Welcome to our blog for Intellectual Property Law and Practice in Latin America!
¡Bienvenidos a nuestro blog de Derecho y Práctica de la Propiedad Intelectual en Latinoamérica!
Bem-vindo ao nosso blog sobre Direito e Prática de Propriedade Intelectual na América Latina!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Handicraft: Brazilian GIs

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From Brazil, we would like to report the application for a Geographical Indication (GI) for a handicraft.

A GI is set to differentiate products due to their geographical origin; it could be environmental conditions i.e. natural conditions and or cultural conditions, which are present on a region that gives the product certain unique qualities.

In Brazil, The Normative Instruction (IN) No 25/2013 Article 2 defines as a GI an ‘Indicação de Procedência’ (Indication of Source) and a ‘Denominação de Origem’ (Denomination of Origin (DO)). DO is more valued because it depends on proof that the product has special characteristics due to its geographical environment, including natural AND human factors.

The application was for the ceramics and decoration of Porto Ferreira, in the form of Indication of Source. Porto Ferreira is located in the central region of the state of São Paulo. It is claimed that the ceramics and its decoration follow a century-old tradition. The handicraft pieces includes plates, bowls, cups, porcelain and others. The production of the ceramics involves around 80 local companies.
Photo: INPI

Some outside actors were present in the application, and this is common in developing countries. The rational is that they may assist in the GI recognition processes. In this particular case, the city's mayor, the president of INPI, the Secretary of Economic Development and Tourism, the head of the Innovation division, and the president of the local producers' union attended. Moreover, not only before the application or during the application the team is helpful, but also it is recognised that once a GI is documented, it can boost an entire economic system associated with a specific local resource. This means that the producers themselves benefit as well as the entire region e.g. tourism.
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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Public consultation: Brazil opens up on GIs

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November saw the Brazilian Intellectual Property Office opening a public consultation for the Draft on the ‘Normative Instruction’ that will establish the conditions for registration of Geographical Indications (GIs). This move aims to provide ‘transparency to the analysis and examination procedures’. Moreover, INPI adds that it is important to hear suggestions from users.

Comments and suggestions are open to anyone and they can be submitted until December 6, 2018 to consultapublicaig@inpi.gov.br. If you want to put your thoughts forward, here you can find the way to do it (a form available online). The Draft of the ‘Normative Instruction’ is available here (in Portuguese).

Talking about GIs in Brazil, in October two new GIs were granted, both in the agricultural sector.
Jabuticaba, Brazil
  1. 23 October 2018 an Indicação de Procedência (indication of source) was granted to products derived from jabuticaba, located in the municipality of Sabará. Products represented under this GI would be liqueur, jelly, sauce, crystallized bark and jam. Sabará is known for the production of jabuticaba derivatives. Jabuticada (Myrciaria cauliflora) is a seasonal fruit, a type of berry, native from Brazil. The city has been performing the Jabuticaba Festival of Sabará for more than twenty-five years. The derivatives come from traditional recipes (from generation to generation) which is ‘considered a strong element of cultural manifestation of who resides in the municipality’.
  2. 26 October 2018, a Denomination of Origin was granted to bananas of the region of Corupá. The Association of Banana Growers of Corupá (Asbanco) in Brazil, made this application back in February 2018. While they wished to obtain the certification by the Banana Day celebration on the 18th April, they still managed to obtain it in 2018. The bananas grown in the region of Corupá claim to be the ‘sweetest in the country’.
Brazil recognizes two types of GIs: Indicação de Procedência and Denominação de Origem. The latter has a strong link with the regions as it recognizes the name of a country, city or region whose product or service has certain specific characteristics thanks to its geographical environment, including natural and human factors. An Indicação de Procedência does not require all links with the region (extraction, production and manufacture) but just one will suffice. Moreover, the specific characteristics due to their geographical environment be it natural or human factors are not required.
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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Free trade mark databases – the presence of Latin American countries

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Have you heard of TMview? This is a common online trade mark information platform. The platform, a free of charge tool, makes trade mark data (registration and application) widely available and easily accessible to all interested parties. The platform is used in the EU and in the ASEAN region.

Talking about views..this is my view!
from the 19th floor of the Korean
 Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in the EU administers the platform. It has operated since April 2010 and contains information from all of the EU national IP offices, the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and a number of international partner offices outside the EU.

In Latin America, Mexico was the first country to participate, followed by Brazil, Colombia and in October 2017, Peru. These national IPOs made its trade mark data available to the TMview search tool.

Aside from TMview, there is also DesignView which operates as TMview, i.e., a platform that share data for industrial designs (application and registration) – Peru participates in this platform.

The new participant is Costa Rica, joining both the TMview and DesignView and so, it has now made available its trade mark (278,627 of them) and industrial design (1,700) data available to the EUIPO search tools. The number of trade marks in TMview is close to reach 50 millions (as of 06 November 2018).

Source EUIPO.
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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Traditional Knowledge and YOU!

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I am not known as a selfish person, unless I am asked to share a chocolate cake; but looking to the amazing opportunity brought by WIPO I just wanted to keep it to myself!

