Domestic companies are exporting more and better. This is the perception of law firms who work directly with intellectual property and the registration of trademarks. According to experts interviewed by ConJur between 2010 and 2011, there has been an increase in the number of consolidated Brazilian trademarks in the international market. And this is because instead of only parts of products – such as shoe soles and accessories for clothing – or goods without printed trademarks, local companies are now exporting top quality goods, being the registration of the relevant trademarks in other countries mandatory.
This is what explains Filipe Fontelles Cabral, a lawyer of Dannemann Siemsen law firm. “We notice in our office a 30% increase in deposits from Brazilian trademarks in the last two years. In the past, the number was almost the same. But from 2010 onwards, small and medium businesses are exporting more and paying attention to the fact that it is necessary to register their trademarks as well, “says the expert. According to him, this fact modifies the image of Brazilian product abroad – which is now seen with more identity. “The national products are now recognized by their trademarks in foreign countries, either by product’s mark or by the supplier’s seal.”
Carina Souza Rodrigues, lawyer at Daniel Advogados firm, believes that the move shows a new feature of the Brazilian business: combining the trademark protection to strategic planning. “Companies have understood that the intellectual property and the trademark are often worthier than all the physical property of a company. They invest in innovation, in planning, but also in the registration of trademarks in order to protect any investment made”, she explains.
For her, the increase to approximately 20% in the registration of Brazilian trademarks abroad perceived by the firm is a result of several factors, such as the country’s economic growth, a stronger currency and the fact that companies are now taking into account problems that the lack of registration may create for the export. The estimates also include the Brazilian franchises that have landed on foreign soil, especially in Portugal and Spain.
The areas of most importance for trademark registrations abroad – and remembered by most offices – are those linked to the fashion market and to the food industry. Natural foods, typically Brazilian, and even restaurants, have been drawing the attention of the international market by the number of registrations. The pharmaceutical and veterinary segments come next in number of registrations.
Luiz Henrique do Amaral, president of the Brazilian Intellectual Property Association and also a lawyer at Dannemann Siemsen firm, sees the market more heated. “Brazil entered the international fashion circuit. When abroad, you can hear Brazilian music playing in several places. In summer, flip-flops are everywhere, as well as foods such as guarana and açai. The visibility of marks increases and, therefore, there must be protection for them”, he says.
For Wilson Pinheiro Jabur, of Salusse Marangoni law firm, who also witnessed a 20% increase in applications for Brazilian trademarks abroad, the registration of trademarks to prevent acts of bad faith is fundamental. “The record is a preventive measure of protection. It happens very often that former suppliers or competitors attempt to register the Brazilian trademark in other countries creating a lot of conflicts”, he says. According to him, even if a company does not export its products, it is important to register its trademark, so as to prevent fraud and piracy, for example.
To be on the safe side, lawyers advise companies to first check whether the mark they will use is available for registration at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (INPI). After doing that, they should register the trademark in the countries they wish to export to or ensure their presence in, yet paying attention to the territoriality principle, which foresees the right to obtain trademark protection in each single country. In other words, if the mark is registered in a specific country, the protection can be afforded only there.
Patents in increase
At the same rate of growth of trademarks, the number of Brazilian patent applications abroad has also considerably increased in the last four years. According to information provided by the global data bases of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), patent applications in this period increased by 43%, being 17% in the year 2011 alone. As reported in the Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico, according to estimates released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this performance reached the number of 572 patent applications.
The WIPO databases showed that while the United States and Europe are still trying to recover from the decline caused by the 2008 crisis, other members of the BRICs countries, besides Brazil, have also made significant progress in respect of patent applications.
Mr. Jorge Ávila, the President of the Brazilian Industrial Property Office (INPI), stated to the magazine Amanhã that “Brazilian businessmen are awakening to the importance of protecting and exploiting intellectual property.” He also declared that the demand for patent registration has been significant, and that by the end of 2012, the agency must receive 35,000 patent applications and 160,000 marks, which represents an increase of 9.5% and 5%, respectively, compared to 2011. To meet this demand, the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office plans to invest more in agility for the release of the applications, by means of automated processes.
Mariana de Salve is reporter on legal matters of the magazine Consultor Jurídico.
Counsel Magazine, July 3, 2012