COVID-19 Legal Lab

COVID-19 impact to pendency times and backlog of patent applications awaiting examination at the Brazilian PTO

By early 2019, the number of regularly filed, duly published and pending patent applications awaiting examination before the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (“BRPTO”) reached unprecedent levels.According to the BRPTO’s former President, Mr. Luiz Olavo Pimentel, by 2018 there were more than two hundred and thirty thousand (230,000) patent applications on hold, and a pendency of 10 years from the filing date was endured by applicants¹. Surprisingly, depending on the technology field, a patent application could wait thirteen years to be decided:

In January 2019, the newly elected Brazilian government implemented a more liberal economic approach. The performance of the BRPTO no longer answered to the Brazilian agenda, which aimed for business promptness and attractiveness to foreign investors. In July 2019, Mr. Cláudio Vilar Furtado - BRPTO’s new President - adopted measures to reduce, until 2021, the total number of patent applications filed more than 10 years ago and still pending examination by eighty percent (80%)².Simplified proceedings, hiring more examiners, career plans and infrastructure modernization were the main measures adopted by the BRPTO in order to reduce the backlog.

In the beginning of the pendency and backlog project, by September 11, 2019, the BRPTO had 147,217patent applications, as per the graphic below, extracted from the BRPTO’s website³:

On March 18, 2020, the backlog decreased to 114,654 applications:

According to the latest data available, since the project started, about 25 weeks ago (nearly six months), the BRPTO has reduced the backlog on 32,563 applications, which means a reduction of22.11% from the initial backlog.

Now, the unanswered question is: how much the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the BRPTO’s target?

Now, the unanswered question is: how much the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the BRPTO’s target?On a recent communication, the BRPTO informed that its activity would continue by electronic means, establishing telework for 100 percent of its workforce as of March 20, 2020. We hopefully expect that the BRPTO’s unwavering goal of reducing backlog resists COVID-19 adversities. New analysis focusing on this new method of work must be done to demonstrate that COVID-19 has not weakened theBRPTO employee’s ability to pursue the agency goals. The backlog and pendency should keep dropping despite presential or telework. As Licks Attorneys has adopted home office during the COVID-19 crisis, we do know the prior investment required and the importance of having a committed and motivated workforce, its outlines and issues. It is fundamental that the workforce understands the importance of their productivity to reach seated targets.

All in all, the BRPTO expects that after solving the backlog, a patent application can be concluded in 24months from the request4 for substantive examination.

Therefore, to reach its goals, backlog, and pendency times shall continue dropping. The BRPTO deserves its place among the best patent agencies of the world.

¹ INPI (org.). Em evento da CNI, INPI apresenta medidas para reduzir o backlog de patentes. Available at: http://www.inpi.gov.br/noticias/em-evento-da-cni-inpi-apresenta-medidas-para-reduzir-o-backlog-de-patentes. Access on 19 mar. 2020.

² INPI (org.). INPI reduz estoque de pedidos de patente em 2019. Available at: http://www.economia.gov.br/noticias/2020/01/inpi-reduz-estoque-de-pedidos-de-patente-em-2019. Access on 19 mar. 2020.

³ INPI (org.). Evolução do Plano de Combate ao Backlog de Patentes. Available at: http://www.inpi.gov.br/menu-servicos/patente/historico-do-plano-de-combate-ao-backlog-de-patentes. Access on 20 mar. 2020.

⁴ INPI (org.). Em evento da CNI, INPI apresenta medidas para reduzir o backlog de patentes. Available at: http://www.inpi.gov.br/noticias/em-evento-da-cni-inpi-apresenta-medidas-para-reduzir-o-backlog-de-patentes. Access on 19 mar. 2020.

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