Huichol's TCE, Mexico
The WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division is advertising an internship for 2019 taken place in Geneva. It is for an initial period of six months, which can be renewable for six months more. The post is addressed to those that have a background in intellectual property (IP) law, and an advanced degree (Master, PhD etc.). Particularly, they are looking for those that have an ‘interest in the relationship between IP and traditional knowledge, genetic resources and/or traditional cultural expressions.’[basically, me!].

For more information, check their web-page here. For you to be eligible, your advance degree should have been granted within a maximum of two y
ears from the completion of the studies [so, not me ;(].
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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Universities, Patents and Intellectual Property: do they match?

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The Director of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) reports that the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), in Mexico City, is the Higher Education establishment that has filed the most patent applications during the period 2013-2018 (278 of them). Therefore, this month IMPI and UNAM signed a collaboration agreement on industrial property.
According to IMPI’s director, IMPI and UNAM share the same ‘commitment to support and promote entrepreneurship and the creation of innovation, as well as the promotion of the predominant role of industrial property, endorsing the protection and commercialization of intangibles.’

In the same line, IMPI notes that since 2012 has increased the Patent Centres (CePats) from 21 to 104. These centres, linked to IMPI, are entities that rise in the research and higher education institutions. They provide consultancies, updates, training in the field of technological information searches, patents, industrial designs, utility models and everything related to the protection of industrial property.

An interesting fact published by IMPI is the data regarding the number of patent applications filed by national Higher Education institutions which, added together, are 1,205 patent applications:
UNAM, 'the people to the university, the university to the people'
 by David Alfaro Siqueiros 

  • The UNAM, 278;
  • the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), 222;
  • the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 164;
  • the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 140;
  • the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), 89;
  • the Secretaria de Educacion Publica-Technological National Education of Mexico, 81;
  • the Universidad de Guanajuato, 66;
  • the Universidad de Sonora, 64;
  • the Universidad Autonoma de Querétaro, 56; and
  • the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, 45.
Looking at this cooperation we can finally say that the academia and IP are counterparts, working together towards promoting innovation.
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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Smart IP for Latin America: calling researchers

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Con gran entusiasmo anuncio que el Instituto Max Planck para la Innovación y Competencia, ubicado en Munich Alemania esta en la busqueda de dos investigadores academicos en el area de Propiedad Intelectual en Latinoamerica!!!
Let's tango...let's research in Buenos Aires!

Que es o quien es el Instituto Max Planck para la Innovación y Competencia?
El instituto fue creado en enero de 1965 y comenzo a laborar en 1966 como el Max-Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law'.  El instituto es independiente pero a su vez forma parte de la Sociedad Max Planck para el fomento de las ciencias que esta compuesta por más de 80 institutos y centros de investigación en Alemania y el extranjero.

La oferta – te buscan a ti
Si eres nuestro IPTango lector, esta plaza te puede interesar. El instituto esta ofreciendo DOS puestos para el cargo de investigador: uno a nivel junior y el otro post doctoral.
Lo mas fantastico de esta oferta es que la investigation sera en el Instituto en Munich (por 6 meses) y mas adelante teniendo la oportunidad de continuar en Buenos Aires, Argentina por dos anos mas!

Te lanzas?
Aquí te dejamos el link para que veas el perfil que buscan (junior y post doc) y las responsabilidades que tendras. Actua pronto pues las aplicaciones se recibiran hasta el dia 12 de Noviembre del 2018.

Suerte

Gracias a Pedro Batista, Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Legal Manager – GRUR Int, Max-Planck-Institut für Innovation und Wettbewerb, por comunicarnos y compartir esta informacion.
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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Legalizing Graffiti: Chilean Chamber of Deputies says YES!

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From Chile, we received the news that the Chamber of Deputies approved a project that regulates urban graphic art.

Establishing a legal framework ‘that allows the creation of urban graphic art, as expressions of the urban visual arts, both in national public goods and in private goods, always with the prior consent of its owner’ is the aim of the project.


According to the Bulletin, the graphic creations that the law covers are ‘all those artistic works that consist of images or texts expressed freely in walls, undergrounds, bridges, tunnels, or other public goods’. In this case, the artists would need a permit granted by the municipality, competent authority or owner.’ The said permit would be free of charge and granted within 30 days from the date of the request.

Yet, Bulletin 11810 notes that the law will be considered if it follows these principles:
‘a) Advancement, respect, promotion and harmonious relationship between the right to freedom of expression and the right to live in a pollution-free environment, enshrined in the Constitution and International Treaties ratified by Chile and in force.
b) Promotion of an active and binding participation of civil society in decision-making regarding the spaces to be intervened for the development of urban graphic art.
c) Active collaboration among the various agencies responsible for encouraging the development of urban graphic art.
d) Consideration of urban graphic art as a tool for social inclusion, neighbourhood, and community identity.’
An exception to the urban art, which will not be tolerated, is the one that provokes hatred due to race, ethnicity or social group, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief, nationality, political or sports affiliation; the illness or disability suffered by a person or group of people, or promotes the use of weapons or violence.

Municipalities must ensure compliance with the provisions of this law. The Culture Committee will now consider the project.

