Understanding Patent Law in Latin America

Latin American patent laws have been under a lot of scrutiny in the past decade. With many South American countries emerging as developing economic powers in the global market, there has been an urgent need for these countries to carefully consider the implications loosely formed Intellectual property policies will have on the growth. With Argentina, Brazil and Mexico playing a major role in this direction, Latin America is slowly but strongly building a system that enables smoother and more disciplined patent application regulations for foreign nationals and foreign organizations.

Historical Perspective

Latin America in the mid 20th century came to be more known for its weak economic and legal policies. Serious investors, researchers and industrialists largely perceived these countries as lesser options. However, with the information age taking central stage and many countries such as China, European Union etc. looking for newer markets, Latin America has caught their fancy. And, consequently the people at the helm of policy making have taken this interest rather seriously. The reforms that are happening at incredible speed in the patenting policies are indeed noteworthy.

Different countries of South America have adopted different approaches to keep the interest of the world market alive. They stand to gain a lot from enforcing strong IP protection laws. In the past decade which has been the time of change, there has been noticeable increase in the gross domestic product of countries such as Brazil and Mexico. The patent law in latin America, especiallyArgentina and Brazil have in fact been detrimental to the liberalized trading policies.

Andean Community

The Andean community includes countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Bolivia. Here since 1969, liberalisation of trade and opening of markets has been promoted. Post the debt crisis the Latin American countries experienced in 1980, the Andean community has weighed its options and adopted a pro-IP approach. A lot of stress has been laid on the Patenting laws and their robustness. Unlike the European Patent offices, the Andean community however does not have regional patent registration centres. The beginning of major international trading policies and systems pushed the region to adopt stronger patenting laws. The weak willed governments have not been able to completely exploit the intellectual property reforms in spite of which the region has seen substantial growth and now serves as the world leader in IP market.

Mercosur

Mercosur is a group of South Americans which lie to the east of the Andes range which includes Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela etc. This trade block with its IP reforms has not been able to register as much growth. The trade is yet to be liberalized and the market is yet to become open. However, in spite of these glitches IP protection and its wilful enforcement has resulted in these countries, especially, Brazil and Argentina to experience the advantages of free trade policies. Growing trade relations with North America has ensured that the economy is growing and the two Americas are perceived as commercial partners.

General Assessment of the Region

Our understanding of Latin American region has been testified. And, we have carefully assessed the state of IP protection laws in this region with utmost precision.

In spite of registering marked differences in their trade policies and IP protection reforms, it has been seen that the growth factor overtakes the disadvantages in both these trade blocks. But, these markets have always been susceptible to miscreants. The IP protection laws in these countries have to be further strengthened to ensure there is further decrease in the number of successful patent lawsuits that are filed annually.

Any individual or organization/ company seeking to patent their product must do so after providing sufficient proof that the product is innovative, novel and has commercial viability. This process confers with the standard procedure that is followed globally. Following the application process, the legal and other documents pertaining to the laws are checked. Then the application is published. This publication is subjected to challenge. If the challenges are averted, then, the patent is successfully obtained.

A patent infringer is a person or company that sells uses or carries out any action that is prevented by the patent law. Infringement is considered as serious offence and the infringer can be subjected to criminal penalty which includes a jail term of three to five years. In spite of the law makers coming up with strict anti-infringement policies, there are cases that have been registered under this section. With foreign nationals eyeing Latina America and Argentinean markets for patent protection, it would be a serious setback if these flaws are not suitably rectified.

 

If the Latin American countries do not carefully consider this loop hole and take effective measures, it can have serious repercussions on their economic growth. 

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