February 21st, 2013 by Danny G. Pérez y Soto - B&R Research
A big number of our recent blog’s posts are related to Colombia’s IP because, frankly, there is a lot to tell about this country’s Intellectual Property.
Yet another promising international cooperation project has started, this time between the Swiss government -specifically, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property- and several IP-related colombian institutions. The COLIPRI Project is certainly an ambitious project, with a budget of more than USD$4’000.000, four years for execution and the participation of the Colombian PTO -The SIC-, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Science and Innovation Institute and the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Plus a number of indirect benefitiaries to the project, including several indigenous and black communities).
The project goal is to contribute to higher competitiveness, more value added to colombian products and a positive impact on Colombia’s social and economic development. Four areas for action were chosen:
1. Improve the Colombian PTO.
The first goal is to improve the domestic PTO, the Superintendency for Industry and Commerce (As a Colombian attorney, the writer of this post considers the Superintendency to be one of the most efficient and reliable national institutions, but reckons that it is still a long way from offices such as the EPO and the USPTO).
The project aims at helping the Superintendency achieve their goals to reduce examination time from 60 to 40 months (Namely, the time that the EPO usually takes in the process), to improve skills and technical expertise of examinators, and to foster cooperation between staff members .
Furthermore, the SIC’s IP Academy will be encouraged to develope closer ties to stakeholders of innovatice centers in Colombia, such as the tech industry and researchers. A system for technology transfer, created along with such stakeholders, will greatly improve the IP Academy and will allow for greater specialization and dissemination of IP-related information.
2. Increase Technology Transfer.
With three strategic partners in Colombia, the project looks towards creating a solid system for technology transfer in this country. They will work with:
-The Superintendency for Industry and Commerce | SIC
- The Colombian Administrative Deparment for Science, Technology and Innovation | Colciencias
- The Colombian Conferenderation of Chambers of Commerce | ConfeCámaras
For such a system to be created, three different R&D projects with private companies and universities will be created, and a regional Technology Transfer Office will be established at a Colombian University.
3. Promoting the use of Geographical Indications
Up to this moment, geographical indications have been a field for big producers. The project aims at making these accesible to even small producers, through a legal and institutional framework that empowers them in the protection of their assets.
This specific goal includes
- Concentrating know-how on G.I.’s
- Increasing the credibility of Colombian G.I.’s, through an efficient system for verification and accreditation that is consistent with international standards.
- Disseminating information on practical cases and successes of Colombian owners of G.I.’s.
- Implementation of a quality assurance system and the choice of a control system.
4. Strengthen protection of Traditional Knowledge
Although the indigenous population of Colombia is small in size (around 3,4% of total population) their diversity is remarkable. More than 80 indigenous groups are currently represented in the country -the project reckons there are around 100 of these groups-. Additionally, african-colombian indigenous communities are also established in several regions. While the political rights of these groups have been gradually been safeguarded, their economic rights and the protection of their IP assets continues to be deficient.
Work on a sound system for Technology Transfer is required, according to the project’s coordinators. Capacity-building efforts will be conducted with these communities and promotion of traditional knowledge protection.
At B&R Latin America IP we welcome this type of project in Colombia and the whole Andean Community. There is certainly a strong need for IP promotion and for support of minorities in the protection of their IP assets. We are glad to see the Swiss and the Colombian government working together in further improving the PTO’s services and -given the still alarmingly low rates of patenting in the country- we firmly believe that incentives should be provided for inventors and stakeholders in creative industries (reducing the time for patent examination is certainly an incentive).
The Colombian-Swiss Intellectual Property Project COLIPRI is also coherent with other projects from the Colombian PTO. A cooperation agreement between the INAPI -The Chilean PTO- and the SIC is also improving the IP Academy, and our office is assisting the SIC on testing and improving their brand new platform for online filing of trademarks and patents.
February 14th, 2013 by Danny G. Pérez y Soto - B&R Research
Latin American economy has been making headlines for a while now. Talk about the resilience of the region to the 2008 crisis, and the sustained growth of several of the region’s economies is now common in the pages of international media, such as The Economist and the NYT but also in local media. The region’s GDP is often compared to that of european countries and other advanced economies, to illustrate the dynamism of the region; and especially that of Brasil, Mexico, Peru and Colombia. However, the statistics on intellectual property matters show a rather different, more challenging perspective to the current growth trends of Latin American economies.
