Patent News | "The PROSUR approach to patents: shared information, independent decisions"

By : Sofia Castillo 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Earlier this month in Santiago, Chile, nine South American countries signed a cooperation agreement on intellectual property rights called PROSUR.  The initiative seeks to promote innovation, competition, and entrepreneurship in the region’s scientific community, large companies, SMEs, and universities through the strategic use of intellectual property rights.

At the first stage, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname will share information regarding patent applications.  Chilean Economy Minister, Pablo Longueira, explained that since many of the standards and mechanisms of registration for the protection of IP are negotiated at the multilateral level, establishing strong regional partnerships will strengthen the work of national IP offices and promote innovation.  For instance, one problem that affects all IP offices is the backlog of patent applications as a result of increasingly sophisticated technological advances.  In order to address this issue, Brazil and Argentina generated a trilingual electronic platform, called e-PEC, that allows the exchange of information and opinions on patent applications that are simultaneously analyzed by each individual office.  e-PEC can be used by examiners in one or several national offices; each user can only edit information submitted by its own office. Significantly, although e-PEC facilitates information sharing, the system gives each office the ability to make an independent final decision on whether to grant a patent registration. As a result, an identical patent application may be approved in, say, Ecuador, but not in Argentina or Brazil.  In this sense PROSUR really is limited to information sharing and does not reach the level of a unified patent system.

PROSUR’s next area of cooperation will be trademark. It is unclear whether PROSUR’s approach in this area will be a region-wide registration system or an information-sharing scheme similar to e-PEC.

Previous cooperation agreements have also established IP links among South American nations, although none have enabled the sharing of information to the same level as PROSUR.  The Andean Pact, a cooperation agreement between Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, provides for certain reciprocal rights to trademark, patent, and industrial design owners.  For example, according to Article 9 of Decision 486, an entity that first applied for registration of a trademark or a patent or an industrial design in any Member Country may lodge an opposition against a similar trademark, patent, or industrial design filed in the other Member Countries.

The Chilean National IP Institute, INAPI, currently presides over PROSUR on a temporary basis.  The Inter-American Development Bank has been PROSUR’s main sponsor since its inception.  WIPO announced its support for the PROSUR project in 2011 and offered its WIPO Case Platform as an example after which to model the PROSUR shared patent system. The e-PEC system provides participating offices with the possibility of producing a more uniform patent landscape in the region. Based on the information available, however, e-PEC could also potentially complicate the application process.  For instance, ensuring that examiners have a sufficient understanding of each participating country registration requirements –not just their own– will be crucial to guarantee that their decisions comply with national legislation.

Source :