Friday, 27 February 2009

Presente y futuro de las marcas estadounidenses en Cuba

La presente noticia llega de la mano de Guillermo Navarro, abogado de PI en Argentina: "Marcas EEUU esperan pacientemente su desembarco en Cuba". Se trata de un análisis de un curioso fenómeno: a pesar del bloqueo de Estados Unidos a Cuba, muchas empresas estadounidenses tales como Coca Cola, McDonalds o Nike, tienen registradas y siguen solicitando registros de sus marcas. Muchas de estas marcas fueron solicitadas en la década de los 90, cuando se pensaba que el régimen no resistiría. Naturalmente, debido al bloqueo, la inmensa mayoría de estos productos no están en venta en Cuba. Una de las razones para mantener los registros actualizados es la piratería. Sin embargo, a pesar del carácter dialogante de Obama, ninguna de estas empresas piensa que haya posibilidades de explotar estas marcas en el territorio cubano debido al ferreo control de la economía por el Estado.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Congresos Internacionales UAIPIT

No ha pasado ni un mes desde que el nuestros queridos amigos de UAIPIT celebraron con gran éxito su I Congreso Internacional sobre la protección de la propiedad industrial e intelectual en la actual sociedad de la información, y ya están planeando el segundo de ellos.

El equipo de UAIPIT nos ha informado que para el nuevo evento aceptaran comunicaciones de 15 minutos, las cuales deberán ser enviadas a uaipit@ua.es antes del 1 de diciembre de 2009 para su consideración, aprobación y posterior inclusión en el programa definitivo.

Sin lugar a dudas recibirán muchas propuestas de todos los rincones del mundo. Desde el IP-Tango los invitamos a que participen con ellos.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

México: Proceso de registro de una marca, no afecta los derechos del titular de otra marca previamente registrada

La Primera Sala de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación resolvió que el procedimiento para registrar una marca ante el Instituto Mexicano de Propiedad Industrial (IMPI), no significa que se afecten los derechos del titular de una marca previamente establecida, sino hasta el otorgamiento del título que ampara el registro y se publique en la gaceta correspondiente.

Será en ese momento, cuando el titular de una marca, si se considera afectado, puede acudir ante la autoridad respectiva a solicitar la nulidad de la nueva marca.

En este sentido, los ministros puntualizaron que el procedimiento para el registro de una nueva marca de un producto, como lo establece el artículo 122 de la Ley de Propiedad Industrial, no transgrede la garantía de audiencia constitucional (artículo 14 de la Constitución Mexicana) toda vez que ésta opera solamente respecto de actos de privación de derechos y, en el caso concreto, el procedimiento que se sigue para el registro de una nueva marca, no se priva de derecho alguno al titular de una marca previamente registrada.

Los ministros señalaron que es a través del procedimiento de declaración administrativa de nulidad, en donde se oirá a las partes.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Coca-Cola Beats the Crisis and Announces a New Set of Investment in Brazil: A Trademark Case to Study

Today, Tuesday, February 24th, is officially the last day of Carnival in Brazil!!! The streets of Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and other main Brazilian cities are crowded with people celebrating and taking part in the festivities. Samba, Axé and Frevo music are played all over. It is hard to keep quiet with so much energy in the air. Carnival is definitely a popular party and a business too worth participating in. Most importantly, Carnival is a period of high temperature in Brazil reaching at the moment 410C (1050F). The beverage manufacturers, especially soft drinks and beer industries, celebrate this moment, since sales grow as fast as the temperature rises.

Nevertheless, the already set investments for this frightening year of 2009 by such manufacturers have been shy, despite the competitiveness of beverage industry. Nothing seems wrong with this strategy as the investment slowdown follows the initial effects of the world economic situation on the Brazilian business players. According to recent statistic data published by IBGE - official government agency for statistic data - unemployment raised to reach 8.2% last January and the balance of payments were in deficit up to US$ 524 million. This January has been called “A Cruel Month”. It is expected that, as a general rule, consumers will be less inclined to spend.

Nevertheless, there is a group of companies that, ignoring the pessimist projections, has recently announced high investments for Brazil in 2009. These companies have one thing in common: targeting on the promotion of specific trademarks and consumers. An example worth mentioning is the announced investment by COCA-COLA in Brazil for this 2009, which will reach R$ 1.75 billion (approximately US$ 800 million). A considerable amount will be focused on marketing of its main brand COCA-COLA to class “C” consumers. This strategy is based on the fact that the population included in this class has been, since 1994, increasingly consolidating its position as a representative consumer market that had been previously, either ignored or not mainly targeted. Further to that, the company will launch a new version of KUAT, its Guarana based soft drink: KUAT EKO. Guarana comes from an Amazonian fruit extract with this same name and it is a very popular soft drink in Brazil. The KUAT EKO will use the so called “green appeal” to gain both the teenagers and the consumers that value environmental friendly products.


