By Diario Financiero

Chile has steadily moved forward in intellectual property matters, and universities have gradually begun to become a part of this trend.

Since its implementation in early 2009, the National Institute of Intellectual Property (Inapi) has received 3,178 patent applications submitted by Chilean residents, 409 of which have been presented by universities. 


Additionally, since October 22 of last year, when it began its operations as the authority in charge of the preliminary international search and examination (ISA/IPEA) within the context of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, it has received 75 search and preliminary examination requests for patenting abroad, and 26 of such requests have been filed by universities.


Its national director, Maximiliano Santa Cruz, stated that a key element for this has been the creation of Investigation and Development Vice-rectories at the universities along with the establishment of Transfer and Licensing Offices (OTL), entrusted with managing intellectual property policies and detecting innovations that are transferable to society.


Sources at Corfo have declared that 22 OTLs currently exist in Chile, and that the institution has already carried out two competitive examinations in order to strengthen the entity, assigning approximately $4.250 billion. The first process corresponds to period 2011-2013, in which 21 OTL were supported (15 received independent subsidies and 6 collaborative subsidies), and the second process encompasses the 2014-2016 period, individually supporting 15 OTL.


On the other hand, Inapi has also promoted these instruments, signing agreements with universities and with the National University Network (Reuna) for the purpose of conducting training programs and activities. Furthermore, it also established a US$300 preferential fee for its ISA/IPEA services provided to universities; fees that are among the lowest in the world.


Santa Cruz highlights that “all of this has led to a significant increase in patent applications during recent times, going from 63 in 2013 to 115 in 2014”.


The leaders

The universities which have submitted the most patent applications before the Inapi during 2014 were Universidad de Concepción (27), Universidad de Santiago (23), Universidad Católica (21) and Universidad de Chile(19), jointly accounting for more than 78% of the total.


Last year, Universidad de Concepción submitted seven applications abroad, thus reaching a total of 31 applications being processed in other countries plus 14 that have been successfully granted, along with 106 currently being processed in Chile, plus 68 approved applications. 


In this sense, its Head of Intellectual Property, Ximena Sepúlveda, expresses that an essential element has been the enactment of a clear and fair intellectual property policy, which they are currently updating in order for it to comply with international standards. “Such policy sets forth ownership rules and creates incentives for the inventors”, she points out.


In turn, Universidad Católica’s director of Transference and Development, Álvaro Ossa, reveals that the university has carried out intense patenting endeavors abroad, submitting 64 applications during 2014 and thus holding 214 foreign and 118 national applications.


The expert further announces that their goal is to triple the applications by 2020, for which purposes they are strongly focused in communication and training; they have defined incentives for developing, protecting and transferring intellectual property; and they have carried out yearly tenders to finance and promote this activity, among other measures.


On the other hand, Universidad de Santiago holds 173 applications (36 abroad) and 60 granted applications (29 in Chile and 31 abroad), and its goal for this year is to generate at least a couple of new projects, as declared by its Technological Transfer director, Luis Magne.


The expert asserts that universities with no tradition in technological investigation are the ones that face the greatest challenges when it comes to patents, however said universities do participate in such activities and even lose the chance to adequately protect their developments. “Know-how developed by universities that have had the chance to generate this knowledge must be divulged and transferred, and those universities which still do not possess it, must be assisted”, he argues, also stating that their processes, procedures, regulations and manuals can be transferred and adjusted to the specific conditions of whoever requires them.