Monday, 24 October 2011

A meaningful pact -- or just a Mexican wave?

Mexico: the UK's latest partner
in reducing the global backlog?
The UK government's News Distribution Service has issued a media release today entitled "A landmark agreement to support the growth of UK businesses operating in Mexico will be signed today by The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI)". According to the release:
"The new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will improve international cooperation between the two nations on issues involving copyright, patents, trade marks and designs.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:
“This agreement will allow the UK and Mexico to share best practice in areas such as enforcing intellectual property rights and to address the issue of global patent application backlogs. It will also support SMEs looking to protect their rights in Mexico and the UK, giving them the best opportunity to grow their business and boost the economy. 
“Mexico is an influential voice on issues of intellectual property in Latin America. The Government is building links with international partners to encourage the growth of innovative business across the globe.”
Director General of IMPI, Dr. Rodrigo Roque said:
“We are excited to start our cooperation links with the UK on intellectual property matters. The execution of this MOU underlines our strong commitment to contribute to intellectual property rights enforcement, not only at a national level but also in the international field, particularly with landmark offices such as UK IPO. 
“In the midst of a globalised era, it is imperative for Governments to jointly collaborate on common understandings such as innovation. We are certain that this partnership will enrich our IP systems, and will benefit IP stakeholders in both economies.”
The agreement follows the UK Government’s acceptance of the recommendations made in the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth; a focal point of the Government’s Growth Review set out in the 2011 Budget. The Review highlighted that the UK should continue to pursue international interests in intellectual property. This MoU will provide support for businesses in the UK and help them to achieve their growth potential overseas, benefiting the UK economy.

The UK’s International Strategy for Intellectual Property set out how the UK would do this, including building key bilateral partnerships.

The agreement was signed today (24 October) in Mexico City by the General Director of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, Dr. Rodrigo Roque and witnessed by David Frost, Head of Trade Policy at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The IPO’s Chief Executive John Alty had pre-signed the agreement in the UK".
Does anyone in either Mexico or the UK have any idea what the actual content of this MoU is?  Will the patent backlog be reduced by mutual recognition of examiners' reports in the two jurisdictions, for example? What is its projected impact on the enforcement of IP rights in Mexico by British SMEs, or vice versa? This blogger does not recall the various calls for evidence in the UK in recent years being met by complaints against infringements in Mexico -- which is hardly the China of Latin America.

ADDENDUM: while I was composing the above text, I received an email from an eminent UK lawyer who was as perplexed at this announcement as I was.  The lawyer (who has requested anonymity) has commented in blue on Baroness Wilcox's statement as follows:

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:
"This agreement will allow the UK and Mexico to share best practice in areas such as enforcing intellectual property rights [I wasn't aware that Mexico was terribly well-known for efficacious enforcement practices] and to address the issue of global patent application backlogs [So no Mexican stand-offs here, then.]. It will also support SMEs looking to protect their rights in Mexico [that will be a great relief to them - no longer will they have to rely on the famously corrupt local law enforcement agencies or judiciary] and the UK [Should we be told about additional training in Mexican enforcement techniques being given to those who sit in the Patents County Court?], giving them the best opportunity to grow their business and boost the economy [According to Europol, there is more (and safer) profit to be had from a kilo of counterfeit DVDs than from a kilo of cocaine, so maybe the Mexican drug cartels will decide to move across to counterfeit DVDs. I'm just puzzled about how that boosts our economy].

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