Author: celia

About Celia Lerman

Celia Lerman is a lawyer in both California (California Bar & Master in the Science of Law, Stanford University) and Argentina (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, valedictorian; LLM, Intellectual Property, from Universidad Austral, with honors). She is a partner at Lerman & Szlak, managing their intellectual property practices in Argentina & California. You can contact her here.

    Basado en la presentación en el evento de AMDIA – CACE sobre Privacidad en la Universidad de San Andres, el 8 de noviembre de 2018

    • E- Commerce

    Es mi turno ahora hablar de las repercusiones de estos cambios de la legislación de privacidad en el e-commerce. Para poder analizar en el tema, quiero que pensemos cómo le afectan los cambios a una empresa típica de ECOMMERCE.

    Pensemos en un marketplace que vende diferentes productos (sean propios o de terceros), que hace marketing en múltiples medios digitales, que realiza tracking y lleva un registro de las actividades y preferencias del consumidor en su plataforma, y guarda datos no sólo como nombre, apellido, domicilio, DNI, teléfono, sino también datos financieros, datos de geolocalización (GPS, dirección IP), preferencias de consumo (que muchas veces pueden revelar datos sensibles tales como datos médicos y relativos a la salud, afiliaciones políticas, preferencias sexuales).

    Mi idea es poder contarles cómo afecta el cambio de legislación al e-commerce en Europa y aquí, y  qué pautas tienen que adoptar las empresas para cumplir con la normativa y poder seguir creciendo e implementando sus planes de negocio partiendo de esta base de protección.

    • Primera pauta: Principio de la Responsabilidad PROACTIVA

    Así llama la nueva legislación y la GDPR a la responsabilidad de las empresas por el tratamiento de datos.

    Este concepto es fundamental porque sienta las bases de que no solamente hay que cumplir con la legislación, sino que también hay que estar en condiciones de acreditar frente a la entidad regulatoria que uno está en cumplimiento de la ley.

    Entonces realmente el cumplimiento no se vuelve tan tedioso, ni tan misterioso, ni tan inabarcable, sobre todo: si uno cumple con adoptar las pautas básicas que pide la legislación, y está en condiciones de acreditar que lo hizo, entonces no debería tener problemas frente a los nuevos cambios.

    Qué pautas hay que adoptar?

    • Poner a punto sus Políticas de Privacidad y sus Términos y Condiciones. Esto normalmente ya se encuentra en los sitios y plataformas de e-commerce, en la mayoría de los casos, pero es algo para afinar el lápiz con pautas que veremos aquí.
    • Tomar Medidas de Seguridad Adecuadas respecto de los datos y armar Documentos de Seguridad Internos Las empresas más serias esto ya lo hacen, muchas veces es principalmente cuestión de plasmarlo en un documento formal interno, definir mínimos de seguridad, y definir los responsables legales y técnicos el documento.
    • Mantener contratos adecuados con todos los proveedores que tratan datos personales (lo que se llama DPA, “Data Processing Agreements” o contratos con los encargados de procesamiento de datos”). Estos contratos tienen que estar, y son fundamentales tanto para empresas chicas y grandes. Si todo o parte de los datos se guardan en servidores de otra empresa en la nube (como Amazon Web Services, por ejemplo), si contamos con un proveedor externo para analizar nuestros datos (Google Analytics), si tenemos consultores o programadores que están a cargo de la seguridad o mantenimiento de nuestra plataforma (esto aplica sobre todo a startups).
    • Ir teniendo en cuenta la figura del Delegado de Protección de Datos (Data Protection Officer, DPO), que la establece tanto la regulación va a ser una figura importante para poder mostrar que uno cumple con la normativa, para ciertos tipos de empresas (sobre todo las que traten datos a gran escala o traten datos sensibles)
    • Y en general, implementar todas las medidas de Privacy by Design, es decir, incorporar en el proceso de diseño de la plataforma y del producto tecnológico, medidas para poder cumplir con la normativa de datos y poder demostrar que lo hacemos.

    Ese es el panorama general, y repito, si somos conscientes de que tenemos que cumplir con ciertas pautas básicas, que el estándar mundial subió y que realmente al generar buenos documentos (Políticas de Privacidad, Documentos de seguridad, Contratos de DPA con Proveedores), ir pensando en Data Privacy Officer e implementar medidas de privacidad por diseño, entonces estamos bien parados frente a lo que se viene.

