Maximiliano Santa Cruz is the National Director of the National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile (INAPI). Since his nomination in 2009, INAPI has positioned itself as an institution of reference at international level, with a special focus on technology transfer and innovation. Maximiliano shares with us his views on IP trends, INAPI’s challenges and innovation.
Leaders League: What are the main IP trends in Latin America and Chile?
Maximiliano Santa Cruz: I think we can highlight at least two main issues. Firstly, and not only in Latin America but also worldwide, nowadays technical harmonization (as opposed to substantive) and collaborative work are the basis of the work of intellectual property offices. In that sense, all the work that PROSUR, an initiative by 13 Latin American offices, is doing is in accordance to needs of the IP offices for the XXI century. In the case of harmonization, it is not only normative harmonization (through multilateral and bilateral agreements) but also and mainly technological harmonization at regional and plurilateral level. Digital technologies and the internet are giving us a fantastic opportunity to achieve one of the original goals of the intellectual property system that was often forgotten, which is that intellectual property should be a powerful tool to transfer technology and diffuse knowledge.
On the other hand, I think that one important issue for intellectual property offices, in addition to matters regarding registration, is to be well prepared to meet the needs of their users, which are highly heterogeneous, with different kinds of concerns and needs. In this context, intellectual property has become a key factor in important issues like health (plain packaging, access to medicines, food labeling, etc.), access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, competition, access to information in the public domain and development of small farmers. IP offices must be technical bodies capable of having a comprehensive vision regarding the application of rules, ensuring that intellectual property is a means to achieve development. This is the fundamental role we think a patent and trademark office of the XXI century should have. This role relates to the capacity to have an impact on issues as relevant as those mentioned above, as well as on public policies advanced by governments. We cannot imagine a country that makes decision regarding access to drugs without having a technical and grounded opinion from Patent Offices.
What are the main issues for INAPI members?
Last year INAPI, the Chilean patent and trademark office, launched the National Strategy on Industrial Property. This takes a mid-term view, planning ahead for changes and helping point the country in the one direction. It intends to demonstrate and promote the relevance of intellectual property as a tool for economic and social development, which promotes and supports the different areas of public policy. Ultimately, it promotes development while taking all stakeholders into account and understanding that the public dimension of intellectual property is as important as its private dimension.
The strategy is a roadmap that is not intended exclusively for the government, but also for all the community and everyone who is directly or indirectly related to intellectual property policy, innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the result of years of research and surveys with an active participation from stakeholders, including more than 60 interviews of key people in the intellectual property, policy, business and research areas and two public consultations. Implementation is planned to continue until 2018, when an evaluation of its progress and the needs of the country will be performed. Finally, INAPI has put a major focus on management, promoting the idea of a socially responsible government agency and attaining authorization from the National Congress by the end of 2016, to become the first public agency to introduce teleworking in government as a pilot program. This initiative seeks, among other things, to increase productivity and promote a better work/life balance for INAPI officials, besides having benefits in terms of regionalization, gender equality, disability and inclusion and also carbon footprint reduction. Twenty-seventeen has been full of challenges and we sincerely hope to be able to fulfill our user’s expectations, by improving our services, mainly through the internet, providing new tools and at the end of the day contribute to Chile’s development.
What would be your advice for international investors concerning the protection of their intellectual property?
In the knowledge-based society in which we are immersed, where intangible assets are even more valuable than physical goods, industrial property must be considered a fundamental and irreplaceable instrument for growth and progress. In this sense, it is imperative that domestic companies, especially those that export goods and services, have an intellectual property strategy that covers topics such as registration abroad, licensing, translations for registration, agents in relevant regions of the world, etc. It doesn’t matter if you decide to finally give access to all your information and technology or not; it is important to first be clear that when it comes to negotiations, it is essential to have correctly appropriated and protected your innovation.
Speaking particularly about Chile and foreign investors, this is a country where there are robust institutions and the rule of law. In terms of intellectual property we have a system that complies with international standards and requirements and beyond. Moreover, since 2014 INAPI has been functioning as one of the 20 patent International Search and Preliminary Examination Authorities and at the beginning of 2017 we were selected among the 10 most innovative trademark offices by the prestigious World Trademark Review. In 2016 we were selected as one of the top three government agencies in Chile, receiving the Public Service Excellence Award. Chile assures those who come to invest that they will find a sound innovation and entrepreneurial environment, including a robust and active intellectual property system.