Data on trademarks and patents is a trustworthy source of information of how are economies really performing. Intellectual property assets were initially meant to be drivers of growth for national economies, but in a globalized world the increased protection of IP is often a result and not the cause for economic growth. However, contrasting data from patent applications to trademark applications can provide a reliable insight into how is the productive sector performing in contrast to the consumption behavior of each country. In general, the growth of trademark applications and prosecution is a reflection of an increased buying power (or easier access to credit) on the side of the consumers, making the market more attractive to investors. On the other hand, strong growth in patents is usually evidence of dynamic and innovative industries, especially if the growth is driven by domestic patent applications.
According to our numbers, which can be found on our recently published book on iTunes Store, Latin America still remains a consumption-driven region. Patent applications are still very small, barely surpassing Africa and Oceania in consolidated regional numbers. This is specially worrying given the size of the Latin American markets, and given the fact that a large portion of those few patent applications are from foreign applicants. The implications and our assessment of these numbers is:
- Latin American industries and entrepreneurs remain oblivious of the importance of intellectual property protection for their business. Trademarks and specially patents are often disregarded as an undesirable legal expense and not as a tools for consolidating market positioning and incentives for investment in research and development. When correctly used, a patent may become the decisive factor of a company’s success or failure; and a strong trademark portfolio usually marks the line where a small company becomes a strong competitor.
- Buying power in Latin America is increasing, and its market is increasingly attractive for foreign and domestic investment. Worldwide trademark applications have surpassed 3’600.000 annual applications, and Latin America is expected to reach 450.000 on 2013. Growth in annual trademark applications in several countries was increased in more than 50% from 2000 to 2010 -way above the world average of 40%, which is strongly inflated by the chinese boom-.
- Growth in patent application in Latin America does not show a dynamic productive sector in the region. An average annual increase of 8,62% in the last fifteen years has been driven by foreign applicants, which means that R&D is being conducted outside the region. Also, a very big chunk of all applications are for Brasil, Mexico and Chile; leaving other regional powerhouses, such as Colombia and Peru, with 240 and 83 annual patent applications. Needless to say that there is plenty of room for growth in such an under-developed patent market.
- Finally, Latin America lacks role models in IP protection. The United States has seen the continued growth (and sometimes abuse) of their patent system in the light of stories of success of companies such as General Electric and Apple. And high-profile cases bring IP back to the headlines every once in a while (such as Rosetta Stone v. Google and Samsung v. Apple). In contrast, Latin American high profile cases are rarely related to the business sector.
Bottom line, Latin America has plenty of room for growth. The productive sector has been growing for a while now, and economic crisis in Northamerica and Europe (added to the desaceleration of some asian economies) creates a power vacuum for new players to fill. The patent system and IP protection in general must keep up to the pace of growth of national economies; otherwise, competitiveness of Latin American companies will be affected. Our prediction is that, as the region becomes further integrated with the global economy, the companies will be forced to pay more attention to their IP portfolios. Also, improvements in educational systems and the emergence of strong local companies will allow the region to have its own centers for research and development. In the meantime, it is the lawyer’s work to remind companies of the necessity of a corporate strategy regarding their IP assets.
*For more information, statistics and hard data on Latin American IP, we recommend you look for our book The State of Intellectual Property in Latin America, available on iTunes Store for iPad and, starting on February 28st, for Kindle on Amazon.
October 9th, 2012 by Danny G. Pérez y Soto - B&R Research
Latin American PTOs have spent several years working on two major cooperation agreements, designed to not only speed up procedures but also to increase the reliability of information and to avoid duplicated procedures, especially in patent examinations. The two projects, known as PROSUR and CADOPAT cover almost the entire continent, and have been the central topic of several high profile meetings between the heads of the Latin American PTOs.
PROSUR – Regional Cooperation System on Industrial Property
Nine South American countries belong to this project; namely: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. The system has been active since August 2011, and its main goal is to become a platform for sharing information from patent examinations between PTOs, therefore reducing the effort of examining the same patent application in several countries.
The project is aimed at easing procedures for creators, entrepreneurs and IP attorneys; and is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Chile’s PTO, the INAPI, has assumed the presidency of the project. The success or failure of the project is still not clear, since the effects of the agreement will really be visible within the PTOs.
In the earlier stages of this project, possibilities for a regional trademark registry and deeper regional integration of procedures have been discussed. However, these proposals have not been very successful since a regional trademark registry without an integrated regional market would be of little use and could even be unadvisable, since the trademark registry would no longer reflect the reality of the marketplaces.
The project doesn’t look for legal harmonization, but it does create a common platform for systems integration. WIPO has agreed to act as a supervisor of the project, and the experience of the WIPO CASE and the e-PEC (From Brazil’s PTO) platforms is being used for the project.
