Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Ecuador: repealing its IP law for a code of social economy

Ecuador is fully engaging in its debate over the proposed ‘Código Orgánico de Economía Social del Conocimiento, la Creatividad y la Innovación (Organic Code of Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation) -- known as ‘Codigo Ingenios’ (Intellects Code).

The bill went to the Ecuadorian Assembly back in June 2015 as an initiative of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (Senescyt ) supported and drafted with the help of different sectors including the Ecuadorian Intellectual Property Office (IEPI). The current Intellectual Property Law will be repealed when the new bill is approved. The proposed code comprises four books and over 500 articles. According to the newspaper ‘El Comercio’, its strengths are in intellectual property, access to the Internet and protection of ancestral knowledge.

Image result for codigo ingeniosSeveral conferences inviting students from different Universities, the legal profession, the civil society and civil servants are taken place. Moreover, the IEPI promotes the code as aiming to move “from a primary export economy to a social economy of infinite resources” and thus, noting the need to protect “the Ecuadorian knowledge and human talent”. The aims are on 11 principles: “right to share knowledge, economic incentives to encourage innovation, cheaper drugs, boost domestic inventions, internet as a basic service, support and enhancement of research, long life technology, promotion of free software, combat biopiracy, profitable mining, and the right to traditional knowledge that belong to indigenous peoples and nationals.”

According to IEPI’s director, the bill targets knowledge and entrepreneurship, but ensuring the protection of the creators’ rights. You may ask: isn’t this the purpose of their own current IP legislation? It appears that it does not. In the words of Senescyt’s secretary, the current IP “law has failed, because it is excessively private and excessively commercial and has produced nothing of innovation" [has there been any national investment on research --you will reap if you have sown, right?]. He continues saying that the code will guarantee all IPRs in all lucrative activities in academia or research and help to circulate their works and products, which I do concur. But, I am afraid I cannot see how the present IP legislation does not already protect these.

There are two other matters that I would like to address. It is asserted that the change of law is needed and that there is a need to have this code on social economy. I do wonder: is IP and IP law a legislation for social economy? The propanga surrounding the Code re-emphasizes that the current IP law only protect the rich, transnational companies, big pharmaceutical companies, foreigners and does nothing for ‘the people’ (referring to those of not enough resources). I am afraid IP protects inventions, creation, works of art, brands, regardless of nationality or wealth. In practice, it is true that in developing countries and less developed ones the majority of patents would be granted to foreigners, but this is not because there is something wrong with the law. It is because the world's most innovative countries are high-income countries (full stop - see INSEAD's report and also WIPO’s latest report which explores the role of IP at the link between innovation and economic growth). Would it be ok to say that the propaganda appears to be more political sided?

There are two issues that also capture my attention in this ‘advertisement’ of principles 1) right to traditional knowledge (TK) and combat bio-piracy and 2) cheaper drugs.
1) Ecuador legislation protects TK and genetic resources. Ecuador is part of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and it has one common IP system through CAN Decision 486 - a supranational law. In this regards:
Image result for doha declarationa) PATENT: when a product or process is obtained or developed using TK of indigenous, African American or local communities, protection is only granted if the applicant has a certificate, or license or authorization from the originating source (CAN Decision 391).
b) Trade Marks: applications that contain the name of indigenous, African American, or local communities, are not allowed.

2) Cheap Medicines
a) In 2009 Ecuador amended its IP law to use the TRIPS flexibility (Doha Declaration) in favour of developing countries i.e. compulsory licensing. At the end of 2014 the IEPI had received 32 applications for compulsory patent licenses- some were refused or abandoned, but nine were granted.
b) Decision 486: second use patents known as the ‘Swiss formula’ are not allowed.

In the last five years some Latin American countries like Brazil, Mexico and Chile, have more than doubled its international patents but this is seen because governments and organizations invests in projects. In Colombia we see a ‘National Innovation Strategy’ by the Director of the National Planning Department. In 2013 Medellin won against New York and Tel Aviv, the most innovative city title. In Brazil there is also a Science & Technology Action Plan giving incentives to bio-tech patents. It also looks deeper into what they call ‘critical mass’ population studying masters and PhDs, how can they help to increase these. Chile is examining a Bill to amend its Constitution i.e. art.19 to: (1) assert ownership over the country's genetic resources; (2) protect against the unauthorized use of these resources or the traditional knowledge (TK) of indigenous communities; and (3) promote the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the exploitation of these resources or TK. Peru has a National Anti-bio-piracy Commission. In all these countries the message is clear, innovation may attract (foreign) investments in the form of trade and/or R&D, but if the country does nothing to promote and to launch programs to help its people to innovate, legislation alone does nothing.

