New Industrial Property Institute established

The Chilean Congress has approved a bill establishing a new Industrial Property Institute. 
Chile led the way in the opening of Latin America to international commerce. This process started unilaterally during the last quarter of the 20th century. In recent years, Chile also entered into free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States and the European Free Trade Association, among others. Under the agreements, the parties must ensure the protection of IP rights.
During this modernization process, Chile signed the treaty that created the World Trade Organization and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. As a result, Chile modified its legislation on intellectual property on three occasions (the last amendment took place in 2007). In addition, the demand for IP rights protection increased considerably. For example, 8,000 trademark applications were filed in Chile in 1984; by 2007 the number of applications had quadrupled. 
However, the structure for the administration of IP rights had not been modernized. The existing Industrial Property Department has no legal personality and does not possess its own assets. 
Therefore, in 2000 the president of the republic submitted a bill to Congress in order to address the issue. The main features of the bill were as follows:
  • The Industrial Property Department will be replaced by a new Industrial Property Institute, an autonomous agency with a legal personality and its own assets. The institute will be in charge of the administration of industrial property in Chile.
  • The institute will be headed by an elected director and will have a highly qualified and highly paid staff.  
  • The institute will have a budget of up to approximately $5 million (ie, five times the amount of the current budget).  
  • The new institute will have greater responsibilities than the current Industrial Property Department. Among other things, the institute will be in charge of transmitting knowledge, conducting research and providing information to users.
  • The director will retain his or her authority to resolve conflicts arising out of the creation and maintenance of IP rights (as a first instance judge), and to issue administrative decisions.
The bill, which was published in the Official Gazette on April 14 2008, must be implemented by the president of the republic within 180 days by means of a supreme decree.
Sergio Amenábar Villaseca, Estudio Federico Villaseca, Santiago

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