Among the most deserved critics of the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) was its long-lasting and extreme backlog in the examination of both patent and trademark applications. Several reasons could be listed for such a chaotic situation, varying from lack of the government´s political interest in solving the matter to plain inefficiency of the group who governed the institution.
But things have changed, and one must recognize the tireless efforts made to bring the BPTO to a pattern of service closer to what one would expect from such an important government instrument of business and technology development.
It all started with Brazil´s decision to join the Madrid Protocol and its absolute need to reduce the 3 year it was taking to examine a trademark application, to the 18 months established by the agreement to run applications filed under this system. The results are that now 7 months are sufficient to examine both national and foreign trademark applications, through a modern and efficient electronic procedure, with very little impact in the quality of the decisions issued.
It was only natural that the same modernization strain would be applied to patent examination. The average time for examination to begin (first office action), once requested, went from 8 years in 2015 to 3 years in 2021. Again, a political decision to tackle the problem was crucial to obtain such a substantial reduction. Our PTO´s decision to accept foreign examinations of equivalent applications, as valid aid to expedite cases filed in Brazil, played a major roll in achieving such an impressive result. The 6.2 code office action will be remembered as the turning point for the backlog tackle.
Announcements to join, as a contracting party, various international agreements, such as the Hague Apostille and the Budapest Treaty, denotes how serious the current administration is to bring the BPTO to international standards.
But there is a lot more to do to keep and enhance the standard of services expected by the investors and users of the Brazilian Patent System. Modernization of the BPTO, hiring of new examiners, establishment of individual examination targets and management of remote work is not an easy task, moreover, considering the restrictions imposed in the public sector. On the top of such internal challenges, convincing the government and congress to finally approve its financial independence will be a keen step to enable our PTO to fulfill its purpose.