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Mexico off to a good start with Madrid

Mexico has not been a member of the Madrid Protocol for long but Miguel Angel Margáin, director general of the Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial (IMPI), the country’s patent and trademark office, believes it been a big success so far.

“Many people think it is so recent that we can’t talk about how good or how bad it has been,” he said. “But today it is 15 months after it has come into effect and we can say it is has been efficient and effective.”

Mexico was only the third Latin American country to join the Madrid Protocol, after Cuba and Colombia.

IMPI reported on February 19 – the anniversary of it joining the Protocol – that it had received 54 applications from companies and individuals with business activities in Mexico through the Protocol. There had been 5,476 applications from abroad identifying Mexico as a Designated Office, of which 1,907 had been granted. The countries that had designated Mexico the most were the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and China.

But, while Margáin is happy with how the implementation has gone so far, he admits there is a long way to go. One of the biggest challenges is to promote the Madrid Protocol among Mexicans.

“We have been promoting it among Mexican users but we have to put more effort on it,” he said. “WIPO helps us a lot with that effort, and also the USPTO through its IP attaché in Mexico City.”

IMPI has held seminars with IP lawyer associations and the chamber of commerce. “We have also asked the companies that have used the system to come with us and give other companies best practices and why they should go for the Madrid System,” said Margáin.

In addition, IMPI has signed a treaty with PROMexico, an agency that promotes the country’s exporting activities. Companies that want to export products to other countries will receive financial aid of MEX50,000 to apply for their marks in other countries. “If the country is a member of the Madrid Protocol this support will be conditional on them using the Madrid System and having IMPI as the designated origin office,” said Margáin.

He said adoption of the Madrid system has not jeopardized domestic applications, which were up 8% in 2013 to about 115,000 applications. “It is not a competing system; it is an optional system,” he said. “It has proved an efficient system and it has not competed with the other one. We are convincing the Mexican companies that through one application you can file in Spanish and you can receive up to 92 national offices.”

It is an exciting but challenging time for Mexico’s IP system. Margáin said that IP was mentioned in the country’s national development plan in a positive light for the first time ever under Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Before when IP was mentioned it was around counterfeiting measures or unfair competition measures,” he said. “Of course those are included in the plan but in a positive way. What we are seeing at IMPI is we have to increase the number of patents, increase the participation of Mexican companies in the Madrid Protocol but the main directive that I have is developing an industrial property culture in Mexico. We have to convince people that IP is an investment.”

Unlike some of his peers, such as in the United States and Brazil, Margáin can boast that his office has no backlog to contend with. He said applications are normally dealt with within four or five months, well within international standards.

“We are the most efficient and effective office in Latin America,” he said. “There will be a time we will have to seek more personnel. We are working on it to see how we are going to manage because we are seeing an increase in the numbers.”

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