By Julian Cornelius 

Earlier this month, the Brazilian Patent Office (INPI) released its latest report regarding activities in 2018. The presented figures provide grounds for cautious optimism. In comparison to last year, there is a significant increase in productivity in the area of patents, both in terms of reducing the numbers of pending applications and the time for reaching decisions. This is welcome news, since the average delay between the filing of an application and the granting of a patent in the INPI is currently about ten years.

The office’s progress is not limited to patents. In trademarks for example, the report observes that the backlog dropped from 358,776 to 189,122 applications (-47%), this even with a 10% increase in new trademark applications. In addition, the timeframe for examining opposed trademark applications fell from 48 to 13 months and unopposed applications from 24 to 12 months. This reduction of the backlog further led to a drop in the average time of examination to less than half of what was observed at the end of 2017.

More generally, the greater number of INPI decisions has led to a fall in backlog of patents, trademarks and industrial designs. Such progress across various areas of IP has largely been credited to new projects within the INPI, including a 25% increase in staff, the hiring of 210 new employees to expedite the examination of trademark and patent applications, the adoption of administrative measures and an investment of 40 million Brazilian Reais into new machinery. Such new IT equipment was installed at the end of this year. 

In terms of patents, the report is also positive. In 2018, the Board of Patents at INPI (DIRPA) initiated a series of actions aimed at increasing the number of decisions, such as publication of automatic office actions in cases concerning access to genetic material and associated traditional knowledge, as well the publication of pre-examination reports. In addition, the board implemented internal actions and co-operation agreements with other institutions to resolve issues related to the registration and digitization of documents. As a result of such initiatives, DIRPA reached the index of 55 technical decisions per patent examiner. 

The results generated by the priority examination programs ensured new phases for research and development Institutions, small and medium sized enterprises, Brazilian priority and health products. Also, Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreements were expanded with the entry into force of those agreements with China, the United Kingdom and Denmark and the extension of those agreements already concluded with the USPTO and PROSUR. 

It is fair to say that the INPI has made significant progress in terms of productivity in the area of patents. Based on the projected figures, the number of patents granted for 2018 rose by 75% compared to last year. While patent decisions went down from 44,781 to 42,680 (-5%), there was also a reduction in backlog volume from 225,115 to 207,195 (-8%). This is because the number of decisions was greater than the number of new applications (27,024). The average decision time was reduced from 10.2 years to 10 years. 

The new figures reflect a positive change in terms of the backlog of applications and the delay in decisions by the INPI. However, while there is room to be optimistic, it should also be borne in mind that with the INPI’s current operational capacity much more will need to be done for the backlog to reach acceptable levels. Therefore, further initiatives will be required to find a solution for the current structural problems in the INPI.

The full 2018 report is available at: http://www.inpi.gov.br/sobre/relatorios-de-atividades