Ever since Venezuela withdrew from the Andean Community in 2006, the applicable law has been the Industrial Property Law of 1955, which is outdated. Nevertheless, Venezuela is a signatory to various international agreements, such as the Paris Convention, Hague Convention, the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The Venezuelan Association of Industrial Property Agents (COVAPI) has submitted a request before the new National Assembly for the review and passing of a new IP law in accordance with international legal standards. It is expected that this new law will further strengthen the Venezuelan IP system while establishing clear rules in the promotion and protection of IP rights.
"The Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property issued an official notice announcing an increase of tax rates in respect of IP rights in accordance with the Tax Stamp Law."
The request was duly received by the assembly and it is considered an important step in developing a strong IP system that is in line with international trends.
In a recent Official Gazette, the Venezuelan government established an increase of the official tributary (government tax) unit by +18%.
The new unit brought has resulted in an increase in official fees for the following IP procedures:
- Trademark and patent applications;
- Trademark and patent granting;
- Trademark renewals;
- Changes of ownership; and
Exchange rate amendments
Last year, the Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property (SAPI) issued an official notice announcing an increase of tax rates in respect of IP rights in accordance with the Tax Stamp Law. The measure included the obligation for all foreign applicants to pay such fees in US dollars by means of a bank transfer from a foreign bank account.
Now the Venezuelan government has established a new official currency exchange rate, as published in the Official Gazette No. 40.865, dated March 9, 2016. As a result of the new official exchange rate, official fees for the following IP procedures have decreased:
Trademark and patent granting;
- Trademark renewals;
- Changes of ownership;
- Licences; and
- Patent annuity payments
According to the Currency Control Exchange Agreement No.35, the official rate of exchange applicable until March 14, 2016 was BsF6.30 per $1. From March 14, 2016, the new official currency exchange rate, called DIPRO, is BsF10 per $1.
The amount to be paid by Venezuelan citizens has increased by 18%, as mentioned above.
Also, as stated by President Nicolás Maduro in a recent news conference, he may review the DIPRO exchange rate and modify it at any time. Therefore, it is recommended to keep in touch with the professionals in this area.
COVAPI has filed a nullity petition against the Stamp Tax Law before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice based on constitutional grounds and breach of numerous international treaties. The petition has been admitted by the Chamber and notifications to other parties are still pending. Therefore until the attorney general is notified, the course of the action will remain pending.
COVAPI has also filed the following actions:
Requested clarification from the presidency and vice presidency offices, minister of commerce and SAPI to assert the basis and parameters used to establish such taxes. In return, no reply from any of the governmental offices has been received.
A nullity action against the Tax Stamp Law on the basis of its unconstitutionality. The action, filed before the Constitutional Chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, was admitted by the Chamber.
Improvements at SAPI
The first phase of improvements included obtaining trademark applications electronically through SAPI’s website.
Further expected changes, as informed by the registrar, are:
Newspaper publications may be done through SAPI’s website. In the last official bulletin, No. 562, dated March 29, 2016, an official notice approving the publication of trademarks and patents through SAPI’s online official newspaper was published. The notice also states that publications may continue to be done through the two newspapers already approved by SAPI. Most agents are now evaluating the online publication service in order to determine its efficiency versus cost. Also note that SAPI computer officials have held meetings with us to hear our observations in order to avoid errors in the publications. For trademarks there is one publication and for patents it is published three times with a ten-day interval.
The issuance of electronic certificates of registration bearing the registrar’s electronic signature. The electronic signature of the registrar has already been filed and is pending approval by the competent authorities.
SAPI will be moving to a new and modern office in another municipality.
It is expected that these changes will bring SAPI up to date with technological procedures and that the office will mainly improve the efficiency of its procedures.
Hugo Alberto Bazzani Aronne is a partner at Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque. He has experience in patents and trademarks, and is also the general manager at the firm. He previously worked at Gillette in Venezuela, the US and Argentina from 1990 to 2000. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
Hugo Alberto Bazzani Aronne, Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque, SAPI, patent, trademark, copyright, SAPI,