Apart from graffiti been permitted in these circumstances, what else can we learn from this project?
There has been plenty of debate and thoughts from different parties on what is the state of affairs of graffiti towards the copyright system. Is graffiti art? Art written in trains and walls bring matters to discussion in copyright law, for example: originality comes to mind, authorship, joint authorship, tangibility; reproduction; ownership and intellectual common, to name a few. Besides these, we need to think about moral rights. Indeed, by the project recognizing graffiti as an artistic work, we cannot challenge it, because as any other type of work, it is open to protection under copyright.
The courts in Latina America are willing to protect outside the box [giving me more confidence that graffiti will be actually protected under copyright]. For example in Argentina the CAMARA CIVIL - SALA J (Civil Chamber) granted protection to a make-up sanctioning the defendant to payment for infringement of economic and moral rights (here). In the European courts, specifically in the UK fixation for this type of work either the graffiti or the make-up will be problematic. There is a lack of clarity regarding the requirement of permanence for artistic works. This is noticeable in cases such as Creation Records and Metix v Maughan as well as Merchandising Corporation of America v Harpbond (known as the Adam Ant case).
This debate of ‘fixation’ has also received some debates when the work is a tattoo and no doubt it will received some interesting discussion in the case of graffiti.
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Thursday, 4 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Latin America keeps speeding...

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Continuing with yesterdays report and PPHs in Latin America, here comes another one…INAPI (IPO in Chile) and the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) had signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the accelerated patent procedure called Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). The pilot will come into effect from November 01, 2018.

Speeding the process...
As noticed in yesterday news, the program allows national patent applications, which have a favourable resolution issued by the national IPO, to expedite the processing of their corresponding applications, filed with the USPTO – and vice versa.

In Latin America, several bilateral agreements have been signed between national patent offices to promote this project and thus, enabling applications to request, if they wish, the accelerated process PPH. The process is faster because the national offices will share the ‘search’ and ‘examination’ results. Yet, the final decision, that is, the granting will be left to the corresponding IPO.

Source INAPI.
More info on PPH here.
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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Peru: User Satistaction Survey (USS) tool

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Back in September 2018, the Peruvian National Institute for the Defence of Free Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) implemented the User Satisfaction Survey (USS) tool. This tool allows IPOs, which have a single, common approach to carry out surveys among participating IP offices. Used by the EU IPOs, this tool is now extended to non-EU IP offices. At the moment, there are seven non-EU IPOs that are using this tool: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, India, Albania, Georgia, Serbia and Peru.

Source EUIPO.
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Patricia Covarrubia

Agreements among Intellectual Property Offices: do they work?

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Reading the news from the national IPO in Peru (INDECOPI)  countless times this blog has reported on agreements between IPOs. Specifically, I usually report on the accelerated patent procedure - Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) [and posting a photo of ‘speedy Gonzalez’ next to the news]. This process accelerates the granting of a patent in a particular country, if the application for the ‘same patent’ has been made first in another IPO (the other party on the agreement) and has a favourable patentability examination.

Peru has signed PPH with Spain, Japan; ‘the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance (Colombia, Mexico and Chile) and the PROSUR countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Costa Rica, eight of the 13 that recognize the PPH).’

Because of the agreements and the simplification of a PPH, the National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile (INAPI) became the first office that grants a patent to a Peruvian inventor.
The invention in question ‘allows preserving for a longer time the life of vegetables, such as fresh and precooked vegetables; as well as whole fruits and pulp.’ In 2017 Zucchetti Espinoza, the inventor, obtained a patent for his invention in Peru.

Good to see matters in practice.

More info on PPH here.
Source INDECOPI.

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Intellectual Property and the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Emerging Themes and Challenges in Transboundary and Diaspora Contexts

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As you may recall, we were organizing a session at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies which took place in China. This was held in early September, 2018 and I have now took the time to write a report on this.

The aim of the session was to examine the relationship between IP and ICH and to look at the intersection of IP and ICH policies. The five speakers had a background in IP with an interest in ICH. Papers were brilliantly presented: covering from copyright to GIs, and from patents to sui generis rights. Moreover, the papers covered different regions and or countries, which was indeed a bonus.

