What works can be protected in Mexico?

Virtually any original work may be protected under Mexican copyright law, provided that it is in a tangible form and capable of being reproduced.

The protection is provided regardless the destiny, merits or purpose of the work; even the industrial design of a product may be protected by copyright, regardless the protection that could be obtained from the industrial design registration stipulated in the industrial property statute.

In a non-limitative manner, Mexican copyright protects literary, cinematographic and plastic works; graphic design, drawings, radio and TV shows; compilations of data and computer software.

What privileges provide the copyright?

Mexican copyright law provides two categories of rights: personal rights, related to the personal relation between the author and the work; and economic rights, related to the use of the work.

Only economic rights may be assigned, provided that the assignment agreement complies with the substantive limitations and formalities stipulated in the Mexican statute; such limitations may vary according to the nature of the work.

What is the term of copyright?

Under the current Mexican Copyright Law, the term of the economic rights is the life of the author, plus 100 years after the date of death of the author. However, the term may change according to the date of death of the author.

Personal rights do not expire, although the enforceability of some of them is limited after the death of the author.

It is important to consider that the term of expiration of the economic rights has been amended several times in the last decades. It means that it would be necessary to verify the date the author died, and the statute in force back then, to determine if the economic exclusivity rights continue in force.

What formalities must be fulfilled to get a full copyright protection?

None. The copyright is fully acknowledged and enforceable since the moment the work is finished in a tangible form.

In theory, no registration is required. However, Mexican society and authorities are very formalistic and give great importance to documents. Therefore, the copyright is easier to enforce when the work is registered than when it is not.

What are the relevant authorities concerning copyright in Mexico?

The official name of the Mexican Copyright Office (MCO) is Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor or INDAUTOR.

There are, however, other government agencies with activities related to copyright and other proprietary rights stated in the Federal Copyright Law, such as the Mexican Patent and Trademark Office (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial), the General Attorney’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República), the Ministry of he Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación), the Federal Court of Tax and Administrative Affairs (Tribunal Federal de Justicia Fiscal y Administrativa), the Federal Courts and the State Courts.

What is the function of the Copyright Registry?

Unlike trademarks, the registration of a work with the Copyright Registry does not provide proprietary rights by itself. The source of the proprietary rights is the materialization of the work, not the registration.

From a legal perspective, the Copyright Registry serves two main purposes:

1. Preparing evidence about the existence of the work.

2. Providing a public record of contracts (such as assignments, licenses or securities) and other legal acts with impact on copyright. Such recordation makes the recorded act enforceable against third parties, mainly future assignees of the copyright.

However, as I stated before, Mexican society is very formalistic. In practice it is not unusual to find businessmen and authorities that demand the certificate of copyright registration to acknowledge the existence of copyright, in spite that the statute provides the contrary.

What is a related right or derecho conexo?

Mexican law acknowledges proprietary rights in favor of performers, producers of phonograms (sound recordings) and videos, book editors and broadcasting organizations; they are collectively known as related rights or derechos conexos.

In general terms, the related rights provide exclusivity rights on performances, including the right to oppose the fixing of the performance on a tangible media, the reproduction of any such fixation and the public communication or broadcast of the fixed performances.

On the other hand, the related right allows a book editor to oppose the reproduction of its books, regardless if the work is of public domain.

Related rights entitle the producers of phonograms and videos to oppose the non-authorized reproduction and public communication of the phonogram and video, among other rights.

Finally, the related rights allow broadcasting entities to oppose the retransmission, fixing, public communication and reproduction of the broadcasted material.

Does Mexico require registration of related rights?

No. The statute provides that related rights are fully protected without registration.

However, related rights concerning books, phonograms and videos may be registered with the Copyright Registry.

Similar to the situation of copyrighted works, although there is no statutory requirement, the registration of related rights makes enforceability easier.

What is the term of related rights in Mexico?

It is variable, depending of the specific right:

For book editions, videos and broadcastings, the term is 50 years counted from the date of first edition, fixing or broadcast.

In the case of performers and phonogram producers, the term is 75 years, counted from the date of first fixing of the performance or the first fixing of sounds.

The above terms may vary depending on the date of first edition, fixing or broadcast.

What is a reserva de derechos?

The reservas de derechos or reserves, are special registrations filed with the Mexican Copyright Office that provide exclusivity rights.

There is no unity as for the nature of the intangible assets that are subject matter of the reserve de derechos: distinctive names (titles of newspapers, journals, magazines and TV and radio shows broadcasted on regular basis), fiction characters (the name of the character and its psychological and physical distinctive features) and original advertising campaigns.

Conflicts between holders of reservas de derechos and registered trademarks for identical or confusingly similar names covering the same or similar products or services are not unusual. Generally speaking, it is easier to invalidate a registered trademark due the earlier existence of a reserva than invalidating a reserva due the earlier existence of a trademark registration.

The term of a reserva is variable: 1 year (renewable) in the case of titles of newspapers, journals, magazines and TV and radio shows broadcasted on regular basis; 5 years (renewable) for the names of fiction characters; and 5 non-renewable years for original advertising campaigns.

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