Mexico is a civil law country, meaning that the Mexican system does not rely on stare decisis or considers case law as binding precedent. As a result, the Mexican intellectual property statues are significantly more detailed than their US compliments. Mexican law recognizes only intellectual property that has industrial uses. For example, Mexico recognizes and protects patents, utility models, industrial design, trademark, trade secret, slogan, trade name, and origin identification.
Any invention that is new and is applicable to an industrial application may be protected with a patent (so long as the Inventive Step Requirement is met). The patent must enable something to be transformed for the benefit of man towards an immediate satisfaction of a specific need. In other words, ideas cannot be patented, instead processes that result in a final use can be patented and protected.
Mexican law also identifies several specific types of inventions that are not patentable subject matter. These include natural items, computer programs, information presentation processes, artistic or literary work, medical procedures, juxtapositions and theoretical and scientific theories. Whether or not a product or process can be patented under Mexican law can be a difficult analysis, and it is generally good practice to retain a Mexican intellectual property lawyer to assist in the patent analysis and process.
The level of patent protection under Mexican law is, however, limited. A patent may be used by anyone from the private or educational sectors who perform experimental activities of testing or teaching, with noncommercial goals.
Trade secrets are also protected under Mexican law. To be a trade secret, the information must be "in reference to the nature, characteristics, or purposes of the products; to the methods or processes of production, or to the means or forms of distribution or marketing or products, or the rendering of services." As a result, information that is openly available, obvious to experts in the field or required to be disclosed cannot be considered trade secrets.
Like Patents and Trade Secrets, Trademarks are also protectable under Mexican law. Trademarks can be protected if they are used in business. Names, images, logos, or other symbols that distinguish products are "trademarkable". A trademark, however, may be rejected if the mark sought to be protected is comprised of common, technical, or generic words, marks that lack originality, isolated latters, numbers, or colors, frivolous variations in common word spellings, marks that copy or mimic other marks or organizations, geographic names, titles of existing art (if there is no consent by the creator), and anything that may deceive the public. It is always a good idea to retain counsel from a Mexican intellectual property firm to assist in the registration of the Trademark to ensure that the mark is properly presented so it may be approved.
Originally published June 6, 2014
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.