Congress implements new Law on Industrial Property


After a lengthy delay, the Chilean Congress has enacted a new Law on Industrial Property, which amends the current law to conform to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

The new law should have been enacted in January 2000 but the process has been delayed considerably due to the complexity of certain issues and the execution of Free Trade Agreements, particularly the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which required legal implementation (see Congress ratifies trade agreement promoting trademark rights).

The new law significantly broadens the scope of protection for industrial property in Chile. Among other things, it will have the following effects:

  • Protection will be granted to industrial and layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits.

  • The level of protection offered to appellations of origin and geographical indications, restricted under the previous law to the wine and pisco (a type of Chilean brandy) industries, will be widened to cover relevant agricultural and food products.

  • It will restructure the protection conferred to trade secrets and confidential information.

  • The new law will strengthen the protection of famous and well-known trademarks.

  • It will add to the range of actions available to the holders of industrial property rights. They will be able to use not only existing criminal actions, but also preventative measures, civil actions and systems to determine the damages caused by an infringing act.

  • The criteria for patentable subject matter will be broadened.

The new law also aims to balance industrial property rights with other rights. For example, industrial property right owners will be forced to offer up their rights through compulsory licences where it is deemed necessary (i) in light of public interest, national security, public health or other types of emergency, or (ii) in the interests of free competition.

Some other changes brought in by the new law relate to the Arbitration Court of Industrial Property Matters. There will be an increase in the number of members of the court from three permanent members to six permanent members and four substitute members. It is expected that this increase will help to expedite appeal proceedings and reduce the court's backlog.

Carmen Paz Alvarez, Sargent & Krahn, Santiago

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