Providing online services has been one of the mainstreams of the new administration of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI, by its initials in Spanish).
On March 2019, the first project launched by IMPI was the electronic notification of office actions through the official gazette. As an overview, in 2019, IMPI's Patent Division issued 105,243 official documents in paper. Therefore, this initiative saved money, tons of paper to every user of the Intellectual Property system and contributed to the environmental care as well. Another important benefit was the reduction on timeframes of the process.
One year later, on March 2020, the Covid-19 outbreak caused for the IMPI to speed up the implementation and launch of additional projects regarding electronic means to contribute to both efficiency for the IP system and to government healthcare measures. The main e-services that IMPI currently provides are:
a) MARCia: it is the new IMPI's assistant with artificial intelligence that helps the IP system users to perform trademark searches. It comprises, among other elements, a search tool for trademark applications and registrations. Additionally, the user can easily search if a device mark is similar or equal to another application or registration in Mexico. This new module is also available in a downloadable app from iOS or Android operating systems.
b) Trademark filings and prosecution online system: this service has been available as of 2017 and its use has increased steadily over time. In 2019, 162,301 trademark applications were submitted before the IMPI, of which approximately 80% were submitted through this means. It is important to mention that when filing a trademark application through the online modality, the related prosecution procedure must be handled in the same way.
c) Electronic desk for responding trademark official requirements : Even though last year 2019, IMPI launched this service in order to have the possibility of responding to any official action or impediment regarding a procedure that began at the paper-filing desk, IP users did not use this desk on a regular basis. Nowadays, this tool has been exploited in an extraordinary way to fulfill any official requirement.
d) Electronic desk for trademark new filings or briefs: This is the new IMPI's electronic system that allows users to electronically file those applications or briefs that are NOT available in the "Trademark filings and prosecution online system" or on the "Electronic desk for responding trademarks official requirements". Through this desk users can file, among others, the following procedures:
- Voluntary amendments
- Declarations of use
- Review resources
- Trademark renewals
With the two last e-desks mentioned above in numerals c and d, IMPI made it possible for the users to electronically file any procedure related to trademark matters without having to attend the IMPI facilities even if the trademark was initially filed in the modality of paper prosecution.
Therefore, it is the opinion of the author, that the impact of the suspension of the IMPI activities due to the pandemic will eventually decrease significantly since users will have the possibility of filing practically every procedure related to the IMPI's Trademark Division and to continue the related prosecution. Besides, these tools will also aid directly to health care because they will contribute to diminish the crowding at the IMPI's offices.
e) Electronic management petition for patent matters:
On June 8, 2020, IMPI announced this online service to enable IP users the possibility of voluntarily migrating their current paper-based patent, utility model and design applications into electronic matters (e-prosecution) by filing an electronic request / brief asking for this migration and paying the related official fees through the IMPI's e-platform. After making the payment, IMPI will confirm said petition in approximately 3 to 5 days as of the submission. It is important to mention that once IMPI accepts the petition, there will be no possibility to handle the related files in a hybrid mode (paper/electronic). Upon IMPI's confirmation, the prosecution must be handled electronically until it is finished.
IMPI's General Director informed that 50,000 paper cases will have the possibility to migrate to an electronic file, therefore helping IP users to continue with the prosecution that is currently stagnant due to the suspension of IMPI activities. Moreover, this option might reduce the very possible delay that IMPI will experience for the burden of paper-based matters that will be received at the first business day when resuming normal operation after the mandatory break in view of the pandemic.
Despite the fact that the new electronic systems were launched during the pandemic, and the IMPI was obliged to therefore accelerate scheduled processes, it is clear that these IMPI's initiatives, will tend to make the IP system more efficient and that these tools will be of great help for the present and the future.
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