Mexico’s Industrial Property Law (Ley de la Propiedad Industrial) recognizes and protects so called trade secrets. The Law defines a trade secretas “all information of industrial or commercial applications that an individual or corporation maintains confidential which imply the acquisition ormaintenance of a competitive or economic advantage before third parties in carrying out business activities and with respect to which it has adoptedsufficient means or systems to preserve the confidentiality of, and restricted access to, such Trade Secrets.” The development of competitiveinformation becomes more and more relevant every day, meaning that confidentiality in industrial and commercial settings should be carefullyguarded, ensuring that employees with access to such information do not violate trade secrets. The law provides criminal penalties for revealingtrade secrets for employees or professionals who reveal and utilize such trade secrets without authorization. Such actions may be brought againsttrade secret violators, but one should also consider that it is a crime to provide access to trade secrets without proper consent, which means that alegal action could be maintained against both the provider and the recipient of the unauthorized information.
The First Chamber of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation recently issued a case decision (citation 1s/J.143/2007) establishing thefollowing: “Legal attorney in fact. A power of attorney granted by a corporation to its own statutory auditor (Comisario) is not a valid legal grantof authority.” In the same case the Supreme Court held that any power of attorney granted to a statutory auditor to carry out legal acts on behalf ofthe corporation granting such power of attorney lacks legal force. The Court based its ruling on the necessity of statutory auditors being able toindependently carry out their oversight responsibilities, stating it was incompatible for the same person to serve as an independent statutory auditorand loyal legal representative or attorney-in-fact of the same corporation at the same time. Based on this decision, it is very important to review anypowers of attorney granted by Mexican corporations to its own statutory auditor and, as the case may be, make corresponding corrections to avoidpossible liability to corporations and their own statutory auditors.
Each year in Mexico the National Minimum Wage Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Salarios Mínimos), comprised of representatives fromthe employer, labor and government sectors, determines general and minimum wages applicable for the following year. Minimum salariesgoverning various trades or positions (laborer, truck driver, cashier, etc.) and general minimum salaries apply to workers or officials notcontemplated as professionals, and the amount depends on the location of the worker within three different economic zones. The minimum salaryvaries according to such three geographic zones. The general minimum daily salary applicable as of January 1, 2008 for Zone A is $52.59 Pesos;for Zone B $50.96 Pesos; and for Zone C $49.50 Pesos. The amount of the minimum professional salary varies depending on the profession orposition, from a maximum of $157.56 Pesos for a newspaper reporter to a minimum of $66.48 Pesos for a ranch supervisor. Whether one isspeaking of the professional or general minimum salaries, they are little utilized in Mexico to determine a worker’s salary because the amount isvery low, but used more often as a reference point for payment of damages, sanctions, fines and transmittals carried out before various authorities.
In addition to the Federal Code of Civil Procedures (Codigo Federal de Procedimientos Civiles) and Commerce Code (Codigo de Comercio),which contain rules for processing a judgment or letter rogatory issued by a foreign court in order to provide notice or service of process to anindividual or company domiciled in Mexico, Mexico has signed various international treaties and conventions seeking to make these transmittalsmore efficient and speedy, including the Interamerican Convention concerning Judgments or Letters Rogatory and the Convention of the Hagueconcerning Notice or Transfer Abroad of Judicial or Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, to which the United States ofAmerica is also a party. Mexico has made several reservations in both international conventions, principally relating to requirements that alldocuments be accompanied by proper Spanish translations and that all judicial acts be served in Mexico in proceedings originating abroad be filedwith the General Directorate of Legal Matters of the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriors or SRE),designating such agency as the central authority to receive these types of judicial requests. The SRE will then forward the requests to theappropriate and competent judicial authority to ensure notices are carried out in accordance with procedures contained in Mexican law. The aboverequirement is based on Mexico’s express reservation that no notice or judicial document transfer may take place in Mexico via mail or throughdiplomatic or consular agents of the member states of such conventions, nor through any other interested party in a judicial proceeding, even whenthe law would otherwise allow such a notification. Recently, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) settled as firm precedentthe proposition that if a ruling or letter rogatory is issued outside of Mexico does not comply with the requirements established by internationaltreaties and their corresponding reservations, such irregularities impact the legal rights and individual guaranties of the person being notified, whichled the SCJN to conclude that any such act is performed in violation of law and subject to reversal through an indirect amparo lawsuit. Thisdecision is particularly relevant when the judgment is issued by a foreign court and is to be enforced in Mexico, since the authority to execute aforeign judgment by a Mexican judge will be based primarily on whether or not service of process was properly accomplished.
On January 2, 2008 the Chief Justice of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación or SCJN),Justice Guillermo I Ortiz Mayagoitia, opened the first term of the court’s sessions this year, presenting the cases that will be heard by the SCJN in2008. Included among such cases are unconstitutionality actions to be heard by the court related to access to information, recordings andcertifications of criminal proceedings held in the state of Nuevo Leon. In addition, constitutional issues to be heard include a case to determine thedesignated legislative body to hear cases involving private safety and security within Mexico. The Chief Justice of the SCJN also stated that thefull court had decided to review the amparos lawsuits that were filed as result of the new Government Employee Social Security Institute Law (Leydel ISSSTE), having already disposed of 99.7% of the petitions presented as of December 31, 2007 and stating that in the majority of such cases atemporary suspension was granted. The court will also review and rule on several constitutional appeals involving railroad tariffs, tax treatment offoreign investors in Mexico, appeals related to Mexico’s former Asset Tax (Impuesto al Activo) and the zero percent Value Added Tax (Impuesto alValor Agregado or IVA) applicable to medicines and, finally, through an amparo decision, it will resolve issues related to interest capitalization.