    • Ahora, todo esto con una aclaración: si se tratan Datos Sensibles, tales como datos relativos a la salud, afiliaciones políticas, preferencias sexuales, datos biométricos, datos genéticos, entonces lo anterior aplica pero se agregar además cuidados especiales que debemos tener, que son casos aparte.
    • Checklist para cumplimiento
    • (1) Poner a Punto las Políticas de Privacidad y los Términos y Condiciones: ¿Qué puntos no pueden faltar?
      • Identidad y datos de contacto del Responsable del tratamiento
        • + Datos del Delegado de Protección de datos
      • FINALIDAD: Con qué objetivo recolectamos los datos, y con qué base jurídica (le pedimos consentimiento, la ley nos habilita a no hacerlo,)
      • DESTINATARIOS: Quiénes recibirán los datos, y en su caso, categorías
      • TRANSFERENCIA INTERNACIONAL DE DATOS: Si los datos se van a transferir a entidades en el exterior, si hay cloud computing, “blanquear” expresamente si se guardan los datos afuera y que el servicio opera así
      • PLAZO: Plazo en que se guardan los datos y CRITERIO para establecerlo
      • DERECHO DE LOS INTERESADOS: Tiene un fin educativo!!
        • Derecho de Acceso
        • Derecho de Oposición
        • Derecho de Supresión (“derecho al olvido”)
        • Derecho de Rectificación
        • Derecho de portabilidad de los datos, de retirar consentimiento, de reclamar
      • CONSECUENCIAS DE NO FACILITAR LOS DATOS: Si se les solicitan los datos como parte de un obligación legal o contractual, qué pasa si no da los datos, en general es una peor experiencia del usuario,
      • TOMA DE DECISIONES AUTOMATIZADAS: Ej. Cuándo se elaboran perfiles y para qué (para mejorar la experiencia, para control de calidad), si éstos sirven para toma de decisiones automatizadas sin intervención humana, “blanquear” el procedimiento.
        • La toma de decisiones es apta sí:
          • Es necesaria para un contrato entre el titular y el responsable
          • Es por Ley
          • Hay consentimiento explícito.

    (2) Medidas de Seguridad Adecuadas respecto de los datos y armar Documentos de Seguridad Internos pertinentes

    • Qué personas tinenen acceso a qué información
    • Control de errores
    • Controles y copias de Seguridad
    • Registro de logs e incidentes, procedimientos internos a ese fin
    • Políticas de passwords
    • Identificación y autenticación de los usuarios
    • Prevención de malware
    • Encriptar
    • Disociar/anonimizar datos en lo posible
    • Auditorías
    • Protocolos de transmisión de datos

    (3) Mantener contratos adecuados con todos los proveedores que tratan datos personales (lo que se llama DPA, “Data Processing Agreements” o contratos con los encargados de procesamiento de datos”)

                Ej. Empresas como Amazon incorporaron DATA PROCESSING ADDENDUM

    • Confidencialidad de los datos
    • NO Uso de los datos por ellos para otros fines fuera de los instruidos
    • Medidas técnicas y organizativas para responder a Incidentes de seguridad
    • Notificación de incidentes de seguridad, hacerse responsable por ellos
    • Si usa subprocesadores y cuáles – TRANSPARENCIA
    • Contar con certificados

    (4) Ir teniendo en cuenta la figura del Delegado de Protección de Datos (Data Protection Officer, DPO)

                –Empresas de +250 Empleados (Europa)

    – Tratamiento de datos a gran escala

    – Actividad principal de tratamiento de datos sensibles

    (5) Privacy by Design: Pensar en estos aspectos desde el primer momento, cooperar entre areas de la empresa, no esperar para lllamar a legales a ultimo momento.

    Si adoptamos estas medidas, organizando los recursos que ya tenemos y acompañando a nuestros usuarios, dándoles seguridad y transparencia en el tratamiento, acompañándono de los expertos en el tema, entonces estamos en buenas condiciones de cumplir con la legislación y asegurar una transcisión exitosa.

    Franchising represents a well-known business method where the franchisor, who had developed a successful business, shares its know-how, brand identity, as well as distribution and marketing strategies with the franchisees. In other words, franchising allows newcomers to utilize a brand’s name, know-how, marketing strategy, and business presence.

    Contrary to a popular belief, a franchisee is not “purchasing” a franchise, but rather investing their assets in order to legally utilize a brand’s name, know-how and well-established marketing and distribution plans. The franchisor determines the terms and conditions of their relationships with the franchisees, as well as the interconnectedness, if any, of all the franchisees involved.

    As a franchisee, a company chooses to invest in another brand that has made its presence known on the market, in order to capitalize on their experience and success. As a franchisor, a brand offers their continuous support and operating system to other companies in order to reinforce their business presence and conquer the market. As a team, companies involved in the franchising process must define their cooperation clearly, in accordance with legal ramifications.

    Today, we delve into the four core legal challenges encountered in franchising.

    (1) Designing a Clear Standard Franchise Agreement

    A strong franchise company generally utilizes one standard, uniform contract to define relationships with all their franchisees, which attends to all the franchise source concerns.

    This way, the franchisor creates a strong, reliable system and achieves consistency across franchisees.

    A franchise agreement should clearly indicate the regulations regarding the operations of all the franchisees, including activity restrictions and specific rules. By clearly stating the “dos” and “don’ts” of the agreement, the franchisor can prevent franchisees from taking any rogue actions which could potentially jeopardize the entire system.

    Mandatory contractual provisions protect not only the franchisor, its trade methods and well-kept business secrets but the associated franchisees and their businesses, as well. Contracts are generally complemented with franchisee manuals with clear and detailed operational methods, which provide clear standards for franchisees and allow franchisors to identify any deviations rapidly.

