It is well known that INPI has been facing a huge backlog for many years, brought about by poor infrastructure and an insufficient number of examiners. Unfortunately, what we have been seeing is that a patent application starts to be examined some 8 to 10 years after its filing date, in spite of, surprisingly, the Institute having declared that this waiting time in 2011 was around 5.4 years.
In order to alleviate this situation, INPI has put some measures in place, namely:
- Cooperation agreements with other patent offices, such as the European Patent Office (EPO) and INPI in Argentina (AR). INPI and the EPO entered into partnerships to help Brazilians complete patent applications and use electronic tools to access the various databases used by patent offices. In partnership with Argentina, an agreement relating to the development of an Electronic Platform for Collaborative Examination (e-PEC) has been entered into that permits interaction with examiners from different countries aiming to support the preparation of their expert opinions.
- Launch of the pilot program for the assessment of “green” patent applications, the subject matter of which must be in accordance with the “IPC Green Inventory” of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) (http://www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc/en/est/). It is estimated that these cases will be examined within 2 years.
- Launch of the pilot program related to the “Preliminary Opinion on Patentability”, which comprises an analysis of the prohibitions in the relevant articles of law, a preliminary report on a search of the state of the art and a preliminary report on the requirements for patentability.
- A public consultation on the standardization of the guidelines for the examination of Utility Model patents.
- An inventory of patent cases where proof of payment of annual fees has not been documented, not waiting until the time of the technical examination to discover this situation. As a result, around 10 thousand cases have been shelved.
- Reorganization of specialized technical divisions.
- Improvements in the Information Technology systems and modernization of service provision are already being felt positively both by examiners and users alike. We highlight the rapid acquisition of copies of expert opinions and letters patent on-line. Filing of on-line patent applications.
- Finally, another important measure is that examiners are being evaluated on their productivity.
Additionally, INPI has already announced that it intends to increase the current group of 235 examiners to 700 by 2015.
As we have seen, INPI has indeed mobilized itself. It only remains for us to wait and see whether these changes will in fact be felt in the speed and quality of patent examinations.