Why it’s a Good Idea to Register Your Trademark in the System of Alert in Argentina
Argentina is ranked among the twenty countries in the world with the highest number of trademark registrations. As established by Law n.22.362/1980, the trademark’s owner needs to file the registration at the INPI – the National Institute for Intellectual Property, and if the application is successful, the trademark protection is warranted for 10 years, renewable indefinitely for another 10 years. Registering a trademark is a relatively inexpensive way to protect the brand and the business associated with it. However, not many know about the System of Alerts, which is an additional tool for protecting the trademark owners against counterfeited goods that can potentially damage their brand.
The IP Alert System
In 2004, the Argentine Custom Code was amended to include a provision that forbids any import or export within Argentina if the goods had a counterfeit trademark, are pirated copies or violate any other intellectual property right. As a corollary, on February 20, 2007, the Argentine Custom Agency – AFIP – issued the Resolution n. 2216. The resolution introduced a warning registry, the Alert System (“Sistema de Asientos de Alerta”), where trademark and copyright owners could register their marks and rights, in order to streamline the control process carried out by the AFIP on all the imported and exported goods. The System became effective and operational in April of 2007.
The registration is free, it’s valid for 2 years and it’s renewable (30 days before its deadline). The trademark owner should apply with a certificate of trademark registration issued by the INPI Argentina. In the application, the owner should also include features of the goods, like samples, the position of the good within the Mercosur Classification (NomenclaturaComun del Mercosur), a list of the most frequent ports and airports of entry and exit of the goods that may be subject to forgery and the name of a legal representative.
Once goods are imported or exported and if they match the trademark registered in the system, they are blocked at the border for 3 working days, unless the trademark owner has previously provided the details of the importers and exporters who should be exempted. During the 3 days, the trademark owner or its representative can physically examine the products together with the Customs in order to determine their authenticity or, as the case may be, the existence of an infringement. If an infringement is detected, the trademark owner can bring an action in Court and start administrative proceedings in front of the AFIP. Even if the owner decides not to initiate proceedings, the Customs Office is allowed to do so, ex officio. It has to be noted that, regardless of the actual existence of an infringement, all expenses related to the deposit of the goods are currently charged to the importer/exporter.
In its 10 years of existence, this System proved to work effectively at protecting trademark owners and prevented many counterfeited goods to enter or exit the Argentine market.