Sunday, November 12, 2006

For Business Owners - Registering Your Trademark with the IMPIdiots

Since this blog is all about bitching and moaning, I thought I would share with aspiring business owners the experience to be had with the idiots that 'work' in the federal government agency charged with the registering of trademarks and logos.

Called the IMPI (sounds like impy: small, monkey-like - which seems to govern the manner in which they proceed), the Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Intelectual is the branch of government that will review your logo, trademark and so on and register it so that no one may copy it. Or that is what they are SUPPOSED to do anyway.

The real life case of one local tshirt printer demonstrates that their efficiency is dubious at best; downright retarded at worst. In an effort to prevent the piracy so common among tshirt printers, the owners of Mayan Xic tried to register some of their more popular phrases and slogans, not to prevent others from saying them or to get some sort of dominion over phrases used in daily speech, but to prevent other tshirt printers from taking the original idea and printing them up for profit themselves.

When you apply for copyright protection, you must first apply ($$) for a 'name search' which will reveal if anyone else has registered the phrase or slogan before you. In the case of Mayan Xic, the phrase UAY (Mayan expression of surprise or fear) was searched for. Since no precedent was found, a formal application was filed (more $$). 6 months later, a letter left the Mexico City office and was delivered in Merida another 3 months after that, informing Mayan Xic that UAY was not available because there was a precedent. What was the precedent? It turns out that the brain surgeons at the IMPI, in true office-cloistered, blinded to reality, burocrat fashion, found that someone (Hershey's no less) had registered Milky Way (really)!!! So much for that. You want to argue the point? Well, you can register a revision of their determination ($$) and wait another 9 months for their probably negative reply.

One of the phrases was actually registered, and it was found that a local printer was printing up shirts with the same phrase. The lawyers were approached and lo and behold, it WAS possible for the IMPI to act. The only caveat? The local office - here in Merida - had no one specialized enough to actually perform the required verification visit to the establishment in question. It turns out that this f^&%$d up system requires you, the person whose registered design is being pirated, to PAY FOR THE IMPI IDIOT TO COME FROM MEXICO CITY!!! Yes, you - already paying taxes that should be covering this - must pay for his airfare, his hotel, and his expenses while he is here doing his job! Is this outrageous or what or is it just me?

Remember the IMPI has an office in Merida - which your tax money is paying for - with over 7 employees in plain sight, none of whom apparently possess that obviously rare additional job skill required to go to a business and verify your complaint. And woe is you if the address you have given him is incorrect; in Merida many houses and businesses are the same number, only the letter changes. For example if your pirate is listed at Calle 50 #500C and the 'inspector' finds that the business is actually at #500B you are out of luck. He does not have the authority to go next door, even if the pirated goods are hanging there in plain sight.

As usual, this information is posted with the hopes that potential business owners in Mexico will read it and realize what kind of stupidity and burocratic entangelments await them in this still - in spite of what President Fox might declare on visits abroad - very much third world country.

3 comments:

R2K said...

: )

Anonymous said...

I really like your articles but it gets old to hear the same bitching about life in Merida and I only have one question for you:Why don't you go back to canada?
If you can't stand the heat.....get out of the kitchen!!!!!!!!!!!!!

William Lawson said...

Thank you Anonymous, for that. Good question. But nah, I could go on forever about Canada. Give me another suggestion.