Intellectual Property Notes – Parallel Imports

In Mexico, as in the rest of the world, trademarks are registered to allow their owners to use them directly or indirectly, through licensing or other authorizations. Consequently, the use of registered trademarks without the owner's authorization gives rise to a cause of action that may be brought before the competent trademark authorities. Moreover, current Mexican law establishes cases, such as so-called "parallel imports", in which the use of a trademark may not be denied by the trademark's title holder to those who use, commercialize or distribute such trademark, as long as the introduction of the trademark into the stream of commerce was legally performed by the owner or authorized licensee of the trademark, so that the trademarked product is considered legitimate. The following requirements apply in order for a product to be considered legitimate in accordance with the applicable legal provisions in Mexico: (i) that the introduction of the products into the stream of commerce of such country is performed by the person who owns the trademark in that country or who is a licensee of the registered trademark; and (ii) that the owner of the registered trademark in Mexico and the foreign country are the same person or members of the same economic or common interest group or its licensees or sub-licensees on the date of importation of the products. This event occurs, as in other cases, when the owner of the trademark issues a license or grants an exclusive distribution right with respect to such trademark in various jurisdictions, and third parties acquire the products bearing the trademark of the owner of the mark or its licensees or sub-licensees or distributors authorized in other countries for introduction into Mexico, thereby affecting the licensee or local distributor in Mexico. Consequently, whenever licenses or exclusive distributions are granted, it is important for the parties to conclude a written agreement to ensure that distributors or licensees from other countries observe the territorial jurisdiction of their sales and, thus, avoid the existence of so called "parallel imports."

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