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!

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

[GUEST POST] The Wiki Law Project: The use of open-source technologies in the dissemination of Intellectual Property and their benefits for teaching

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The IPTango is pleased to host the following post by Hernán Núñez Rocha, lecturer at the University of Alcalá and a qualified lawyer in Spain and Ecuador.

 Hernan writes:

The use of open-source technologies in the dissemination of Intellectual Property and their benefits for teaching

by Hernán Núñez Rocha

The Wiki Law Project took place from 2013 to 2019 in Ecuador, where several governmental actors were discussing about the necessity to move from an economy based on the exploitation of natural resources to a model based on knowledge CITA.  The involved parts concluded that it was necessary to promulgate new regulations on Higher Education, Science, Technology, Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Traditional Knowledge.  Considering the instrumental use of Intellectual Property, the IPRs were defined as one of the main tools needed for the transition to the knowledge economy. But there was a problem, most citizens were not familiar with IPR.  In fact, even most stakeholders neither understood the importance of IPRs, nor the use of new works and technologies.  Also, there was an additional problem, stakeholders, who were aware of the importance of IPRs, were divided into two groups that had opposed views. One group saw the IPRs as a profitable tool for their creations, and the other group, saw it as an obstacle for innovation.

Consequently, the idea of the Wiki Law Project about IP came up.  The site was developed jointly by the staff of the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (IAEN), NGOs, professional associations, chambers, and public institutions.  Moreover, the Ecuadorian Patent and Trademark Office (now SENADI) and the Ministry of Higher Education (SENESCYT) got involved and support the project.

The wiki was hosted in the domain of the Ministry of Higher Education, as http://coesc.educacionsuperior.gob.ec/. The site explained didactically all the IPRs and its main features, its daily uses, and its economic, scientific, and legal significance.  Also, the project included a juridical analysis of the IP Law in forced at that time, as well as a proposal of a draft Law.  The wiki had a basic design, based on the Wikipedia interface, and allowed to create an account, review the contents, edit certain texts and create discussion forums.

The wiki was online from 2013 to 2020. However, the period of greatest activity was from its launch in March of 2013 to October of 2016, when the new IP regime was approved within the Organic Code for the Social Knowledge and Innovation Economy, known as the “CÓDIGO INGENIOS”.  According to the wiki managers, there were more than 1.8 million visits and more than 38 thousand editions, in that period.  Additionally, the wiki generated a domino effect, and suddenly the IPR were in the public opinion.  A survey conducted by the IP Office reflected a growth in the news about intellectual property of more than 600% in the period of June 2014 to June 2016.

After the approval of the CÓDIGO INGENIOS, the wiki continued online, but the users’ interactions were gradually decreasing until 2020 when the wiki was finally switched off.  Despite this, the impact generated by the wiki in their first years was gradually moved to other places in the remaining years. The Academia was one of the main receivers of the benefits of this project.  If we analyse the statistics since the wiki was launched, it is possible to identify a significant and constant growth in the following aspects:

          There was an increase in the number of Technology and Innovation Support Centres located at the universities. Before the project, there was not any Centre according to the WIPO criteria. Today there are 11 universities that have their own Technology Transfer Office.

          Regarding the use of the IPR into the Universities, there is a growth in the average that goes from 1.3 patent applications until 2012 to 27.5 in the period 2012-2019.

          Regarding IP teaching, IP Master's programs increased from 1 to 5 nationwide.

          The number of IP courses in the curriculum of the universities also increased. Before the Wiki Law Project, only 7 universities offered the course of intellectual property as an elective subject, now there are 25 that have the course as a compulsory subject.  Before, it was only taught in the Law School, now there are IP courses in 8 different careers.

          Regarding final degree projects, a study conducted in 5 Ecuadorian universities shows an increase of more than 300% since 2013.

As we can see, the Wiki Law Project was not only a success by itself, but also generated several positive externalities. Nowadays, the information technologies allow us to do great things without a big budget. In the case of the Wiki Law Project, a generic website template with basic functions was enough.  It was not even necessary to get a hosting since the page was hosted in the domain of the Ministry of Higher Education.

