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Green patent could 'cut in line' in Brazil

11/04/2012 - 10h54

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SABINE RIGHETTI
SPECIAL ENVOY TO RIO

INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property) will prioritize, starting April 17, the patenting of technologies considered "green", i.e. that pollute less or that reduce environmental impacts.

The expectation is that the requests for protection for new cleaner domestic technologies will be analyzed within two years. Today, a patent application takes an average of five years and four months to be considered by INPI. Until last year, the process took up to seven years.

"We will accelerate because we want clean technology to get to society soon," said Douglas Santos Alves, a researcher at INPI who participated in the project.

"We cannot wait six years for an environmental solution to be applied in the market," he continues.

FIRST 500

According to Santos, INPI's idea is to start with a pilot project of 500 patent applications made starting in January 2011. Part of the results of these analyzes should be presented already at Rio+20 - the UN conference for sustainable development that takes place in June in Rio de Janeiro.

"We know, for example, that most applications of clean domestic technologies is in the production of alternative energy and in waste reduction," says Patricia Carvalho dos Reis, the project manager at INPI.

According to her, the definition of what is a "green" technology was based on methodologies of patent offices in countries like the USA, Australia and the UK, which already prioritized the analysis of clean technology several years ago. But there was an adaptation for the Brazilian context.

"We decided to exclude, for example, nuclear technologies from the list of clean alternatives," says Reis.

IN THE SHADOW OF FUKUSHIMA

The decision was influenced by the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, Japan, hit by an earthquake and a tsunami in March 2011 - when the group of INPI studies began.

However, the development of innovations for the production of hydroelectric, wind and solar energy was on the list of priorities (see infographic).

The institute expects to achieve this reduction in analysis time for "green" technologies through a set of strategies.

The first is to exclude the 18 month period of secrecy after the application for protection of technology. Today, the Industrial Property Act of 1996 provides that a patent can only be analyzed after 18 months of confidentiality.

"Green" patents will break this rule - as long as the inventor permits the analysis to be done immediately after filing.

The same procedure is followed in national patent offices of various countries that prioritize clean technologies. In the UK, for example, a technology of this type takes nine months to be analyzed.

South Korea, for its part, has come to release a green patent in 18 days.

INPI also hopes to increase its department of peer reviewers to accelerate the analysis process. The expectation is to hire 400 new people by 2015.

The announcement of the prioritization of "sustainable" patents is scheduled for today, when the Brazilian Institute should also confirm a partnership with the EPO (European Patent Office).

The intention is that the partnership will facilitate the transfer of information between requests made in Brazil and in Europe through translation of the applications from Portuguese into English, and vice versa.

Translated by DAVE WOLIN