30 June 2019
Latin America’s rst
In September 2018, with the support of the World
Intellectual Propert y Organization (WIPO), PROSUR, a
regional organization ma ndated to foster cooperation in
the eld of industrial prope rty, launched its rst Patented
Invention Competition. The aim of the com petition was to
promote innovation and to encourage gre ater use of the
IP system, in general, and the patent system in par ticular,
across Latin America.
“The competition has enabled us to promote greater
awareness across the region about the role that patents
can play in incentivizing innovation, in improving the re-
gion’s competiveness and in driving its econ omic growth,”
said PROSUR’s acting President, Harr y Peralta López.
“Every year, more than 50,000 patent applic ations are led
in Latin America. O ur aim in running the competition is to
encourage much greater use of the p atent system and, of
course, to demonstrate the region’s capacity to develop
ground-breaking and commercially valuable inventions.”
ROLLING OUT THE COMPETITION
The call for applications to enter th e competition was open
to the 13 member countries of PROSUR (see box). Following
a rigorous screening pro cess, 23 applications – of which 11
had led patent applications un der WIPO’s Patent Cooper-
ation Treaty – made it to the competition. Applica nts were
required to provide proof that their inventio n was covered by
a patent or utility model regi stration that had been granted
within ve years prior to the date of the competition’s launch.
“The competition was develope d not only to give special
recognition to Latin Amer ican innovators, but also to en-
courage innovation and creativit y, which are key elements
for ensuring development throughout the region,” noted
Mr. Peralta López.
The applications were evaluated by a jur y of experts from
the International Federation of I nventors’ Associations, the
Max Planck Institute, the Inter-American Development
Bank and Marca Sur Magazine.
The winners, announced in January 2019, hail from
Argentina, Chile and Peru. Entrants for the competition
included some of the best patented inventions in the
region. All of the inventions that made it to the nal
selection were evaluated according to the following
criteria: potential to generate social and economic
benets; environmental impact; the number of countries
in which they were protected; and gender focus.
The competition’s top prize went to a team of research-
ers from Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology
Institute for their work in combatti ng the harmful effects
of rotavirus, a pathogen that kills over 550,0 00 children
globally every year.
The judges chose the work of the winning team – Thomas
Surrey, Aurelien Olichon, Silvia Sebastián Gómez, José
Ángel Martínez Escribano, Andrés Wigdorovitz, Lorena
Laura Garaicoeachea, Gisela Ariana Marcoppido and Gladys
Viviana Parreño – because they determined it would play a
crucial role in improving the well-being of children in Latin
America and beyond.
The initiative took shape in 2011, when the researchers began
looking for a solution to neutralize dif ferent rotavirus variants
using nano-antibodies from camelid herbivores, such as
llamas, alpacas, and vicuña s, which are common in Argentina.
One of the team’s objectives was to make dairy products
containing these antibodies to protect children under the
age of ve from diarrhea.
By Constanza Zülch and Fra ncisco Carrasco,
Communicat ions Division, National I nstitute of
Industria l Property, Chile