Ryan Denson Ryan Denson
Manager, International IP for the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce


June 21, 2024


In February, the Chamber released its annual International Intellectual Property (“IP”) Index to evaluate the state of IP protection in 55 global economies. As highlighted in the Chamber’s recent post regarding worldwide trademark enforcement trends, while there has been positive momentum to improve IP protection worldwide, much work remains to be done to enhance the ecosystem for IP-driven innovation and creativity.

Latin America – with its mixed record on patent enforcement – is no exception to ongoing negative trends within the patent sphere.

The issue: While Latin America remains just ahead of Africa and the Middle East in the regional rankings, recent negative developments and ongoing trends threaten billions of dollars in R&D, manufacturing, and investment as well as the region’s capacity to unlock its potential as a regional innovation hub.

Take, for example:

  • In Argentina, the long-standing resolution limiting the patentability of pharmaceutical products has continued to affect biopharmaceutical innovation. Additionally, Argentina’s stubbornly long patent backlog of – in some cases – nearly a decade, hampers innovation across multiple sectors.
  • In Brazil, the lack of personnel and monetary resources for INPI – Brazil’s patent office – coupled with lengthy delays in examination represents a major drag on innovation in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, and technological sectors despite recent and successful institutional efforts that have cut the patent backlog (highlighted in the Index).
  • In Chile, a crucial patent linkage mechanism has yet to be implemented, despite the country’s commitment to do so in its free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S., which resulted in several major patent infringements during a government-led procurement process in 2023; this is also contrary to the government's National Development Plan, whose domestic health R&D and production capability goals would benefit from better IP protection.
  • In Colombia, a compulsory license was issued earlier this year against a small molecule as part of a broader program from the Ministry of Health that could be a violation of the TRIPS agreement and the FTA Colombia has with the U.S.
  • In Mexico, the government has yet to implement many of USMCA’s IP-related commitments, including the institution of a patent linkage mechanism, regulatory data protection for small molecules and biosimilars, and much-needed patent term restoration.

The bottom line:  Robust IP rights protection is a critical incentive for foreign investors. It encourages innovation, fosters creativity, and attracts businesses involved heavily in research and development, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, software development, and high-tech manufacturing. Latin American governments must remedy these longstanding issues.

About the authors

Ryan Denson

Ryan Denson

Ryan Denson is Manager for International IP for the Global Innovation Policy Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.