Argentine labs are planning to initiate court actions against a resolution of the Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial ("INPI"), which is the agency in charge of trademarks and patents. They are planning to launch a media campaign to reinforce their argument.

Resolution No. 56/2016 of the INPI has set forth that studies and examinations performed by certain foreign agencies of patents of other countries may be taken into consideration at the time of granting or refusing an Argentine patent.

Sources from CILFA, the industry association grouping Argentine labs, insist that the new regulation violates principles contemplated within at least six Argentine laws, and that it will allow foreign labs to "import" foreign patents, overlooking Argentine health and sanitary controls for the sake of benefiting interests of foreign companies. The Argentine labs also fear that this new INPI Resolution may favor "ever greening", which is the practice of obtaining extensions of terms of patents in up to 20 years, solely by introducing minor modifications on the molecular structure.

That industry association is planning to file an injunction in Court called "Amparo" (action consisting in a remedy aimed at protecting constitutional rights) in the next few days. Coupled with that legal action they are planning to publish news through paid advertisements in the main newspapers, asserting substantially that "the INPI resolution favors foreign monopolistic companies, it will result in an increase in prices, and it will have an adverse effect on employment, investments and the development of Argentine industry". They are also planning to file actions against Mr. Dámaso Pardo, the head of INPI.

However, sources of the Ministry of Production, which is the central agency in charge of INPI, have made it clear that they will not back down from this new controversial resolution. They are basing their position upon the grounds that the precedents settled by studies performed by foreign agencies will not be binding. In that respect, they insist on the idea that the INPI, after thorough analysis, may grant or reject patent applications according to patentability (novelty, invent-step, industrial application), as required under the legal framework. They have also indicated that the foregoing may in no way result in a resignation to exercise enforcement on intellectual property matters. To reinforce that argument, they have expressed that the new procedure will accelerate the processing of patents applications and reduce costs, consistent with similar procedures that have already been adopted by each of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, México, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The upcoming dispute is likely to be featured by high-profile, since controversies where the Argentine pharma industry challenge measures that allegedly benefit foreign pharma industries always raise media attention. It is likely that the matter will end-up being settled at the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice.

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