After several years off the political agenda, the Uruguayan Parliament is debating the country's accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

The PCT was signed in Washington in 1970 and to date has 152 members. Upon submitting an international patent application under the PCT, the applicants have the possibility of protecting their invention in a large number of countries, for which, following an international phase, they must initiate a national phase in each country in which they wish to obtain the patent. This system is geared to providing a more efficient and economical procedure for inventors.

Simultaneously, the Uruguayan government is evaluating a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile, in which one of the most controversial aspects is Uruguay's obligation to adhere to the PCT. While the Uruguayan government's official position today is in favor of treaty accession, some of the governing party's sectors question the advisability for countries like Uruguay, which generates few patents, to join the PTC.

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