CADOPAT – Support System for the Management of Patent Applications
This is a web portal created by the Mexican PTO, the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property. It basically shares the information from patent examinations with more than 9 countries from Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia. The Mexican PTO sends its information to Recipient Offices; this means that the information is shared in one direction only, unlike the PROSUR project. Indeed, the CADOPAT system is a unilateral project from the Mexican PTO. It also shares information on searches and other procedures but it is clear that this system has a lot of room for growth.
Current members of the CADOPAT system include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia.
WIPO CASE – The Centralized Access to Search and Examination system
The WIPO Centralized Access to Search and Examination (WIPO CASE) system is designed to facilitate the sharing of confidential search and examination information between IP offices, and to help enhance the quality and efficiency of search and examination and minimize unnecessary duplication of work. Using this platform, patent examiners from one group of participating offices can access the collection of patent search and examination reports shared by the office group. According to the Canadian PTO, the launch of the CASE is a significant advancement towards greater cooperation between IP offices in sharing the results of examination work. This will help reduce the time spent on processing duplicate applications filed in multiple offices. The duplication of work is a contributing factor to the growing patent backlog.
The platform is intended for use by groups of IP offices that mutually recognize their search and examination work. Patent documents and data shared though WIPO-CASE can either be hosted by WIPO or the digital libraries of national offices. Initially developed to support the work sharing efforts of the IP offices of Australia, Canada and the UK, WIPO-CASE is now being used or evaluated by other regional groupings of IP offices.
e-PEC – Electronic Platform for Collaborative Examination
Argentina and Brazil have created the e-PEC, which is a trilingual platform allowing the PTOs to exchange information on identical patent applications. The e-PEC aims at enabling patent examiners to perform collaborative examination of patent applications, without the need for physical proximity between the examiners. Thus, the system offers efficiency and quality technical examination which is made in all national institutes. However, to each country remains the ultimate decision on whether or not to grant the patent. Other countries that currently use the e-PEC platform include Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Surinam and Peru.
June 26th, 2012 by Danny G. Pérez y Soto - B&R Research
On Friday 22nd of June 2012 we received Mr. Mark Davis, president and CEO of the Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors –PIIPA-, at B&R Latin America’s headquarters in Bogotá.
Mr. Davis is visiting Colombia to launch PIIPA’s latest project: “Enhancing Opportunities in the Canadian Market for Innovative High-Value Colombian Agricultural Products”, which we covered in previous posts. This project’s goals include assessing the state of IP rights in the country, conducting pro bono counseling and training to key players in the national agricultural market, and improving the protection of products through IP while retaining wealth in rural areas.
During his visit to our firm, we heard about the project’s beginnings, long term goals and the public-interest driven rationale behind the project. Especially important, is the vision of turning the Colombian agricultural market into a regional hub of adequate Intellectual Property protection. As well as our firm, PIIPA also sees Latin America as a regional rather than a national market for IP, and is completely aware of the trends in regulatory and economic integration in the continent, not only in the Andean Community but in the whole region. The accomplished achievements with this project are expected to be replicated in neighboring countries, especially in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian markets.
Our research department interviewed Mr. Davis for more information on this project. This is what he answered:
B&R: You’ve previously said that one of the main goals of this project was to get producers to the Food Export Show in Toronto. Given that the main strength in the Colombian agricultural market is flowers, why focus on the food industry instead? Why the Food Export Show?
Mark Davis: –This particular project is not just focused on food, it’s focused on high-value agricultural products. Certainly the flower industry is one of the biggest to the North American market; I know I see it in the US all the time and we’re certainly aware of the amount of flowers being exported to Canada.
–So it’s not just about food. However, often the food products -such as something in the Passiflora species… passion fruits- have very distinctive flavor profiles, color, appearance, whatever it may be; that are really being able to get the extra money in a foreign market for adding that extra high value. From a consuming marketing perspective, it really is very attractive.
–The average consumer can’t tell if the flower came from Colombia or Florida, but they can look at a fruit and say “oh! I know where this fruit came from” and that’s much better because they identify certain kinds of fruits from tropical environments, and that have that protection from trademark and good labeling.
–We don’t really know where our flowers come from in North America, for the most part, and no one ever tells us. Flowers are important but, for a distinctive-origin product that a consumer would recognize and go “oh, I’m gonna pay the extra money because I know this is very special” then, I think that food products have a much higher value.
B&R: What are the needs in the Colombian market that you identified to start with this project?
Mark Davis: –The primary needs were: helping people understand plant-breeders rights, plant varieties, what IP can do and cannot do from a producer’s perspective; how can cooperatives use IP to further the the business mission, supporting economically the work that everyone does. And general awareness of how IP can be used, not only for internal markets but also for external markets.
