Monday, 31 August 2009

IP infringement and capacity to sue in Brazil

Recently the following issue was brought to the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ): does a company have the capacity to sue, in its own name and behalf, a third party who infringes an IP right held by its major stockholder (currently its manager) if it does not have the formal power to legitimate such action?

According to this Court, the answer is yes: a company that exploits an IP right has capacity freely to sue a third infringer, in spite of not having powers, at least formally granted by the IP owner, for that purpose.

The present action concerns a design right granted in 1996 by the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office, in respect of a bread basket, to plaintiff’s major stockholder, Mr Pereira da Silva. Although the design right belongs to Mr Pereira da Silva, PLASÚTIL (the company) filed, in its own name and behalf, a suit against TRITEC for IP infringement. TRITEC immediately raised the issue of the plaintiff’s lack of capacity to sue, since no powers have been granted granted, at least formally, to the plaintiff to exploit and represent the IP holder in Court. On this ground, the defendant claimed dismissal of the present action.

Santa Catarina’s Court of Justice ruled in favour of the defendant and concluded by dismissing the action brought by PLASÚTIL. The plaintiff then appealed to the STJ, which overturned the lower court ruling.

To support such reasoning, the STJ stated that (i) Mr Pereira da Silva was the plaintiff’s major stockholder and current manager, (ii) the plaintiff’s legal form was that of a Sociedade Limitada, (a limited liability corporation with separate legal personality), which has a strong intuitu personae sense, thus diminishing the differences between the company’s legal personality and the person who manages it, and (iii) the registered design was used by the plaintiff, with effective participation of the IP owner, becoming a corporate asset, even though it was formally not.
Further to that, the STJ also mentioned the existence of a judicial precedent of 2003, in which PLASÚTIL was also the plaintiff, and that the suit could always be brought on grounds of unfair competition.

At first glance, the STJ ruling may be considered as quite interesting and praiseworthy, since it ends to lift the corporate veil of the plaintiff’s company, escaping from its traditional scope of use (liability matters), and privileging the underlying facts over the formal reality.

However, it also raises some conflicts, in particular with the principles of safety and realiability of IP registry system and the need to record any change/or modification to the IP right and its holder, as well as to be published at BPTO Bulletin to generate effects before third parties, such as the Courts and third persons.

In this case, neither the execution of an Agreement nor its recordal and publication by the BPTO were necessary to be considered as valid and effective by the STJ. Is this a sign for lower Courts to privilege a less formal or rigid application of IP Law? Most probably yes, but only time will provide us with a definite answer.

Posted by Jeremy for Jorge Miguel Arruda da Veiga (Di Blasi, Parente, Vaz e Dias & Asociados)

Friday, 28 August 2009

LA dominates "Americas" supplement

The latest supplement to the three intellectual property titles Trademark World, Patent World and Copyright World, published by Informa Law, is called "The Americas". This supplement carries no fewer than eleven articles on developments in Latin America and just one from the United States.

The topics featured include IP specialisation of the courts in Brazil (by Paulo Parente Marques Mendes of Di Blasi, Parente, Vaz e Dias), a review of the effect of the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement by Estudio Colmenares' Carmen Arana and the increasingly sensitive issue of IP protection in Venezuela (Ricardo Rojas Gaona, Jesus Lopez and Cristina Imparato (Glaham Abogados).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Brasil vs. Unión Europea: Lucha por genéricos

Brasil prepara un litigio contra la Unión Europea (UE) en la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC).

El problema se centra en que los europeos captan sistemáticamente los genéricos en tránsito para los países en desarrollo, lo que es contrario las normas de la OMC, que establece que cada país tiene derecho a importar estos medicamentos, que son más baratos y están libres de patentes.

La acción europea es vista como desestabilizadora dado que muchos de los medicamentos producidos por los grandes laboratorios, que generan 30 mil millones de dólares anuales en ventas, perderán sus patentes en los próximos años.

Para Brasil, las incautaciones son parte de un intento de los países desarrollados de aumentar las necesidades de propiedad intelectual a través de otros órganos, con la bendición de entidades como la Organización Mundial de la Salud y la Organización Mundial de Aduanas.

Este problema no es exclusivo de Brasil, también la India lo ha venido denunciando desde ha ce tiempo, entre ellos los casos en que algunos países, Alemania y los Países Bajos, han incautado drogas procedentes de la India alegando violación de patentes.

