Researchers in lab

The Case for Improving Brazil’s Patent Backlog

Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, is making efforts to recover from COVID-19 and continue its evolution to a knowledge-based economy. Faced with numerous structural and economic challenges, Brazil must identify new ways to facilitate innovation and achieve economic growth. Prioritizing intellectual property (IP) reforms, including through Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) mechanisms, can reinvigorate Brazil’s economy, promote innovation, and ensure access to new medicines and technologies


Patent applicants in Brazil experience some of the longest pendency times in the world. An analysis by Osha Bergman Watanabe & Burton LLP (Osha), shows that the average patent examination timeline in Brazil is more than 10 years for biopharmaceutical patents granted between January 2020 and March 2022. Additionally, the study shows that almost 60 percent of biopharmaceutical patent applications in this period took more than 10 years to examine, with 10 percent pending for 15 or more years at the time that they were granted.


Making matters worse, the Brazilian Supreme Court’s 2021 decision eliminating the sole paragraph of Article 40 of the Patent Law, which ensured a minimum patent term of 10 years from the date of patent grant in Brazil, leaves patent applicants across all technology sectors without a recognized mechanism to be compensated for unreasonable patent office examination delays.


The negative impacts of patent backlogs are well documented. According to a study by London Economics, the combined losses from patent backlogs cost the global economy over $10 billion annually. And according to a USPTO Economic Working Paper, each year a patent application is delayed, the average number of subsequent patents granted decreases by 14 percent.


To address these challenges, Brazil must institute mechanisms to safeguard against unreasonable delays during the examination of  patent applications and introduce PTA mechanisms, which are common in other large economies around the world, give innovators the confidence to take risks and invest in new technologies, among other benefits. Additionally, Brazil can explore work-sharing agreements with other countries’ patent offices, which work to reduce the examination process and improve overall patent quality, as explored in this recent Geneva Network report.


Brazil is well positioned to foster a knowledge-based economy. But to continue this evolution, it is critical for Brazil to establish an efficient PTA process that rewards innovation and encourages a robust IP ecosystem that delivers value for the country and the world.

PTA policies give innovators the confidence to take risks and invest in new technologies, among other benefits, and are common in large economies across the globe.

Read More >