The Mexican Customs Law has adopted procedures to enable a trademark owner to lodge an application in writing with its competent authorities for the suspension by the Customs Administration of the release of infringing goods into free circulation through Articles 144, 148 & 149 of the said law, which are in accordance with Article 1718 of NAFTA and 51 of TRIPS.

Prior to the commencement of the trial, it is possible to seek customs provisions to prevent the importation of counterfeit products into Mexico, according to Articles 144, 148 & 149 of the Mexican Customs Law. Generally speaking, the suspension order would be notified by IMPI (Mexican Institute on Industrial Property) to the Customs Administration during a visit of inspection, which in addition would give opportunity to plaintiff to obtain seizure of the infringing products. Plaintiff would be committed to bring its complaint within twenty business days after the suspension order is notified to the Customs Administration. If plaintiff fails with the filing of the complaint, it would become liable to civil damages.

The Custom Administration will only authorize the seizure of the counterfeit product when these pass through the random selection mechanism, according to the Article 144 of the Mexican Customs Law.

Administrative actions for trademark and copyright infringements "on commerce" are conducted through IMPI, and can start with the filing of a complaint, which shall include the evidence on which plaintiff shall rely. Normally plaintiff offers as evidence a so-called "visit of inspection", which is conducted prior to service notice of the complaint to the defendant. If from the visit of inspection infringing products are found, the inspector of IMPI shall proceed seizing them (leaving the products at the premises and appointing the alleged infringe as depositor). The alleged infringer/defendant shall be summoned at the visit of inspection, and shall be given ten business days to produce a response together with its supporting evidence. IMPI shall then proceed to evaluate the evidence submitted by the parties produce the corresponding judgement.

The losing party to IMPI judgement may file an appeal with a Federal District Court, and the resolution of the said court may be further reviewed by a Federal Circuit Court. The decision of this latter authority shall be final and binding upon the parties.

By Luis C. Schmidt, Pablo Vazquez Rohde

This article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should NOT be treated as legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought by you about your particular case and special circumstances.