One of the most renowned IP firms in Brazil has announced its latest endeavour: IB the IP Hub. We talked to the leading partner, Gabriel Leonardos, to better comprehend the new operation.
With almost a century of history, the Brazilian firm Kasznar Leonardos has thrived in adapting its operation to meet the new demands brought by the digital era. With an intellectual property team consisting of 18 attorneys and 13 partners, the firm has just announced the launch of a new endeavor: IB the IP Hub (http://www.ibtheiphub.com). The idea behind this enterprise is to become a one-stop-shop for IP prosecution in all the Latin America.
The IB team is led by partners Gabriel Leonardos and João Vianna, and Robson Cardoso working with patents and Anita Guerra and Maria Clara Cunha working with trademarks.
We sat down with Gabriel Leonardos, senior partner of the firm, and had a conversation about the project and what the future holds for both IB and Kasznar Leonardos.
Leaders League: What was the process that led to the founding of IB?
Gabriel Leonardos: 20 years ago, our firm started to protect Brazilian trademarks overseas. Throughout the years, we gained expertise on the topic by working all over the world for Brazilian clients. After we reached a good level of expertise, companies from other countries started to contact us to work with us, in order to operate in Latin America, but we did not have the structure in place to allow us to do that. Additionally, from a marketing perspective, this would not make sense either, as our firm has always been advertised as being all about Brazil. It would be like going to a steakhouse that also serves sushi and pizza. You doubt the quality of the sushi and the pizza. You need to provide a good “packaging” for your product and that’s why we wanted to focus only on Brazil back then. We did take notice of the demand; however, and considering all the associate firms we have abroad, we started to think of a way to supply the demand of companies for intellectual property protection in Latin America. Hence, we created IB.
Leaders League: What differential does IB bring to the table?
Gabriel Leonardos: We recognize and respect the expertise of the top firms of each nation that we work with to represent enterprises in Latin America, so instead of opening new offices abroad, we have decided to work with these firms. Our aim is to use their decades of experience and recognition in the market to benefit our clients, while offering a competitive price and fostering an environment of collaboration rather than competition. In each nation, we are working with firms that I believe to be equivalent to Kasznar in Brazil. We only work with firms that are well-positioned in all the rankings.
Leaders League: What is the mission of IB?
Gabriel Leonardos: Our mission is to offer peace of mind to foreign companies who might be reluctant to invest in Latin America, because they are not familiar with the region We have expertise with this continent and we make sure our clients will have their rights protected herein. As we have a solid reputation abroad, enterprises feel more confident in registering intellectual property assets in Latin America, as we will be their contact point for this endeavor.
Leaders League: What is the reach of IB?
Gabriel Leonardos: We reach all of the Latin American territory and the Caribbean, totaling 46 countries. To start operations we have formally engaged three firms in each country, in order to ensure a backup, in case the primary option is not available.
Leaders League: Did you have any specific concerns when opening IB?
Gabriel Leonardos: The first goal was to demonstrate that we are specialists in Latin America. Secondly, we needed low prices, in order to be competitive and break into the market. We sat down with our associates and negotiated a lower price in exchange for more work. We constantly check the prices of the competition and this is paramount in today`s world, as we must always try to do our job with the most competitive cost possible.
Leaders League: What does the future hold for IB?
Gabriel Leonardos: Over the next two years, we aim to add ten more attorneys to our team. Additionally, as the volume of work rises, we will need to travel constantly and although as Brazilians we can all also speak Spanish, we would like to hire attorneys who have Spanish as their mother tongue to help us with this project.
Leaders League: You have collaborators who work in both Kasznar Leonardos and IB. Which flag will they represent?
Gabriel Leonardos: We already have four attorneys dedicated solely to IB, but of course, the partners work in both forms. We will represent both Kasznar and IB, but there will be events that they will attend that are more closely aligned with the market of a specific firm. In this case, they will represent only one firm. In a few years we see IB fully independent, having a separate life from Kasznar.
Leaders League: How do you see the market for IP in Brazil, as of now?
Gabriel Leonardos: In Brazil, the number of patent filings has gone down in each of the last four years, whereas it has gone up in most of the world. The biggest problem is that here, you have an environment that is harmful to innovation and entrepreneurship. In Silicon Valley, for instance, sometimes entrepreneurs go bankrupt twice or three times, before finally having a hit. In Brazil, if you file for bankruptcy once, you are grounded for life: you will probably never be able to get financial support again. The environment in Brazil is the worst thing for innovation, even worse than the economic crisis, because that is temporary. Many people in high offices demonize businessmen and a lot of bright young minds wish to become civil servants and work for the State, not out of a calling to public service, but only to have a good salary and acquire stability, as in Brazil civil servants may never be fired. Brazil needs a capitalism shock.
"Patent is the true indicator for innovation, while trademark is more like the Chantilly"
Leaders League: Do you believe this situation in Brazil will change?
Gabriel Leonardos: As we all know, patent is the true indicator for innovation, while trademark is more like the Chantilly on top of the cake. As of now, in Brazil approximately 30,000 new patents per year are filed and, if we’re lucky this figure may go to 40,000 in ten years’ time. While in China, it leaped from 300,000 to 800,000 in just a few years and in the United States it went up from 300,000 to 400,000. The numbers speak for themselves.
Knowing this country and the way it operates, it seems unlikely that Brazil will make a lot of progress in a short period of time, but the level of IP protection has been improving steadily through the decades. Slowly, but improving.
We actually created a tool to measure these improvements: it is called the KL Index (available at http://www.kl-index.com). Through a system that quantifies the advancements and drawbacks of IP law & practice in Brazil over the last 20 years, the KL Index measures the current level of protection available in Brazil. We believe it is a good way to visualize and have a grasp of the situation in Brazil. It also provides a historical context.