by Rodrigo Borges Carneiro
April 26, 2006
The Brazilian Government has announced last April 18, 2006 a plan to protect the names of national fruits, plants and microorganisms against international misappropriation as trademarks.
During the past years, the Brazilian Government has fought international battles against applicants who tried to obtain trademarks and consequently exclusive rights for names of indigenous fruits such as "cupuaçu" (which can be used to produce a type of chocolate) relying on the ignorance of International Trademark Offices to the generic nature of these terms.
The international trademark registrations of these national names is seen as a threat to Brazilian companies trying to export local fruits and plants as well as products derived from them.
After considerable research, the Ministry of Agriculture has compiled a database of approximately 5000 (five thousand) names of plants, fruits and microorganisms, such as "cupuaçu", "açaí", "pinhão", "maracujá" and "ayahuasca". The list has names in languages of indian Brazilian tribes such as "tupi guarani" and translations. This initial database was presented to an Intellectual Property Task Force composed of members of the Ministries of Industry and Commerce, Foreign Relations and Science and Technology.
The Governmental Task Force on IP has plans to distribute a digital copy of the database to Trademark Offices around the globe. The Government will ask the Trademark Offices to consult the database and reject trademark applications containing the names of national fruits, plants and microorganisms as generic names.
The Brazilian Trademark Office already displays on its website a smaller list of fruits from the Amazon region and is expected now to adopt the new database to assist on the analysis of trademark applications.