Mexico: Using IP Rights To Achieve Results: Collective Marks And Denominations Of Origin

Last Updated: 22 March 2013
Article by Rosa E. Nuria Becerril

Most Read Contributor in Mexico, November 2018

We know that the circulation of presumably counterfeited products is a global problem that poses a great challenge to government Authorities and to formal merchandisers since these products constitute an illegal but very strong competition that is very difficult to surpass because of the features that they introduce to the market.

However, an interesting question to answer is what happens with the producers and merchandisers of local products when their local and originally manufactured goods are copied by foreign competitors and are then legally imported to a country for their distribution? The market competition goes to another level where the quality and origin of a local product are overlooked and other features, primarily the appearance– which is practically the same but normally made with other raw materials, with different quality and of course, origin, – and low cost, are preferred.

In this respect, typical handcraft commercialization in Jalisco state, Mexico is facing a great challenge. Jalisco is one of the most important and representative of the Mexican tradition and folklore. It is the land of Tequila, Mariachis, and homeland of great artistic traditions. Being the fourth most important entity in the country, it hosts the Jalisco Regional Handcraft Market, a great hub where, since centuries ago, artisans and handcrafters from the close regions of the state, as well as neighbor states like Michoacán, gather to sell their crafts.

Mexican typical handcrafts are known all over the world for their originality in design, materials and colors. Unfortunately, there are not enough collective trademarks and Denominations of Origin that can help to protect the quality, originality, materials and design of a traditional Mexican handcrafted product.

Artisans in Jalisco are being strongly left behind by the huge Chinese distributors in their own region. Chinese distributors are taking over almost every line of handcraft market. Sources state that from 10 handcrafted products sold in Tlaquepaque – the county where the Jalisco Regional Handcraft Market is located – 9 are Chinese. These Chinese products are very similar to the Mexican original handcrafts but are made from different raw materials and without the original handcraft techniques. That is, they are copycats of the original designs. This is the case for opal workers from Magdalena county, quarry designers from Degollado, crafters of "Barro Bruñido" (burnished clay) handcrafts from Tonalá, rustic furniture manufacturers from Gómez Farías, wooden toy makers from Teocaltiche and the Huichol Indians, which manufacture yarn and chaquira – a special kind of sequins – handcrafts, as the artisans from Tlaquepaque and Tonalá, the makers of "Nacimientos" (representations of the Birth of Jesus) made from "barro" (clay), among other groups of artisans which are being besieged by the competition.

Fortunately, not everything is being lost. Steps for recuperating the market are being taken gradually but steadily. Trademarks – collective and commercial – are being registered in order to cover these goods. The registration of Denominations of Origin for these products is also being assessed. Just to mention a few examples, a group of artisans from Zacoalco, who make "equipales" – a special kind of chairs made from intertwined stalks where the back and seat are made of leather or knitted palm leaves – are selling their goods under the "Zacoalli" trademark. The polished clay artisans have registered the mark "Herencia Milenaria" for their highly artistic handcrafts, and there are plans for registering a Denomination of Origin for these as well. The "Universo Wárrika" trademark is being prepared to cover the Huichol handcrafts.

Having a trademark that covers these goods also contributes to make Jalisco artisans more competitive in the market. So even though success will not be immediate, they are right on track.


Ramírez, Victor Manuel. "Proponen creación de marca entre artesanos de Tlaquepaque." El Occidental, Zona Metropolitana. 3-feb-2013. Web. vista el 12-feb-2013

Informador Redacción / RMP. "Artesanos en Jalisco se unen para enfrentar la competencia china." El informador, Economía. 22-ene-2013. Web., visto el 12-feb-2013

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