  1. Starting the session I talked about ‘ICH Safeguarding and IP Protection: Are they sufficient to knit a future for the Aymara’s weavers’. The aim was to examine the five-year project (presented by the Aymara’s people to protect and safeguard their TK) that was supported by UNESCO. Putting aside the debate that continues to exist of whether IP or sui generis right is the best way to protect, the purpose was to look at how IP can be of use in the protection and safeguarding of Aymara’s handicraft. The case studied was selected as the Aymara’s people has managed to work very well together, considering that they are situated in Bolivia, Chile and Peru. How IP will work in a transboundary situation was discussed by examining Pisco, a GI in dispute between Chile and Peru, and how they individually negotiate this GI with other countries when signing trade agreements.
  2. Prof Gyooho Lee title was ‘How to make creative transmissions possible under the intangible cultural heritage law in Republic of Korea’. Starting with a few examples of some national ICH he focused on the Pasnori (Epic Chant) which is one of the Korean ICH inscribed on the UNESCO list. Then he went on to examine the Korean Cultural Property Protection Act noting that ‘the preservation and promotion of ICH’, according to the Act, should be stipulated by separate Acts. An interesting fact was to learn that in Korea, ‘transmission’ of archetypes are to be regarded as the key factor for the government to approve cultural heritage as intangible cultural property.The differences between Intangible Cultural Property (Domestically) and Intangible Cultural Heritage (Implementing UNESCO Convention) were covered, remarking the debate on owners vs holders (individual or collective). To finish up he put forward the legal challenges such as the transparency of processes; the scope of terms; and finding the right balance between ICH and IP; to name a few.
  3. Prof Pamela Andanda spoke about ‘Protecting transboundary traditional medical knowledge in southern Africa through community codes and protocols’. This paper not only covered the definitions and procedures but also covered the current IP gap in protecting & safeguarding TMK. She based her talk on case studies such as ‘the Biocultural Protocol of the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge’ and the ‘San Code of Research Ethics’, raising the importance of valuing prior informed consent, pointing out to ‘always to enter through the door rather than the windows’. The five values reflected in the Code of Ethics: respect; honesty; justice and fairness; care; and process, should work for every case and likewise, shall be considered in any project. At the end, as she clearly stated, we are working on cultural heritage ‘with’ a community rather than ‘on’ the community.
  4. Dr Peter Harrison made powerful statements and facts about the pharmaceutical industry (which Prof Andanda was eager to discuss and exchange ideas). His presentation was on ‘Tangled Webs, Blurred Lines and Distal Horizons. Investigating the Justifiable Downstream Limits to the Positive Protection of Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources (TKAGR): The Impact of Treating TKAGR as Intangible Cultural Heritage?’ The flowchart on the pathway of knowledge through drug discovery was very helpful as one became aware of the complexity of downstream and how this may be underestimated during negotiations. The research looks at to establish if a discovery linked to TK (no matter how distal it is) by a chain of causation is sufficient to merit a veto over its use.
  5. On closing, Prof Christoph Anton talked about ‘Intellectual Property and the Business of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia: Cross-Border Disputes and Community Concerns’. His attention was on the economic opportunities that has flourished with ICH and how this had recovered the debates on ownership, benefits’ sharing and ‘appropriateness’. He covered the potential of IP for some ICH but also looked at the other side of the coin, that is, the limitations of IP. An interesting point put forward was that, the local plant varieties on Indonesia are owned by the community but controlled by the State. With this in mind, we all think about benefit sharing especially if this policy works in countries where there is high corruption.
If you are interested in any of this papers and debates, please contact the corresponding author:
Dr Patricia Covarrubia, The University of Buckingham, UK
patricia.covarubia@buckingham.ac.uk
Prof Gyooho Lee, Chung-Ang University School of Law, Seoul, Republic of Korea
cion2004@hanmail.net; ghlee@cau.ac.kr
Prof Pamela Andanda, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Pamela.Andanda@wits.ac.za
Dr Peter Harrison, University of York, UK
peter.harrison@york.ac.uk#
Prof Christoph Antons, The University of Newcastle, Australia
christoph.antons@newcastle.edu.au
 wish you would have been there. Hangzhou, Sep 2018
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Monday, 24 September 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Patentability of polymorphs: the interpretation of novelty and inventive step in Brazil

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The title corresponds to a recent article published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (Oxford University Press) available here. This piece came as a collaboration between myself and Fernando Seixas, a Pharmacist and Patent Specialist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The article reviews a couple of decisions by the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) concerning patent applications of polymorphs and their counterparts in the EU and the US. The aim was to note inconsistencies in regards to the mere interpretation of concepts and therefore, to make aware applicants in how these terms are used in practice on the requirements of ‘novelty’ and ‘inventive step’.

Fernando has also written on this blog and we are always happy to receive and hear about your projects, and your interest. We more than welcome collaborations, and are indeed happy to facilitate networking in IP in Latin America.
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Friday, 21 September 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Peru: A red card for Roja Directa

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In Peru, the Copyright Commission, which is branch of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI), announces that it has issued two precautionary measures Resolutions No. 444-2018 / CDA-INDECOPI and No. 445-2018 / CDA-INDECOPI ) against a webpage.

The Commission has ordered the blocking of the website named ‘Roja Directa’, which facilitates illicit access to the transmission of various sporting events, in particular, football matches. For example,a bit of a search would indicate that they are the 'world's biggest index of sport streams'. The Resolutions were imparted to Telefónica del Perú S.A.A. and América Móvil Perú S.A.C., both Internet service providers. They shall proceed to block the website called 'Roja Directa' which contains several e-addresses. [Back in 2015 we may remember that in Spain a court also requested 'Roja Directa' to immediately cease its dissemination activity which was through the provision of links, of the football matches of the Spanish League and the Copa del Rey].

Roja Direct was infringing copyright and secondary rights as it contained a list of links that were transmitting simultaneously a sport event without having neither a license nor authorization by the company Fox Latin American Channel LLC (the right holders).The Decision No. 486 establishes the Common Industrial Property Regime of the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are all members) and, the Decreto Legislativo N° 822 de 23 de abril de 1996 regulates Copyright. In the latter, it is noted that the economic rights, derived from the property of a copyrighted work, grants the author (owner) the right to prevent third parties from: communicating to the public, reproducing, distributing and transforming the work. It is strongly advised to register copyright in Peru, although it is not compulsory.

