The Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor recently asked the question “How seriously do Latin American countries protect IP rights?” The editors asked various stakeholders about the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report and its evaluation of Latin America’s protection of IP rights. BIO’s Director for International Affairs, Meredith Fensom, commented on the growth of the innovative biotechnology sectors in Latin America and the critical role intellectual property plays.
“The presence of more than 60 countries during BIO’s recent International Convention indicates a growing recognition that the biotechnology industry has a bright future. Countries throughout the Americas have identified the development of their innovative biotechnology sectors as a national priority. The policy environment in each country is of paramount importance as biotechnology research and development requires significant investments of time and financial resources and countries are competing to attract this investment. Effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights are essential ingredients.
BIO’s members see comparative advantages in Latin America vis-à-vis other major emerging markets. Challenges remain in the region but forward-thinking leaders are considering how to strengthen intellectual property to accelerate innovation and compete in the global market. In Brazil, the government has taken significant steps to modernize its national patent office (INPI) and has implemented measures to combat counterfeiting and piracy. However, other Brazilian agencies threaten to stifle this potential. For example, Brazil’s health regulatory agency (ANVISA) has ‘prior consent’ authority for patent applications involving pharmaceutical products. Paraguay also follows this unusual practice. Finally, Chile, Peru and Mexico have taken a troubling stance in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) intellectual property negotiations, particularly regarding data protection for biological medicines. Protection of intellectual property rights is more important in the region today than it has ever been. The economic stakes are high. The most promising regional markets are working to improve their intellectual property landscapes and we look to them as part of the bright future for the biotechnology industry.”