Mexico: Trade mark implications of new import requirements
Tax avoidance involving the import of undeclared trade marked items has led the Mexican Customs authorities to change the regulations governing the information that must be submitted.
Over the last few years the Mexican Customs authorities have detected an increasing importation problem of sub-valued goods. The problem arises when companies importing goods into the Mexican market do not mark the goods with the brand names they will be sold under.
In this way many companies were able to report a lower value of imported goods. The goods were not bearing any trade mark, and that made it possible for the importers to pay a lower tax rate since the value of goods that are not branded is much lower than that of products supported by a well-known trade mark.
Although this is originally a tax problem, the Mexican government made an attempt to attack it from both tax and IP perspectives.
Accordingly on January 27 2016 the Mexican Customs authorities published a new regulation known as Rule 3.1.17, which included an additional requirement for the importers of several products to provide certain information related to the trade marks that the imported goods will bear.
In addition, it has become a common practice of Mexican Customs brokers assisting the importing companies to request from their clients (the importing company) a letter granted by the trade mark owner (or its local representative) confirming authorisation to import and sell the goods using their trade mark.
This sort of letter is not required by the Mexican regulations nor Customs officers but by private Customs brokers to make sure the importing company is not infringing third parties' rights and that the goods imported are original products and not counterfeit.