    (2) Adapting the Agreement to Prevent Conflict

    To be able to create a fully functioning channel of resources, the franchisor has to develop more than just a contractual relationship. Franchising is a licensing agreement which allows the franchisor to distribute products and services through the franchisees in the system. In order to manage the network of franchisees, the brand must establish adequate systems of support and monitoring in their activities.

    One of the questions surrounding the organization of a network of resources is, which aspects of their business will the franchisor be directly involved in? Also, how will the communication in this chain be managed? The franchisor is responsible for monitoring all the activities surrounding the franchise, advising and directing the franchisees, as well as implementing penalties, but contracts are always more effective when they are designed around the principle of preventing conflict.

    To adequately channel the resources entails prohibiting potentially injurious actions, including not choosing the proposed providers and therefore compromising the quality of the product or service; continuing to use the brand even after the contract had been terminated, selling products or providing services that have not been authorized by the licensor, etc.

    When the contract takes into account the practical allocation of resources of both parties, it helps minimize and prevent risks. Thereby, the contract helps to avoid conflict situations which can harm the franchisor-franchisee relationship.

    It is important to state that, depending on the laws of a country, there may be different legal requirements when it comes to franchising. In addition to these regulations, the licensor (franchisor) applies their own methods in order to ensure that the franchisees are adhering to the proposed business guidelines. Potential situations must be addressed and defined timely in order to avoid non-compliance with activity restrictions.

    (3) Implementing the Franchise and Managing Pricing Issues

    Providing a franchise is a complex matter which stretches far beyond the regulations and legal matters. When providing a franchise, the franchisor offers much more than just products and services. In fact, a franchise represents an entire system consisting of a wide variety of elements, including methods, strategies, training, brand standards, quality control, and operating manuals.

    When it comes to the financial aspect, there are generally two fees determined in a franchise agreement: a one-time initial fee and a continuing fee – commonly referred to as royalty. The initial fee is the cost of entering the franchising process, while royalty is a fee charged for the use of the brand’s name and the entire operating system. Prior to setting the pricing and requesting investments, a brand’s performance, capability, and worth must be evaluated.

    In order to implement a successful franchising strategy, the franchisor should make sure that the franchisees are prepared for this enormous step in their business expansion. The preparation process generally entails requiring a business plan from the franchisee which should outline their business path and somewhat determine their “eligibility”.

    Franchisors normally decide pricing strategies, and they need to be wise to design pricing strategies that are profitable for both franchisor and franchisee. Otherwise, the franchise will not succeed.

    (4) Managing the Relationships with Suppliers and Other Third Parties

    Supply chains consist of approved suppliers that have been recognized and thoroughly investigated by the franchisor. Choosing approved supply chains enables the franchisor to closely monitor the quality of the products or services, and set high standards for their franchisees, as well. It is safe to say that forming a strong network of suppliers represents one of the biggest challenges in franchising, considering the fact that the quality determines the consumers’ experience.

    In order to set high standards for their franchisees, a brand must have high standards when choosing the suppliers. Some of the conditions the franchisor must take into consideration include the existence of warranty policy, adequate delivery schedule, reasonable payment terms and pricing for franchisees, suppliers’ relationship with the franchisees and the existence of a training program, as well as their willingness to assist the franchisees when it comes to merchandising.

    Franchisors, as well as franchisees, engage in an ongoing relationship with suppliers, which makes the choice of the supply chain crucial for the brand’s consistency and prosperity. Besides the selection, it is also the communication and cooperation between the suppliers and the brand that requires a great deal of attention, to protect the franchise and the franchisees.

    As companies grow, intellectual property portfolios also grow. The set of all intangible rights may include trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, data protection, and other related rights.

    When the company is faced with a special event, such as an investment process, a purchase by another company, a large contract or a change of control or management, due diligence is performed: that is, a “due diligence” process to review the status of the different legal aspects, and quantify the related risks.

    IP due diligence is a fundamental part of this process, especially in technology or franchise businesses, in which intangibles are the heart of the commercial value of the enterprise.

    In this article, we compiled the 5 Basic Questions for an IP Due Diligence, which are useful both for the Company, to prepare its portfolio for review; as for the counterpart that will invest, buy or control these assets.

    Let’s go through these 5 questions in detail:

    (1) Who owns the IP?

    That is, under whose name has the IP been registered? There are different kinds of rights: rights that do not to be registered, like contractual rights or human rights; and rights that only existed as a result of approval from the appropriate authority. IP rights are in the second category: you generally have to register your IP in order to have a right over it. Legally, the value belongs to the person who has ownership in his name. Are the goods in the name of the company that uses them, or that licenses them? Or are they in the name of the founders (natural persons), or on behalf of some employee, or of an unrelated company, or of a founder who is no longer there, or of a company that no longer exists?

    All this must be put in order through the necessary transfers, to ensure that the company who has 100% in their name the IP rights.

    If there are several owners, or institutional owners (e.g. universities or research and development agencies), or individual owners who are married (and whose spouse eventually has rights over the good and the profits that are paid for by royalties), then there are risks that may jeopardize the planned marketing of the IP in question.

