“The plan to combat the backlog in the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office has already resulted in a reduction of more than 60% of patent applications pending for decision.”
Almost two years ago, the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) launched a plan to reduce the backlog in examination of patent applications, which has had positive results. As part of this important initiative, at the beginning of 2021, the BPTO published its action plan for the year indicating its intentions to increase the efficiency of services offered by the institution via new performance goals.
The plan to combat the backlog has already resulted in a reduction of more than 60% of patent applications pending for decision. This has had a positive effect on the credibility of the Brazilian patent system domestically, but also has contributed to the improvement of the national and international attractiveness of the sector, which will possibly provide a greater incentive to protect patents in Brazil.
The plan to reduce the backlog was extended to incorporate all patent applications with filing dates through December 31, 2017. In 2020, the backlog was reduced by about 51%. With a 60.6% reduction already achieved as of May 2021, the annual reductions for 2021 are expected to reach 66.5% in the second quarter and 74% in the third quarter, thus reaching the mark of 80% by the end of 2021.
By the end of 2021, the BPTO also estimates that 30,000 patent applications will be decided, where the total time for completing the technical examination of a patent application will be four years from its filing date.
The analysis of the last five years indicates that the number of decisions published by the BPTO went from 7,152 in 2015 to 51,588 in 2020, representing an increase of more than 86%. Between these years, the following evolution was observed: 8,598 in 2016, 12,925 in 2017, 17,770 in 2018 and 27,363 in 2019.
The average time between the examination request and the publication of a decision dropped from more than 7 years in 2015-2017 to 5.24 years by 2020.
The average time between the examination request and the first published office action reached a maximum of 7.16 years in 2017, but in 2019 it decreased to 4.69 years, reaching 3.30 years by 2020—almost half of the 2018 number (6.94 years).
Expanding upon the above-mentioned data, when analyzing publications of decisions, in 2019, the year in which the plan to combat the backlog began, there was an increase of 125% over 2018 in allowance decisions and rejection decisions and more than 450% in final lapses. Compared to the 2015 data, the 2019 figures represented an increase of 307% in allowance decisions and rejection decisions and 1,302% in final lapses.
In the year 2020, the data also proved to be quite significant; decision publications represented an increase of 150% in relation to 2019 and 462% in relation to 2015, showing a performance superior to that achieved in 2019.
Finally, in terms of annual gain over the last five years, the growth rate of published decisions is around 48%. This means that the BPTO increased by almost half its capacity to publish examination decisions each year.
Planning for the Future
In general, the BPTO ‘s plan for 2021 includes: growth at rates equal to or higher than 15% in all industrial property assets; 80% reduction in the backlog of patent application examination; decisions on priority examinations of patent applications in up to 12 months; 11.4% increase in service revenue; and 22.4% increase in the result of operations in relation to 2020.
In addition to optimizing internal services, the BPTO announced its intention to collaborate as a contracting party to international agreements, such as the Hague Apostille and the Budapest Treaty.
Therefore, although the BPTO’s action plan for the year 2021 seems quite ambitious, the analysis above suggests that the initiatives, in addition to being feasible, are in line with the advances achieved in actions to reduce delays in the publication of patent decisions so far. Thus, the plan creates reasonable expectations and, with the possible reversal of historically slow examination timings, Brazil is increasingly becoming an attractive country for new investment and, consequently, IP protection.