July 4th, 2015 by Juan David Lopez
During the last ten years Colombia has substantially improved its business climate for foreign investments and international business. Nowadays, the country may offer in general terms, a predictable and transparent environment for business and an open regulatory framework for foreign investments.
In fact, the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development – OECD – recognized in the Investment Policy Review of Colombia in 2012, that the Colombian government has made great progress improving the country’s business environment over the past years, as reflected in the good rankings in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. Such report suggests that the regulatory restrictiveness index for foreign investment in Colombia is more favorable for foreign investors than the average of OECD countries.
The investment flows in Colombia reflects the result of the efforts of the country in increasing its position as an interesting country for foreign direct investments: while in 2002 and 2003 the country received 4,7 Million Dollars in investments, in 2013 and 2014 the numbers increased to 32 million. Likewise, foreign investors remain active in Colombia, contributing to the regular increase of FDI since 2011. Although the two main destinations of FDI are the hydrocarbon and mining sectors (they represented 50% of the FDI in 2013), a diversification has been observed in recent years, in particular in telecommunication and tourism sector
There are several reasons of why Colombia is an attractive country for foreign investments, as determined by Forbes magazine, which placed the country on the top 7 of new destinies to invest along India, Indonesia and Poland.
Some factors are external, such as the slowdown in global foreign investment, particularly in China, Russia and Brazil, which years ago were called to attract large capital. Today, these countries have lower growth and macroeconomic difficulties that affects the international perception and gives the investors an opportunity to seek to other regions.
Other factors point out to the internal situation of the country, such as the improvement of security conditions in recent years, which has contributed to re-establish investors’ confidence in the country. Likewise, the country offers several incentives to investors in order to make it more attractive, such as Free Trade Zones, Special Economic Zones for Exports and labor and tax incentives.
In Colombia, FDI benefits from a very attractive legislative framework. The country ranks 34 out of 189 economies in the ‘Doing Business’ 2015 of the World Bank. In one year, it moved up by 19 ranks, notably thanks to major improvements in property registration and access to credit.
Nonetheless, one of the most important efforts placed out in the past year is the negotiation set out between the Colombian left wing rebels (“FARC”) and the national government. This will allow the government to deepen rural development and attract investors primarily concerned about safety.
Although the government of Juan Manuel Santos has made efforts in order to promote investment in the country, there are still challenges ahead. The country must keep working not only to improve and maintain a good investment climate in the country but also to maximize the benefits that FDI can give to the country in such a way that it can promote economic growth and development. Two main proposals have been placed on the table: The National Development Plan 2014 – 2018 which is an initiative that incentives FDI through a sustainable development between three primary dimensions: peace, equity and education and the ‘Plan to boost productivity and employment which intends to create more than 350 thousand jobs between 2015 and 2018.
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any entity or agency of the Colombian government or any other agency associated with it.
April 9th, 2015 by Camila Cooper
A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services, or to authorize another to use it in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of additional fees. Trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit.
B&R Latin America helps you protect your products and services in 18 countries of Latin America in just one stop solution.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In this Infographic B&R Latin America shows you what is a trademark and what type of trademarks there are:
March 27th, 2015 by Camila Cooper
B&R Latin America IP LLC is always looking forward to grow and be part of successful business networks. Our new CEO Manuel Guerrero Amaya will be traveling to one of the most important places in the world, Asia.
Guerrero, will be attending to a great business networking event in Busan, Korea where he will explore new opportunities to offer B&R Latin America services between Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 500 businesspeople from Korea, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet on March 26 and 27 in Busan, in an effort to boost trade and investment flows between the two regions.
During the event, our CEO will meet with great agencies, and top level government officials to seek for business opportunities. The Korea-LAC Business Summit is being organized by the IDB, by Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF), the Korean Trade and Investment Agency (KOTRA), Korea Exim bank, Korea’s International Trade Association (KITA) and the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Manuel Guerrero will also be meeting with some associates in Korea, Seul, since this region represents the 60% of gross domestic product and it keeps on growing. Additionally Asia has a great capacity to generate patents and trademarks making them a good market to be in.