The precautionary measure was requested by Fox Latin American Channel LLC in order to protect its rights. Currently there are collecting societies in Peru such as: APDAYC for the authors and composers of musical works; UNIMPRO for phonogram producers; EGEDA PERÚ for audio-visual producers and; APSAV for visual artists. They are non-profit organizations.
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Friday, 14 September 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Brazil: GI update

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This week the Brazilian National Congress published the Legislative Decree No. 154, of 2018. This Decree approves the agreement signed between Brazil and Mexico for the mutual recognition of ‘cachaça’ (Brazil) and tequila (Mexico) as geographical indications respectively.

Same line of news, we also heard that Brazil registered another national GI. This time the registration of GI was granted, as a designation of origin (DO), to bananas of the Region of Corupá ---published in the Magazine of Industrial Property (RPI) nº 2486.

The banana is from the subgroup Cavendish, with mean values higher than those of other fruit varieties. Another quality existing in this banana is its sweet taste joined with a lower acidity. The registration may have some social-economic implications as the Corupá Region has many rural families who benefit from the production of bananas in this unique environment. The region benefits from some peculiarities of climate, the ‘know-how’, traditions and local cultures.
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Monday, 27 August 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

First edition of Brazilian Case Law from the Board of Appeal

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On July 23, 2018 the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (INPI) published online a report about decisions from the Board of Appeal which were issued in 2017.

The decisions consider the guidelines issued between 2013 and 2016 and contains analysis of 480 decisions. The publication aims to impart transparency and consistency on how the INPI applies the guidelines and so, providing a better view for applicants. It addresses several common controversial issues such as clarity and precision, enablement, novelty and inventive step in different areas such as electronics, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.


This was clearly inspired from the Case Law of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office. However, one downside is that it only contains excerpts from the decisions -- no commentary or explanation is provided. This is probably due to the small number of decisions actually analyzed and the fact that the INPI guidelines are relatively new. In comparison, it is noted that the European case law contains an explanation of the rationale used by the Board to reach decisions, and sometimes addresses situations where different conclusions were reached based on the specifics of each case.

Despite the above, this is an important milestone for Brazil and a first step towards a more complete understanding of the Brazilian practice.

Post written by Fernando Seixas
Pharmacist and Patent Specialist, Brazil



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Friday, 10 August 2018

Gilberto Macias (@gmaciasb)

Blockchain: a “disruptive” overview on various commercial sectors

This post was first published on Your LATAM FlagshIP blog and was written in collaboration with Alessio Balbo.

In 10 years 10 percent of the global GDP will be stored in blockchains” this data insight comes from the World Economic Forum, but what implications does it have (pragmatically) on nowadays society? This article will approach some advantages and disadvantages of the blockchain and how its possible applications may be disruptive in relation to many sectors but, first and foremost, let’s start with some brief background.

Created in 2008, the blockchain is an encrypted program that acts as an online ledger of transactions, and it provides an “irreversible, secure and time-stamped record”. Each block of transactions is linked to a chain, giving its participants an overall picture of what is taking place in the system. The program is designed to be decentralized, allowing transactions to take place between users without the need for third parties such as banks, or a central clearing system like SWIFT. In essence, in the context of finance, each user acts as their own independent bank —  free from administrative and associated costs, normally found in “traditional” financial centers. Each transaction is viewed as a single block where subsequent transactions or blocks are added. When a new transaction is recorded, a copy of the blockchain is sent to each node as they join the network (a node is each computer that is connected to the blockchain network). Blockchains can be public, private or hybrid (permissioned). The main principle behind it is trust, and the blockchain is safe, incorruptible and encrypted. By assigning to every single one of its users a public key, it allows them to identify their transaction publicly. Such key will not be disclosed by the blockchain, so every user can be totally anonymous, unless it is voluntarily disclosed.

Furthermore, records are not deleted on the blockchain, so nobody would be able to change the data stored on it, as it would have to change the whole “chain” of transactions.
As every new invention, one of the most important innovations is that the Blockchain is extremely cost-effective. This is because it excludes intermediaries from the picture, but it does not only cut costs by doing so, it also increases efficiency.

Let’s analyze the impact on a sector-by-sector analysis

In respect to banking, the blockchain could be effectively revolutionary. In fact, the implementation of the blockchain into the banking system would allow banks to save around 20B$ a year by 2022.

Looking at the latest news on the matter, it can be indisputably said that almost daily a new enterprise, a tech giant, or a new company comes out with an application of the blockchain. As an example, on the 15th of May, Amazon announced his partnership with Kaleido (CNBC article available here) in relation to the Bezos’ cloud computing service, to simplify the creation of a company based on the blockchain.

Particularly, one of the most interesting applications of the blockchain relates to healthcare. In fact, a distributed ledger in relation to health records would allow any hospital to access medical data belonging to any individual, with no need of additional paperwork. This could be particularly useful in relation to emergencies concerning patients rushed into surgery. The threat here would be addressed in the context of data protection and privacy.

