Thursday, 14 July 2016

INPI's modernization under discussion

Image result for inpi brazilIt is no news that the backlog of the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office ("INPI") is a major issue - possibly the most crucial one - within the Brazilian IP landscape. A possible lack of political interest in tackling the main problems within the INPI structure has been preventing any major developments. Nonetheless, Brazil is currently in times of change.

The undergoing impeachment procedure might affirm Temer, the current Acting President, as the man in charge and with it a new party in power (with possible new policies).

Taking the opportunity of these winds of change, several activities have been held to discuss the future of the country, and this is the same with IP. In an event held on July 8th in Brasilia, the "Business Mobilization for Innovation" ("MEI"), a group within the "National Confederation of Industry" ("CNI"), presented several proposals related to the goal of enhancing innovation in Brazil. Among those, the optimization of INPI was highly discussed.

The event had the presence of the Acting President, Michel Temer, who could hear about the current issues related to INPI. Besides him, the President of the INPI, Luiz Pimentel, was also present as well as many big political figures and around 150 leaders of major companies with activities in the country.

In a presentation held during the event, Pedro Passos, from the Brazilian cosmetic company Natura, highlighted the importance of reducing the backlog to stimulate innovation in Brazil, as well as the operational improvement of INPI. In the context of this debate, Robson Andrade, the chairman of the National Confederation of Industries of Brazil ("CNI"), said that Acting President Michel Temer pledged to discuss and support measures to promote innovation, including the reduction of the time for examining patents within the INPI.

It is important to highlight that the MEI has an agenda with six priorities, the first of which involves the Industrial Property, namely:
- Regulatory framework for innovation and industrial property;
- A governmental framework for innovation;
- Financing innovation;
- Global Integration via innovation;
- Human resources for innovation;
- Small and medium-sized innovative companies.

In a separate occasion, during an interview to CNI about the 20th anniversary of LPI, the President of the INPI noted that the improvement of INPI's operational performance is being done in four main areas: (1) increase in personnel, related to the hiring of staff already approved in the test; (2) optimization and automation of the examination process of applications for IP rights; (3) governance, related to improvement of the infrastructure and a search for the economic autonomy that is provided in LPI Art. 239; and (4) national and international cooperation to improve even more the quality of examinations, the training of the examiners and the awareness of the need for IP.

On July 11th, the President of INPI, Luiz Pimentel, and the Deputy Minister Fernando Furlan participated in a meeting of the Strategic Council of the Industry Federation of the Brazilian State of Santa Catarina. In this meeting, it was stated that the solution to the backlog and the valorization of the career of the examiners is a top priority of MDIC.

Image result for pphIt is true that in early June INPI was able to hire 70 new patent examiners, bringing the tally to around 270 patent examiners. It is difficult to believe that this might have a direct impact on solving the backlog. INPI did take a large step in starting a PPH with the USPTO. However, considering that INPI only applications containing claims directed to oil, gas, or petrochemical inventions, only a couple of dozen cases have been accepted so far.

We do hope that Brazil can solve the current deadlock of the backlog of applications pending examination, but with the steps taken so far, it is still difficult to see how far ahead they can go. Let's hope that these winds of change may push INPI to different approaches that can be more pragmatic into solving this very complicated issue in Brazil.

Post written by Roberto Carapeto, Attorney at law at the Tokyo office of Licks Attorneys.

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