Asia has overtaken the European Union as Latin America’s second-biggest trading partner after the United States. According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, since 2010 China has been investing about $10 billion a year in the region. Thomson-Reuters, a data firm, says that since 2000 Chinese firms have announced more acquisitions in Latin America than in Africa or South-East Asia.
The main goal of the governments across both regions is to open up markets, cut redundant regulations, boost education and promote cooperation in trade and investment between the two regions.
Our objective is to find new resources in order to provide a quality service to our applicants and associates. The future is full of surprises and we want to be part of them, giving excellent and professional results.
December 10th, 2013 by Danny Grajales Pérez y Soto
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement –TPP– is the most ambitious free trade agreement under negotiation at this moment, with 12 negotiating parties in the Asia-Pacific área including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. This includes 3 major Latin American economies (Chile, Mexico and Peru), all of them also parties to the Pacific Alliance negotiations, and 2 of the top three economies in the global economy (The US and Japan). Although the agreement includes provisions on many trade-related topics, it has become notable for the controversy surrounding its Intellectual Property provisions.
The confidential draft of the agreement was leaked by the Wikileaks organization on November 13th 2013, and has lighted up the discussion regarding Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights and Geographical Indications provisions of the. Although most of the controversy has focused on Patents, the section on Trademarks has also stirred both praise and criticism from IP experts. Although the final text of the agreement is yet to be seen, the outlines of the final provisions on Trademark Law are already visible:
Non-traditional Trademarks. The very first provision of the agreement’s section on trademarks is the prohibition of requiring “visual perceptibility” for the registration of trademarks. This would make visual and sound trademarks available for registration in all member countries, such as the roar of the MGM lion or the “I’m loving it” jingle of the McDonald’s corporation.
Collective and Certification Marks. The agreement states that collective and certification marks shall be protected under every country’s trademark law.
Use of Identical or Similar Signs. The agreement provides that the owner of a registered trademark shall have the exclusive right to prevent third parties not having the owner’s consent from using in the course of trade identical o similar signs, for goods or services that are related to those good or services in respect of which the owner’s trademark is registered.
Well-known Trademarks. The recognition of a trademark as a “Well-known trademark” can no longer require that trademark to have been previously registered.
Opposition and Cancellation. All member countries shall provide an opportunity to oppose the registration of a trademark or to seek cancellation. According to this draft, the agreement will not make it mandatory to have an opposition procedure (which Mexico lacks) as long as cancellations are allowed.
Examination. Refusal of registration of a trademark must be provided in writing which may be done by electronic means.
Electronic Trademarks System. All member countries must provide a system for the electronic application and maintenance of trademarks and have a publicly available electronic information system. This is a requirement that has been already met by the three Latin American negotiating parties of the TPP. Mexico’s online platform is specially notable for its flexibility and the openness of its databases, which are shared with all major international databases.
Non-Mandatory License Recordal. The recordal of licenses may not be required to establish the validity of the license, as a condition for use of a trademark by a licensee, or as a condition for the right of a licensee to join infringement proceedings initiated by the holder.
Madrid Protocol. All members of the TPP will have to ratify and implement the Madrid Protocol. This would mean that Chile and Peru would have to modify their legislation to include the possibility of Madrid Protocol trademark registrations.
The International Trademark Association –INTA– one of the most influential institutions on Trademark Law Practice in the world, has been actively advocating for the negotiating parties of the TPP to conform by their Model Free Trade Agreement, which is meant to be a guide to what would be desirable trademark provisions in free trade agreements. Furthermore, INTA has already started training of PTO officials in Mexico as part of partnership programs focused of non-traditional marks and the Madrid Protocol, in order to prepare government officials for the changes to come
July 9th, 2013 by Danny Grajales Pérez y Soto
The Annual “Special 301” report of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been released. The report is the result of an annual review of the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement in trading partners around world, which the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) conducts. The Special 301 designations and actions announced in the Report are the result of deliberations among all relevant agencies within the U.S. Government, informed by extensive consultation with affected stakeholders, foreign governments, the U.S. Congress, and other interested parties.
