Protecting your intellectual property in Latin America can be an extremely tough job since it is a lot easier for individuals and businesses with unethical tendencies to copy merchandise and logos. As a business you need to protect your merchandise, reputation and company’s overall interests no matter where in the world you are. As with all things in life, there are places where this is easier to do than others. Even though countries like Brazil and Argentina make it a lot of easier for trademark counterfeiters to get around, there is no need to panic, there are ways that you can protect your intellectual property.
While Latin America has been seen as a last bastion of the Wild West, the region has a deep appreciation for intellectual property rights – at least on paper anyway. Many strides have been made when it comes to protecting the rights of intellectual property from a legal stance. Even though there may be some of the most progressive intellectual property laws in place in Latin America, it doesn’t really help if they are not enforced properly. Latin America is notorious for its’ counterfeit goods market and police have seized as much as US$50 million worth of fake goods across 13 nations in 2010 alone.
Counterfeiting doesn’t just stop at the manufacture of goods but extends to counterfeiting logos and trademarks which is where the real problems arise for a lot of investors. By copying your logo, criminals are essentially stealing your business’s goodwill. This is something that you have worked hard to build over the years. Furthermore, thanks to the speed at which news travel with the advent of social media and online forums like Hello Peter complaints, which documents everything from customer service to the quality of your products, negative reviews and news can go viral in minutes and harm your company. Even if it isn’t you who is delivering the inferior product or service, the damage will already be done. On a global scale this could mean that a company in London is affected by something that happens in Brazil, which isn’t your fault.
This includes everything from handbags to satellite phones and the amount is enough to scare any potential investor from branching out into this large and largely untapped market. However, since IP laws are now well developed in Latin America, it is a manageable and easy process to protect ones IP and profit from these massive and developing markets.
To protect your business and interests from intellectual property thieves, the first thing that you need to do is to establish a good working relationship with people in the area. By people, you need to focus on working with local agenices. As an international investor you will not be able to be in the country the entire time, while local agencies are. Furthermore, as an outsider you are less likely to understand the nuances of local law and where to look for infringement, nor know how to deal with it when you find it. Each region has unspoken rules and customs with cultural norms which you will not be as familiar as someone local. By working with local agencies a lot of the frustration of trial and error (a costly exercise) is cut out and handled everyday by knowledgeable professionals working here at UUTECH, working with our clients ensuring they become a success in Latin America.
The INPI or Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (Argentina) and Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (Brazil), are both intellectual and industrial government bodies whose sole purpose is to manage intellectual property registrations. We work closely with both organizations as well as many other local bodies that help enforce IP rights such as the division of anti - pirateria marcaria (Trademark Fraud Division)in Argentina, depending on the Direccion General de Aduanas (local customs and excise) where necessary.
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