Uruguay Is On The Verge Of Joining The PCT

Osha Bergman Watanabe & Burton LLP


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Have you ever looked at a world map and wondered how it is possible that there are still countries that are not part of the PCT?...
Uruguay Intellectual Property
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Have you ever looked at a world map and wondered how it is possible that there are still countries that are not part of the PCT?

Great news: Uruguay is on the verge of joining the PCT.

Last year, in July 2023, the Executive branch of the Uruguayan government submitted a bill to the Uruguayan Parliament for accession to the PCT. Recently, on June 4th, 2024, the Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the bill. Two days ago, on June 11th, 2024, the Uruguayan Senate unanimously ratified this bill. You can find Uruguay's patent application statistics on the WIPO website here.

It is worthwhile to note that there has been a national debate for the past few months and years regarding the advantages and disadvantages of joining the PCT. On the one hand, parties in favor argue that it promotes science and technology and fosters innovation. On the other hand, parties against (mostly pharmaceutical, agricultural, and biotech companies) argue that joining the PCT would significantly impact their production since the generic products they develop are based on expired or unpatented inventions. As such, any IP restrictions would adversely affect the availability (and price) of these products in the Uruguayan market.

The solution: Uruguay will only request to join Chapter I of the PCT, which is expected to safeguard the national industry, while still allowing Uruguayan inventors to seek international IP protection.

As is known to all, Chapter II of the PCT relates to the International Preliminary Examination, which was the divisive point in the political debate. In practice, joining the PCT without joining Chapter II means that an applicant would have the usual 30 months available to enter the national phase in Uruguay and, if desired, could benefit from an International Preliminary Report on Patentability. However, a Uruguayan inventor would not have access to certain procedures stipulated in Chapter II such as, for example, filing of a Demand for further International Preliminary Examination (IPE).

Why now?

Uruguay has been looking to join free trade agreements for several years and, as such, it is required by law to participate in the PCT. For example, Uruguay filed its application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 1st, 2022. As such, joining the PCT shows Uruguay's willingness to comply with international regulations and standards, and it is a strategic step towards the country's final acceptance into the CPTPP.

Next steps in the Uruguayan legislature are final approval by the Executive branch and the submission of the formal request to WIPO. Afterwards comes the approval of domestic regulations that will enable the implementation of the PCT.


There is a common saying in Uruguay that goes along the lines of "everything reaches Uruguay ... eventually". Therefore, it is no surprise that it only took Uruguay 40+ years to (partially) agree to join the PCT. Only time will tell what the far-reaching consequences for the national industry are and what new and exciting discoveries would emerge from small and mighty Uruguay—one of the largest per-capita exporters of software in Latin America.

I look forward to keeping you informed on any IP developments in Uruguay.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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