The 1992 constitution guarantees the right of private property ownership. While it is common to use real property as security for loans, the lack of consistent property surveys and registries often makes it impossible to foreclose. The latest figures published by the National Rural and Land Development Institute (INDERT, in Spanish) indicate there is 47.5 percent more titled land in Paraguay than physically exists, while other private organizations suggest 70 percent of privately owned land has some sort of problem related to the property title and its registration process. Correct property title registration is a major problem, particularly in the interior of the country. In some cases, acquiring title documents for land can take two years or more. The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report ranks Paraguay 80 of 190 for ease of “registering property,” noting the process requires six procedures, averages 46 days, and costs 1.8 percent of the property value.
In 2008, the Truth and Justice Commission (CVJ), an organization created by Law 225/03 to investigate human rights violations committed during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, presented a report, which revealed that in the Eastern Region of Paraguay almost 8 million hectares of ill-gotten lands were illegally awarded during 1954-2003. Accounting the Chaco Region, it is estimated that this figure would increase to 20 million hectares.
Paraguay has a “squatter’s rights” law by which ownership of property can be gained by possession of it beyond the lapse of 20 years.
Congress has proposed bills in the past to improve regulation of properties and establish a new National Directorate of Public Registries with the intention of facilitating the adequate registration of land ownership and create a special Congressional Commission to correct underlying problems with property titles; however, the bills remain in the Congress. After the previous head of INDERT was removed from the position due to accusations of bribery in October 2020, the new leadership has made noticeable efforts to regularize property title registration in various regions of the interior of the country and has considerably increased the number of regularized property titles and revenues collected by the institution.
Intellectual Property Rights
Paraguay has been on the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report Watch List since 2019, due in part to Paraguay’s unfulfilled commitments under a 2015-2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on intellectual property rights between the United States and Paraguay. The USTR and Paraguayan government will transition and update these commitments in an Intellectual Property Workplan that will be managed under the U.S.-Paraguay Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) mechanism.
Ciudad del Este has been named in either the USTR Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy or the Special 301 Report for over 20 years. The border crossing at Ciudad del Este, and the city itself, serves as a hub for the distribution of counterfeit and pirated products in the Brazil-Argentina-Paraguay tri-border region and beyond. Informality and border porosity in the area remains a challenge.
Concerns remain about inadequate protection against unfair commercial use of proprietary test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for agrochemical or pharmaceutical products and the shortcomings in Paraguay’s patent regime. Law 3283 from 2007 and Law 3519 from 2008, (1) require pharmaceutical products and agrochemical products to be registered first in Paraguay to be eligible for data protection; (2) allow regulatory agencies to use test data in support of similar agricultural chemical product applications filed by third parties; and (3) limit data protection to five years. Additionally, Law 2593/05 that modifies Paraguay’s patent law has no regulatory enforcement. Because of this, foreign pharmaceutical companies have seen their patented products openly replicated and marketed under other names by Paraguayan pharmaceutical companies.
Although law enforcement authorities track seizures of counterfeit goods independently, there is no consolidated report available online, and the statistics vary between government offices. The National Directorate of Intellectual Property (DINAPI, in Spanish) reported 440 seizures of counterfeit goods in 2021 with an estimated retail price of USD 3.4 million. This represented a $0.1 million increase from 2020. In terms of law enforcement related to IPR, Judicial Branch contacts reported that Asuncion had 613 referrals, 87 investigations, 19 indictments, secured eight convictions for IP crimes in the greater Asuncion area (up from two in 2020), and reported the destruction of counterfeit goods with an estimated value of $2.2 million in 2021; Ciudad del Este had 126 referrals, six investigations, no indictments, and no conviction. In some instances, authorities worked together to investigate cases and pursue legal actions, but overall weak information-sharing and interagency coordination continued to hamper IPR enforcement efforts.
Paraguay has ratified all of the Uruguay Round accords, including the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and has ratified two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties. The Paraguayan Congress ratified the TRIPS Agreement in July 2018. Paraguay signed and ratified September 17, 2020 the Treaty of Nice, which establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks, and the Locarno Agreement, which establishes a classification for industrial designs. WIPO officially received on May 31, 2021 Paraguay’s instrument of accession to the Nice Agreement and Locarno Agreement.
In December 2019, DINAPI officially announced the establishment of an Interagency Coordination Center (ICC), responsible for providing a unified government response to intellectual property rights violations. The ICC has convened five times since its inception.
In July 2020, a group of Paraguayan Lower House legislators presented a draft bill to establish a temporary suspension of royalty payments for patented, genetically modified soy seeds until the end of 2021, ostensibly to provide relief to farmers during the COVID-19 crisis. The bill’s opponents argued this proposed legislation violates IPR guarantees in Paraguay’s Constitution, the 1630/2000 Patent Law on Inventions, international treaties such as TRIPS, UPOV, and trade agreements negotiated and concluded (MERCOSUR-EU and MERCOSUR-EFTA). In October 2020, the Lower House voted to approve the draft bill. The Senate rejected the bill in April 2021, and the Lower House officially accepted this rejection in July 2021. Congress reached this decision after representatives from DINAPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Service for Plant and Seed Quality and Health Agency, and private sector unions complained the bill would violate international agreements and affect legal security and the intellectual property rights acquired on biotechnology invention patents, potentially jeopardizing future investments in the country.
For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local intellectual property (IP) offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .
Regional IP Attaché
U.S. Consulate General – Rio de Janeiro
+ 55 (21) 3823-2499
Deputy Political and Economic Counselor
U.S. Embassy Asuncion
+ 595 (21) 213-715
National Intellectual Property Directorate: https://www.dinapi.gov.py/
Paraguayan-American Chamber of Commerce: http://www.amcham.com.py/
Local Lawyers: https://py.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/274/attorneys.pdf