hansom Pantip /
2 June 2018AmericasAna Paula Jardim and Andréa Granthon

Speeding up the fight against Zika

As is widely, and regrettably, known, the patent backlog is a problem that the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (INPI) has been facing for a long time.

In 2007, the number of invention and utility model patent applications pending examination was 158,018; in 2016, this number had reached a total of 243,820, which means an increase of 54.3% in ten years.

According to statistics provided by the INPI, in 2016, the average time from the filing of a patent application until the grant was 10.65 years. However, in some fields of technology, such as pharmaceuticals, the average time for a patent to be granted was more than 13 years.

Several measures have been adopted by the INPI in an effort to reduce the backlog over the years.

These include Resolution No. 217 of May 8, 2018, which modifies former Resolution No. 80/2013 regarding the prioritisation of examination for patent applications covering pharmaceutical products and processes, as well as equipment and materials related to public health.

Resolution No. 80/2013 established two situations where a prioritisation request can be made.

In the first, the Ministry of Health may request prioritisation of examination for any patent application referring to products, processes, equipment or materials for healthcare related to public assistance policies and regarded to be strategic to the Unified Health System (SUS) in Brazil.

In the second one, applicants and third parties may request prioritisation of examination for patent applications related to diagnosis, prophylaxis and treatment of HIV, cancer and neglected diseases listed in the resolution, such as Chagas disease, malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, haemorrhagic dengue, leprosy (Hansen’s disease), leishmaniasis, echinococcosis, rabies, schistosomiasis and others.

For the priority examination to be granted, the technical examination of the patent application must have already been requested but not yet started, the annuities must be in good order and no priority examination must have been granted before.

According to the newly published Resolution No. 127/2018, in addition to patent applications related to diagnosis, prophylaxis and treatment of HIV, cancer and neglected diseases, patent applications related to rare diseases which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are those affecting up to 65 people per 100,000 individuals (1.3 people per 2,000 individuals) are now eligible for priority examination.

Another change brought by this new resolution is that already granted patents in both previously cited situations may benefit from priority examination at the second administrative instance.

Neglected diseases

Apart from the above, Resolution No. 217/2018 included two new diseases in the list of neglected diseases, namely, Chikungunya and Zika.

Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika are all diseases mainly transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes, which are present in many tropical countries, including Brazil, where environmental conditions facilitate the development and proliferation of the mosquitoes.

Dengue is a persistent urban disease that becomes more widespread in the rainy season, which normally lasts from January to May in Brazil.

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