04 February 2014 - No comments »
My official visit to Mexico last week was a valuable opportunity to meet the national authorities and patent system users, and also to assess the scope for reinforcing the long-standing cooperation between the EPO and the Mexican IP office (IMPI).
The timing was particularly appropriate, as Mexico is currently working to implement an ambitious national innovation policy plan (2013-2018) and is also involved in the ongoing negotiations on the TransPacific Partnership, which includes some provisions relating to IPR. This is an occasion for the country to review its IP policy and its legal framework for patents, as the Minister for Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, emphasised when we met. One priority would be to increase the number of national patent applications originating from Mexican companies and inventors, which are responsible at present for less than 10% of national filings (European users account for more than 25%).
This would require a number of measures, including the strengthening of links and improvement of knowledge transfer between universities, research centres and industry. Mexico, which clearly has a great deal of untapped potential, has started developing networks to address this central issue, which is well known in Europe and elsewhere. My visit to the National Autonomous University of Mexico confirmed this impression. The famous university, founded in 1551, has a Coordination of Innovation and Development plan covering activities across its various campuses.
IMPI has been a reliable regional partner to the EPO for the last 20 years, and the new Director, Miguel Angel Margain, has expressed a firm intention to step up the modernisation of the Mexican patent system. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation last year in Geneva, the EPO is committed to support IMPI through activities to raise public awareness of IP and provide training for target groups such as examiners, patent attorneys and judges. IMPI has also expressed its willingness to foster the exchange of data between our two offices and will be studying the possibility of adopting the CPC in the coming months.
As in the past, our meetings last week with Mexican users of EPO services and IP representatives of European companies in Mexico were a source of useful feedback, providing a chance to assess how the services we deliver on both sides of the Atlantic could be improved and how some practices could be more closely aligned, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.
Mexico has often been a very active participant in international IP-related negotiations, as evidenced by its recent involvement in the talks on the ACTA, and it is now embarking on a programme of reforms and activities that will facilitate the exploitation of the potential of IP. The EPO is ready and willing to support this ambitious plan with its technical expertise.