaceutical firms who were responsible for distributing the vaccine to dozens of countries. The license agreement has become the most prolific in term of economic results for the University of California, San Francisco in almost two decades, allowing funding new discoveries and further technology development.

Later the protection of industrial property on the vaccine, based on research about yeast, produced a number of tests which transformed the blood banks in a safer source.

Dr. Valenzuela´s contribution still gathers praise. On last October 22nd he became the first Chilean scientist to be awarded with the Gold Medal for Inventors, given by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The award was promoted by The National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile (INAPI), due to Valenzuela significant contribution to the creation of new knowledge and its appropriation, which has meant a truly entrepreneurship engine for development.

The award had a special meaning for the patent system, as was given at the first anniversary since INAPI began operations as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This new role, reserved only for 21 national agencies in the world, has meant a stimulus for Chilean universities and inventors in order to globalize their inventions and reach bigger markets.

During this year, 11 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, which are PCT members, have designated the Chilean office as the mandated office to search and conduct the preliminary examination on patents.

Thus, the Chilean agency of industrial property provides services beyond their borders as well as Chile paves the way for the proliferation of new inventors who might impact the world with their technological developments as Pablo Valenzuela did almost three decades ago. He is the undisputed winner of the WIPO Gold Medal.

PCT: The backbone of the international patent system

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

It has been over six years from the entry of Chile to one of the most important and successful agreements of intellectual property. The 2nd of June of 2009 our country was incorporated into the 148 member nations of the Patent Cooperation Treatment (known as PCT), managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and which saw the light over 40 years ago, in 1970.

Practically all of our major commercial partners like United States, the European Union, Brazil and China are PCT members. In addition, it can be highlighted that countries with very different economic developments such as Australia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Malaysia and India are members as well. This proves the trust put in this international agreement, which also foster innovation and technology transfer, through the free and efficient access to an enormous database of technology information on patents.

The incorporation of Chile to the PCT has completed a triad of significant events that have strongly impacted on the intellectual property system in our country. Besides the implementation in Chile of the intellectual property agreement from the World Trade Organization´s (WTO), during 2005, as well as the signing of a couple of free trade agreements, remarkably the one with United States, the PCT has closed a cycle of important transformations within our intellectual property system.

The PCT is a strategic tool in two aspects. On one hand, facilitates the patenting of our nationals overseas; as counterpart the foreigners obtain a much more easy access to patent in Chile. On the other hand, expedites the work of industrial property offices and improves the quality on granted patents.

This agreement concentrates a large interest from the Chilean innovators, expressed on the 48 patent applications at INAPI during the very first year of the enactment entry. Such figure is one of the highest at the Latin American level, during the first year of the enactment of this treaty.

Before this agreement, Chileans should make the patent application on every single country where they wanted to have protection, immediately after the first 12 months to its application in Chile; in that form, the invention still was considered a novelty, and if they would intend to use the PCT, Chileans should associate or find administrative loopholes.

Nowadays Chile is part of the PCT and national innovators can simply apply with an only solicitude at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI), which will be considered as simultaneously applied in each of the 148 country members of this treaty.

This allows saving costs, because they are not required to make multiple translations on the application, nor undergo to diverse procedures and neither make payments on multiple currencies according to where they would like to protect. Today they can apply in Spanish, in a single procedure to be paid in Chilean pesos.

The PCT is a good example of globalization and internationalization of the intellectual property system. Its virtue resides in the enhancement of the international patenting and the cooperation of the industrial property offices, and at the same time it does it respecting the whole sovereignty of the member countries which can freely determine the patentability conditions and deciding whether an invention is finally patentable.

The PCT is a crucial tool to achieve the goals of the Ministry of Economy in Chile, about strengthening the institutional framework for intellectual and industrial protection, promoting the invention as well as patenting among Chilean scientists and entrepreneurs.

If the WTO intellectual property agreement in 1994, known as TRIPS or ADPIC, was probably the most transcendent milestone of the past century for substantive harmonization, the PCT was the equivalent on the matter of cooperation and infrastructure on the global patent system. So much so that Francis Gurry, current WIPO Director General, has called it the “backbone of the international patent system”.