The BRICS block (comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are a major force to contend with. For these countries are seen as potential world leaders (if not already). Along with Annalisa Primi, a stellar economist, I co-authored a paper some years ago referring to these countries as “Technologically Proficient Developing Countries” (TPDCs). And hoped that some of these countries would break out of the standard IP script (driven in large part by the developed world) and carve out a set of distinctly new IP norms. Particularly India and Brazil.
It turns out that both these countries pioneered fairly “creative” (ahem..) ways of reducing their IP pendency. Here’s how.
Late last year, Brazil announced that it would reduce patent pendency by simply “allowing” all the pending patent application to go through. Voila! End of pendency. What could be a better strategy than this? But there is a bit of nuance to this and some riders. As a blog article (interestingly called “Bricwall”) notes:
“In July 2017, the Brazilian government stated that it was considering an emergency measure authorizing INPI to automatically grant approximately 231,000 pending patent applications by 2020. Although the announcement of this “automatic” grant has been highly controversial, INPI has implied that it has few, if any other options for dealing with the current backlog. Interestingly, some examiners are threatening to go on strike against the measure.
The emergency measure involves a simplified examination procedure in which INPI would automatically grant any unexamined applications that do not have any outstanding annuity payments due and do not have pre-grant submissions filed by parties against the granting of the patent. Pharmaceutical applications or divisional applications where the parent application has not yet been examined, are excluded from the measure.”
(Update: Per Prof Shadlen’s comment in the comments section to this post, this is a mere announcement and the Brazilian patent office is yet to operationalise this creative cutting strategy).
And now over to India….
Around two years ago, India piloted a problematic programme of deemed “abandonments”. As leading IP attorney Ameet Datta noted in a guest post for us:
“In an inexplicable move that will potentially have a devastating effect on thousands of trade mark owners and applicants and lakhs of trade marks, the Trade Marks Registry in India has deemed (if the reports are correct) about 5,00,000 Trade Mark applications as “abandoned”. This “bulk abandonment” or culling has come about in relation to the examination of applications to register trade marks.”
He then went on to ask:
“Is this overnight culling a result of the pressure from the World Intellectual Property Organisation on the Trade Mark Registry to speed up the examination process? Apparently the Registry had fallen behind and was not meeting the 18 month time period mandated for Madrid Applications. Whatever the motivation, surely the Registry can think of more conducive ways to streamline its processes rather than cull lakhs of applications and adversely affects the rights of trade mark applicants.”
“Keeping in view the startling figures of disposal within a short period of time as well as the serious allegations in the present writ petition, the orders of the abandonment passed by the respondents on or after 20th March, 2016 are stayed. Also, till further orders, the respondents shall not treat any Trade Mark applications as abandoned without proper notice to an effected party as provided under Sections 21, 128 and 132 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.”
Does anyone know the latest in this case? I am also given to believe that despite the Delhi high court order staying this creative culling of TM applications, the Indian Patent and Trademark Office continues to resort to the same chicanery.
Can someone in the know please update us? Thanks!