The project, which will begin later this year, is being organised by the national IP offices of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
It is part of the regional cooperation on patents, known as Prosur.
Representatives from each of the institutes agreed on the plan at a meeting held in January in Buenos Aires.
The pilot will include 300 patent applications from the biotechnology, mechanical and engineering fields. These will be subject to cooperative examination in two or more countries. Examiners from the countries involved will exchange information relevant to the decision, but individual countries will still have the final say in which patents to grant. The participants hope to expand the project to other areas in the future.
Jorge Allende, a partner at Estudio Olaechea in Peru, was enthusiastic about the project’s potential but said that some details would need to be standardised between the countries. “I think it would be great if they can [develop] informed criteria for patents,” he said. “In terms of timing, each country has its own rules, but if they simplify the criteria then maybe [it could work].”
The initiative was announced on the website of the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (INPI). A spokesman for the organisation told Managing IP that representatives from some of the countries will meet in March in Uruguay to discuss which criteria and which patents will be used in the project. An international meeting will then be held to consider the panel’s recommendations.
The project will also link the countries’ databases through a platform known as WIPO-Case, which is being developed by WIPO.