Another further implication in the same industry (i.e. healthcare) could be the distribution and tracking of pharmaceuticals. To this regard, the well-known multinational company Merck has filed a patent claiming that the blockchain technology enables a reliable, secure storage of the reading results with very high data integrity, such that it is essentially impossible to manipulate or erase or otherwise taper [sic] with or lose such data, e.g., due to unintended or deliberate deletion or due to data corruption.”[1]. Blockchain adoption would result in increased transparency, safer and more secured delivery of pharmaceuticals and a decrease in the counterfeiting of healthcare products.

In the legal sector, the blockchain’s impact on Intellectual Property (IP) can be noteworthy. The constitution of blockchain networks in relation to IP offices, the traceability of trademarked products, the implementation of royalty distribution mechanism all have a sweet sound to the ears of the professionals working in this sector. In this regard, many international institutions are starting to use such technology to foster innovation. In fact, the European Union has set up the Bloomen project, where “blockchains will be used as a distributed database for media copyright information, for fast micropayments of media content, and for transparency in copyright management and monetization”. The expansion of such project would improve dramatically the efficiency of the sector.

Other figures within Intellectual Property, will may also take advantage of the use of the Blockchain, for example, regarding trademarks, it is expected that it will be possible to register or renew a mark using Blockchain technology. We know that the EUIPO is looking very seriously and actively at using blockchain to records and enforce IP Rights. However, in the USA, there is already an online platform using Blockchain technology to file trademarks (Cognate). The use of blockchain in the protection of trademarks or patents would represent a real revolution in the registration of these assets.

Similarly, another giant in the field of consultancy, Deloitte, is partnering up with the next participant to blockhatonSeal Network, to develop an anti-counterfeiting platform and technology to stop such illegal practices.

In a different sector, another giant, Alibaba, has announced the pilot program to track international shipments to China, in order to safely be aware of the origin, shipment and destination of the effective product ordered.

In relation to fashion, blockchain may be disruptive too, as QR codes or tracking numbers on labels may be able to tell the customers the origin of the specific item, the full history of the supply chain behind each garment and possibly even more (i.e. the history of the company, the materials used, the instructions on how to wash, etc.). Since the statistics only for 2016 amounted to 1 billion dollars of counterfeited articles sold, blockchain would be a blessing for the sector, allowing to fight more effectively against the growing scourge of counterfeits and piracy.

A similar approach has been applied to food, for instance, in emerging markets. A traceability of the product “from farm to fork” would simply facilitate the business of guaranteeing an origin and avoid corruption and quality control. The matter concerning food safety has historically increased up to the point of creating Agencies in charge of such control. A giant in the industry of supermarkets, Walmart, has already successfully carried out several blockchain projects, proving that such technology is a real game changer. Blockchain could also have an important role in the protection of foods identified and commercialized with a Protected Geographical Indication or a Designation of Origin, the control of raw materials (as to their origin, use, transformation, etc.), all of the aforesaid could be followed with greater ease and transparency.

The jewelry business may also be reformed and secured. Chemical fingerprints could radically change the industry and blockchain may be the key to track the diamonds, in order to guarantee the effective origin and a safe shipment too.

The industry of photography and works protected by copyright exposed to the dangers of internet may be helped by blockchain too. Since copyright does not need any registration to be valid, it does not depend to registries (unless the holder of such rights decides to submit them for registration to an Office). In this field, the real issue has always been the distribution of royalties to the legitimate owners and to the management entities of competence. As everyone can imagine, the internet has certainly opened a new way of making business in this sector, but it has also exposed works to more infringements and violations. For instance, by allowing a file to be downloaded, the author spreads his/her work online and reaches bigger audiences indeed, but such audiences may not always be having pure and honest intentions and may misappropriate the copyrighted work.

Particularly, the aforementioned applies to the music industry. In fact, the advent of new technologies transformed the music industry into an important source of income with high levels of exploitation, notwithstanding the existence of blatant disadvantages (i.e. the increase in piracy and the lack of payment in relation to the reproductions).

The effects of technology in the music industry are twofold, on the one side, there is the acceleration in the diffusion of musical works, which allows us to visualize a very positive scenario for authors and intermediaries, just as consumers are greatly benefited from this fact. On the other, there is the uncontrolled circulation in the network, the speed at which music circulates on the internet is unstoppable and untraceable by the holders of rights since it facilitates the unauthorized use of digital works and recordings. Uncontrolled circulation reveals very negative consequences for the basic and intellectual property industry.

Another consequence derived from the implantation of new technologies in the basic industry is the change in the relations between the authors of music, services, intermediaries and consumers. The digital environment allows a direct connection between the creator of the musical work and the audience, and that is precisely why the blockchain could be a real game-changer in the music industry. Media Chain, for instance, a company recently acquired by Spotify, takes care of the royalty distribution matter, offering music platforms to protect the authors and their works in the online world. Mediachain allows artists to create a digital record for songs on the Bitcoin blockchain and InterPlanetary File System. Spotify, in fact, aims to use such tool to create fairer conditions and more transparency in respect to the payment to artists for their musical works.

