What led you to found your own firm and what advice do you have for anyone considering doing the same?
I had long realised that there was space in Brazil for an IP firm with a keen specialisation on patents that could deliver high-quality work at a fair price. By bringing together the experience gained by our partners at some of the largest Brazilian IP firms and the drive to think outside the box and work using innovative methods, we have striven for a balance between attention to detail, quality and fair pricing, in order to meet that market need. To anyone considering doing the same, find your strengths – that is your niche. Be prepared for your weaknesses and do not be afraid to follow your dreams.
What has been your most memorable case and why?
The first appeal case for which I was responsible. The patent in question related to a blockbuster drug and the case was transferred to me at the very last stage of the appeal process. Despite being an extremely difficult matter, our team was able to reverse the decision and soon after the patent holder transferred its entire portfolio to our care.
What are the most common mistakes that you see companies making before the Brazilian Patent Office – and how can they avoid them?
Companies will often act without a profound knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of Brazilian practice and assuming that Brazilian laws and bylaws are similar to those of other jurisdictions, which of course can lead to various issues. For example, in patent prosecution, the most common and dangerous mistake is arguably not paying enough attention to the case when requesting examination. While this step is trivial in most jurisdictions, in Brazil, it is vital, as only limited amendments are allowed after the examination request. Therefore, the prosecution strategy should be carefully outlined before requesting examination to ensure that all prosecution options are maintained in both the parent application and any future divisional applications.
How have client demands changed over the past five years and how have you adapted to this?
Clients are becoming more and more sensitive to cost, especially in services that have become commoditised such as translations, filings and renewals. In order to adapt to these changes, we continually strive to streamline our processes through the use of new technologies, as well as open space and remote working solutions, which minimise the overhead costs but allow us to maintain the quality that our clients are used to.
What three big changes do you see coming to the Brazilian biotech space – and how can companies best prepare themselves?
In my opinion the main biotech inventions over the next few years will probably relate to one of three things: CRISPR technology; vaccines and vaccine-related technologies; or personalised medicine. To remain competitive, Brazilian companies will not only have to invest in good human capital but also have to continue to invest in their IP portfolios. While we have seen an increase in IP awareness in Brazil and the desire to invest more in intellectual property over the years, the investment that companies make in this field, with a few notable exceptions, remains insufficient. For example, the number of companies that hire in-house patent attorneys with technical qualifications remains extremely limited. Brazilian companies in general, and biotech companies in particular, that wish to be relevant players on a global scale need to start making intellectual property a priority.
Leonor Magalhães Galvão
Leonor Magalhães Galvão is a founder of magellan IP and head of the firm’s patent department. She obtained a bachelor’s and a PhD in biochemistry from Imperial College London and the University of São Paulo, respectively. Dr Magalhães Galvão is a Brazilian industrial property agent who represents clients in patent matters in the fields on chemistry, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. She is a member of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property green tech and pharma and biotech committees.