Pharmaceutical patent owners on alert


Otto Licks and Marcela de Souza

New law enacted by President Lula and two leading cases currently pending before Brazil’s highest courts may leave blockbuster drugs without patent protection in Brazil, say Otto Licks and Marcela de Souza.

Brazil was authorised by the World Trade Organization in 2009 to cross-retaliate against the US for its subsidies on upland cotton. President Lula enacted new legislation, on February 10, 2010, announcing his statutory authority to suspend the rights of US intellectual property owners in Brazil.

Patents on pharmaceutical and chemical products stand out among the targeted IP rights. According to the Brazilian government, although retaliation with goods would certainly bother the US, threatening to lift pharmaceutical patentprotection could make the affected industry sectors push the US government to eliminate its cotton subsidies and negotiate with Brazil. In addition, retaliating against IP rights may benefit local industries and customers, while commercial retaliations could cause the opposite effect, increasing the price of imported products to the Brazilian market.

US companies or citizens who own or license IP rights in Brazil, and even foreign companies located or with their principal place of business in the US, may be affected.

Brazil, pharmaceutical patents, Brazil, WTO