The European Commission’s DG Trade has published last week its biannual report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries.
This report lists priority countries which have of greater concern to the European Union. This level of concern is not exclusively linked to the quality – or lack thereof – of IP protection, but rather on the economic costs it has for EU companies operating in these countries. China remains the number one priority country due to the scale and persistence of IPR enforcement issues and the size and importance of its market.
Three South American countries appear in this report classified in the Priority 3 category (that of least concern): Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador. Despite its estimation that some progress has been made, the European Commission has identified severe shortcomings in each of these three countries, presenting serious issues in the area of IP leading to important losses caused to EU businesses:
- In the case of Argentina, specific issues have been pointed out such as restrictive patentability criteria, lack of protection of confidential information exchanged during the process for authorisation of commercialisation of pharmaceutical products or general difficulty in IP enforcement and prevalence of only copyright piracy.
- In Brazil the patent backlog and the fact it remains an importance source of counterfeit foodstuff are a source of great concern.
- In Ecuador the fact its patent law discriminates against imported goods in favour of locally produced ones, by including a requirement that the patented product be manufactured in Ecuador, is a major concern, as is the wide availability of counterfeit products in the country.