Pursuant to the Special Programme for the Improvement of Federal Public Administration Management (2008 to 2012) – the aim of which is to maximise the quality of goods and services provided by the Public Service Ministry and to improve the delivery of public services through developments in the information and communication technology sector – the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) has amended its procedures in order to make the Mexican IP protection system easier to use and more efficient. To implement this technological change, the IMPI has:
- streamlined the filing process for industrial designs and trademark applications by allowing parties to file, make payments and submit applications online; and
- introduced an online industrial design search system available to IP system users.
The shortterm goals of these initial strategies are to:
- reduce the frequency of the most commonly made mistakes in filing applications; and
- make the examination procedure for industrial designs and trademarks more agile and efficient.
Fortunately – for both the IMPI and Mexican IP system users – recent statistics on the online application filing and design search systems are positive.
From January to March 2014, the IMPI received 3,566 efilings, a 152% increase on the 1,657 applications received in 2013. The total number of trademark applications received in the same period (ie, the first trimester of 2014) was 27,820. In the corresponding period in 2013, the IMPI received 26,718 applications – reflecting an increase of approximately 4%.
As can be seen from these statistics, online applications constituted almost 13% of 2014 first trimester filings, compared with 6% of 2013 first trimester filings – an increase of more than double. The popularity of the online filing system is thus likely to continue to grow significantly in the coming years, since it offers many benefits for IP system users and the IMPI is continually improving the platform in accordance with feedback from applicants and IP firms that use the online platform.
Finally, the IMPI granted 21,668 trademark registrations from January to March 2014, compared with 16,113 registrations in 2013. This represents an increase of approximately 35%. Therefore, the filing and granting process has clearly become more efficient and is consistent with the strategic objectives.
Industrial design applications In the first three months of 2014, the IMPI received 1,072 industrial design applications through traditional filing, compared with 1,025 applications submitted during the corresponding period in 2013. This represents a 4.5% increase. However, the IMPI received only three e¬filings from January to March 2014, compared with the six applications received over the same period in 2013 – representing a 100% decrease.
As evidenced by these numbers, Mexican IP system users have made almost no use of the online service with respect to industrial designs. The main reason for this is that the online platform cannot accommodate all of the particulars involved in the filing of industrial design applications. Therefore, users have preferred to file through the traditional method. However, the IMPI is working to resolve these problems, since the industrial design e- filing system is intended to be the basis for implementing online platforms for other inventions – namely, patents and utility models – in the near future.
The online design search service became available to the public on December 6 2013. Although the time that it takes to receive the results of design searches has been significantly shortened over the years, the new online service will further reduce wait times, helping IP system users to make quicker decisions based on their specific needs.
As these statistics show, use of the online filing system for trademark applications has grown significantly and is expected to continue to grow, due to its benefits for both the IMPI and users.
The challenge is to adjust and refine the missing elements of the industrial design online filing system. Once all of the particulars are resolved, more IP system users will file online and this platform will serve as the basis on which to implement online filing systems for other inventions. The establishment of a good e¬filing system for intellectual property such as patents and utility models will help Mexico to become a strong reference point for IP matters in Latin America.
Considering the relevant strategies and international agreements that the IMPI has undertaken in 2013 and the first three months of 2014 – such as Mexico's accession to the Madrid Protocol and the visits of European Patent Office President Benoit Battistelli and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry to the IMPI facilities – the technological changes made in order to harmonise the Mexican IP system with WIPO guidelines are already taking effect. Although the IMPI has consolidated several agreements with the WIPO and other patent and trademark offices worldwide, some issues have yet to be addressed – once they are resolved, further positive effects will be seen for users of the patent and trademark system in Mexico.
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