The pandemic that we are facing with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted and distressed the entire world population, our governments, economies, working and interacting ways and overall relationships.
It is worth pointing out that a pandemic of this magnitude and its consequences – such as the quarantine of almost all the sectors and services and the social distancing – in the world’s current dynamics was, I risk saying, unimaginable for the vast majority of the population.
According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, this COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge the world has ever faced since the Second World War. For him, the situation can lead to an unparalleled recession and, therefore, it requires a strong and effective response.
Relating the current scenario to Industrial Property, the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO), following the measures adopted by governments and political institutions around the world, published last Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Ordinance Nº 149/2020, which establishes the creation of the modality of priority processing (fast track) for patent applications that are intended for pharmaceutical products and processes and for health equipment and/or materials, aiming at diagnosing, preventing and treating COVID-19.
One should also note that this measure was published on a very important date, as April 7 marks the celebration of World Health Day, which at this time should be duly and widely disseminated in order to further persuade the population as regards to their personal health care and with one another.
The need for adoption of this specific modality of priority examination at the present time is of extreme importance and the Brazilian PTO has moved in this direction, if compared to other countries in Latin America and also in the whole world, since, if we depended on the usual steps of a patent application, from its filing date at the BPTO until its granting – due to the existing backlog –, it would take years until the letter patent was issued, and most probably this document would not worth as much to the population in the future, as the time to act is now.
The implementation of IP fast track measures in Brazil has been quite effective in speeding up the examination of patent applications and their subsequent granting. Following the usual flow, it could take – depending on the technical area – 6 to 8 years to start the merit examination of such requests. However, with the priority processing, the time for the examination and granting of the patent can be reduced to up to 2 years and, in some cases, even less, which is a great win for the Brazilian Patent Office.
Because of this, it is estimated that the specific priority examination for patent applications with technologies related to COVID-19 is already a success in our country, as well as other modalities of this type of speeding up for examination.
In addition to agility, the publication of these patent applications shall consequently encourage the development and improvement of technologies by industries, educational, research and development institutions, companies, including the researchers and scholars in the area, as Brazilian scientific institutions and many of our universities stand out in research on various diseases and it is not different for COVID-19, as these sectors are always seeking innovative solutions to fight against epidemics (in this case, a pandemic) that insist on ravaging the population from time to time.
Brazil’s pioneering spirit regarding this issue will most likely influence the strategic vision of Industrial Property of other countries, especially our South American neighbors and, in view of this, it is unlikely that other industrial property institutes around the world will not adopt this model of priority examination, if necessary, or some similar modality in order to further guarantee the celerity in the examination and granting of technologies intended for products, pharmaceutical processes, health equipment and materials, aiming at diagnosing, preventing, and treating COVID-19.
Tainá Melo Karklis is a Patent Technician at Gruenbaum, Possinhas & Teixeira law firm.