In addition to inventions (patents, utility models and industrial designs), distinct symbols (trademarks, commercial brands andcommercial names) that have been registered in Mexico may lose their registration and, thus, be subject to use by third parties, ifsuch symbolic marks are declared null by trademark authorities, or if such expire in conformity with the terms of the MexicanIndustrial Property Law (Ley de la Propiedad Industrial). In addition, registered marks may lose their registration if they aredeclared to be “canceled,” thus losing their efficacy precisely by the mark’s force and presence in the market, which causes publicconsumers to confuse said marks with the usual or generic form of naming a product or service. The Mexican Industrial Institute(Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial or IMPI), which is the federal administrator or authority responsible for grantingtrademark registrations and issuing cancellations, may receive a petition to cancel a mark based on the argument that such mark hasbeen transformed into a generic name corresponding to the products or services its registration covers, and, if it is shown in atrademark proceeding that the owner of the mark caused or allowed such transformation to occur, the authorities are required tocancel the registration. Based on the above, owners of registered trademarks, who likely will seek to popularize and disseminatetheir mark, must also be careful to not cause such mark to be converted into a generic name or “tolerate” others using the markwithout legally opposing such use.
The new Law for the Development and Promotion of Bioenergy entered into force on February 1, 2008. The new law seeks toencourage and provide incentives to the agricultural sector to produce “bioenergy,” understood as energy obtained from livingmaterial (biomass) for combustible purposes, such as biofuels, biogas, and biodiesel. With the passage of this new law, it is hopedthat Mexico will develop an alternate and ecologically friendly plan so that it may be energy self-sufficient and, at the same time,comply with international commitments in the energy and environmental arena. In this sense, the bioenergy sector now represents anattractive niche for direct and indirect foreign investment for the array of businesses that engage in bioenergy activities and providerelated services. This gives rise to the need to have adequate legal and technical representation in a given project, as well as thepermits, authorizations and audits required by governmental authorities for a project’s feasibility, through stages of production,generation, transportation and distribution of bioenergy, and its sale, commercialization, importation, etc.
On March 28, 2008, the Mexican Social Security Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS) published in the OfficialJournal of the Federation, through its Technical Counsel, a decree establishing that in addition to IMSS delegates workingthroughout Mexico, sub-delegates in such offices will have the authority to ratify or amend the category, classification and labor riskpremiums paid by employers for workplace risk insurance paid on behalf of employees. With this reform it is hoped that suchgovernmental transmittals will be made more efficient and less costly for employers.
On April 1, 2008 the new Official Mexican Norm (NOM) governing maximum weights and measures for vehicles operating onfederal highways was published in the Official Journal of the Federation (Diario Oficial de la Federación). The purpose of the newregulation is to decrease the maximum weights and measures applicable to vehicles in transit on federal roads and bridges in order toavoid accelerated deterioration and decrease highway accidents. In addition, the regulation seeks to harmonize weights andmeasures applicable in Mexico with those currently in force in Canada and the United States. In publishing the new NOM, theFederal Department of Transportation attempted to negotiate with and arrive at a consensus with all sectors of the Mexican transportation industry and Federal Transportation Chamber; however, since the intent of the NOM is to limit the practice ofoverloading or transporting cargo in equipment exceeding maximum dimensions, substantial opposition was expected. It is possiblethat the Mexican federal government, through the Department of Communications and Transportation (Secretaria deComunicaciones y Transportes or SCT) decided to publish the new NOM without further consultations. The new NOM provides aterm of six months to bring current equipment and practices into compliance with the new requirements. This has resulted in aconflict with the transportation industry, and industry participants have filed a massive amount of amparo protest lawsuits against thenew NOM, which cases will need to be decided by competent Mexican courts.
In case 13/2008, the Mexican Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación) has ruled that the effect of an amparo lawsuitdecision declaring any payment made to the government as unconstitutional carries with it the right of the taxpayer to receive theamount originally paid to the government in present value terms. The decision is important for those with amparo lawsuits filedagainst Mexican tax laws, which have been subject to the Financial Code of the Federal District. This opens the door and sets theprecedent for interpreting how compliance with judicial decisions of unconstitutionality should be verified. In its decision, the Courtprovides protection to taxpayers, and states that tax authorities must refrain from collecting the payment in question and return suchpayment in the amount originally made, and also pay to the taxpayer the amount required to take inflation into account, even thoughcurrent tax law does not provide for this.