The Normandy Landing
The Backlog Elimination Project, implemented on August 1st by the new management of the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office – BPTO is already beginning to achieve victories. In less than two months, the stock of 160,000 pending patent applications dropped to 141,000. And there is more to come. By the end of the year, the expectation is that at this work pace, anchored in a more than 50% increase in the entity’s productivity, another 22.7 thousand requests queued for the examination will be solved, totalizing a 30% cut in the backlog. “It’s our landing in Normandy”, jokes economist Claudio Furtado, president of the BPTO, who took office in February this year.
The operation set up to solve the patent backlog problem and give the BPTO the “efficiency of a private company” is one of the main fronts of the new management, but it is not the only one. The entity’s lack of financial and administrative autonomy, which is an old claim from ABPI, is under study at the Ministry of Economy, and the good news is that it may be approved next year. “You have to understand that this is a business and it is difficult to run a business without autonomy over its spending”, says Furtado. In fact, the BPTO, which this year has a surplus of around R$ 100 million, cannot decide on hiring civil servants, selling assets or even buying equipment. “We hope to enter 2020 already with the concrete result of this autonomy”, says the BPTO’s president.
Whilst autonomy is not given, the BPTO seeks efficiency through internal improvements. Furtado guarantees that the entity is fully prepared to meet the deadline of 18 months for the international registration of trademarks established by the Madrid Protocol, which Brazil joined in June this year. “When we took over, the trademark backlog was already reduced, and the deadlines adjusted to ten months”, he states. On October 2nd, the first day of operation of the entity under the Protocol, seven trademark applications of Brazilian companies were registered. It is just the beginning. The BPTO’s president estimates an annual demand of approximately 1,000 trademarks via the Madrid Protocol.
According to Furtado, deadlines measured in years, as in the past, are pages turned at the BPTO. Compared to international offices – excluding the backlog, which is being handled by a specific program, the deadlines met by the entity in trademarks and patents are “encouraging”, explains the BPTO’s president. This includes, for instance, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), an agreement that involves, besides the BPTO, six other international offices, in which a patent is granted within eight months. And in the case of green patents, priority programs for granting patents for small and medium enterprises and those for financing purposes obtained from the public sector, the decision period is around 5.5 months, very close to the average achieved by the world’s leading offices.
For Furtado, the elimination of the backlog, reduced examination times and other efficiency gains of the BPTO put Brazil on the map of countries that invest in research and development and represent, in the long run, a gain of “billions of dollars” to the Brazilian economy. He estimates that within four years this set of actions will increase the number of patents granted per year by the BPTO, now in the range of 30,000, to around 50,000. “I hope half of this is from Brazilian companies, which today only represent 20% of applications”, he says. But if the achievements are imminent, there are still obstacles to overcome. One of them is the lawsuit filed by entities linked to employees of the BPTO against the Backlog Elimination Project. Despite the rejection by Judge Márcia Nunes de Barros of the 13th Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro, with a writ of mandamus requesting an injunction, the case remains in court. “The judiciary needs to know these numbers because we are terminating a billion-dollar social cost to Brazilian society”, says Furtado.