The main objective of the local subsidiary is to place Brazil as the second most important market for COCA-COLA products, ahead of Mexico e behind the United States, as the Group wants to keep the increasing pace observed in the past years.

The interest of COCA-COLA Group in the Brazilian market can be better distinguished by observing its actions involving acquisitions of local brands, such as the well known: MATTE LEÃO. This trademark identifies tea based products prepared with a tea species harvested in the south of Brazil. COCA-COLA has invested heavily in the promotion of the MATTE LEÃO ice tea to beat the Brazilian heat and thirst. To better accomplish its purpose, COCA-COLA is about to inaugurate a new industrial facility in the city of Curitiba, which is intended to increase the production capacity of MATTE LEÃO up to 40%. COCA-COLA will soon launch a new version of MATTE LEÃO ice tea to be sold in cans, since they have been traditionally sold in plastic cups.

COCA-COLA is easily recognized as a huge competitor to play against in Brazil (as it is worldwide) This company knows the price of being a leader in a competitive market and, therefore, has carefully chosen its weapons to lead its success in Brazil: marketing creativity, consistency at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office and increased demands in law courts to prevent free riders, look alikes, ambush marketing and all sort of unfair competition practices.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Criminal provisions for trade mark infringement in Argentina

An article ("The Battle against Trademark Piracy") in International Law Office, by Daniel R Zuccherino, of Obligado & Cia, summarises among other things the position regarding the criminal law of trade mark infringement in Argentina. Article 31 of the Trade Mark Law in that jurisdiction provides for the following punishments:
“Any person who perpetrates any of the acts mentioned hereinafter shall be punished with imprisonment from three months to two years and a fine may also be imposed:

(a) Any person who infringes or issues fraudulently a registered trade mark or name;

(b) Any person who uses an infringed or fraudulently issued registered trade mark or designation or one belonging to a third party lacking his authorization;

(c) Any person who offers for sale or sells a registered trade mark or an infringed designation, or a fraudulently imitated registered trade mark or designation or a trade mark or designation which belongs to a third party lacking his authorization; and

(d) Any person who offers for sale or sells or otherwise markets products or services of an infringed or fraudulently imitated registered trade mark.”
The Executive Branch has the power to adjust the fixed fine on an annual basis, according to the registered variation of the general level of the wholesale price index, which is officially published by the National Institute of Statistics and Census.

This article also discusses provisions governing (i) the marketing of counterfeit merchandise in fairs that do not comply with legal formalities and (ii) the cross-border importation of counterfeit products.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Argentina makes it 50 for Locarno

From Locarno Notification No. 63 we learn of the deposit by the Government of the Argentine Republic, on February 9, 2009, of its instrument of accession to the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs. This Agreement will enter into force, with respect to the Argentine Republic, on May 9, 2009, incidentally bringing to 50 the number of contracting parties to the Locarno Agreement.

Full text of the Locarno Agreement here
Current list of contracting parties here

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Farming GMO and biotech inventions in Brazil

Nowadays, it is estimated that farms using GMO represent nearly 125 million acres of land growing in Brazil. Compared to 2007, the use of GMO in agriculture in 2008 increased almost 10%.

According to recent data published by a Brazilian Non-Governmental Organization, the so-called Council for Biotechnology Information, in the year of 2007, GMO farming in Brazil represented the amount of 12% of the worldwide production, thereby ranking Brazil in third place (surpassed only by the USA and Argentina) and being pointed out as the most prominent agricultural producer and player in the related international market. Among the most farmed GMOs in Brazil, soybean occupies the first position, totaling 14 millions farmed acres, being followed by corn and cotton, in second and third places, respectively.

These figures indicate the relevance of GMO farming and its crucial role to the Brazilian economic development. Most importantly they highlight the technology impact to such growth, since this has long relied on export of agricultural commodities.

Nevertheless, this situation represents a paradox if related with the current legal framework regarding patent protection for biotechnology inventions. The Brazilian IP Law prohibits the patenting of plants and its parts derived from technological developments, including plant seeds. This legal restriction has led Brazilian companies and research institutions (both private and public) to seek patent protection for biotechnological plant products outside Brazil, especially in the US where patenting is fully accepted.