We also see projects in the sector of trade marks, collective and certification marks and GIs. Colombia has a running project through the ‘Intellectual Property and Crafts’ which supports the artisans in the legal process together with ‘Artesanias de Colombia’; Chile has another one called ‘Sello de Origen’ (Label of Origin) developed by the Ministry of Economy together with the IP national office (INAPI). All of these projects are helping the communities and sectors with are rich in knowledge but may not have the tools (economic and legal advice) and/or do not know what exist or is available for them to protect their IPRs.

Image result for socialism venezuela
Is it me, or is a tendency for Latin American Governments of the left wing to always accuse the develop world? 
The idea of Ecuador enhancing national products and knowledge is to be applauded and focus ought to be on what they can do to improve. We (Latinos) need to find a way to promote and protect agriculture, biodiversity, science, and also culture.  The Government ought to work on how to provide conditions that stimulate innovation, needs to provide supportive institutions, incentive tertiary education and fund research.

Will Ecuador find this by repealing the current IP law? At the moment there are a few projects that help to promote and protect national knowledge e.g. the Ecuadorian Resolution No 004-2015 CD-IEPI which grants full discount on charges related to requests to register, record or assign rights related to GIs-- free until December 31, 2017. This week, we hear from the Ecuadorian Institute for the Promotion of Exports and Imports (Pro Ecuador )good stories of their campaign which promotes the inclusion of local brands abroad.

The proposed Code will provide investment for creations, promising 0.57% of gross domestic product  but, is there a need to repeal its IP law for this? There has been so much time and investment in this 'code' that expectations are getting higher by the minute. We now need to wait and see.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Invitación: estas listo?

De ASDIN nos llega una invitación que no podemos desestimar.

Image result for asdin derechos intelectualesFélixRozanski, uno de los 'think tank' de PI más prominentes de Latinoamérica nos recuerda el concurso anual que cerrara el próximo 31 de marzo en el cual se busca que todos los interesados presenten artículos.

La invitation lee así:
Hasta el 31 de marzo 2016 inclusive, se encuentra abierto el CONCURSO ANUAL DÍA MUNDIAL DE LA PROPIEDAD INTELECTUAL, con la finalidad de que puedan presentarse artículos sobre temas relevantes relacionados con la propiedad industrial e intelectual: doctrina, jurisprudencia, controversias, DESAFIOS y oportunidades sociales y económicas que ofrece el desarrollo y la observancia de la propiedad intelectual.
Los trabajos que sean galardonados podrán ser publicados en la COLECCIÓN DE PROPIEDAD INDUSTRIAL E INTELECTUAL, esfuerzo conjunto de elDIAL.com y ASDIN, Asociación de Derechos Intelectuales.
Los PREMIOS para los trabajos que se selección se entregan el Día Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual que se celebra anualmente el día 26 de abril de cada año, aniversario del establecimiento de la OMPI, Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual de las Naciones Unidas.
Se invita a participar a todos los interesados de Latinoamérica.
Más información en cedieduca@cedi.org.ar
VISITENOS EN www.cedi.org.ar
Image result for writingEmpieza a preparar y colocar en papel (bueno, quiero decir tipea en la computadora) ese debate, esa idea que tienes en la mente desde hace un par de semanas. A la final, recuerda que las ideas no son  protegidas, sino la expresión de estas.

Buena suerte.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

FNE cuestiona sistema de protección suplementaria de patentes en Chile por afectar mercado farmacéutico

Un reciente estudio de la Fiscalía Nacional Económica (FNE) sobre el sistema de protección suplementaria de patentes en Chile y sus efectos en materia de libre competencia ha cuestionado la ampliación de patentes otorgadas por el Tribunal de Propiedad Industrial a, al menos, nueve laboratorios que elaboran drogas contra enfermedades como el cáncer, diabetes y glaucoma, entre otras.

A juicio de la FNE, una errada interpretación de la ley Nº 20.160 de 2007 - dictada para adecuar la legislación de propiedad industrial local con los tratados internacionales- ha estado perjudicando el ingreso de nuevos actores a competir en el mercado de diversos medicamentos utilizados para atacar enfermedades complejas, como cáncer, glaucoma, diabetes, artritis y Crohn, entre otras. El Tribunal de Propiedad Industrial (TDPI) ha extendido las patentes de al menos 12 medicamentos, recurriendo al llamado "sistema de protección suplementaria de patentes", destinado a compensar al titular de la patente de invención cuando se producen demoras administrativas injustificadas en su otorgamiento. 

