Protecting Wine Brands in Central America, South America and the Caribbean

The growth of trademark applications in Latin America continue to climb.  Recently, we have noticed an increase in Latin America trademark filings for wine brands that are identical or confusingly similar to our client’s U.S. brands.  These have NOT been instances of brand hijacking. These are cases where the identical or similar brand has sought trademark registration in a Latin American country, thus potentially preempting a U.S. winery from using the same or similar wine brand.  It will cost significantly less to register your brand now while it may still be available than to attempt to wrest it back in the future.  Moreover, seeking registration now  protects against the risk of being prevented from entering that market with your U.S. brand down the road.


Latin America is a growing region.  Applications in the region have grown 14.9% from 2010 to 2014 according to “Trademarks and Patents” Marcasur.  The increase in the number of applications was most pronounced in Chile (27.4%), the Dominican Republic (22.1%), Mexico (10.9%) Guatemala (8.4%), Colombia (7.5%) Argentina (4.9%) and Costa Rica (2.2%).  Id.  In 2014, nationally filed trademark applications, outnumbered foreign applications with 67.2% of all applications.  Id. 


Almost 3 million trademark applications were filed between 2010-2014.  At the top of the list, with the greatest number of applications were Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, the countries with the highest population growth rates.  Id.


The average time for granting a trademark without opposition in Latin America in 2014 ranges from 3 months in the Dominican Republic to 36 months in Brazil.  The average for all trademark applications filed in the region is 9.2 months (compared to 10.5 months in the United States).  Id.


If you would like more information about registering your brands in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Venezuela, we have personally met with legal counsel in each of these countries and have developed a working relationship with them in order to help our clients protect their brands in Latin America.


For additional information or any other questions contact Katja Loeffelholz at her email.  Katja recently attended the International Trademark Association (INTA) leadership meeting held in Panama City, Panama.  INTA is the global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to protecting trademarks and related intellectual property.