The Wiki Law project is an example of the interaction between academia and society, which also generated an academic demand focused on issues related to intellectual property. It was a project without “owners”.  After the idea was launched, many institutions got involved and once the wiki was online, a huge collaborative work was generated.  There are also several papers that describe the Wiki Law as a platform that allows to recuperate the public and common sense of knowledge, throughout collaborative work.

However, the Wiki Law Project is just one example of the use of open-source technologies in the dissemination of intellectual property. What is important here, is not the instrument but the process. This process results in the use of information technologies to spread the general aspects of the IPRs and its daily uses. With this, is possible to create a communication channel in two directions. On one hand, universities can provide information to society; and on the other hand, universities could collect data about social and commercial needs.  Therefore, with the understanding of these facts, universities could adapt their activities and curriculum in line with the expectations of the society.

PS This blog post is based on the presentation made by the author at the 13th Anniversary EIPTN Conference 2021.

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Thursday, 8 December 2022


Encounter 23: IP Enforcement and Cybersecurity

On 13 December 2022, FIDE (Legal and Business Research Foundation) and TIPSA (Transatlantic Intellectual Property Academy) will hold the Encounter 23: IP Enforcement and Cybersecurity.

The panellists are Richard Lane (World Intellectual Property Organization) and Prof. Tal Zarsky (University of Haifa’s Faculty of Law). Prof. Manuel Desantes (University of Alicante) will moderate the session.

The suggested readings and the report on the session will be available on the Global Digital Encounters (GDE) website as time goes by.

The Encounter is offered free of charge, but registration is required. Register here now!

If you missed previous Encounters or you want to watch them again, click here.

Credit: The image is courtesy of FIDE.
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Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

Some news and views from me to you

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I cannot deny that keeping up with the blog has been arduous to say the least. The matter is that joggling between a full-time academic job comes with presenting and attending conferences, writing papers and plenty of responsibilities not only academic but also administrative, and then a house, family, and a bit of Legal consultancy. Aside, the University of Buckingham, where I work, drives, and leads on personal mentorship – and I am proud of it, but it is time and energy consuming. On this fact, I got some news to share, well ...maybe there are not brand new, but indeed good news to share. However, I have to say, that at first, I did not make a fuzz of it, because I do not like to ‘show off’ but on reflection, the idea of obtaining any recognition is to acknowledge, and if someone feels that this is their right path and want to connect with me for further guidance then, I am more than happy to give a hand.

The Kindness & Leadership, 50 Leading Lights UK announced the listees in November, and I am one of them 😉. The campaign “seeks to shine a great big spotlight on leaders who are impacting others through kindness. We see this campaign as a unique chance to build a new status quo, sharing advice and expertise from leaders and recognising the contribution of kind leaders to business, the economy and society.” The 50 listees come from different industries (me as academic) [View the 2022 listees at https:// www.kindnessrules.co.uk/uk/] You can check my statement if you click on my name, and you can also watch a video (1 minute) here.

My second big news is more IP related. The 30th of November came out the e-copy of the edited collection Transboundary Heritage and Intellectual Property Law: Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. The book took a few years to materialise, but one cannot expect less as the calibre of the authors were of high standard and engaged in their own projects. I was indeed honoured for them to embark with me in this task. For more info on this, check this page

The Book Description reads

Since the Intangible Heritage Convention was adopted by UNESCO in 2003, intangible cultural heritage has increasingly been an important subject of debate in international forums. As more countries implement the Intangible Heritage Convention, national policymakers and communities of practice have been exploring the use of intellectual property protection to achieve intangible cultural heritage safeguarding outcomes.

This book examines diverse cultural heritage case studies from Indigenous communities and local communities in developing and industrialised countries to offer an interdisciplinary examination of topics at the intersection between heritage and property which present cross-border challenges. Analysing a range of case studies which provide examples of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and genetic resources by a mixture of practitioners and scholars from different fields, the book addresses guidelines and legislation as well as recent developments about shared heritage to identify a progressive trend that improves the understanding of intangible cultural heritage.

