When operating commercially, it is very common to use a brand, a logo and/or slogan to help identify your business and its products. Your brand sets you apart from others, builds trust and loyalty among customers, and as your business grows, engages new customer markets with your story.
Protecting and maintaining exclusive use of your brand, logo or slogan with a trademark is therefore crucial to commercial success. In Latin America, intellectual property protection regulations are ramping up to support the migration of tech-based businesses from foreign markets into this developing region. Argentina recently bolstered its support for innovative industries by introducing the Knowledge Economy Law.
We outline the steps to go about registering your brand for a trademark in Argentina, to keep your business protected and profitable into the foreseeable future.
In Argentina, a brand is a sign with a distinctive capacity that differentiates a group of products or services owned by one individual or company from others.
Registering a brand with local authorities formally grants a business the title deed and exclusive right over it. The National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) is the local authority responsible for managing brand applications and registration.
Why trademark your brand?
Having your brand formally registered with INPI enables you to legally undertake any necessary activities to prevent third parties from marketing identical products or services with the same brand as yours. Situations like this dilute the message you’re trying to send to customers, and can be confusing for the public. Being granted the right to protect your brand allows you to keep your story clear and mitigate risk to your company’s credibility.
The registry also protects against partial imitations; either of names, words, signs or advertising phrases, as well as their drawings and colors. The owner of a registered brand may authorize its use by third parties through License Agreements, both exclusive and non-exclusive. You can also sell your brand or elements of it, and you may offer brand elements or design as collateral with pledge records you may make.
Build customer loyalty and a strong message about your products or services, and the story of your company with an associated design and slogan protected under trademark by Argentinian law.
What are the requirements for registering a trademark?
Any person, whether physical or legal, who meets the following requirements may register a trademark for themselves:
- Be over 18 years old (the legal age for natural persons)
- Have a legal address declared in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires
- Possess a unique tax identification key, known as a CUIT
- When it comes to proxies: have legal capability/ authorization from the legal entity (company) to carry out the application on its behalf (for legal persons)
- For legal persons: a sworn statement by the powers of the signatory detailing the corporate instruments that possess the power to register and share information about the brand (this could include meeting minutes of the Board of Directors, for example).
The registration approval process takes approximately 12 months from the beginning of the application until formal acknowledgment of your trademark. This is provided there is no public opposition to your application, in which case any clarification or supplementary information required may push this timeline out.
Once successfully registered, the protection of the trademark lasts 10 years. In Argentina, you can renew your trademark before it expires.
Before applying: do your research
The first step will be to check that the brand you want to register does not already exist, or that there isn’t a similar one to it.
For this step, you can consult the online INPI trademark consultation system and conduct your own research into what’s already been registered.
Once you have confirmed that the trademark you want is not already registered to another company, you’ll then need to classify your products/services according to local regulation.
Classify your goods and/or services
Classes are determined by an international classification system, used to determine the scope of the brand to be registered, such as: chemical products, tools, furniture, and others.
Use INPI’s international classification page to help identify the class of your goods and/or services.
Start your online application
After confirming your application is unique and what class your business outputs belong to, you can initiate your trademark application online with INPI. Alternatively, you can deliver your application in person to their physical address, or post it.
Requirements for this step include:
- Indicate what type of trademark it is: denominative, figurative, mixed, etc.
- If the trademark has images, you will have to upload an image in .jpg format, whose size cannot exceed 2MB.
- If necessary, detail the colours and size of the image/s.
- Indicate the international class to which the trademark belongs: this is represented from a number from 1 to 45, depending on the product to be commercialized under that trademark. Only one class corresponds to each application. If you wish to register the trademark under more than one class, you will have to file one application for each one.
- Inform the ownership of the trademark: who are going to be the owners of it and what percentage will correspond to each one.
After completing the required information and determining the characteristics and properties of the brand to be registered (words, designs, images, names, etc), you can submit your application. The fee for application submission is of AR$2,210 (approximately US$50)
Within 30 days of submitting the application, INPI staff will conduct a formal study on compliance with the requirements and the fee payment.
After 70 days, the application is published in the country’s Trademark Bulletin for third parties to comment on. This step gives third parties a chance to object if they believe theirs or another design, logo or slogan is too similar to yours.
If there is opposition, you can select one of the following approaches to resolve the issue:
- Try to reach an agreement between the parties
- Start an administrative mediation process to reach an agreement
- Initiate a lawsuit before the corresponding courts
- Alter your brand application so the designs or slogans are no longer conflicting.
You must complete the approach you decide to take within one year of receiving an objection from a third party.
If 12 months have elapsed since the public consultation phase without opposition, the INPI will communicate the approval of your application by email and it will be published in the Official Gazette.
Contact us to get started
The Argentinian government aims to create a secure commercial environment for foreign businesses by supporting intellectual property protection mechanisms. The formation and incorporation process for companies looking to start up or expand into the country can however still be complex for foreign actors to navigate.
Be sure to engage with a legal services provider you can trust to help your company meet local compliance regulations. At Biz Latin Hub, our team of local and expatriate professionals offers a wealth of experience in market entry and back-office processes to our clients across all of Latin America, including Argentina.
We’ve been working with businesses in a wide range of industries who are moving into the country and wider region since 2014. Contact us today at [email protected] to learn more about our tailored business solutions, and how we can support your business success.