INTERVIEW: President of ABPI, Gabriel Leonardos
As we approach the celebration of ABPI’s 60th anniversary, we interviewed Gabriel Leonardos, President of the association, to understand his thoughts on ABPI’s achievements over the years and the challenges for the future. Follow along for the interview.
What would you highlight as ABPI’s achievements in these 60 years of existence?
Gabriel Leonardos: ABPI has inserted Intellectual Property into the Brazilian political and economic debate. Before ABPI, the only significant entity was ABAPI, founded in 1948, but whose focus, as we know, is the profession of Intellectual Property Agents. Since the beginning, ABPI has had the credential to represent the largest and oldest association of studies in our field, AIPPI, founded in the late 19th century, which ensured technical and legal sophistication for ABPI. We have the responsibility to disseminate the importance of innovation protection and contribute to the improvement of legal certainty in Brazil. Even today, ABPI is the only national, nonprofit, and independent entity that staunchly defends the protection of Intellectual Property as an indispensable tool for the social and economic development of our country.
What are the challenges for the coming years in terms of protecting Intellectual Property rights?
GL: Unfortunately, the “culture of copying” remains strong in Brazil. For ideological or financial reasons, some sectors oppose a system that protects and rewards innovation efforts, and they use fallacious and demagogic arguments to prevent the improvements we need in our legal and institutional framework of Intellectual Property. ABPI will continue its mission of informing the national public opinion with technical and scientific arguments because we are convinced that only with innovation is it possible to fight against social inequality and stimulate our economy.
How to deal with these rights with Chat GPT, Midjourney, and other new AI-generated forms of creation?
GL: AI tools are still in their infancy and already raise questions that are difficult to solve. As I see it, the challenges for Intellectual Property (such as who is entitled to protection and what is the scope of protection) will be more easily solved than much more complex issues, such as those related to ethics and autonomy of AI systems. IP is a legal tool to stimulate the creation of innovation, and I am confident that creations generated by AI will receive the protection that is appropriate for this goal to be achieved. Naturally, this will be a challenge for the legislator, who has democratic legitimacy to make these choices on behalf of society.
Does the Industrial Property Law need to be updated? In what respects?
GL: Ideally, yes, in several aspects. Law 9.279/1996, which results mostly from the draft prepared by ABPI, can and should be maintained, but after 27 years, the evolution of technology and legal science demands its update. A good guide for the necessary changes is the final report of the “Technical Dialogues” promoted by GIPI, available on ABPI’s website (www.abpi.org.br).
What role do you imagine for the BPTO in these new times? What recycling is necessary?
GL: ABPI is pursuing a Public Civil Action advocating that the financial autonomy of the BPTO be finally respected and guaranteed. Without this, the BPTO will never have the conditions to adequately fulfill its role in Brazilian society. The STF (Federal Supreme Court) has already decided that the fees charged by the BPTO from trademark and patent applicants are a public price, but still, the Federal Government diverts BPTO’s resources, charging a disguised tax on innovation activities. The BPTO does not need resources from the National Treasury. It is enough that it can manage the resources it collects from its users of the IP system.
How can Brazil position itself in the world of AI?
GL: Currently, we export soybeans that fatten the pigs served at lunch to Chinese scientists who develop AI systems. Without national policies focused on education, science, and technology, with legal certainty for quick and effective protection of creations, we will continue to be mere consumers of external technology, including AI, and have little influence on the governance and development of these systems. We already have the knowledge base for Brazil to make a rapid technological leap: all that is needed is a political consensus in favor of innovation and IP so that our country can change its status and sit at the table alongside major global developers.