Uruguay IP Development

Uruguay belongs to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is also a signatory to the Paris Convention, Berne Convention, Rome Convention, Phonograms Convention, Nairobi Treaty, and the Universal Copyright Convention. Uruguay's Intellectual Property Rights regime does not yet meet international standards. The most serious deficiency is the specific exclusion of pharmaceuticals and chemical products from patent protection. Public/private sector commissions have been drafting IPR legislation on patents and copyrights to bring Uruguay up to the standards specified in the WTO TRIPS Agreement. In 1998 and 1999, Uruguay also
passed trademark and patent legislation.

   Patents in Uruguay are protected by Law No.17164 of September 2, 1999. The law provides a lax definition for compulsory licensing and vaguely defines compensation as "adequate remuneration" to be paid to the patent-holder. The government does not discriminate between foreign and domestic patent holders. Owners and assignees of foreign patents may register patents in Uruguay, provided application is made within three years of registration in the country of
origin. Registered patents are protected for ten years, less the period of protection already enjoyed in the country of origin. Licensing is not mandatory. Pharmaceuticals and chemical products are not patentable. Invention patents have a twenty-year term of protection from the date of filing. Patents for utility models and industrial designs have a ten-year term of protection from the filing date and may be extended for and additional five years.


   In 1998, a new bill on trademarks was approved. Foreign trademarks may be registered in Uruguay and receive the same protection as domestic trademarks. Registering a foreign trademark without proving a legal commercial connection
with the trademark is no longer a possibility. The Uruguay approved a trademark law on September 25, 1998 upgrading trademark legislation to TRIPS standards.
Under this law, a registered trademark lasts ten years and can be renewed as many times as desired. It provides prison penalties of six months to three years for violators, and requires proof of a legal commercial connection to register a foreign trademark. Enforcement of trademark rights is adequate and has improved in recent years as a result of an intense anti- smuggling campaign.

   Uruguay affords copyright protection to inter alia, books, records, videos, and software. As Uruguay's Copyright Law dates to 1937, the extent to which it protects computer software is subject to judicial interpretation each time a case is
presented. Despite legal protection, enforcement of copyrights for software is still weak and pirating of software is estimated at 80 percent. Software suppliers estimated that losses due to piracy were more than $10 million in 1997. The 2003 copyright law represented a significant improvement over the 1937 law. However, IPR enforcement remains ineffective and the GOU fails to provide adequate TRIPS
consistent protection for confidential test data. Uruguay signed the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) in 1997 but, as of January 2005, had not ratified them. Uruguay has implemented aggressive anti-piracy campaigns, resulting in several successful prosecutions.


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