16 April 2012
Within the group of BRICS countries, Brazil offers both a dynamic economy and attractive new market opportunities. Positive developments are also apparent in intellectual property, where national patent filings have almost doubled over the last five years and now stand at over 30 000 annually. They also have a broad international base: European companies – very active in Brazil – account for the lion’s share (38%), followed by the US (30%) and Japan (10%).
It is important for the user community to find similar IP conditions in different countries, because this helps firms to avoid unnecessary administrative costs. Brazil still has some peculiarities when it comes to patents for pharmaceuticals, and we believe that clarifying the role of ANVISA (the national drug-approval agency) in the patent procedure would increase legal certainty for users in this sector.
The EPO and the Brazilian national office (INPI Brazil) first embarked on bilateral co operation back in 2000, with the EPO providing expertise to help this major emerging country develop its patent grant procedure. But now, in view of the new challenges which filings growth in particular is posing for INPI, both partners feel that the time has come to upgrade the relationship to a more strategic partnership, like the one the EPO has developed with China over many years. Hence the five-year MoU adopted in Geneva last September, and the two-year work plan signed just last week in Rio de Janeiro. This covers a wide range of activities related to the patent grant procedure and the dissemination of patent information, including examiner training, data exchange, common search tools and automation. It will start later this year.
We also signed a special agreement on machine translation services, under which INPI will provide the EPO with full-text patent documents for our English/Portuguese corpora, to further improve the quality of this language pair which is already available via Espacenet on our website. In addition, an event specially organised at Rio de Janeiro State’s federation of industry gave me a very welcome opportunity to exchange news and views with the Brazilian user community. At these fruitful discussions, the users made clear their strong support for high-quality examination leading to the grant of sound patents. And the EPO is committed to exactly that.
Lastly, we explored the possibility of facilitating meetings in the near future between INPI Brazil and the user community in Europe. This could prove very useful. So all in all I am convinced that this high-level meeting in Rio marks the start of a new phase of intensified and enhanced bilateral co operation.