Background of Intellectual Property Protection in Mexico

The first efforts made related to intellectual property protection in Mexico can be traced back to 1832 with the “Law of Property Rights for Inventors”.  At that time, this statute was implemented as a protective measure for certain types of ideas and inventions.  It was heavily influenced by existing Spanish law, and was subsequently superseded in 1889 by the “Law of Manufacturing Trademarks.”  This law was modeled after French intellectual property protection legislation and was implemented during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz.

In the twentieth century, intellectual property protection in Mexico was heavily influenced by international agreements and foreign statutes such as the Brussels Review (1900), the Washington Review (1911), the Hague Review (1925), and the Convention of Paris (1934).  Furthermore, Mexico’s Law of Industrial Property of 1943 was heavily influenced by laws enacted in France for the protection of intellectual property within its borders. This law was modified many times and was used as the basis for the “Law of Inventions and Trademarks”, which was implemented by the Mexican government in 1976.  The statute was utilized to protect intellectual property in Mexico until 1991 when the “New Law of Industrial Property” was issued.

Mexico’s “New Law of Industrial Property,” or as it is called in Spanish “Ley de Propiedad Industrial,” was modified in 1994 to bring it into line with NAFTA standards.  Under the updated law, “the author or the person who creates an invention, utility model or an industrial design has the right to exclusively exploit it for his benefit himself or by another duly authorized individual.”  According to the NAFTA agreements on the subject of intellectual property protection in Mexico, Canada, and the United States, if one country cannot give the minimum guarantees to an investor, that person or group of individuals have the right to go to an arbitration court.  “The arbitration court will defend the interests of the investor, without taking into account the national legislation of the defendant country.”

How Intellectual Property in Mexico is Classified

In Mexico, Intellectual Property (IP) is divided into two categories: Copyright (literary, musical, artistic and photographic works, among others) and Industrial Property (Inventions and registrations). The Ministry of Economy, through the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) has the legal authority to administer systems of intellectual property protection in Mexico at the national level.

The items protected by the IMPI are:

  • Patent, which is the product or process that proves to be new at the international level;
  • Utility model, which are those modifications to existing inventions, tools, and machinery to improve their performance;
  • Industrial Designs such as Industrial Model, Industrial Drawing, Brand, Commercial Notice, Commercial Name and Denomination of Origin.

The protection of industrial property is intended to prevent any unauthorized use of patents, utility models, and industrial designs.  This is why the Institute is governed by 3 characteristics of industrial property rights:

  • Exclusivity, where the owner is the only one authorized to exploit commercially what he has protected;
  • Territoriality, which are the rights granted within the national territory and is independent of those granted in other countries;
  • Temporality, which is the stipulated time during which the protected can be exploited commercially.

Intellectual Property Protection in Mexico and the NAFTA

Today, the rules governing intellectual property protection in Mexico are under scrutiny.  As the process of the renegotiation of the NAFTA continues, representatives of the three signatory countries all agree that intellectual property rights need to be better safeguarded to ensure the trading bloc’s global competitiveness.  The governments of the Mexico, Canada, and the United States are certain of the fact that many of the NAFTA’s IP provisions are out-of-date or are under-enforced.   It is estimated that infringement of patent rights and IP theft costs American consumers and businesses $300 billion each year.

Intellectual property protection in Mexico is particularly important to the United States and to its economy. Intellectual property-intensive industries support the jobs of about one in five US workers, while that value that such industry contributes to the United States’ economy is a more than significant $6 trillion of its GDP.

The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property Protects IP in Mexico

In Mexico, the governmental entity with the legal authority to enforce the laws that ensure intellectual property protection in Mexico is the “Instituto Mexicano de Propriedad Industrial,” or the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI).  The IMPI was established by governmental decree in 1993 for the purpose of providing technical and professional support to Mexico’s Ministry of Economy. Its mission is to:

  • Grant intellectual property protection in Mexico using patents, utility model registrations, and industrial designs;
  • Prevent and combat acts that violate intellectual property rights and promote unfair competition;
  • Promote invention, innovation and the transfer of technologies in order to make the Mexican economy competitive on a global scale;
  • Promote international cooperation through the exchange of information with institutions responsible for protecting intellectual properties in other countries.