Considering all forms of intellectual property, including patents, copyright, design rights, trade marks, geographical indications, and sui generis rights, the book explores problems and challenges for intangible cultural heritage in crossborder situations, as well as highlighting positive relationships and collaborations among communities across geographical boundaries. Transboundary Heritage and Intellectual Property Law: Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage will be an important resource for practitioners, scholars, and students engaged in studying intangible cultural heritage, intellectual property law, heritage studies, and anthropology.

Some of the chapters cover specifically Latin America

Chapter 3 ‘Scaling up and down the edible heritage: Food and foodways as terrains of cultural friction ‘by Raúl Matta, focusing on Mexico cuisine

Chapter 7 ‘Colombian/Panamanian molas: Coping with the challenges posed in protecting and commercialising transboundary intangible cultural heritage’ by Florelia Vallejo-Trujillo

Chapter 8 ‘The ‘Pisco War’: A Chilean-Peruvian conflict at the crossroads of an intellectual property regime and intangible cultural heritage’ by Bernardo Alarcón Porflidtt

Chapter 11 ‘Knitting a future for the Aymara’s weavers: The Andean project’ by Patricia Covarrubia

Hope you forgive me for not being as prompt with news and views in the blog as it should be, this has been a crazy year! And as always, please do contact me if you think you have what we need to make this blog shine with news once again.


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Tuesday, 8 November 2022


Encounter 22, Open Science and Intellectual Property: The Dilemma

On 10 November 2022, FIDE (Legal and Business Research Foundation) and TIPSA (Transatlantic Intellectual Property Academy) will hold the Encounter 22, Open Science and Intellectual Property: The Dilemma.

The panellists are Richard Gold (James McGill), Roberto Caso (Italian Association for Open Science) and Julien Cabay (ULB). Prodromos Tsiavos (Athena Research and Innovation Centre) will moderate the session.

The suggested readings and the report on the session will be available on the Global Digital Encounters (GDE) website as time goes by.

The Encounter is offered free of charge, but registration is required. Register here now!

If you missed previous Encounters or you want to watch them again, click here.

Credit: The image is courtesy of FIDE.

UPDATE: the recording of Encounter 22 is available here. 
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Thursday, 27 October 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

Mexico: Plagiarism and traditional cultural expression

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I received an email yesterday morning with a link to the BBC Latin America News. I am always skeptical to open links due to virus (are you not?). On second thoughts, I read the link and it was clear that was a verified page and when I clicked there were some juice news for our blog 😊 The heading reads: “Ralph Lauren apologises after Mexico indigenous 'plagiarism' claim”. My reaction was, not again! It has become usual to see big business appropriating cultural designs. But I wonder whether this is due to social media and we, as a society, are more aware of it. The era of globalization surely has made us more aware of what is going on in every corner, but also may have brought in us an appetite for merchandise that is only available in certain regions, or cultures [would you agree?]. 

Back to the news. 
The wife of the Mexican President wrote on Instagram below the photo of the claimed item
“Hey Ralph: we already realized that you really like Mexican designs, especially those that are elaborated by ancestral cultures that preserve textile tradition. However, by copying these designs you incur in plagiarism, and as you know, plagiarism is illegal and immoral. At least acknowledge it. And hopefully you will compensate the damage to the original communities that do this work with love and not for millionaire profit. @ralphlauren (These designs are by Contla and Saltillo.)”
[translation, my own] 

Let’s put our IP hat on: is this plagiarism? Is there an infringement? Traditional cultural expression as such is not protected under the umbrella of IP. Yet, WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore is working on an international instrument for their protection. [for the drafts go to this page here). The matter is that IP has a period of protection (full stop). That is the terrible reality that traditional knowledge in general suffers. Added to this, is the fact that even if it were protected by let’s say copyright, there is the argument of ‘inspiration’ that designers rely heavily on. However, there is a fine line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘copy’, and this has been reflected more in recent years (or at least we have become aware of it). 
For instance, three months ago, we brought to you the news of Mexico vs Shein, for a garment deemed to be copied by the latter which contained Mayan’s traditional culture. Two years ago, we also posted about the Guna people in Panama vs Nike which contained a ‘mola’ design. I am sure there is not enough space to tell you all about this situation that seems to happen all over again, and again. 

