April 26: World Intellectual Property Day

María Eugenia Brenes and Allen Candanedo, associates of the Intellectual Property Department of Morgan & Morgan

In the year 2000, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 26 as World Intellectual Property Day. The purpose of this is to highlight the role that intellectual property rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

Across the globe, and at the initiative of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there is a campaign every year to attract public interest to issues related to Intellectual Property. In 2019, the World IP Day Celebration takes the name “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports” and looks closely at the world of sports and how innovation, creativity and IP rights support the development of this industry around the globe.

Within the framework of this celebration, two activities will take place in our country. WIPO, the General Directorate of the Registry of Industrial Property (DIGERPI), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Patent and Trademark Office of the United States of America (USPTO), the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) and the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI) have prepared a sub-regional Seminar on the enforcement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights for the agencies responsible for enforcing said laws. This Seminar aims to promote the importance of monitoring intellectual property rights in the trade of goods.

On the other hand, the University of Panama organizes an initiative that consists of the creation of a space for academic, scientific and cultural innovation of great impact to develop the topic of IP and sports. This activity will be aimed at making the general public aware of the importance of Intellectual Property Law in trademark registration and how it promotes the development of different economic sectors.

Intellectual Property, tech and the legal sector

On January 31, 2019, WIPO published its first study on “technology trends”, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and where there is already a marked growth in the number of applications for patents related to the technology sector. It is a reality that there is already a great variety of products that will change our lifestyle, better to say, that they are already changing it, for example “bitcoins”, and the “internet of things” (IoT), where you can see a clear example of where the world is heading to in relation to mass consumption through technological means. All this leads us to suppose that, although the majority of patents in the world come from industrialized countries, in Panama and in the rest of Latin America, we must be prepared for the demand for services that this sector could bring in the immediate future.

In the legal sector, the replacement of attorneys by artificial technology that provides “legal advice” is already a reality that aims to displace human intelligence with AI, but what is the result of these advances? We will have to wait and see, since the variables of a case cannot be considered by artificial intelligence, this without mentioning the emotional intelligence that should be key in any legal advice, especially in countries of our region.

Benefits of our IP legislation and situation with China

Our country has a highly developed legislation for the protection of Intellectual Rights in general, including trademarks, patents, industrial models, plant varieties and copyrights. Our laws allow the effective protection of intellectual rights by their legitimate owners and for their exclusive use.

Latin America is a very attractive market for producers in Asia (China, Japan and Korea), North America and Europe, whose products land in Latin American markets. Most of these products transit through the Panama Canal, Panamanian ports or the Colon Free Zone. Therefore, whether you plan to protect a brand, register it in Panama for later use in the country or region, or because Panama is the gateway to the rest of the emerging markets in Latin America, Panama should always be on the list of countries that register and use a brand.

In the special case of China, our country and the Asian giant held a fifth round of negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) from April 24 to 26, 2019 in Beijing (China). This round consists of the chapters on financial services, market access and customs procedures. The Intellectual Property chapters were proposed and negotiated by Panama and they were already approved by both parties in the Fourth Round of negotiations in 2018. For this chapter, the negotiations made by Panama with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have been used as a basis; and the most important regarding the negotiation with China is that Panama fully complies with all the articles proposed in said negotiation and does not need to update its legislation which, in other words, is one of the most complete in the region, especially in matters of border protection against piracy.