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How Much Does it Cost to Obtain a Patent in the Andean Community?

Published on 7 March 2018

Think of the Andes and the first thought that instantly springs to mind is a long, towering, contiguous mountain range than runs along the western edge of South America. However, this region offers so much more, including growing economic opportunities. For a group of culturally and linguistically diverse countries nestled within it, it has provided a reason for regional integration. In this article, we shall take a look at the costs of patenting in the Andean Community, which is a South American trade bloc.

The Andean Community

In 1969, five South American countries decided to "unite voluntarily with the objective of achieving an integral, more balanced and autonomous development through Andean, South American and Latin American integration" (http://www.comunidadandina.org/). Thus, the Andean Pact was born, with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru as its member states. The Pact was subsequently renamed as the "Andean Community" in 1996. Lima, Peru currently serves as the Community"s headquarters.

Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are the current member states, which encompass a population of around 100 million and combine together for a GDP of approximately one trillion U.S. Dollars (Craig Dempsey; 2016). While Chile withdrew its membership in 1976, Venezuela, which joined in 1973, withdrew its membership in 2006.

Intellectual Property Legislation

Intellectual Property/Industrial Property legislation is harmonized within the Andean Community. The legal framework for this harmonization is contained in Decision 486, which came into force on December 1, 2000, thereby superseding Decision 344, which was enacted in 1993 (Natalia Tobón; 2001).

However, unlike some other Patent Offices, such as the European Patent Office and the Gulf Cooperation Council Patent Office, there is no centralized Andean Patent Office. As a result, separate patent applications will have to be filed in each of the four member states.

Patenting in the Andean Community

In the year 2015, close to 3,800 patent applications were filed in the Andean Community, with 60% of the patent applications being filed in Colombia (World Intellectual Property Indicators 2016; 2016). This number is expected to increase copiously in the coming years as the Community develops and Foreign Direct Investment inflows increase.

In 2016, Colombia received 16% more Foreign Direct Investment, as compared to 2015, and surpassed Chile for the first time (Holly Sonneland; 2017).

The Costs of Patenting in the Andean Community

Let us now study the costs involved in obtaining and maintaining a patent through to expiry within the Andean Community. Typically, there are three categories of costs involved: official fees, attorney charges, and translation costs.

For the purposes of this article, we shall consider a 40-page PCT National Phase patent (including five pages of drawings) with 15 claims and three independent claims, which is to be filed electronically by a company in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. Further, we shall consider a Paris Convention application in Bolivia, since it is not a member of the PCT. The National Phase applications and the Convention application claim priority to an earlier application filed in the U.S.

The total estimated costs over the lifecycle of the PCT National Phase patents and the Convention patent amount to $73,756 (Figure 1). The costs are inclusive of Value Added Tax, which has been added to the attorney charges and the translation costs in Colombia and Peru.

Official Fees - Filing

The approximate official fee to be paid at the time of filing an application (basic filing fee) varies from $23 in Colombia to $495 in Ecuador, with the fees in Bolivia ($260, including first annuity) and Peru ($222) falling somewhat in between. Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru charge an official fee for each claim in excess of 10 claims.

Official Fees – Substantive Examination and Grant

The approximate official fee to be paid for requesting a substantive examination ranges from $145 in Bolivia to $1,848 in Ecuador. In Ecuador, 10% of the official substantive examination fee is charged for each page of the patent specification in excess of 20 pages, while, in Peru, an additional official fee is charged for the examination of each independent claim in excess of one claim.

With the exception of Peru, the other three member states do not charge an official fee at the grant stage.

Translation Costs

Translation costs would be incurred both at the time of filing the application and during prosecution. The estimated costs to translate 35 pages of the specification (drawings have been excluded) at the filing stage vary between $700 in Bolivia to $1,392 in Peru. When expressed as a % of the total estimated filing costs, the translation costs are more or less similar in Peru (36.5%), Colombia (37%), and Ecuador (38%).

Likewise, the estimated translation costs at the prosecution stage vary between $600 in Bolivia to $1,094 in Peru. The estimate is based on two to three office actions being issued in each of the four jurisdictions and 10 translation pages per prosecution action. When expressed as a % of the total estimated prosecution costs, the costs vary from 14% in Colombia to 23% in Ecuador.

Patent Cost Calculator

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Venkatesh Viswanath (Senior Analyst, Quantify IP) contributed to this article.
Exchange Rates Used: 1 US Dollar = 6.91 Bolivian Bolivianos, 3,024.5 Colombian Pesos, and 3.25 Peruvian New Sol.

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