El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.

Several general principles are essential for the effective management of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in El Salvador. First, it is essential to have an overall strategy to protect your rights.  Second, IP is protected differently in El Salvador than in the United States, so you need to understand the specific procedures for El Salvador.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in El Salvador under national legislation.  For example, your U.S. trademarks and patents will not protect you in El Salvador.  Although there is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world, El Salvador is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, under which signatories provide protection to each other’s nationals’ copyrighted works. Obtaining patents and trademarks is on a first to file basis, so you should consider applying for trademark and patent protection before selling your products or services in the Salvadoran market.  Intellectual property is primarily a private right, and the U.S. government generally cannot enforce rights for private individuals in El Salvador.  It is the responsibility of the rights holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, and retain their counsel and advisors.  Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Salvadoran law.  Although a firm or individual may apply for a patent or trademark directly, most foreign firms hire local law firms specializing in intellectual property. The U.S. Commercial Service’s Business Service Provider program has a partial list of local lawyers. The U.S. Embassy Consular Section also maintains a list of local lawyers. 

It is important that rights holders take fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce their intellectual property rights in a timely fashion. In many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit. In no instance should U.S. Government advice be a substitute for the obligation of a rights holder to pursue its case promptly.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. Negotiate with a complete understanding of your partner’s position and give your partner clear incentives to honor the contract. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Projects and sales in El Salvador require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Salvadoran laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

An overview of El Salvador’s IPR regime can be found on the WIPO website.

It is also recommended that small and medium-sized companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both El Salvador and U.S.-based. These include:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce and local American Chambers of Commerce
  • Salvadoran Association of Intellectual Property (ASPI)
  • National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
  • International Trademark Association (INTA)
  • Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI)
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
  • Motion Picture Association (MPA)
  • Business Software Alliance (BSA)
  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders. Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues — including enforcement issues in the US and other countries — call the STOP! Hotline: +1-866-999-HALT or visit STOPfakes.gov
  • For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at +1-800-786-9199, or visit United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at +1-(888) 668-1363, +1 (202) 618-5277, or visit United States Copyright Office.
  • For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific information, visit IP Toolkits. The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. Government officials available to assist SMEs.
  • An English-language overview of El Salvador’s IPR regime can be found on the WIPO website.

IP Attaché Contact for El Salvador:

Cynthia Henderson

Intellectual Property Counselor for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

U.S. Trade Center

Liverpool No. 31 Col. Juarez

C.P. 06600 Mexico City

Telephone: +52 55 5080 2189

E-mail: Cynthia.Henderson@trade.gov


Claudia Rojas

Senior Legal Specialist for Intellectual Property

U.S. Trade Center

Liverpool No. 31 Col. Juarez

C.P. 06600 Mexico City

Telephone: +52 55 5080 2000, ext. 5222

E-mail: Claudia.Rojas@trade.gov

For more information, contact ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights Director, Stevan Mitchell, at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.

To access El Salvador’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.