New temporary e-filing system for duration of covid-19 national emergency
- Starting from 27 April 2020 and as long as the national sanitary emergency remains effective, SAPI is implementing a temporary e-filing system for certain IP-related matters
- The new system applies to trademark applications and searches, among other things
- All mandatory documents and related formalities may also be filed digitally along with each application
In a surprising move, on 24 April 2020 the Venezuelan Intellectual Property Office (SAPI) published a decision informing users that, starting from 27 April 2020 and as long as the national sanitary emergency remains effective (ie, at least until 12 May 2020), the agency will implement a temporary e-filing system for the following IP-related matters:
- trademark applications;
- trademark searches;
- recordal of assignments, changes to the address or name of the applicant, and mergers;
- patent applications; and
- copyright-related recordals.
All mandatory documents and related formalities, such as notarisations, apostilles and translations, may also be filed digitally during this period along with each application. However, originals will have to be submitted in compliance with all mandatory formalities once SAPI has resumed its regular operations.
Further, for the duration of the national emergency, all official fees must be paid in the Venezuelan currency (bolivar) through wire transfer to one of SAPI’s bank accounts - a decision that could make it easier for local agents to secure IP rights for foreign entities.
While the IP community has welcomed this initiative, there are still a few issues to clarify and SAPI’s technological and human resources will be tested to their limits (eg, an IG live was supposed to take place to explain the process and receive inquiries, but was shut down after a few minutes due to poor connectivity), especially considering the volume of pending transactions and that Venezuela was among the first countries in Latin America to implement a full lockdown (in force since 15 March).
Local law firms are hoping that the new process will be a success and that all the security protocols applicable to teleworking will be complied with.
The new temporary system should thus be good news for the IP community. The Venezuelan IP system has been on a rollercoaster ride for more than two decades, and it is hoped that this recent development will alleviate the confusion.
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