Representatives of the UK and Brazilian governments have signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between the intellectual property offices of each country. The Memorandum was signed by the UK’s Ambassador to Brazil, Alex Ellis, and President Luis Otavio Pimentel of the Brazilian National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI) at the Brazil Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting on 7 December in Brasília.
The goal of the JETCO meeting was to discuss strategies to support mutual economic development, including a commitment to strengthen bilateral commercial ties between both countries and to promote bilateral investment and trade relations. The Memorandum on IP includes a working plan for sharing best practices in both IP office management and patent examination methods. With Brexit approaching, it is likely that the UK government will seek to strengthen similar agreements with other non-EU countries.
UK clients wishing to safeguard their inventions in Brazil will be pleased to learn that Brazilian patent protection is possible through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system, although in our experience the examination procedure is very slow. However, Brazil is yet to become a member of the Madrid Protocol system for trade marks or the Hague system for registered designs. This means that seeking trade mark or registered design protection in Brazil can be a relatively costly process compared to some other territories.
The Brazilian government has recently confirmed its intention to join the Madrid Protocol in the future, potentially as soon as 2018. One potential stumbling block is the requirement that a Madrid Protocol trade mark application be processed nationally within 18 months, when the INPI currently takes around 4 years to publish a trade mark application. Another issue is language – Madrid Protocol applications are processed in English, French and Spanish whereas the INPI currently only accepts communications in Portuguese.