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May 5, 2014

Lessons from China

Despite being usually seen as comparable parts of the BRICs , the emerging economies of China and Brazil have more differences than similarities, not to mention the countries’ historic and cultural backgrounds. Ever since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China has impressed the world with very good indicators: substantial and steady increase in its GDP, relevant internal market, increasing participation in global trade, impressive rates of innovation and an environment that is globally much welcoming to foreign investment. Brazil, on its side, has managed to surpass economic chaos caused by hyperinflation in the beginning of the 1990s and to create a market that is both friendly to foreign investments and strongly responsive to its internal demands, after years of economic stagnancy. Both countries are heralded as strong healthy economies, with a good share of natural resources and good perspectives for the future. On the verge of organizing two major sports events in the window of two years, Brazil faces a high-class chance of giving a significant step towards being a more influent player in international trade.

Intellectual property is certainly part of this panorama. China and Brazil have experienced important developments in their national IP policies. The countries were led to enact new Trademark Acts in the late 1990s in view of the minimum standards set forth by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). As a result of the countries’ commitment to TRIPs rules, the world witnessed on both sides of the globe the creation of firm IP systems, duly based on the rule of law. Those firm systems, along with political stability and economic growth, have attracted to both markets new players and, thus, new brands. According to statistics provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the number of trademark applications filed in Brazil has nearly doubled between 1998 and 2012 (from around 78,000 to around 151,000 trademark applications). In China, the number increased by staggering 953% in the same time frame (from roughly 153,000 to approximately 1,6 million applications).

Brazilian Trademark Law has been sparsely reviewed since the introduction of the country’s Industrial Property Act, of 1996. Its main modifications have been made either by unrelated laws with impacts on Intellectual Property or by regulations enacted by the President of the INPI (National Industrial Property Institute), with few discussions about the subject arising from or happening in the National Congress.

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