In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.
It is critical for companies to ensure that their brands remain protected around the world and protected from trademark infringements. It is recommended to use a lawyer with expertise and knowledge of local laws and skills to conduct in-country investigations.
In Guatemala, Intellectual Property Laws confer discretionary powers and faculties to the Customs authorities to conduct investigations and retain merchandise suspected of being counterfeit. Customs is the first line of defense as it has the authority to confiscate the counterfeited goods. Unfortunately, under Guatemalan laws, customs agents are responsible for the seizure and can only retain the merchandise for 48 hours, sometimes this is not sufficient time for the brand owners to be notified and begin legal action.
The Attorney General’s office and the Customs Bureau are legally empowered to initiate investigations on intellectual property matters. However, the IPR prosecution office is small and operates with few resources. The office relies on assistance from the private sector and foreign Governments.
CAFTA-DR liberalizes bilateral trade between the United States and the region and promotes regional integration. It also requires the Central American countries to undertake needed reforms to alleviate systemic problems such as protection of intellectual property rights, customs administration services, investment, financial services, market access, and government procurement, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary and other non-tariff barriers.
In Guatemala, the entity in charge of intellectual property is the Mercantile Registry and with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), launched the national strategy of intellectual property (ENPI), in mid-2015. Its main objective is to promote the use of intellectual property as a tool for economic and social development, by encouraging creativity and innovation.
The Government of Guatemala’s Public Ministry (or equivalent to the U.S. Justice Department) has strengthened prosecution of crimes against intellectual property. To this end, projects have been implemented with national and international organizations that provide additional knowledge and assistance. It has also carried out exchange of experiences at an institutional level with the judiciary and the Superintendence of tax administration.
It is important to mention that Guatemalan legislation on this matter is modern and in accordance with multilateral agreements on intellectual property such as:
TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights),Paris ConventionBerne ConventionRome Convention
Guatemala remains on USTR’s Special 301 Watch List in 2023 and has been on the Watch list for more than 10 years. Despite a generally sound legal framework, IPR enforcement remains limited due to resource constraints, inconsistent enforcement actions against counterfeiting of apparel and other products, and lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies. Piracy and copyright and trademark infringement, including those of some major U.S. food and pharmaceutical brands, remain problematic in Guatemala.
Guatemala has a registry for intellectual property. Trademarks, copyrights, patents rights, industrial designs, and other forms of intellectual property must be registered in Guatemala to obtain protection in the country. For additional information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in Guatemala please visit the Intellectual Property Rights Section of the U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement and USTR’s annual Special 301 Report. For information on Guatemala’s IP treaty membership please check the IP Snapshot for Guatemala from Stopfakes.gov. 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.
For direct assistance on IP matters contact the IP Counselor for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: Cynthia Henderson at email@example.com