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09 September 2019
The National Development Plan 2019-2024 (NDP) was published on 12 July 2019, just a few days before the release of the Global Innovation Index (GII) on 24 July 2019. The NDP is an indication of what to expect from the new government that took office in December 2018, while Mexico's GII rankings arguably reflect the results of the outgoing government's public policies.
Mexico is ranked 56th in the general GII ranking. However, it is considered one of the best countries in the world for global companies to undertake R&D activity (ranked 29th). This may be due to the availability of high-level scientists, a fact supported in the H Index of the GII, in which Mexico is ranked 34th. Mexico is also a safe harbour for foreign investment because of its low patenting activity. This is illustrated in the GII by the low intensity of patent-based transactions. In this regard, Mexico is ranked 104th.
Innovation in Mexico appears to focus on high-tech imports, for which Mexico is ranked 10th. This confirms that Mexican companies innovate via a purchase model rather than local projects, which is supported by the fact that Mexico nearly made the GII's top 10 for high and medium-tech innovation output and exports.
The government's online services for prosecuting industrial property right infringements illustrates why Mexico is doing better in this sector of services (ranked 22nd).
As regards intellectual property, Mexico's GII ranking reflects the longstanding cultural barrier to these IP rights. This is the result of low numbers of patent filings by residents, Patent Cooperation Treaty filings by residents and the number of patent families linked to two or more patent offices (for which Mexico is ranked 76th, 65th and 63rd, respectively). However, this position contrasts with the fact that Mexico is ranked first in the world for creative goods exports. The divergence between the two suggests that there is scope to exploit the IP rights behind creative good exports to a greater extent.
Unlike the previous version, the new NDP does not expressly mention patents or intellectual property. This is not a good sign for a knowledge-based economy ranked first in the world for creative goods exports. Unfortunately, this perception is supported by the fact that the new head of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), Juan Lozano, was named as an officer of the new government. Lozano's previous role was at the Mexican Institute for Social Security – the largest government health services provider for Mexican workers. He has no prior IP-related experience.
The NDP includes no surprises on top of what was expected based on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's election campaign. Rather than a plan with specific metrics, it is more of a political document with broad policy statements.
The NDP contains only vague references that could be linked to intellectual property, including the following:
The federal government must recover its function as a constructive and supportive referee for conflicts and start complying with its constitutional mandates as guardian for individual and collective rights, fully assuming its faculties as conductor and fosterer of the economy.
The word 'innovation' appears only once in the entire document, with regard to the mandate of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT): "CONACYT shall coordinate the National Plan for Innovation in benefit of society and national development with the participation of universities, the people, scientists and enterprises."
The creation of technology transfer offices – one of the more successful public policies of the past 10 years, which saw the number of patents filed increase from approximately 700 in 2007 to almost 1,400 in 2018 – does not seem to be among the policies promoted by the new government. The work of these offices to promote innovation and scientific knowledge in Mexico may keep them going for now, but without the government's financial and political support, they will likely disappear in future.
One year on from the presidential election, the economic and political situation in Mexico can still be described as uncertain.
The IMPI seems to be working steadily and regularly despite the dramatic budget cuts introduced by the new government. At the same time, the Senate has ratified the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which strengthens the IP system in the region in a somewhat contradictory action. However, it seems that political interests will prevail over technical and economic criteria when it comes to drafting public policy.
Further, the protection of IP rights does not appear to be a priority for policymakers. The government's plans for the next six years seem to be focused on defending local communities' cultural heritage. It seems that IP protection will be addressed only when it interferes with or would benefit the large projects set out in the president's development plan (ie, a new refinery, airport infrastructure and a trainline through the Maya zone in Eastern Mexico).
For further information on this topic please contact Héctor Elias Chagoya at Becerril, Coca & Becerril SC by telephone (+52 55 5263 8730) or email (email@example.com). The Becerril, Coca & Becerril website can be accessed at www.bcb.com.mx.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
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