Within Brazil, the strategies to secure IP rights for plants and their parts are based on mechanisms such as: plant variety protection, confidentiality agreements and proprietary rights. These approaches, nevertheless, enhance the difficulties regarding the enforcement of such IP rights in a country of continental proportions and huge agricultural area.

This IP legal limitation and its resulting negative impact to the country’s technological development and trade have already been highlighted by economists and attorneys. Most importantly, they have been acknowledged by the Brazilian Federal Government as a relevant issue to the country’s further economic growth. As a result, significant debates, concerning the relevance of IP protection level to the agricultural field and its necessary review, have been promoted by the Brazilian Parliament Members (senators and deputies).

The possible benefits of patent protection to plants and their parts and its consequent agricultural competitiveness have been extensively highlighted by the so called “progressive deputies and senators”. Their arguments and persistent calls for discussions might turn into victory what has been a long battle to amend the Brazilian Industrial Property Law and insert effective property ruling to biotechnology.

Lately, this subject has been regarded as a priority in the Brazilian Parliament agenda. Nevertheless, as the 2010 country’s general elections approaches, priorities can be shifted. Therefore, these upcoming months will reveal if the effort has been sufficient to allow for the necessary changes to be carried out.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Brazil's Antitrust Counsel to Decide Leading Patent Pool Case

On January 27, 2009 the Administrative Council for the Economic Defense (CADE), which is the Brazilian antitrust agency, released a public official report on a case involving IP rights and antitrust law enforcement.

Two Brazilian companies from the electronics market – named Gradiente Eletrônica S.A. and Cemaz Indústria Eletrônica da Amazônia S.A. (CCE) - filed a representation before the Secretary of Economic Defense (SDE) against Koninklijke Philips Eletronics, N.V. and Philips do Brasil. The representation before the SDE was based on the argument that Koninklijke Philips Eletronics, N.V. and Philips do Brasil were exercising abusively their dominant position in the Brazilian DVD market secured by the granted patents and strong IP rights.

Most specifically, those companies were accused to promote a market closure in the DVD players producing and commercializing field, by adopting essentially the following market strategies: (i) informing suppliers and distributers of Gradiente and CCE products that the supply, distribution and sales of DVD products manufactured by such Brazilian companies would be a patent infringement if royalties to Philips do Brasil is not paid for such technologies; (ii) including in their DVD player patent pool technologies to which it was not entitled; (iii) charging royalties for the commercialization of DVD players manufactured by the authors of the representation; and (iv) overpricing the DVD technology patent pool sublicense, thus deliberately excluding its competitors from the market.

After a long period of investigation, SDE issued a technical note stating that the allegations of Gradiente and CCE did not proceed, as the DVD technology is being thoroughly used by other competitors by means of a mutual licensing system. Also, the Philips patent pool is not the only source of the DVD player technology and, therefore, it cannot be considered an “essential facility” to the DVD market. Finally, the branch for the electronic goods was not considered a saturated market. Therefore, SDE did not consider Philips’ behavior as anti-competitive nor could it cause a collateral harm to the consumers.

This is regarded as a leading case in Brazil, as informed by the antitrust researchers Mr Felipe Oquendo and Mr Glauco Faé:
“Patent pools as a potential means of unfair competition was looked upon by economists and attorneys, until now, as just a didactic hypothesis in Brazilian antitrust literature. This case will be definitely one of the priorities of CADE for this year 2009”. Since the matter will be further addressed by the CADE, the final decision issued by the Council will determine the landmarks in future analysis of veiled anticompetitive behavior behind the formation of patent pools.”
In fact, this case may be just a preview of future litigation involving the recently introduced Blue Ray and HD-DVD technologies.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Brazil, HIV/AIDS and domestic patent policy

Older women face a higher risk of HIV/AIDS, according to a recent survey by the Brazilian Health Ministry. Remarkably the HIV infection rate in women over 50 in the country has more than tripled since 1996, making this population group the prime target of the government's HIV/AIDS prevention campaign during the carnival festivities. What has this to do with intellectual property? Well, according to IPS News,
"One milestone in the fight against the disease was the decision, in 2007, to break the patent on Efavirenz, a drug used by 85,000 out of the 200,000 HIV/AIDS patients who were taking the "cocktail" of antiretroviral drugs which drastically reduces mortality and improves quality of life.

Less than two years after decreeing compulsory licensing of the patented drug, made by the U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme, the Rio de Janeiro-based Oswaldo Cruz Foundation succeeded in producing the generic version, chemically identical to Efavirenz.

This year, half of the 30 million pills consumed in Brazil will be produced in-country.