The blockchain does not uniquely help the music sector in relation to copyright. In fact, it applies also to photographers, whose works are constantly at risk of being copied, used or transformed without being remunerated. The need to broadcast and divulge the work is often the most significant mistake that leads to piracy. To this regard, Kodak, earlier on in January 2018, firmly declared to be willing to develop a blockchain based platform to remunerate photographers through the use of Ethereum. Photographers will register their photos on the KodakOne platform and buyers will purchase rights using the KodakCoin cryptocurrency. The platform will provide cryptographic proof of ownership and monitor the web for infringement, offering an easy payment system for infringers to legitimize their use of photographs. A pioneer to this regard is Fernando Alonso, the Formula 1 player who recently announced that he will be protecting his image and copyrights with KodakOne[2]. Mr. Alonso is the first public figure to release such a statement.

Another sector where the blockchain has arrived into is the timestamped proving of paternity of literary works. An example of this is Po.et, a shared, open, universal ledger designed to record metadata and ownership information for digital creative assets. Po.et is a continuation of Proof of Existence, the first non-financial application of the blockchain.

An interesting article from February 2018 explained how the blockchain may be a solution which could definitely solve the adult industry of pornography. Already various projects are underway with ICOs in relation to this industry, as stated by the author of the article on El País(cryptocurrencies like SexcoinTitcoin will be used as purchasable tokens and reusable on the various adult blockchains by keeping complete anonymity).

Conclusions

The blockchain technology has created a whole new playing field, and the game could yet be very hard-fought. With the prize at stake of higher transparency, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, it remains to be seen whether this becomes a winner-takes-it-all race and how the issue of standards for the technology will be managed.

Blockchain enables a completely new level of information exchange between different kind of industries, some of them unknown until now and others just emerging.

This new technology has a huge potential to help everybody improve their creativity, their relationship with technology and the realization of new business and, consequently, increase the value of such new creations. Obviously, the protection of these new assets will be closely linked to the protection of intellectual property, a field in which, as we have seen previously, Blockchain is already playing a leading role, providing different solutions to securing IP assets and innovation processes.

In our opinion, although blockchain is still growing day after day, it is getting closer to its breakout moment and it is just a matter of time before it will be necessary to adapt all related regulation, inter alia, IP laws.


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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo

Mexican GIs and the registry of foreign GIs and AOs


This post was first published on The IPKat blog:

Recently, the Mexican Industrial Property Law was significantly amended and on 27 April 2018, the first batch of amendments to the Law entered into force. These amendments modified provisions regarding patents, designs, utility models, trademarks and appellations of origin (AOs). Moreover, for the first time, geographical indications (GIs) are regulated under the Mexican Industrial Property Law and a registry of foreign GIs and AOs lodged the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property will be created.

In this post, this Kat summarizes the amendments that came into force on 27 April 2018, particularly with respect to GIs and AOs. More details about the amendments to the provisions related to industrial designs, patents, and utility models, as previously discussed by Kat friends, can be seen here.

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Friday, 1 June 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Brazil and the Madrid Protocol: are they nearly there?

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In June 2017, the Brazilian Presidency sent to the National Congress Mensagem nº 201, to allow Brazil to adhere to the Madrid Protocol.

Therefore, building upon this, on May 10, 2018 the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s officials met at the headquarters of the INPI in Rio de Janeiro. At this stage, the WIPO exposed its experience in the management of this international trade mark registration system. INPI’s president noted the ‘efforts of the INPI team to reduce the time of examination of trade mark applications, in order to make possible the adhesion to the Agreement.’ The WIPO counterparts highlighted that Brazil is ‘well-structured to meet the requirements to participate in the Protocol, which will open up opportunities for domestic companies interested in the world market.’ On the same date, there was also a technical meeting with the INPI Trademark Board team, focusing on practical issues regarding the functioning of the system.

Additionally, on May 20, 2018, the General Coordinator of the Directorate of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (DIRMA), represented INPI at the "Meeting of Users of the Madrid System", organized by the WIPO in Seattle, United States. The INPI reported that the coordinator-general was as well to participate in the ‘IP Office Workshop’, which was organized by the Canadian, Hungarian and Mexico IPOs. It is also reported that one of the theme to be examined is ‘the registration of trade marks as part of an innovation strategy’.

Source the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) here and  here.

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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Brazil in the Highway again!

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The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Project signed by the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Phase I, was in force until May 10, 2018. The Pilot Project commenced on January 11, 2016, and was scheduled to end on January 10, 2018, but was later on extended until May 10, 2018.

Now the Pilot Project between these two offices have entered into Phase II, commencing on May 10 of this year and until April 30, 2020. By reading the Magazine of Industrial Property (RPI) nº 2470, published on 08 May, one can notice that another industry that will benefit from this project is the ‘information technology’ one – before, the Pilot Project Phase I was applicable to the ‘oil, gas and petrochemical industry’ only. Moreover, to be eligible, the invention needs to be classified with one of the symbols of the International Patent Classification - IPC.