The report is not a comprehensive analysis of the countries’ systems for IPR protection. Actually, the country reports often fails to mention some of the most important improvements that took place during the last year. The 301 Report is merely an assesment of US Commercial Interests regarding IPRs in countries with which it has strong commercial relations, especially those countries with which the US has Free Trade Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding on trade matters.
The Special 301 Report provides a very valuable insight of the US’ perspective of the region’s IP market, and provides a guide for US government officials managing the trade agreements and the policy initiatives taking place with the Latin American governments. The repot accurately expresses worries about widespread piracy and counterfeiting in the region and about the lack of political will for improving the domestic systems for IPR protection. The Report also continues to make special focus on issues regarding pharmaceutical products and piracy of digital content over the Internet.
One of the most interesting chapters of the document is the Country Reports. In this section the USTR places some of its commercial partners in one of three categories, depending on their level of compliance with US standards of IPR protection. This is the complete list of the countries under watch of the USTR:
Priority Foreign Country: Ukraine.
Priority Watch List: Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia,Thailand, Venezuela.
Watch List: Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
Our Research Department has prepared a slideshow summarizing the 301 Special Report’s observations on Latin American countries. Improvements and concerns noted in the report are explained and we contrast the Report’s findings with our firm’s experience in the regional market:
IPR enforcement, adapted to the region
It is worth noting the continued request from US authorities to impose “deterrent-level penalties” and to increase criminal sanctions for IPR infringement, without even suggesting making a distinction between suppliers and consumers of the infringing goods and content. US authorities seem to remain oblivious of how low effectiveness result from these proposed measures and how ill-suited they usually are for the Latin American region. The way towards effective IPR enforcement is not to further crowd Latin America’s prisons, and longstanding structural problems in the region’s judicial systems makes criminal IPR enforcement difficult and costly for these countries.
Given the region’s widespread problems with protection of IPRs, the following approach has been suggested from IP experts with experience in the region:
- Concentrate enforcement efforts on the suppliers (not on the consumers) of IPR-infringing goods and content.
- Provide assistance for these countries to eliminate entry barriers for services that provide market alternatives to the consumer of IPR infringing goods and content. For example, services for legal streaming of video and music are notably scarce in the region, and are often offered to the region several year’s after they are launched in other parts of the world. The Latin American consumer is often stuck between oudated formats -CD, DVD-, costly solutions out of reach for the median consumer of the region -iTunes Store and Apple devices- and consumption of IPR-infringing content -P2P networks, pirated content-.
- Economic sanctions are often an effective deterrent for infringers of IPRs, and are regarded as a fair sanction for the infringement of economic rights of IP stakeholders. This makes it easier to get congressional and judicial approval for regulation creating or updating sanctions for IPR infringers. Criminal sanctions for violations of economic rights often face strong opposition from citizenship, legislators and the region’s leftist governments.
It would also be desirable for the report to include recommendations about some of the most worrying issues for IP owners and practitioners. Issues such as the lack of an Opposition Procedure in trademark applications Mexico, the lack of reliable online platforms for filing of applications in Bolivia and Ecuador, and the request of unnecesary information and documents on IP procedures are issues that over-complicate and IP practice in the region.
To better understand the implications of the Special 301 Report of the USTR watch the following presentation by Amelia Andersdotter (EU Parlament) and Karel De Gucht (European Commissioner for Trade).
June 26th, 2012 by Danny Grajales Pérez y Soto
On Friday 22nd of June 2012 we received Mr. Mark Davis, president and CEO of the Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors –PIIPA-, at B&R Latin America’s headquarters in Bogotá.
