Branding your homeland
We’ve all seen and heard them in newspapers,
magazines and TV adverts: brands, flags, logos, music and
jingles urging us to visit/invest in/find out more about
countries and their peoples. "Nation brands" were the subject
of a well-received panel at the Congress this morning, and may
be the focus of an ASIPI committee in the future.
Vinicius Bogea Camara of Brazil’s INPI shared
some examples from around the world, and asked how such brands
should be protected. "Do all countries need a trade mark? Do
all trade marks need a country?" he asked.
Jose Pablo Arango of
Proexport Colombia (right) illustrated how one country has
developed a brand that can be used in many different ways and,
he said, "can represent an endless gamut of possibilities". It
has been used to promote events, animals, cuisine and
industries among other things and is widely licensed: "From the
marketing point of view the dream is that everyone uses it but
it is not degraded. This is a huge challenge."
It’s not all good news though. Arango noted
that the trade mark had just been registered at the USPTO,
after two years of work and spending "a considerable amount of
dollars". "There are some concepts that they don’t
seem to understand in the US," he reflected.
Plain sailing in Panama
The Panama Canal is being expanded, with capacity expected
to double by 2016. While this is good news for global trade, it
puts more pressure on border protection. In a session
yesterday, Jose Ayu Prado of Panama’s Supreme
Court of Justice explained how the country’s
National Customs Office has been given more powers to seize
IP-infringing goods, partly as a result of free trade
agreements the country has signed.
Since 1996, goods in transit can be seized and destroyed,
and a further reform in 2012 extends jurisdiction to goods
stored in free-trade areas. "Customs authorities can help stop
illegal merchandise entering the territory," said Prado. "This
is a new role Customs are playing and courts must be aware of
Speaking on the same panel,
former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall Rader described the
Canal as a "chokehold" for North and South America, and
welcomed improved enforcement measures. He also encouraged IP
rights owners to use the ITC in the United States: "Anyone can
use the ITC to enforce their IP in the US. You do not have to
be a US citizen. If you have a US IP right, you can petition if
you can establish a link to a domestic industry."
One question from the audience concerned what happens to
seized goods, and how they are destroyed. Rader said in the US
they are nearly always incinerated. In Panama things are
different: due to the large quantities of drugs that are
recovered, incineration is not always an option.
All about Myriad
"Did you understand?" Gabriel
Kleiman of Pfizer asked the audience after he had summarised
the US Supreme Court’s decision in Myriad
Genetics. When no hands went up, he embarked on a guide to
genetic engineering, aided by some colourful slides, striking
numbers (each human body has 37 trillion cells and each cell
has 3 billion base pairs) and enthusiastic gestures
The growth of personalised medicine, tools and diagnostics
has blurred the boundaries between discoveries and inventions,
said Kleiman, meaning that "mechanistic rules" become less
useful. He suggested the solution is to review the broader
values behind the IP system – including creating
science and innovation, economic effects and moral and
The Supreme Court’s decision in Myriad
that isolated DNA is not patent-eligible represented "a change
in [US] law that had been accepted for 30 years", said Joseph
Schaper of Monsanto. Its impact has been exacerbated by USPTO
guidance, which sets out a three-step test: Schaper described
the third step (does the claim recite something "significantly
different" than a judicial exception?) as particularly
problematic. This could mean that inventions such as Taxol,
Insulin, Penicillin and Tramadol may not now be patentable, he
said. A revision of the USPTO guidance is expected soon.
The real Mexico
Following Monday evening’s
1980s-themed reception, Tuesday’s Mexican
Night at Restaurant Tenampa was more traditional, with typical
Mexican food (including large slabs of meat), free-flowing
tequila, a Mariachi band and some sophisticated dancing.
The Congress closes tonight with a black-tie dinner at the
College of Vizcainas.
Did you know …?
Mexico is not just about tequila and tacos. Speaking in this
week’s opening session, David Arellano Cuan of the
Ministry of Interior noted that Mexican inventors have also
made an impact around the world. He mentioned a few of the
notable inventions to come out of the country: colour
television (Guillermo González Camarena), the
contraceptive pill (Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas) and
indelible ink used in elections (Filiberto Vázquez
Next year’s ASIPI
Congress is in Cartagena. Can any readers suggest famous
inventions from Colombia?