Back to the news
Ralph Lauren has apologised and noted that months ago they remove it and were surprised to see the final products on display. This may be the end of the story, but not for the communities around the world. While waiting for the WIPO international instruments, there is nothing stopping governments to pass their own national laws protecting their traditional knowledge. Yet, this would be protection on their national territory, I am afraid, but at least, it is something. 

The suspicious link sent here.
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Thursday, 29 September 2022

Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo

El Índice Mundial de Innovación de 2022: Latinoamérica y el Caribe

Hoy se anunció la publicación de la 15ª edición del Índice Mundial de Innovación (GII, por sus siglas en inglés). Publicado desde 2007, el GII ha sido una fuente útil de análisis para medir la innovación. Consulta mis reportes sobre el GII 2021 aquí y el GII 2020 aquí.

El GII de 2022 fue publicado por la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI), en colaboración con el Instituto Portulans y sus asociados corporativos.

El GII de 2022 contiene la más reciente clasificación mundial de innovación de 132 economías, basándose en 81 indicadores. El tema del informe de este año es “¿Cuál es el futuro del crecimiento impulsado por la innovación?”.

El GII de 2022 también destaca los efectos positivos de dos nuevas oleadas de innovación:
  1. Oleada derivada de la era digital, basada en la supercomputación, la inteligencia artificial y la automatización. Efecto: tener una amplia incidencia en la productividad de todos los sectores y en todos los ámbitos de investigación científica.
  2. Oleada de innovación en ciencia profunda, basada en avances en la biotecnología, la nanotecnología, el desarrollo de nuevos materiales y otras ciencias. Efecto: cambiar por completo las innovaciones en la salud, la alimentación, el medio ambiente y la movilidad (cuatro campos de importancia clave para la sociedad).
Algunas de las conclusiones del GII señaladas en el comunicado de prensa son las siguientes:
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Monday, 19 September 2022


2.° Congreso Internacional de Propiedad Intelectual: Nuevas Fronteras de la Propiedad Intelectual y Tecnologías Disruptivas

El evento es organizado por el Centro de la Propiedad Intelectual de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Austral (CPI) y la Escuela Latinoamericana de Propiedad Intelectual (ELAPI).

El programa incluye más de 60 panelistas de diversos países. Los ejes temáticos son derechos de autor, digital, gestión y acción de inteligencia artificial y farma. El programa completo está disponible aquí, el cual incluye los siguientes temas:

  • El derecho de autor frente a la brecha de valor: ¿Una oportunidad para los autores o una grieta que no cesa?
  • La propiedad intelectual en el laberinto digital: usos del Blockchain e IA en la trazabilidad de obras.
  • Tejer redes: el uso de las obras y los creadores de contenido en redes sociales
  • Entre el verso y el metaverso: uso de propiedad intelectual en mundos digitales
  • NFT: ¿final de la euforia o nuevos usos en el desarrollo de la propiedad intelectual?
  • Captar valor, gestionar y construir calidad de vida: el efecto positivo de la PI en escenarios de desarrollo tecnológico
  • Del otro lado del mostrador: Experiencias de incorporación de nuevas tecnologías en las oficinas de LATAM
  • Player One: la vida como un videojuego

El evento es en línea y sin costo, pero se requiere inscripción previa. ¡Regístrate aquí!

Consulta más información sobre el Congreso aquí.

Crédito: la imagen es cortesía de ELAPI.

Actualización: Transmisión en vivo del evento en YouTube, día 1 y día 2.
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Thursday, 25 August 2022

Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo

6th Session of the WIPO Conversation on IP & Frontier Technologies: AI Inventions

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will hold the Sixth Session of the WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and Frontier Technologies (formerly WIPO Conversation on IP and AI) from 21 to 22 September 2022.

The theme of the sixth session is “AI Inventions”, aiming to share information and build awareness around patent examination practices, tools, and guidelines for AI inventions. As such, it will be addressed:

  • What are the market trends, and how do these translate in terms of patent applications?
  • How autonomous is AI?
  • What role does it play as part of the inventive process or as an invention?
  • What questions does this raise for the IP system? 
  • How are IP Offices supporting AI inventors?