–PIIPA and CIAT had a 3 day meeting in Cali in November 2010, we had 60 people from 16 countries and the whole discussion was IP needs in agriculture across the continent, across the region. We had people from Brazil, from Chile, etc. Out of that discussion came this very broad set of goals in a way of supporting agricultural development from an IP perspective across Latin America.
B&R: Does the project have any public policy goals?
Mark Davis: –We do not. PIIPA is not a policy organization, we’re practical. We let the policy to policymakers. We can support policy development from a very practical point of view. One example is, for instance, last year in the Philippines we worked with the Philippine IP Office because they had passed a technology transfer act. We helped them implementing that regulation, and help them refine the tech transfer act, just because of our own experience from the Bayh-Dole Act in the US being quite successful in the area of technology transfer.
–We prefer to partner with organizations and really be very practical and pragmatic because we feel that’s where the best value is, in the application of IP. There are many other organizations that talk about the theoretical side of policy, is it good? Is it bad? Not the practical side.
The first goal of the project, which is conducting an IP nationwide audit, will take place in late 2012. We will post on this blog updates on this project, dates for the training courses and any information relevant for Colombian producers or entrepreneurs.
PIIPA is an international nonprofit organization that provides pro bono intellectual property legal counsel to interest groups in developing countries. The project for enhancing opportunities in Canada for Colombia’s agricultural industry has been the work of PIIPA’s President & CEO, R. Mark Davis, a team of advisors that includes Alvaro Ramirez Bonilla, founding partner of B&R Latin America, and important partner organizations, such as CIAT, CENIRED, ProExport and the SIC.
May 8th, 2012 by Danny G. Pérez y Soto - B&R Research
The Office of the United States Trade Representative has released it’s 2012 Special 301 Report.
This document is an annual review of the state of intellectual property rights, protection and enforcement in trading partners around the world. This report is a valuable guide to understand current issues in IP Law and to highlight positive and negative trends on emerging markets.
The report creates a list of priority issues on IP. This year’s report has mentioned Capacity Building Efforts, focusing on the lack of prosecution and conviction on the ground of IP infringements. The ever growing trends in Trademark Counterfeiting and Copyright Piracy, warning that the markets of pirated and counterfeit goods will soon surpass the sales volume of the licit vendors, and commenting on new ways for transportation and selling of counterfeit products such as the separate shipping of labels and packaging in order to evade enforcement efforts. Piracy over the internet, demanding stronger actions to strengthen legal regimes and enhance enforcement in order to respond to the increased availability of broadband internet connections and the piracy in new mobile devices. The violation of trade secrets and forced technology transfer, expressing the dangers of trade-distortive policies designed to promote ‘indigenous innovation’ through the lack of enforcement of IP rights and the creating of market barriers based on IP disclosures laws. Finally, the report also highlights the government use of software, trademarks and DNS, implementation of WTO TRIPS agreements, WIPO treaties and issues on IP and health policy.
However, this report is notorious for it’s Country Reports, in which US trading partners are sorted into the “Priority Watch List” and the “Watch List”, depending on their progress on IP issues and the vulnerability for US’s IP rights owners in their markets.
As to Latin American countries, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela were listed on the Priority Watch List, alongside Ukraine, Thailand, China and India. Concerns on these countries include inefficiency in Argentina’s judicial system, lack of protection against unfair commercial use and growing copyright piracy on the internet; Chile’s inefficient system for addressing patent issues for pharmaceutical products, unfair commercial use, and to fulfill it’s commitments under the US-Chile FTA; and Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Andean Community in 2006, and widespread piracy and counterfeiting.
On the watch list, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru are said to have progressed in protecting IP Rights, but issues on enforcement and internet piracy remain largely neglected.
Read the Full Report here.
Colombia: Meeting of Culture Ministers of the Andean countries (CAN) starts up a plan to safeguard the traditional knowledge of their territory
March 29th, 2012 by Research&Communications BRLatinamerica
In Bogotá, Colombia march 16, 2012 the Culture ministers of the Andean Community countries agreed to start the Andean Plan for the Development of Cultural Industries 2012-2015 and gave precise guidelines to advance the proper management, enhancement and social appropriation of the Intangible Cultural material and Heritage.
These decisions were adopted at the First Meeting of the Andean Council of Ministers of Culture and Cultures, held on Friday March 16in Bogota, with the participation of the Ministers of Culture of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as well as the vice Minister Intercultural of the Ministry of Culture of Bolivia and vice Minister of Ecuador Heritage Coordinator.