Ecuador: A Heavyweight Voice On Intellectual Property

Last Updated: 12 January 2018
Article by Corral Rosales

Sydney, Washington, Prague, Panama City, Cartagena and Brussels are some of the cities visited by María Cecilia Romoleroux for work in the last few months of 2017. Each month she spends just two weeks in Ecuador. Over time she has lost a little bit of that excitement for such a pace of life. The volume of work she must get through while traveling allows for little or no time for sight-seeing. She takes advantage of the little free time she must practice yoga wherever she finds herself, even at the hotel room. When she is in Quito, she starts or finishes her day running on the treadmill. Romoleroux, at 51 years of age, is a partner at the firm CorralRosales, managing its Intellectual Property & Regulatory department.

Thanks to her extensive experience in the IP area, she is part of important international organizations that work defending brands and their intellectual property, which explains why her life has been so hectic the past few years. In 2002, for example, she became an international intellectual property mediator for the International Trademark Association (INTA), same organization where at the beginning of last year she became the first Ecuadorian to be appointed to its Board of Directors. Also last year, she became the first Ecuadorian to take up a position within the Programming Committee at the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI).

Romoleroux is the oldest of three. She spent all of her school education at the American School of Quito. The word she associates the most with childhood is freedom: "My grandfather would always tell me to do only what I wanted." A reality that changed with time. After high school she went to live in Austria to learn German at a religious institution. "It was a positive but difficult experience. Starting from day one I was only allowed to speak German" she says. One of the reasons she came back to Ecuador was because of the weather "The German winter kills me. If I don't see the sun every day, I can't function". Even though she was attracted to law it was not her choice. When she came back to Ecuador, an aunt had already enrolled her at the law faculty in the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, where she also went on to learn French.

Her first job was at age 19 as an intern in a law firm, where for four years she helped develop the IP department. Her thesis to obtain a doctoral degree in law was dedicated to patents. At age 24 she oversaw the IP department in another law firm; she went on to run it for 12 years. But, Romoleroux wanted to be partner of a firm, which would not have been possible where she was. It was at CorralRosales where she found that opportunity in 2002. She moved with her own legal team, made up of five people from the previous firm. They are still part of her department today.

The services offered by the IP department of CorralRosales are focused on brand registration, litigation and regulatory, latter which encompasses such matters as 'traffic light' labeling for edibles.

Her strong personality is one of her main traits, commented on by two of her employees. "She is a perfectionist. She doesn't like mistakes", says Octavio Salazar, who is one of her first employees, which is why he knows that "everything she has gained has been due to her own determination". For Ian Wall that trait is apparent when she works under pressure to timely respond to clients. "From day one she has been open to listening to my ideas. She knows her job inside out and always has an immediate solution to any problem". Wall is an English lawyer, who has been with the firm for three years.

CorralRosales also defends the rights of brand owners in Ecuador as part of the international organization React, a network that fights counterfeits. Estela De Luca, React representative for Latin America, describes Romoleroux as a professional that presents the problems in a suitable way and finds a solution, responding promptly to clients. Also, "she is proactive, and goes out into the field to find the infringements".

For this specialist in intellectual property, Ecuador has taken a step back in the matter of counterfeits, which negatively affects foreign investment. But, she highlights some advances: "The judges are very strong on respect. They give clear rulings".

This article first appear in Lideres magazine, Ecuador

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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