The provisional agenda is available here. The event will be held in a hybrid format. Registration is free and now open for WIPO members & Observers (onsite) and a wider audience (virtual)!

If you would like to participate in the Sixth Session by making a statement or a presentation, send an email to frontier.tech@wipo.int before 18 September 2022. Such participation is open to the Member States, IP Offices, and all participants (open floor intervention).

If you have a craving for more WIPO on IP and AI, do not forget to review here a list of sources at the bottom of the article.

Image by Tung Nguyen from Pixabay.
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Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

Peru: the FIVE instruments of accession [I got it wrong]

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On July the 18th we published in this blog that the executive president of the Peruvian Intellectual Property Office (Indecopi) submitted, during the Sixty-Third series of meeting of the Assemblies of the member states, five instruments of accession. 

At the time, the news was that one of them was the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement (re. denominations of origin and geographical indications), and I was quick to ‘guess’ that one could have been the Madrid System. At the end I reported on others that were still pending. Well…I got it wrong, my wonderful and desirable guess was not so brilliant after all. Peru is putting this in the ‘long overdue’ to do list, and I said overdue because Colombia, a counterpart in the EU FTA together with Peru, started to work towards this back in 2012. 

The other guesses were: Locarno Agreement (re classification for industrial design); Strasbourg Agreement (re classification for patent); Nice Agreement (re classification for marks); and the Vienna Agreement (re classification for marks that consist or have a figurative element). All of them consist of international classification, which will appear in official documents and publications relating to the registration and renewals of the designs, patents, and marks respectively, the NUMBERS of the categories, DIVISIONS and SECTIONS of the Classification to which the design, patent and marks belong to. 

Photo: Proarándanos
During the encounter, Peru noted its effort to implement WIPO GREEN. This is an initiative that promotes ‘innovation and diffusion of green technologies’ (for more info, see here). The goal is to ‘connect providers and seekers of environmentally friendly technologies’ via an online platform where they can exchange information. Peru noted that they are focusing on the agro-industrial sector specifically prioritizing coffee, and blueberries. Peru has TWO denominations of origin for its coffee: Café Villa Rica and Café Machu Picchu – Huadquiña. While there is none for blueberries, this fruit has put Peru in the top list of exporters, for instance, this year has exported more than 5,000 tons of blueberries (Proarándanos). 

To read the news click here.

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Friday, 29 July 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

Mexico: cultural (mis) appropriation

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Last week, the Mexican Secretary of Culture sent a letter to the company SHEIN asking to clarify the launch of the piece “Flower trim top with floral print” that is identical to a garment designed by the handicraft brand ‘ YucaChulas’.

The statement reads ‘” cultural elements whose origin is fully documented’, which generate economic rewards in the communities that sell them. The blouse, short huipil, was created in the Mayan communities of Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo, and its design would not be possible without knowledge “transmitted from generation to generation, product of the collective creativity of the Mayan people.”’ YucaChulas also went to social media (here) to express their dismay against SHEIN due to the lack of recognition of the work made by local artisans and how plagiarism diminish and devalued their culture. Since then, SHEIN has removed the garment and noted in a statement that it was not their intention ‘to infringe anyone’s valid intellectual property and it is not our business model to do so.’

Photo: El Universal - YucaChulas left; SHEIN to the right

As you know, the protection of cultural expression through intellectual property is a heated debate. And now, WIPO has advanced in this topic – see early publication here. In the meantime, some countries, especially in Latin America, have some kind of legislation that regulates the use of traditional knowledge, but yet there is not clear procedure or enforcement, it seems like just ‘good practice’. However, one must say that the Panama Law No. 20 on the Special Intellectual Property Regime with Respect to the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the Protection and Defence of their Cultural Identity and Traditional Knowledge, seems a solid one. Others, like Colombia, continues to use Geographical Indications protecting cultural expressions and traditional knowledge, although this protects the product linked to the origin, rather than the product per se. The same strategy is used in Peru, where you will notice several ‘collective marks’. Yet, IP is territorial and these legal tools, used in Panama, Colombia and Peru as examples, only will stop the ‘plagiarised’ product to be sold in their countries, but can continue to sell it in other jurisdictions. [sad]

Read the news at El Universal MX
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