    (2) What IP do we already have registered?

    To begin with, we will have to do a survey of the records: evaluate what is protected, which records are current and which are not, if all the maintenance fees have been paid, if the corresponding declarations of use have been presented and all the registered trademarks in the legal term (e.g. in Argentina, in the last 5 years).

    The same applies to the registration of databases, which in Argentina is a requirement, and which indicates compliance with data protection regulations.

    And with this question, more inquiries arise.

    (3) Was all the relevant IP of the company registered?

    Sometimes the due diligence process identifies risks not only for what the company did but also for what it never registered! It is common to see that companies do not have their main names protected, or their domains under the relevant extensions (e.g. they may have “.com.ar” but not “.com”), or their main technology never received registration under copyright.

    All this is especially relevant when there are license agreements in which the company is a licensor; since it is the most convenient that the IP is registered to interpret and define what is licensed.

    For this exercise, we have to understand the activity and business of the company, to identify everything that should be registered as soon as possible.

    As an example: it is common to see that the company registers the brand in a class in the beginning, but does not register it in another very relevant class that reflects the evolution of its business. It is also common to see that an old logo is registered, and the new one has not yet been registered. Or a logo is registered of which only a part is used (e.g. without the download or slogan). In all these situations, it is convenient to present new records.

    (4) What has the company done to use and defend its IP?

    On the one hand, we review the judicial and extrajudicial actions. Are there lawsuits pending? In what state are they? What are the associated legal risks – can we lose records? Have others’ IPs been violated at any time? What agreements have been signed so far, if any? To respond, a combination of public records queries and the same company will be required.

    It is famous the case of the transaction between Volkswagen and BMW, in which Volkswagen thought that, among other goods, was acquiring the Rolls Royce brand. In the due diligence, the lawyers failed to review a contract granting an exclusive license to another company in the BMW group (that is, it would not allow Volkswagen to use it!) Volkswagen paid $795 million for a transaction around Rolls Royce that finally did not allow him to use the brand!

    On the other hand, it is convenient to see which oppositions were presented, and in general what defense strategy was used, to also assess how strong are the current brands and to what extent the activity in the past will affect the future defense (e.g. in respect of similar brands of which has tolerated coexistence for more than 1 year, and today we can not ask for a cessation of use even if they bother us).

    (5) IP International: And what has been done with the IP in other countries?

    For companies that have activity or international projection, it is equally important to ask the same questions above but for the countries of interest. The IP rights are territorial, and although the records in one country often serve as a positive precedent in another, the truth is that each country has its legislation with different rules and registers.

    It is usual for portfolios to be broader in the country of origin of the company and that fewer goods are registered abroad, either because of a cost issue (normally foreign records are more expensive than local ones) or simply because of inaction. We must review this with precision, especially to be able to confirm that the status of the registrations abroad is not an obstacle to implement future business plans.

    Moreover, if there are international clients and/or users, especially in Europe, it is also very important to review compliance with personal data regulations, reviewing the company’s Privacy Policies, both internally and with customers/users, security of the bases, among other aspects, to ensure compliance with applicable international regulations such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) of Europe.

    In our experience, these are the five fundamental questions of all IP due diligence. While it is very valuable to have the help of the trusted lawyer to carry out the process, the truth is that it is also fundamental that the business people in charge of the deal also have these issues in mind. This way, they can investigate the different aspects to identify relevant risks throughout the negotiation. As a consequence, they are able to refine the most valuable negotiations, avoid unnecessary costs and ensure that you pay the fair price for what you buy.

    On January 11, 2018, Argentina’s executive power released Decree 27/2018, which impacted substantially on IP regulations, focusing on trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

     It is important to note that, although the Decree was released to take effect on the next day, January 12, 2018, Argentina’s Patent and Trademark Office (INPI) has not yet issued the necessary internal norms to implement the changes. Moreover, many of the changes are of questionable legality, having been issued through a Decree and not though an act of Congress.

     Therefore, in practice, we cannot yet affirm that the changes are effective on current registrations and applications. We will keep you updated immediately when the complementary norms are issued and the set of changes take effect in practice.

     Changes to Trademark Law Nº22.362

    • New Requirements in Applications: A legal electronic address will have to be included in all trademark applications. Our office will provide this address.
    • New Requirements in Opposition Filings: Oppositions will have to be filed electronically and shall include a legal electronic address as well. Our office will provide this as well.

    Opposition Procedures: After oppositions are notified to the applicant, there is a 3-month period to obtain the voluntary withdrawal of the oppositions. If no agreement is reached with the opponents, then the INPI will decide the merit of the oppositions at stake. The new procedure replaces the previous system where parties had a 1-year negotiation period, followed by mandatory mediation with no intervention from INPI.

    INPI will establish the details of the new opposition procedures, which shall include the opponent’s opportunity to file extended arguments, the right of the applicant to respond to the opposition, and both parties’ rights to file evidence.