Sin lugar a dudas, es un tema que dará mucho de que hablar. Más información aquí.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

El ALBA debate sobre propiedad intelectual


Gracias a Alfonso Rivera (Tovar y Bustamante) hemos sabido que en el seno de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA) está surgiendo un debate sobre la necesidad de fundar una política común en materia de propiedad intelectual que desemboque en una modificación de las legislaciones y favorezca el acceso de la población a los medicamentos.
La adopción de esta doctrina común tendría efectos en algunos acuerdos internacionales actualmente en vigor. En este sentido, debe recordarse que Ecuador y Bolivia siguen formando parte de la Comunidad Andina de Naciones y que Nicaragua es uno de los paises contratantes del Tratado de Libre Comercio CAFTA.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Annulment appeal invoked again in Chile

Another useful item from the INTA Bulletin, August 1, 2009 (Vol. 64, No. 14) concerns a decision of the Chilean Supreme Court this May in an annulment appeal proceeding -- this being just the second time this procedure has been successfully utilised since it was introduced in 2005. It may be invoked when a decision of the second instance Industrial Property Court (which hears appeals from first instance decisions of the National Institute of Industrial Property, INAPI), contains errors of law that substantially affect the dispositive portion of the decision.

In this case Empresa Nacional del Petróleo applied to register the word and design mark DIESEL CIUDAD PLUS for commercial establishments for the sale of goods in all classes. The application was partially rejected on the ground that that mark was confusingly similar to Diesel SpA’s earlier trade mark DIESEL. The Supreme Court found that the earlier decisions of the appeal court and INAPI were not based on any facts established in the proceedings; accordingly there were no grounds for partially refusing the application on the legal provisions cited.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

EPO adds Colombia to its bibliographic database

Important news for those seeking information concerning patents, innovation and the prior art in Latin America comes with the announcement that, from week 33/2009 onwards (i.e. the week beginning 10 August), data from Colombia will be included in the European Patent Office's bibliographic database. Since the beginning of the year the EPO has already added data from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama.

El Sistema de Transporte Colectivo del D.F. y la Piratería.

La venta de discos piratas y clones de DVD por parte de los vagoneros en el Sistema de Transporte Colectivo (STC) Metro representa fuertes perdidas económicas para la industria de la música y el cine.

En el Sistema de Transporte Colectivo-Metro, en sus 175 estaciones y 11 líneas, diariamente se transportan cerca de 5 millones de usuarios. Es fácil imaginar la cantidad de CD, DVD y demás artículos “piratas” que se venden.

Jaime Campos Vásquez, director general de Asociación Protectora de Cine y Música, estimó que mensualmente se comercializan en los trenes un promedio de 3 millones de discos piratas, lo que significa entre 20% y 30% de las pérdidas económicas generales que se tienen en esa industria por culpa de la actividad de piratería.

De acuerdo con la Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON), en México se venden más de 120 millones de discos piratas anualmente.

Más información aquí.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Colombia edges towards Madrid Protocol

The INTA Bulletin, Vol.64, No.14 (1 August 2009) mentions how, this June, the Second Commission of the Senate approved Government Bill No. 277 of 2009, which would enable Colombia to sign up to the increasingly-popular WIPO-administered Madrid Protocol -- the most efficient means of achieving international protection for a registered trade mark. Further parliamentary debates are required before the Bill can become law.

From the current list of 78 members of the Madrid Protocol it appears that no Latin American country has yet acceded.

Google y Yahoo condenados por daño moral en Argentina

Según nos ha hecho saber Guillermo Navarro, el portal iprofesional.com, informa que la Justicia argentina ha condenado a Yahoo y a Google a indenmizar a la ex Bandana Virginia Da Cunha por un monto de $100.000, que deberá ser afrontado por ambos en partes iguales. La resolución se basa en el daño moral (daño contra el honor y la propia imagen) que sufrió la cantante por la divulgación de su imagen en sitios de contenido pornográfico.

Parece ser que, en Argentina, no se trata de un caso aislado, sino que se suma a los más de ochenta casos en los que los jueces han comenzado a limitar la libertad de los buscadores al momento de publicar y divulgar los datos personales, tanto de figuras públicas como de las personas no conocidas. Otro asunto ejemplar en este sentido es el embargo preventivo de $746.000 impuesto a Google el abril pasado a raiz de una demanda iniciada por una popular actriz.

Debe observarse que la sentencia sólo reconoce daños morales y no, como exigía el abogado demandante, daños materiales. Google ha decidido recurrir el fallo.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Slogan or design? If you've got VTR perhaps it doesn't matter ...

The INTA Bulletin, Vol. 64, No. 14 (August 1, 2009) reports on the decision the Chilean Intellectual Property Court of Appeals (1 April 2009) to reverse the first instance decision of the Chilean Industrial Property Department (INAPI) to refuse registration of the trade mark SOMOS LOS QUE TIENEN VTR (in English, "We are the ones who have VTR") since it had been filed as a figurative mark rather than as a slogan.

Slogans are registrable under Chilean Industrial Property Law (Law No. 19,039), Article 19, so long as they are combined or associated with a registered trade mark for the product, service or commercial or industrial establishment for which they are to be used. Article 23 of the same Law qualifies this by specifying that slogans must be registered as word marks, which means they cannot contain any design element.

The IP Court of Appeals, reversing INAPI’s decision, said the applied-for mark could not have been filed as a slogan because it was actually a design, considering also that -- taking it as a whole -- the mark was sufficiently distinctive to be used in commerce without being misleading or inducing error.