La FNE advierte en su análisis que en los casos estudiados las extensiones concedidas por el TDPI carecen de sentido jurídico y económico y se basarían en una infracción a la ley, por lo que se justificaría su declaración de nulidad.

Los medicamentos analizados corresponden a una muestra seleccionada por la Fiscalía, pertenecientes a 9 laboratorios que en 2013 generaron ventas de aproximadamente USD 14.666.666 ($ 11 mil millones), aunque el estudio advierte que puede haber un inmenso universo de potenciales solicitudes de ampliación de patentes en trámite. En efecto, a noviembre de 2015 existían 475 solicitudes de patentes pendientes que, de ser aceptadas a registro, podrían también solicitar la protección suplementaria, agravando los efectos del problema planteado por la FNE.

Para la FNE la gravedad de esta situación radicaría en que la extensión de estas licencias ha generado una barrera artificial a la entrada de nuevos competidores, pues en promedio las patentes han llegado a una duración de 25,5 años (hasta a 33 años en algunos casos), pese a que el máximo permitido por la ley es de 20 años.

Según el Fiscal Nacional Económico -Felipe Irarrázabal- la interpretación que ha hecho el TDPI, en relación a cómo y cuándo procede la protección suplementaria contemplada en la ley de propiedad industrial, ha generado importantes efectos negativos en materia de competencia, ya que “permite extender artificialmente la duración de un registro de patente y, de esta forma, previenen la entrada de genéricos en los mercados de drogas para el tratamiento de enfermedades como el cáncer y la diabetes”.

En este sentido, en algunos casos, estos medicamentos tienen un valor de venta que supera los USD 1300 ($ 1 millón aproximadamente) frente al hecho que la entrada de medicamentos genéricos provoca una caída de entre 20% y 40% en su valor según estudios internacionales, lo que generaría significativos ahorros para los consumidores.

Como vía de solución, la FNE menciona un proyecto de ley que está tramitándose en el Congreso y que busca introducir un nuevo sistema de otorgamiento de las protecciones suplementarias, donde se entrega a terceros la posibilidad de intervenir y oponerse, cuestión que hasta ahora no sucede.

La FNE advierte, eso sí, que mientras no sea promulgada ni entre en vigencia dicha ley, existen muchos casos en que se podría seguir solicitando y otorgando esta protección suplementaria aunque improcedente.

Estos antecedentes constan en el Estudio elaborado por la FNE en colaboración con el Instituto Nacional de Propiedad Industrial (INAPI) en el marco de su labor de promoción de la libre competencia.

Fuente: FNE

Thursday, 28 January 2016

GI: does it help?

Image result for sello de origen chileSello de Origen’ (Label of Origin) is a Chilean program developed by the Ministry of Economy together with INAPI. The aim is to provide resources for those interested in applying for their product to be distinguishing by this label i.e. sello de origen, which may comprise a geographical indication, denomination of origin, collective marks and/or certification mark. The resources are used to develop the technical studies required for the application. The sign seeks to protect and commercially promote the typical products of Chile.

According to INAPI, ‘sello de origen’ aims to protect and promote typical products and it stimulates entrepreneurship and productive development of communities in the country. The program started back in 2012 where each region in Chile submitted a list of potential products that could be enhanced by this sign. The list then was analysed by a technical committee which started to prioritized products that had potential.

Image result for sandias de paineThis year starts by granting the label and geographical indication to ‘Sandías de Paine’ (watermelon from Paine). Paine’s watermelons made an application in late 2014 stating that the watermelons were distinctive from others due to its high sweetness and nutritional quality. Each variety been different from each other because of their size, shape, and harvest time.

Among other Chilean GIs there are: Limón de Pica (lime); Langosta de Juan Fernández (lobster); Atún de Isla de Pascua (tuna); Cangrejo Dorado de Juan Fernández (crab); Dulces de la Ligua (sweet); Maíz Lluteño (corn). A more recent certificate granted through this program was the certification mark ‘Manos de Isla Negra’ for hand woven material – embroidery; each piece been unique and with a processing time between 2 to 6 months.

GIs are launched as a promoting tool for products but we need to make sure that apart for promoting they still protect - protection not in the IP sense because surely GI works as a distinctive sign which refrains others without right from using it. GIs, as in the case in here, and actually the whole 'sello de origen' covers unique typical products. Usually these products are produced by farmers or small communities where the value given to the product is given by uniqueness. If we push that production because the demand is higher are we potentially destroying it? I am reminded of the Chulucana's case in Peru and Tequila in Mexico. Do you know any other cases?