Mr. Davis is visiting Colombia to launch PIIPA’s latest project: “Enhancing Opportunities in the Canadian Market for Innovative High-Value Colombian Agricultural Products”, which we covered in previous posts. This project’s goals include assessing the state of IP rights in the country, conducting pro bono counseling and training to key players in the national agricultural market, and improving the protection of products through IP while retaining wealth in rural areas.
During his visit to our firm, we heard about the project’s beginnings, long term goals and the public-interest driven rationale behind the project. Especially important, is the vision of turning the Colombian agricultural market into a regional hub of adequate Intellectual Property protection. As well as our firm, PIIPA also sees Latin America as a regional rather than a national market for IP, and is completely aware of the trends in regulatory and economic integration in the continent, not only in the Andean Community but in the whole region. The accomplished achievements with this project are expected to be replicated in neighboring countries, especially in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian markets.
Our research department interviewed Mr. Davis for more information on this project. This is what he answered:
B&R: You’ve previously said that one of the main goals of this project was to get producers to the Food Export Show in Toronto. Given that the main strength in the Colombian agricultural market is flowers, why focus on the food industry instead? Why the Food Export Show?
Mark Davis: –This particular project is not just focused on food, it’s focused on high-value agricultural products. Certainly the flower industry is one of the biggest to the North American market; I know I see it in the US all the time and we’re certainly aware of the amount of flowers being exported to Canada.
–So it’s not just about food. However, often the food products -such as something in the Passiflora species… passion fruits- have very distinctive flavor profiles, color, appearance, whatever it may be; that are really being able to get the extra money in a foreign market for adding that extra high value. From a consuming marketing perspective, it really is very attractive.
–The average consumer can’t tell if the flower came from Colombia or Florida, but they can look at a fruit and say “oh! I know where this fruit came from” and that’s much better because they identify certain kinds of fruits from tropical environments, and that have that protection from trademark and good labeling.
–We don’t really know where our flowers come from in North America, for the most part, and no one ever tells us. Flowers are important but, for a distinctive-origin product that a consumer would recognize and go “oh, I’m gonna pay the extra money because I know this is very special” then, I think that food products have a much higher value.
B&R: What are the needs in the Colombian market that you identified to start with this project?
Mark Davis: –The primary needs were: helping people understand plant-breeders rights, plant varieties, what IP can do and cannot do from a producer’s perspective; how can cooperatives use IP to further the the business mission, supporting economically the work that everyone does. And general awareness of how IP can be used, not only for internal markets but also for external markets.
–PIIPA and CIAT had a 3 day meeting in Cali in November 2010, we had 60 people from 16 countries and the whole discussion was IP needs in agriculture across the continent, across the region. We had people from Brazil, from Chile, etc. Out of that discussion came this very broad set of goals in a way of supporting agricultural development from an IP perspective across Latin America.
B&R: Does the project have any public policy goals?
Mark Davis: –We do not. PIIPA is not a policy organization, we’re practical. We let the policy to policymakers. We can support policy development from a very practical point of view. One example is, for instance, last year in the Philippines we worked with the Philippine IP Office because they had passed a technology transfer act. We helped them implementing that regulation, and help them refine the tech transfer act, just because of our own experience from the Bayh-Dole Act in the US being quite successful in the area of technology transfer.
–We prefer to partner with organizations and really be very practical and pragmatic because we feel that’s where the best value is, in the application of IP. There are many other organizations that talk about the theoretical side of policy, is it good? Is it bad? Not the practical side.
The first goal of the project, which is conducting an IP nationwide audit, will take place in late 2012. We will post on this blog updates on this project, dates for the training courses and any information relevant for Colombian producers or entrepreneurs.
PIIPA is an international nonprofit organization that provides pro bono intellectual property legal counsel to interest groups in developing countries. The project for enhancing opportunities in Canada for Colombia’s agricultural industry has been the work of PIIPA’s President & CEO, R. Mark Davis, a team of advisors that includes Alvaro Ramirez Bonilla, founding partner of B&R Latin America, and important partner organizations, such as CIAT, CENIRED, ProExport and the SIC.