     

    INPI’s decision in opposition procedures will be appealable to the Federal Courts of the City of Buenos Aires (which already resolve all trademark

    opposition matters) within 30 working days after notification of the decisions.

    • INPI’s Intervention in Current Opposition Lawsuits: INPI may intervene in ongoing opposition judicial lawsuits or those that have finished without informing INPI, and decide on the oppositions accordingly.
    • Rejected Applications: Rejected applications for reasons other than oppositions will be appealable to the Federal Courts of the City of Buenos Aires (which already resolve trademark rejections) within 30 working days after notification of the decisions.
    • Public Status of All Trademark Files: All application and registration files become of public and unrestricted access.
    • Trademark Cancellation for Non-Compliance with Trademark Law– New Procedure: INPI shall have the power to declare cancellation of registered trademarks that do not comply with the registration requirements of the trademark law. INPI may act ex officio or upon a party’s request. INPI’s decision shall also be appealable to the Federal Courts of the City of Buenos Aires within 30 working days after notification of the decision.
    • Trademark Cancellation for Non Use – New Procedures and Requirements: INPI shall have the power to declare cancellation of registered trademarks for non-use, for such registrations that have not been used in the country in the past 5-years, except for force majeure based non-use. INPI may act ex officio or upon a party’s request. INPI’s decision shall also be appealable to the Federal Courts of the City of Buenos Aires within 30 working days after notification of the decision.

     A registration may not be cancelled if it has been used in commercializing a product or providing a service that is the same or similar to the trademark coverage, even if the product/service belongs to other classes; or if the mark is the name of the applicant’s activity.

    As for new requirements, registrants must file a use sworn-declaration after the 5th anniversary of the trademark registration, and before the 6th anniversary.

    We believe that due to constitutional reasons (no acquired right may be taken away by form of a Decree), the new requirements would only apply to new registrations. We are keeping track of this requirement closely and will be sending clients special updates as new developments occur.

    • Additional Changes: The Decree allows INPI to include additional changes, such as:
      • Modifying the application procedures and formalities;
      • Limit the substantive examination to those absolute prohibitions or those that affect public order;
      • Establish publication for oppositions after the trademark is granted;
      • Modify requirements for claiming priority rights under the Paris Convention, to allow for priority rights that were not known at the time of filing.

     Changes to Patent Law Nº24.481

    • New Requirements in Patent Applications:
      • Priority Documents: Priority documents and their translation may be required in during the substantive examination stage (instead of the current requirement to file the documents in a 90-day period after the application).
      • Priority Rights: Assignment documents must be provided when applicable.
      • Mandatory requirements: The application title, description, drawings, claims and summary must be provided within 30-days from the application date.
    • Conversion to Utility Models: Such conversion may take place within 30-days from the application date, or within 30-days from INPI’s requirement to convert.
    • Preliminary Examination: Responses to the preliminary formal examination must be responded to within a 30-day period.
    • Term to Pay Substantive Examination Fees: The new term changes to 18-months for patents and 3 months for utility models.

    The term shortens substantially from the previous period of 3-years from filing. While the INPI has not yet issued any comments, in the coming days we will be sending a special notice to clients with pending applications where substantive examination fees have not been paid yet, to notify them of the new payment deadlines and recommending to pay fees early to preventively protect their applications.

    • Procedure for Utility Models: The INPI shall verify if the minimum substantive requirements are met (novelty and industrial character) and will then publish the application. There will be a 30-day observation period for third parties, in which the third parties may file evidence against the registration. After such period, INPI will proceed to decide if the utility model is granted.
    • Appeals: Rejected applications for patents and utility models may be appealed before the INPI within 30 working days from notification of the rejection.

    Changes to Industrial Designs and Models Law – Decree 6673/63

    The term Design in this section refers to both industrial models and designs.

    • Protected Products: Protection has been extended to both industrial and artisanal products, which shape and/or outside appearance confer ornamental character.
    • 6-Month Novelty Term: Applications may be filed for designs which have been already released publically, so long as (i) such release is a direct or indirect consequence of the actions of the author or his/her successors; (ii) the release comes from a bad-faith or misbehavior of a third-party, from a contract breach or from another illicit act committed against the author or legitimate successors; (iii) the release is rooted in a mistaken or unlawful publication of the National Direction of Industrial Designs at INPI.
    • Multiple-Design Applications: A design application may now include up to 20 designs only when all of them are applied to or incorporated in to products that belong to the same Locarno classification.

    If a new application includes more than one design and does not comply with the requirements for multiple-design applications, INPI may request the applicant to modify the application or divide it in multiple divisional applications accordingly. Divisional applications shall preserve the original filing date and priority if applicable. Rights over the designs emerging from multiple-design applications will be independent one from another, and may be enforced, transferred, taxed, renewed and cancelled separately.

