Business risks

Australian companies are advised to spend time investigating the market, obtain professional advice where appropriate and thoroughly investigate the issues in entering the market and before establishing business relationships.

Australian firms wishing to operate in this country should commit to the highest level of corporate behaviour and familiarise themselves with Australia's laws and penalties pertaining to bribery of foreign officials.

Bribery of foreign public officials is a crime. Australian individuals and companies can be prosecuted in Australia for bribing foreign officials when overseas. Further information on the regulations governing bribery of foreign public officials is available.

For further information on frauds, scams, personal and asset security, intellectual property protection and other business risks please read more about legal issues.

Intellectual property protection

Brazil is a signatory to the Uruguay Round Agreements, including the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement, signed in 1994. In addition, Brazil is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and is a signatory to the Berne Convention (protection of copyrights). Brazil has also signed the Universal Convention on Copyrights, which protects literary and art works.

The registration of foreign software prior to marketing is no longer required. However, registration is usually recommended. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce provides registration through one of its agencies.

Software protection is granted for 50 years as of the following January from its publication. In contrast, copyright protection is for 70 years.

Foreigners may qualify for software protection, as long as their home country grants similar rights to Brazilians.

The registration of a trademark in Brazil is required to guarantee the protection of ownership rights. Trademarks that have not been registered previously, with certain exceptions, can be registered. Trademarks are registered at the INPI (Federal Intellectual Property Agency). Trade names are registered with the local “Junta Comercial” (Commercial Registry).

The fraudulent use of internationally “famous” marks has been a significant issue in Brazil. However, progress has been made in the last four years to provide greater protection for such marks. In addition, some foreign firms have been successful in taking court action against trademark infringements.

Four kinds of trademarks are legally protected in Brazil:

  • industry trademarks used by manufacturers to distinguish their product;
  • trademarks used by merchants to identify their merchandise;
  • service marks used to protect services or activities; and
  • general marks used to identify the origin of a series of products or services that are individually distinguished by specific marks.

In order for an invention to be protected it must be patented in Brazil. Brazil is a signatory of the Paris Convention. Therefore, citizens of other signatory countries, which have filed for patents in their home country, have an exclusive right to apply for patents during certain periods depending on the nature of the property.

Austrade strongly recommends that exporters obtain professional legal and accounting advice before conducting any business in Brazil. Austrade can provide referrals to service professionals.