Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Bolivia is Royal [at least, one of its products]

Royal QuinoaAt the end of August 2014, Bolivia achieved the recognition of ‘Quinoa Real’ (Quinoa Royal) as Denomination of Origin (DO) in the Andean Community (CAN). This means that the DO is also recognized by the other Andean Community Nations i.e. Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

In 2013 Bolivia celebrated the ‘International Year of Quinoa’ -- declared as such by the United Nations in recognition of Andean indigenous peoples. There are several types of Quinoa (grain crops) which are produced in other Andean countries, but with this recognition, there will be only one ‘Quinoa Real’ and this is the one produced 100% in the Bolivian territory.

According to Decision 486, which is CAN communal regime in Intellectual Property, there are two types of Geographical Indication: DO and Indication of Source. Apart from this, there are certain issues regarding GI that are not common in other jurisdictions such as : such denominations are said to be “... a public good, it belongs inalienably and imprescriptibly to the nation or regional community, as the case may be, and its protection is usually the responsibility of the public authorities or the State...it is considered part of the national heritage, and ultimately under State control" [See 'Some Notes on the Protection of Appellation of Origin in Countries with Emerging Economies: The Andean Community, Symposium on the International Protection of Geographical Indication]. The other one issue is that GIs receive stricter protection like the one received by wines and spirits under TRIPS.

CAN has acknowledged DO to PISCO from Peru and now this is the time for another CAN country to have such a prestige. One might question why there have not been many applications (not even nationally). The consideration could start with the fact that many of the products that may be recognized are either agricultural products or artisan and most of them come from traditional knowledge. That said, the community that have produced the good would need to ask permission to the State to use a name that they believe is theirs in the first place (as in the case of CHIRIMOYA CUMBE, Memoria 1992-1999 INDECOPI, Lima, Perú.) Of course the analysis could also covers other matters such as: bureaucratic process and the lack of monetary resources, to name a few.

The next step: the Bolivian Ministry of Rural Development announced that the next challenge is to apply for a DO in the European Union.

Source La Razon , Bolivian newspaper (in Spanish)

Colombia: Solicitudes de concesión de registro de marcas en menos de seis (6) meses

El pasado 11 de agosto de 2014, el Superintendente De Industria y Comercio de Colombia, Doctor Pablo Felipe Robledo, expidió la Resolución No. 48348, por medio de la cual se regula la posibilidad de solicitar la concesión de un signo distintivo en menos de seis (6) meses.

De acuerdo con la mencionada Resolución, un solicitante interesado en obtener el registro de una marca en un plazo inferior a seis (6) meses, contados desde la fecha de solicitud de la misma, deberá realizar tal petición de manera expresa en el formulario de registro o, en caso de solicitudes que ya estén en trámite, radicar un complemento de información, sometiendo el acto administrativo a la condición resolutoria tácita.

Así las cosas, en el evento en que se invoque un derecho de prioridad que se viera afectado por el registro concedido en el acto administrativo correspondiente, será obligación de la Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio declarar su decaimiento o pérdida de ejecutoria.

Teniendo en cuenta lo anterior, el formulario de registro PI01-F01 ha sido modificado incluyendo tal solicitud. Conozca aquí la nueva versión.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Coca-cola: are the big companies always the winners?

The Colombia Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) ruled in favour of Coca-Cola in a recent opposition proceedings.

The action brought was against Mr Moreno who applied for the registration of ‘Chevicola’ for beers, sodas, waters and other soft drinks (Class 32 Nice International Classification). By Resolution No. 64160, the opposition proceeded in favour of the international drinks giant and rejected the application for the sign ‘Chevicola’. Mr Moreno appealed to the decision arguing that the trade mark was a combination of words and moreover, the noun ‘Chevi’ was the predominant word and not ‘cola’. That said, there was no likelihood of confusion.

Additionally, Mr Moreno argued that the global appreciation test, i.e. the ‘orthographic, phonetic and conceptual’ differences, allowed ‘Chevicola’ to be a distinguished sign from that of Coca-cola.
According to lawyer Hernán Ruiz, an expert in Colombian IP law, who disagrees with the decision, the appreciation of the two marks was based on what was similar rather than different. He asked: what would the consumer believe? Will they be confused as to the origin? However, here is important to bring into attention "Word trademarks must be compared pursuant to the following rules:... Rule 4. The similarities, and not the differences, existing between the trademarks must be taken into account" .

Lawyer Ruiz extended as to say that he would have found a more ‘justified opposition’ by Chevrolet Chevy (however, in this hypothetical case as the products were dissimilar the action would not be as the same as in the present case. i.e. similar marks for identical products. In such hypothesis, it would be similar marks for dissimilar products and this action could be brought if it is a reputable mark Decision 486 Art 155 (e)).

The article that I read with this information have a headline indicating that ‘the giant is the winner’. It reports that a few months ago, the Coca-Cola Company won another opposition procedures against Postobón Alpina. Do you agree with what the headline implies? what about the decision: is Chevicola similar to Coca-cola? or is SIC giving too much monopoly to the international company over the word 'cola'?

Source La Republica (in Spanish).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Colombia: the next #goodcoffee

The “Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia” has always been very active in protecting the “Café de Colombia” brand worldwide.

In 2005, Café de Colombia gained the protection as designation of origin (Denominación de Origen Protegida - DOP) in the country; two years later, in October 2007, Colombian Coffee became the first agricultural food product from a country that does not belong to the European Union to receive the EU PGI recognition.

The Federación is now trying to valorise regional varieties of Colombian coffee. This strategy of diversification has been recognised by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC), which awarded the DOP to four regional varieties, including Café del Cauca, Huila and Nariño. In September 2014, a fifth variety has been awarded with a DOP by SIC (Resolution No. 50042 of 2014): Café de Santander.

For more information (in Spanish) regarding the area and method of production of Café de Santander: here.

For further account on Colombian GIs: Patricia Covarrubia, 'Colombia: Intellectual Property and Aboriginal Handicraft' in Sarah Sargent (ed), A New Millennium for Indigenous Rights: Challenges and Changes, Buckingham, University of Buckingham Press, 2014 (forthcoming).

Post written by Nicola Coppola, Bournemouth University.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Ecuador presses ahead with compulsory patent licences

Since it amended its law in 2009 in order to make use of the TRIPS flexibilities in favour of developing countries, the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI) has received 32 applications for compulsory patent licences.  While some have been refused or abandoned, nine have resulted in the grant of licences for the production of drugs in widespread use (the first three being for Ritonavir, Lamivudine and Abacavir -- antiretroviral drugs that the Ministry of Public Health provides as free treatment to patients suffering from HIV/AIDS).

Nine of the applications to the IEPI for these mandatory licences have been made by a public company Enfarma, which now holds licences to manufacture Sunitinib and, mor recently, Certolizumab. The grant of compulsory licences is seen as a means both of making important medicines more widely available to those who need them and of reducing the dependency of Ecuador on imported medicines.

Source: "Nine Mandatory Licences Allow Greater Access To Medicines In Ecuador" by Maria Augusta Alvarez Moreno (ANEPI, Agencia de Noticias Especializada en Propiedad Intelectual), this being the English translation of the original Spanish text, posted on IP Watch here, from which more information can be obtained.