    • Application Requirements: Applications shall now include:
      • An application form;
      • Drawings and/or photographs and/or digital reproductions of the design that sufficiently identify the protected object;
      • Optionally, when the applicant deems necessary, a description of the industrial model or design.
    • Design Renewals: Renewals shall be filed within the last 6 months before their expiration date. They shall also be renewed within the following 6 months after expiration, by payment of an additional fee.
    • Rejections and Appeals: INPI’s rejections shall be appealable within INPI first, and INPI’s final decision shall be appealable to the Federal Courts of the City of Buenos Aires.
    • Deferred Publication: Publication of design applications may be deferred for a maximum of 6-months after granting.
    • Penalties for Infringement: Penalties raise to a fine equivalent to the amount of INPI’s fees for 50 design applications to 330 design applications in the following cases:
      • Manufacturing of design-infringing products;
      • Selling, offering for sale, exhibiting, importing or in any way commercializing design-infringing products;
      • Hiding or covering infringing products or their manufacturers;
      • Invoking design rights maliciously without having the pertaining registrations;
      • Selling third-party design plans as one’s own.

    Second-time offenders shall receive fines of double the amounts prescribed.

    • Interactions with Copyright and Patent Rights: In enforcement, design right-holders shall only be able to invoke design rights or copyright rights, but not both simultaneously.

    Moreover, a mistaken patent or utility model application may be converted to a design application by applicant’s request.

    The changes are numerous and far-reaching.  While we will be sending follow-up updates and tailored notifications in individual cases, we remain available to discuss any of the changes and their implementation process upon request.

     

    Argentina – Modificaciones en Leyes de Marcas, Patentes, y Modelos y Diseños Industriales

    DNU 27/2018 del 11 de enero de 2018

    El 11 de enero de 2018, el Poder Ejecutivo Nacional aprobó un Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia (DNU) N° 27/2018, que impactó sustancialmente en regulaciones de propiedad industrial, tales como en Marcas, Patentes, Modelos y Diseños Industriales.

     Es importante tener en cuenta que aún cuando el DNU fue aprobado con el objetivo de que tuviera efecto al día siguiente, es decir, el 12 de enero de 2018, el INPI no ha adoptado aún las normas internas necesarias que le permitan implementar los cambios. Más aún, muchas de las modificaciones son legalmente cuestionables en atención a que emanan de un DNU y no de una Ley del congreso.

     Por consiguiente, en la práctica no podemos afirmar que los cambios se hagan efectivos en las solicitudes y registros en vigencia. Los mantendremos informados ni bien se dicten las normas complementarias y estos cambios entren en vigencia.

     Modificaciones de la Ley de Marcas N° 22.362

    • Nuevos requisitos en las solicitudes: un domicilio legal electrónico deberá ser incluido en todas las solicitudes de marca. Nuestro estudio proveerá aquél domicilio.
    • Nuevos requisitos en la presentación de oposiciones: las oposiciones deberán presentarse electrónicamente e incluir un domicilio legal electrónico también . Nuestro estudio proveerá esto también.

    Procedimiento de oposiciones: una vez que las oposiciones son notificadas al solicitante de la marca, habrá un plazo de 3 meses para obtener el levantamiento voluntario de la misma.

    Si no se llegara a un acuerdo con los oponentes, entonces el INPI deberá decidir sobre el mérito y procedencia de las oposiciones en cuestión. El nuevo procedimiento reemplaza al sistema previo cuando las partes tenían un año de negociación, seguido de un proceso de mediación obligatorio sin intervención del INPI.

    El INPI establecerá los detalles del nuevo procedimiento de oposiciones, que deberá incluir la posibilidad para el oponente de ampliar fundamentos, el derecho del solicitante de responder a la oposición y de ambas partes del derecho a producir pruebas.

    La decisión que emane del INPI en los procedimientos de oposiciones será apelable en la Cámara Civil y Comercial Federal (que en la actualidad ya se encarga de resolver cuestiones de marcas) dentro de los 30 días hábiles desde la notificación de la decisión.

    • La intervención del INPI en juicios actuales por Cese de Oposición: en los juicios de oposición al registro de marcas que a la fecha estuvieran tramitando en la justicia o hayan concluido sin que se hubiera informado el resultado del mismo, el INPI tiene la facultad de constatar el estado del mismo en el Portal del Poder Judicial y resolver en consecuencia.

    Denegatoria de solicitudes: Las solicitudes denegadas por otros motivos ajenos a oposiciones serán apelables en la Cámara Civil y Comercial Federal (que en la actualidad ya se encarga de resolver denegatoria de marcas) dentro de los 30 días hábiles desde la notificación de la decisión.

    • Estatus público de todos los expedientes de marca: todas las solicitudes y registros de marcas son públicas y de acceso irrestricto.

    Nuevo procedimiento de Nulidad de marcas por falta de cumplimiento de la Ley de Marcas: el INPI tiene el poder de declarar la nulidad de marcas registradas que no cumplieran con los requisitos de registración de la Ley de Marcas. El INPI puede actuar de oficio o a pedido de parte. La decisión del INPI puede apelarse también en la Cámara Civil y Comercial Federal dentro de los 30 días hábiles desde la notificación de la decisión.