The compulsory licensing imposed on Efavirenz does not deprive Merck of the royalties for its patent, which represent 1.5 percent of the cost of the pills, but the government saves around 60 percent of the price Merck was previously charging for them.

The cost of the Brazilian generic version is a little higher than that of the equivalent drug imported from India since the patent was bypassed, but the main thing is that "the technological capacity of the country" to manufacture its own generics has been proven ...".

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Freedom of transit -- or risk of profiteering?

ISCTD reports that the Brazilian ambassador to the World Trade Organization has condemned the European Union for seizing a shipment of generic drugs that was bound for Brazil, claiming that the move “sets a dangerous precedent” for public health. 500 kilograms of the hypertension drug losartan potassium was confiscated on 4 December while the ship that was delivering it to Brazil was docked in the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities held the shipment for 36 days before returning it to India, where the drugs had been manufactured. Losartan potassium is patented in Europe (where DuPont and Merck Sharp & Dohme own the patent and marketing rights to the drug, sold as Cozaar), but the drugs were not under patent in Brazil or India and had not been released into the market in Europe.

There is a big trade-versus-IP issue here. Brazil and India argue in favour of freedom of transit, in respect of drugs that can be freely made and sold both in India and Brazil without infringing any IP right. The European Union is however unhappy that valuable drugs, in which originator drug companies have invested heavily, can easily find themselves available for sale in an increasingly unrestricted and fluid European single market in which their sale will fetch a far higher price than it would in Brazil.

Monday, 9 February 2009

La piratería aumentará 20% en México y EU.


En el marco de un foro sobre Propiedad Intelectual celebrado en Monterrey, Nuevo León, el director ejecutivo de la Cámara Americana de Comercio, aseguró que de acuerdo con un estudio de este organismo la "piratería" crecerá 20% en el presente año tanto en México como en los Estados Unidos.

Se prevé también que la entrada de productos apócrifos provocarán una pérdida de ingresos fiscales para México por unos 9,700 millones de pesos (unos 690 millones de dólares) para el 2010.

Por su parte, el jefe de Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual de la Organización Mundial de Aduanas, aseguró que “el aumento de la piratería en Estados Unidos creció 80% en los últimos años”. El funcionario de la OMA destacó que la producción anual mundial de productos apócrifos alcanza la cifra de 500,000 millones de dólares y que el 80% proviene de China.

Agregó que la piratería ya trascendió a muchas ramas productivas y que ahora el mayor crecimiento de productos apócrifos ocurre en los alimentos, medicinas y productos para la belleza y salud.

Lo más preocupante es que los productos piratas han logrado niveles de calidad que ahora han llegado al extremo que para detectar marcas falsas de ropa se tiene que recurrir a "análisis químicos", ya que a simple vista es muy difícil diferenciarlas del original.

La propia Cámara organiza los días 17 a 19 de febrero otro interesante forum sobre la Piratería de Productos relacionados con la Salud.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Two recent copyright articles

The February 2009 issue of Copyright World contains two articles that deal specifically with aspects of IP in Latin America. They are
* "Brazil: Copyright and the Digital Age: the legal position on downloading videos" by Ricardo Pinho (Daniel Advogados) and

* "Fire-sharing: Mexico and the US: legislative moves to stem online infringement" by Olivares & Cia's Luis Schmidt.
The Copyright World homepage is here.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Mexico considers new patent reform bills

The Mexican Senate is currently considering two bills to amend its Industrial Property Law. One proposes a fundamental review of the law, while the other aims to introduce a procedure for opposing patent grants and penalties for abusive practices in the enforcement of invalid patents.

The first bill, supported by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was apparently devised with pharmaceutical research and development in mind. Domestic generic manufacturers have objected that patent holders can extend the term of their patents, thus blocking market entry for generic medicaments; the objection has also been raised that third parties use the extension procedure to delay the prosecution of patent applications. Provisions covering abusive enforcement have been strongly opposed, since small entities and individual inventors might be left to bear crippling liabilities if they try to enforce a patent that later becomes invalid.

The second bill, proposed by the Green Ecology Party, would bring Mexico's IP legislation in line with global norms of industrial property. In particular it would establish time limits for filing divisional applications and voluntary amendments to claims, allow for the issue of certified copies in electronic format, let the public submit information about the patentability of a published application and increase the term for replying to Patent Office actions from two to three months. The proposal also suggests making computer-implemented inventions patentable where the invention incorporates a technical contribution.

Source: José Antonio Romero (Becerril, Coca and Becerril SC), writing in International Law Office.