Argentina is a member of the Paris Convention, but is not a member of the PCT. The controversial debate in Argentina over joining the PCT is back in the center of attention. While there are political initiatives for this change to take place, patent attorneys in Argentina believe that status quo helps them preserve the existing high volume of work. In addition, pharmaceutical industry is concerned that joining PCT would have negative consequences for their business.
Filing Patents in Argentina
An application for a patent in Argentina must contain the name and address of the applicant and the inventor, as well as the citizenship of the inventor. The necessary elements of an application are: title, abstract, specifications, claims, and any necessary drawings. In addition, any portion of the specifications not in Spanish must be accompanied by a Spanish translation. Also, power of attorney notarized in the Argentinian Consulate must be presented within 40 days from the filing date.
Patent term in Argentina is 20 years from filing date, and patents are published after 18 months. Three years after the filing date, applicants must file examination request. In Argentina, upon issuance of a patent, no maintenance fees are required.
Recent IP Legal Trends in Argentina
In February 2011, nine South American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay) agreed to enter into a pilot project of international cooperation to expedite patent examination process, and improve quality of patents issued. This project will consist of 300 patent applications related to biotechnology and engineering. According to the agreement, national patent offices will retain autonomy in deciding upon patent issues, but some common standards will be negotiated and the exchange of information among the countries is expected to increase through common database, developed by WIPO.
In a recent decision of the EU Court of Justice, the court decided that Monsanto cannot use its DNA sequence patent to prohibit the marketing of Argentinian soy meals in the EU when meals contain DNA sequence in the residual state. In 2005 and 2006, a large amount of soy meal imports from Argentina into Europe was impounded. These imports allegedly infringed upon Monsanto’s seed traits patented in Europe and Monsanto sued for infringement. The court ruled that when the beans are processed into meals, under EU biotechnology rules, the patent scope does not cover the products and there is no infringement. Monsanto conceded that, for this issue, it is better to obtain court ruling in Argentina, which is the course of action that Monsanto intends to pursue. However, Argentinian patent lawyers predict that Monsanto will not be able to protect its Roundup Ready soybean technology in Argentina.