    • Nuevo procedimiento y requisitos de Caducidad de Marca por falta de uso: el INPI tiene el poder de declarar la caducidad de una marca registrada fundándose en la falta de uso, en los registro que no hubieran sido utilizados en el país en los últimos 5 años, excepto fuerza mayor. El INPI puede actuar de oficio o a pedido de parte. La decisión del INPI puede apelarse también en la Cámara Civil y Comercial dentro de los 30 días hábiles desde la notificación de la decisión.

    Un registro no puede ser cancelado si ha sido utilizado en la comercialización de un producto o el ofrecimiento de un servicio que es similar o idéntico con la cobertura de la marca, aún cuando el producto o servicio pertenece a otras clases, o si la marca es la designación de una actividad relacionada con el solicitante.

    Como nuevos requisitos, los registrantes deben presentar una declaración jurada de uso después del 5to aniversario del regsitro de la marca, antes del 6to aniversario.

    Creemos que debido a razones de índole constitucional (ningún derecho adquirido puede ser suprimido por un DNU ), los nuevos requerimientos serían aplicables a las nuevas registraciones. Estamos siguiendo de cerca estos requerimientos y les estaremos enviando las novedades a medida que vayan surgiendo.

    • Cambios adicionales: El Decreto permite al INPI incluir cambios adicionales como los siguientes:
      • Modificar los procedimientos y formalidades de las solicitudes;
      • Limitar el examen de fondo de las solicitudes a las prohibiciones absolutas o a las que afecten el orden público;
      • Establecer la publicación de oposiciones con posterioridad a la concesión de una marca;
      • Modificar requisitos por invocar el derecho de prioridad de la Convención de Paris, para permitir derechos de prioridad que no eran conocidos al momento de la presentación.

    Cambios de la Ley de Patentes Nº24.481

    • Nuevos requisitos en las Solicitudes de Patente:
      • Documentos de prioridad: los documentos de prioridad y su traducción puede ser requerida durante la etapa de examen de fondo (en vez del requisito actual de presentar los documentos dentro de los 90 días de la presentación).
      • Derechos de prioridad: Los documentos de cesión deben ser presentados cuando correspondiere.
      • Requisitos obligatorios: El título de la solicitud, la descripción, los dibujos, las reivindicaciones y el resumen deben ser presentados dentro de los 30 días de la fecha de presentación.
    • Conversión a Modelos de Utilidad: tal conversión puede realizarse dentro de los 30 días desde la fecha de presentación, o dentro de los 30 días de la intimación del INPI a realizar dicha conversión.
    • Examen preliminar: La contestación a las vistas formales en el examen preliminar debe realizarse dentro de los 30 días.
    • Plazo para pagar la tasa de examen de fondo: Los nuevos plazos son de 18 meses en patentes y 3 meses en modelos de utilidad.

    Los plazos se acortan sustancialmente del período previo de 3 años desde la presentación. Dado que el INPI no se ha pronunciado al respecto, en los próximos días estaremos enviando avisos a quienes tengan solicitudes vigentes sin haber pagado la tasa de examen de fondo, para notificarlos del nuevo plazo de vencimiento de pago y recomendando el pago lo antes posible para proteger preventivamente las solicitudes.

    • Procedimiento para Modelos de Utilidad: El INPI debe verificar si están cumplidos los mínimos requisitos de fondo (novedad y aplicación industrial) y luego publicar la solicitud. Existirá un plazo de 30 días para presentar observaciones de terceros, en el cual estos terceros pueden presentar prueba en contra del registro. Después de dicho período, el INPI decidirá la concesión o no del modelo de utilidad..
    • Apelaciones: Las solicitudes de patente y modelos de utilidad denegadas pueden apelarse ante el INPI dentro de los 30 días de la notificación de la denegatoria.

    Cambios en la Ley de Modelos y Diseños Industriales – Decreto 6673/63

     

    • Productos protegidos: la protección se ha extendido a productos industriales y artesanales, cuya forma y/o apariencia exterior le confiera el carácter de ornamental.
    • Plazo de 6 meses de novedad: a las solicitudes de modelos y diseños industriales que ya se hayan divulgado públicamente, (i) la divulgación directa o indirecta consecuencia de la acción del autor o sus sucesores; (ii) la divulgación proviene de la mala fe o conducta de terceros, proveniente de un contrato o de un acto ilícito cometido en contra del autor o sus sucesores legítimos; (iii) la publicación realizada por error de la Dirección de Modelos y Diseños Industriales del INPI.
    • Solicitudes múltiples: las solicitudes pueden incluir hasta 20 modelos y diseños industriales solamente cuando todos ellos sean aplicados incorporados en productos que pertenecen a la misma clasificación de Locarno.

    Si una nueva solicitud incluye más de un modelo o diseño industrial y no cumple con los requisitos de solicitudes múltiples, el INPI puede solicitarle al titular que modifique la solicitud o la divida en múltiples solicitudes divisionales. Las solicitudes divisionales deben preservar la fecha original de presentación y la prioridad, de corresponder. Los derechos sobre estas solicitudes múltiples serán independientes unos de otros y pueden aplicarse, transferirse, grabarse, renovarse y declararse caducos o nulos separadamente.

