The governmental agency in charge of handling intellectual property rights in Chile is the National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI), located in Santiago. This agency is connected to the President of the Republic through the Ministry of Economy. Since the new law enacted in 2000, this agency has succeeded Chile’s Industrial Property Department.
Filing Patents in Chile
An application for a patent in Chile must contain the name and address of the applicant and the inventor. The necessary elements of an application are: title, abstract of the invention, specifications, claims, and any necessary drawings. In addition, any portion of the specifications not in Spanish must be accompanied by a Spanish translation.
Patent term for patents in Chile is 20 years and for utility models and designs it is 10 years.
PCT National Stage in Chile
Chile joined the PCT recently, in 2009, and is also a member of the Paris Convention. When an application is filed as a PCT National Stage application, the national stage entry deadline is 30 months from the PCT application’s priority date. Filing power of attorney at the national stage is required. Spanish language translation extensions are not available. There are no fees for excess claims.
Recent IP Legal Trends in Chile
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.
According to Chilean patent attorneys, in recent years, Chile has modernized both its IP related legislation and enforcement. The legal reform enacted in May of 2010 entails both imprisonment as well as fines in the range between $ 400- 80,000 for violating Chilean IP laws. Recent IP enforcement efforts have placed Chile ninth in the world based on their seizures of goods that violate IP laws.
Chile has removed significant obstacles to patenting living organisms in the country by joining the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms as patentable subject matter in May 2011.
One of the controversies in Chilean patent laws currently originates in the fact that the Senate ratified the International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties, according to which a breeder of any plant variety can obtain exclusive rights to their invention, regardless of the method applied to breeding. Chilean patent lawyer state that some political activists in Chile have deemed this law harmful to Chilean indigenous population.
One of the most significant patent litigation challenges in Chile has been the lack of specialized IP courts. This problem, common to many countries, has resulted in a need to educate judges while the lawsuit takes place. Due to the the lack of judicial expertise Chilean patent litigations often last three years or longer.