The framework for intellectual property protection and safe technology transfer in Mexico
Effective mechanisms are in place to protect intellectual property and perform technology transfer in Mexico.
Laws that provide for the protection and regulation of the transfer, use, and/or ownership of artistic works, technological knowledge, and trade identity in Mexico are authorized in both Mexican national law and the NAFTA. The intellectual property of a business may be the most important asset that a business owns. Many companies carefully look at regimes for protecting IP and transferring technology when going about the process of choosing the countries in which they will do business. Firms that have weighty concerns related to technology transfer and intellectual property will find assurances within Mexico’s legal framework. The country guarantees a safe haven for intellectual property and corporate, technical knowledge.
NAFTA dictates the minimum standards of protection of intellectual property that must be provided within the US, Canada, and Mexico, but those countries typically exceed these minimum provisions. Most notable among Mexico’s legal framework is the introduction of express protection for industrial secrets with heavy penalties for piracy as well as the patentability of pharmaceuticals. Technology transfer under Mexican law seeks to harmonize Mexican policy with international intellectual property practices. Additional protections in Mexico are outlined as follows:
Mexico recognizes three kinds of trademark: names/figures, three-dimensional forms, and trade names. Companies may apply for 10-year protection of a trademark to the Mexican Industrial Property Institute or “the Institute.” Applications are granted to those who meet eligibility under Mexico’s Industrial Property Law (IPL).
The IPL has introduced the construct of an industrial model, defined as “objects, items, apparatuses, or tools which, as a result of a change in formation, configuration, structure or form, have a function or usefulness different from their constituent parts.” Protection may be granted for ten or twenty years for all models with the exclusion of “living materials” for items considered to be intellectual property or subject to technology transfer in Mexico.
Copyrights registered by Mexico’s General Copyright Bureau are effective over any intellectual commercial or artistic work for the duration of the author’s life plus 100 years.
Reservation of Exclusive Use Right
In artistic activities, characters may be protected for a particular show, publication, etc. under “reservation of exclusive use rights, to use and exploit, exclusively, titles, names, denominations, distinctive physical and psychological characteristics, or original operation characteristics applied, in accordance with their respective nature.”
According to Mexico’s IPL, a franchise must be registered with the Institute and exists when a trademark license includes technical assistance enabling operation in a manner consistent with the policies and procedures established by the franchisor.
The Industrial Property Law ensures full and swift enforceability of protections related to intellectual property and technology transfer in Mexico. Infringement of trade secrets is a criminal offense carrying a penalty of two to six years in prison. Intellectual property infringement of any kind, and unfair competition are severely penalized by the IPL. In some cases, the Institute may even seize all related goods to stop likely infringement prior to an official investigation or decision from the Institute of Public Prosecutor.