    • Requisitos de la solicitud: La solicitud deberá incluir:
      • Formulario;
      • Dibujos y/o fotografías y/o reproducciones digitales del modelo o diseño industrial que sea suficiente identificación para proteger al objeto;
      • Alternativamente, cuando el solicitante lo considere necesario, una descripción del modelo o diseño industrial.
    • Renovaciones: Las renovaciones pueden ser presentadas dentro de los 6 meses anteriores al vencimiento. También pueden renovarse dentro de los 6 meses siguientes al vencimiento, contra el pago de una tasa adicional.
    • Denegatorias y apelaciones: las denegatorias del INPI son apelables ante el INPI, y la resolución final del INPI puede ser apelada ante la Cámara Civil y Comercial Federal de la Nación.
    • Postergación de la publicación: La publicación de las solicitudes de modelos y diseños industriales puede ser postergada hasta un máximo de 6 meses después de la concesión.
    • Sanciones por infracciones: Las sanciones se traducen en multas equivalentes de: la tasa del INPI de 50 modelos/diseños industriales a 330 modelos/diseños industriales en los siguientes casos:
      • Fabricar productos que infrinjan modelos/diseños industriales ajenos;
      • Vender, poner a la venta, exhibir, importar o comercializar en cualquier modo productos que infrinjan modelos/diseños industriales ajenos;
      • Ocultar los productos en infracción o a sus fabricantes;
      • Invocar maliciosamente modelos o diseños industriales protegidos por un registro ajeno;
      • Vender diseños de un tercero como propios.

    Los infractores que reincidan en los delitos podrán recibir multas del doble de los montos antes descriptos

    • Relación con Derechos de Autor y Derechos de Patente: En la aplicación, los titulares de derechos de modelos/diseños industriales pueden solamente invocar los derechos de estos modelos o diseños industriales o derechos de autor, pero no ambos simultánemanete.

    Más aún, una solicitud de patente o modelo de utilidad errónea puede ser convertida en modelo o diseño industrial por solicitud del titular.

    Los cambios son muchos y de gran alcance. Entretanto, los mantendremos actualizados e informados de las particularidades de cada caso, y quedamos a disposición por cualquier consulta sobre estos cambios y del proceso de implementación. Por favor contactar a Celia Lerman y el equipo de IP a [email protected].

    Today I met with the managing director of one of the most important start-up accelerators in Buenos Aires. When I introduced myself as a lawyer working with Intellectual Property and Startups, he was surprised. “IP and Start-ups – How do they intersect, if at all?”

    It was a great question. As an investor in early-stage companies, he did not immediately see the need for an IP lawyer in most startups. It was even a bit funny for me – Was I speaking about a need that never comes up?

    So here was my answer to him:

    • IP is not just patents. Many equal IP lawyer with patent lawyer. Patents are expensive and time-consuming – and for early-stage investors, they can be seen as a distraction. But a startup IP needs do not only revolve around patents. Trademark registration adds value when the company starts to take off and to make a name for itself in the market (it is the best legal backing for protecting domains, usernames and in general, controlling a distinctive term online). Copyright registration may be valuable for certain companies who deal with a lot of innovative content. Non-disclosure agreements may be needed for protecting some key developments or securing partnerships. Special review of standard terms and conditions may be valuable if the company works in a highly-regulated space, or in a field where IP infringement is likely.
    • For successful start-ups, early-stage is a short stage. Successful startups grow quickly, and you want to consider IP aspects before it’s too late. In most countries, the span from launching the product to the public to patenting is 1 year at maximum. Moreover, some start-ups get acquired quickly and IP registrations can help with valuation and with legally structuring the transfer of the company’s intangible assets. So as a start-up, you do not want to have the IP conversation when it’s too late. Even if you end up not pursuing registrations from the beginning, it’s useful to become familiarized with patents and other IP aspects, even if the “IP protection” item does not become part of the immediate to-do list.
    • Patents are especially common in some fields of technology: In line with my research at Stanford , patents are most common in some areas for start-ups, such as biotech, medical devices and hardware. In such fields, patent portfolios are especially relevant and investors are frequently expecting them. But the need for patents is not apparent in software. And in countries like Argentina, where it is my impression that the vast majority of startups are software-oriented, or are local implementations of successful business models from abroad, then patents do not stand out that much. But if the startup is in one of these fields (biotech, medical or hardware), then as a rule of thumb, it is valuable to consider IP aspects early on

    And he added:

    • Sometimes IP lawyers are needed early on to avoid infringement. Many companies, such as those in gaming, use content or characters for inspirations that may be considered “copies” of other’s works. In those cases, a professional evaluation by an IP lawyer is fundamental to minimize legal risks and avoid future headaches that distract the company founders.

    So I hoped these answers helped to clarify what an IP lawyer can do for startups.

    As he and I spoke, I thought of the Y-Combinator legend: “Make something people want”. While IP may not be the first product that all start-ups want, IP can add value to many early-stage companies, and for some of them, IP counsel will be just vital to capture the value of their innovations or avoid infringement.

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