According to INPI, 200 applications will be accepted among which up to 50 patent applications will obtain advantage from the preliminary opinion result obtained by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Phase I was limited to the first 150 eligible applicants. INPI summarises the PPH stating that ‘Brazilians can use the result of the examination of the patent application in the INPI to accelerate the analysis in the United States and vice versa. Upon entering the program, INPI has issued a final decision in 180 days, on average’. A PPH does not automatically grants a patent, since each national IPO will carry out its examination pursuant to their own legislation and procedures in force.

More information can be found in the Revista da Propriedade Industrial (RPI) nº 2470 (in Portuguese)
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Monday, 21 May 2018

Gilberto Macias (@gmaciasb)

México – Reformas a la Ley de la Propiedad Industrial en materia de Marcas.


El pasado 18 de mayo se publicaron en el Diario Oficial de la Federación las Reformas y Adiciones a la Ley de la Propiedad Industrial, en materia de marcas.

En primer lugar, resulta destacable que se extiende la definición de marca, la cual, como en otras legislaciones, queda ahora definida como:

todo signo perceptible por los sentidos y susceptible de representarse de manera que permita determinar el objeto claro y preciso de la protección, que distinga productos o servicios de otros de su misma especie o clase en el mercado”.

Con este cambio, la legislación mexicana permitirá ahora la protección de marcas no tradicionales, dado que una marca puede estar conformada por denominaciones, letras, números, elementos figurativos y combinaciones de colores, así como por signos holográficos y formas tridimensionales.

Con la reforma, también se reconoce la distintividad adquirida o “secondary meaning”, es decir, se podrán registrar marcas que en principio no son registrables, por considerarse descriptivas o carentes de distintividad, cuando se demostrase su uso previo y efectivo en el comercio.

La reforma incorpora la figura del trade dress, es decir, se contempla ahora el registro como marca de elementos de imagen, tamaño, diseño, color, disposición de la forma, etiqueta, empaque, la decoración o cualquier otro que, al combinarse, distinga productos o servicios en el mercado.

En lo que respecta a la protección de Marcas Notoriamente Conocidas y Famosas, se elimina el requisito de que éstas se encuentren previamente registradas; además de que se establece como causal de nulidad de un registro de marca, cuando éste se haya obtenido de mala fe.

Otra importante reforma es la incorporación de las marcas de certificación, las cuales desde ahora podrán protegerse para distinguir productos y servicios con ciertas cualidades y reglas de uso establecidas, con el fin de agregar mayor valor a la marca y generar más productos y servicios de calidad.

Con esta nueva reforma, una marca puede ser caducada cuando la misma no haya sido objeto de uso por un periodo de 3 años consecutivos. Para evitar la caducidad, se tendrá que presentar una declaración de uso

El texto completo de las reformas puede consultarse aquí.
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Monday, 7 May 2018

Patricia Covarrubia

Pasuchaca: a known substance for a not so new use - will the JPO grant a patent?

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From Peru, we hear about the work that the National Commission against Biopiracy does. This Commission, which is part of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI), is unique in the world and its role is to search the patent offices of all countries, in order to identify patents and, applications for patents, in which either Peruvian biological resources or traditional knowledge are involved.


Image result for pasuchacaDoing their role, the Commission recently identified a potential case of biopiracy in Japan. Towa Corporation submitted an application for a patent to the Japanese Patent Office (JPO). The request was filed under the description ‘Agent to increase HDL cholesterol levels’, and referred to an extract from the Pasuchaca (Geranium dielsianum) which is of Peruvian origin. The Commission further argues that the application lacks ‘inventive step’ (it is obvious for a person skilled on the art).

Following this, the Foreign Ministry informed the Commission that it has received a communication from the JPO. This communication informs that the ‘patent application related to the Pasuchaca has not yet been examined and that it will take into account the observation submitted by Peru’.

Pasuchaca, is it novel and or obvious (inventive step)?

Typing the word ‘pasuchaca’ in the search engine Google, many hits appeared, referring to it as ‘medicinal plants’. The majority of sites noted that it is used for diabetes treatment and many others sites if not all, referred to it as a Peruvian plant. There are therefore, 2 issues to consider here:

  1. Access to Genetic Resources: Japan is a member of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This legal instrument (soft law) is an international agreement that aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. Therefore it is expected that the authorities request the applicant to provide for the disclosure of origin of genetic resources as a requirement for patentability of such resources (and/or associated traditional knowledge); and
  2. Pasuchaca has been ‘used’ by ancient Peruvians for the diabetes treatment [novelty ruined, but can still be patentable: new use of a known substance]. Therefore potentially Pasuchaca may have that inventive step needed as it happen in the case of MACA for hair growth agent and also as an anti-age cream [both products patented by NATUREX, this is so because the use of MACA had nothing to do with previous knowledge - serendipitous]. Will Pasuchaca have the same fate? I then proceed to add to my search the word ‘cholesterol’ and… the site ‘peruherbals.com’ claims that Pasuchaca is an * Effective hipoglucemiant, * Excellent for diabetes and pancreas, * Reduce high cholesterol (more info click here). Is it then obvious that as Pasuchaca reduces the bad cholesterol, it increases the good cholesterol [as claimed in the Japanese application?]. We'll have to wait to see the JPO decision.

Source INDECOPI.
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