The patent system as the backbone of economic recovery
ABPI’s president Gabriel Leonardos has insisted on the mantra that the path to Brazilian economic recovery inevitably flows through the patent system, with Brazilian industry playing a leading role as a lever for development. But for that, he warns, the country needs an efficient patent system that, inevitably, depends on the financial autonomy of the BPTO (Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office) to dispose of the resources it collects. “No one makes investment plans 12 years ahead!”, he says, referring to the long processing time for patent applications.
In this interview, Leonardos discusses the BPTO, vaccines, IP legislation, corporate chambers and highlights the paths of ABPI’s performance under his management, including new Study Committees, emphasis on Diversity, and expansion of sectional representations, among other matters.
ABPI News – In your inauguration, you said that there is scope for ABPI to act with its historical partner, the BPTO, for the patenting of industries in response to the drop in the number of patents and the deindustrialization of Brazil. How does ABPI intend to act in this line?
Gabriel Leonardos: The events promoted by ABPI – many of them alongside the BPTO – seek to alert the business community to the advantages of using the patent system. Furthermore, the long processing time for patent applications jeopardizes the attractiveness of the system due to the challenges that our economy imposes on Brazilian entrepreneurs: no one makes investment plans 12 years ahead! Thus, ABPI efforts with the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Powers, in the sense that the BPTO can make use of the resources it collects to invest in the provision of its services, have the potential to decrease the time for patent applications examinations to barely two or three years, a goal that, if achieved, will immediately encourage the filing of patents by Brazilian companies.
ABPI News – How will ABPI position itself to defend patents in a global climate of outcry for vaccines and therapies to combat new strains?
GL: Fighting misinformation. For ideological reasons or mere direct pecuniary interest, it is falsely propagated that patents would somehow restrict access to healthcare. Patents are part of the solution to public health challenges, not part of the problem. In Europe, for example, there is broad access to healthcare, and there is also strong patent protection. The patent system provides incentives for innovation while having tools that ensure the balance of interests between private companies and society.
ABPI News – Besides its action in IP dissemination, will ABPI be politically active parallel to Congress and the Executive? How will this action be? What are the priority projects?
GL: In recent years, ABPI has participated in several public hearings in the National Congress to debate bills related to intellectual property and, in the biennium 2022-2023, with our newly constituted Advocacy Committee, we are going to better organize our work. Among the priority projects are the modernization of the Brazilian Industrial Property Law, for which there is a working group starting activities under the auspices of the GIPI – Interministerial Group for Intellectual Property, as well as the bills that ensure the financial autonomy of the BPTO, among which stands out the PLP 143/2019, authored by the former Minister of Industry and Commerce and Federal Deputy Marcos Pereira.
ABPI News – What to expect from ENPI (National IP Strategy), launched by the government? How will ABPI contribute?
GL: Throughout 2020-2021, ABPI actively contributed to the elaboration of the ENPI, recently formally enacted through Decree 10.886 of 12.07.2021. One of ENPI’s cornerstones is the dissemination of intellectual property throughout Brazil, and with our new Regional Representatives in 16 states, we wish to expand ABPI’s area of operation, which, for natural reasons, is still concentrated in the capitals of the Southeast and South regions.
ABPI News – Does ABPI, under your management, intend to open the “Pandora’s box”, as you mentioned in a recent interview, about changes in the current IP Law? Which is the highest priority?
GL: The Brazilian IPL has been in effect for over 25 years. It is an excellent law, the result of a draft compiled collectively by ABPI members, and which, during the legislative debates, was adopted by the leadership of the FHC (Fernando Henrique Cardoso) government. We are justifiably proud of the IPL but, on the one hand, there are small technical repairs that practice has demonstrated that would be advisable and, on the other hand, there are advances that are necessary for Brazil to be able to develop socially and economically, with its insertion in global production chains, fostering patenting by Brazilian companies, sustainable use of the wealth of our biodiversity, and local production of goods with high added value. All this will only be possible with improvements in patent legislation. I referred to “Pandora’s box” because there is always the risk, unfortunately, of the legislative process worsening the law by creating additional difficulties for the granting of patents in Brazil: we cannot underestimate the strength that the culture of copying still has in Brazil, which always seeks to create obstacles to those who produce innovation.
ABPI News – How do you evaluate the recent approval of Corporate Chambers by the TJ-RJ (Rio de Janeiro State Court of Appeals)? How can ABPI contribute?
GL: ABPI was directly responsible for the Corporate Chambers creation by the TJ-RJ, a success that crowned the efforts of our former president Luiz Edgard Montaury Pimenta, and for which we must also praise the sensitivity and vision of Judge Henrique Figueira, the President of the TJ-RJ. On several occasions, ABPI promoted events bringing together magistrates from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in which the improvement in the jurisdictional provision that took place in São Paulo was clear, as a result of the creation, many years ago, of the Corporate Chambers in the TJ-SP (São Paulo State Court of Appeals). ABPI will continue to contribute to the development of jurisprudence in the TJ-RJ, among other means, through partnerships with EMERJ – Rio de Janeiro State Magistracy School, with which ABPI promoted an excellent IP course at the beginning of December 2021.