El Comercio – Contractual unforeseeability resulting from the pandemic

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DATE: 12-06-2020

CORRALROSALES IN THE NEWS

-Ramón Paz y Miño
-Mateo Zavala

MEDIA: El Comercio

Novedades Jurídicas, the legal supplement of El Comercio, publishes an article by our Senior Associate Ramón Paz y Miño and our Associate Mateo Zavala in which they explain the contractual unforeseenness arising from the health crisis caused by Covid-19. In the “new normality”, the dispute resolution clauses incorporated in contracts will be triggered in the absence of agreements and, therefore, ordinary justice or arbitration will be used.

“In recent decades, the theory of unforeseeability – which is an ideal mechanism for facing adverse effects in the execution of contracts – has acquired greater importance and relevance in the legal world, with the exception of Ecuador, where little or nothing has been said on the matter,” our lawyers put into context in their article.

As they point out, contractual unforeseenness is incorporated in several legislations, such as in Argentina and Colombia, where the objective is to preserve the survival of a contract legally entered into by the parties and where compliance has been affected by external factors beyond their control, which could not be foreseen during the contract negotiation stage.

“In addition to ensuring the full force of the contract, the theory of unforeseeability seeks to ensure fairness in the contractual relationship and to avoid excessive costs for one of the parties, which could affect the performance of the obligations”, explain the authors of the article.

The current situation suggests that the theory of contractual unforeseeability will be used in more than one case in Ecuador. The absence of an express rule that regulates it does not prevent its application, which will make it possible to use reasonability criteria for contractual relations due to events that generate an imbalance between the contracting parties. “This does not mean that the validity of legal security is ignored, much less the reliability and effectiveness of the system, but seeking other solutions will ensure that the performance is fair,” add Paz y Miño y Zavala.

If you want to read the full article, click here

Aula Magna – The Ecuadorian Intellectual Property Office (or SENADI according to its Spanish acronym) rejected ex-officio the registration of a mark because it considered that it was applied for in order to perpetrate an act of bad faith

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DATE: 13-05-2020

CORRALROSALES IN THE NEWS: 

-Katherine González

MEDIA: Aula Magna

Through Resolution No. SENADI_2019_RS_19814, the Ecuadorian IP Office rejected the application to register the mark KRUSELINGS in Class 28, for being similar to a globally well-known mark. Therefore, it was considered that the registration was sought in bad faith so as to mislead consumers. 

A mark is any sign capable of identifying goods or services in the market. For the purposes of registration, the community and national legislation establish a series of grounds for irregistrability that must be reviewed by the intellectual property offices, in order to avoid the acceptance for registration of signs that do not comply with the minimum requirements of a mark or that affect the rights of third parties.

One of the most well-known grounds for refusal which tends to be the most common ground for denying a mark at the Ecuadorian IP Office and in general at the IP Offices around the world is when a mark is similar to a prior application or registered mark[1]. However, another of the grounds to deny a mark is when it has been applied for to mislead consumers or to perpetrate an act of unfair competition or in bad faith according to the articles 135 and 137 of the Decision 486 of the Andean Community and the article 362 of the National IP Law.

The KRUSELINGS Case:

An Ecuadorian natural person applied for the mark KRUSELINGS in March 2019, covering “games, toys; gymnastic and sporting articles not contained in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees” in Class 28.

The mentioned application was not opposed by third parties. However, when issuing its decision, the Ecuadorian IP Office considered that the applied-for mark was confusingly similar with a mark well-known globally, and therefore that the application fell within the grounds for refusal since consumers would be deceived, in addition to establishing that it was an application made in bad faith.

Within its decision, the authority made it clear that despite there not being a prior application or registration similar to KRUSELINGS in Ecuador, the relevant grounds are directed at protecting the general interest, particularly consumers.

These types of decisions are aligned with global trends in the protection of intellectual property, most notably in trademarks. In particular, a Board Resolution of the International Trademark Association[2] (INTA) has established indicators to help trademark authorities determine whether a trademark application has been made in bad faith, from which we cite the two most relevant to the current case:

  • If the mark has been applied-for primarily to appropriate a trademark well-known in other jurisdictions or to disrupt the business of a competitor;
  • If the trademark was applied for with the intention of creating confusion regarding the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the goods or services of the applicant;

In the mentioned resolution, INTA arrived at the conclusion that “the possibility of arguing and demonstrating bad faith should be used as a tool to defeat the piracy of trademarks and other clear cases of misappropriation of trademarks”.

The decision in the case of KRUSELINGS signals progress in the protection of intellectual property in Ecuador, since arguing bad faith previously, at least in opposition proceedings, was almost always rejected or ignored, leading in many cases to the acceptance of the registration of marks that infringed the rights of third parties, under the sole pretext that the mark was not registered or applied for in Ecuador.

If you want to read this article in Spanish, click here.


[1] Article 136 section a), Decision 486 of the Andean Community
[2] Board resolution: September 22, 2009

LexLatin – BASIC ASPECTS OF CANNABIS IN ECUADOR: CONSIDERATIONS FROM AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND REGULATORY PERSPECTIVE

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DATE: 19-05-2020

CORRALROSALES IN THE NEWS: 

-Francisco Gallegos

MEDIA: LexLatin

In Ecuador, the use of cannabis is punishable, except in the case of personal consumption of quantities less than those established by the relevant law. At the end of last year, non-psychoactive and hemp cannabis were excluded from substances classed as subject to control, as will be explained further on, decriminalizing their use for medical or therapeutic ends (the exclusion thereby not extending to cannabis for recreational use).

Among the permitted uses are the possession of products that contain or are derived from cannabis for therapeutic, palliative or medicinal use, or whose use has medicinal objectives. In the same way, the law provides for the investigation, production, cultivation, distribution and sale of the substance, provided that the relevant government permits and approval are obtained and in accordance with the relevant requirements.

The reform will enter into force from June 21, 2020 and has as its overriding aim the elimination of punishments, excluding from control the possession of products for medicinal or therapeutic use that contain a non-psychoactive active ingredient or hemp (CBD), understood as the cannabis plant or any part thereof whose dry weight delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is less than 1%, provided that there is a diagnosis of suffering from an illness or pain that merits its use. In relation to THC, the ingredient in marijuana that produces the psychotropic effect, this continues to be a controlled substance, if not found within the aforementioned parameters.

From a regulatory point of view, the National Agrarian Authority must issue the regulations relating to the importation, cultivation, planting, harvesting, selling, industrialisation and even exportation of non-psychoactive cannabis or hemp, within 120 days of the law entering into force. The regulation and control of the planting, cultivation and harvest will be the responsibility of the National Health Authority. To date there is no specific detail as to the relevant powers.

At this moment in time, according to the relevant decisions handed down by the Andean Community on the matter, the only CBD products eligible for marketing authorizations are cosmetic products for topical use, provided that they are contained within the international lists of ingredients that may be used within cosmetics and complying with the corresponding restrictions and conditions of use. Human consumption goods are not permitted. One must await the issuance of regulations from the competent authorities.

Moreover, it will be necessary to consider the final text of the Health Law that will also contain provisions as to the regulation of medical and therapeutic use cannabis and its derivatives. The draft law is currently awaiting its second reading.

From an intellectual property perspective, it is worth remembering that the relevant law does not specifically consider use of the word cannabis in the registration of a trademark; however, it is very important to keep in mind that Article 134 of Decision 486 of the Andean Community in its final section provides that the nature of the good or service to which a mark relates, will in no circumstances be an obstacle to registration.

This might mean that granting or refusal of an application for a trademark that includes the term “cannabis”, any derivative of or expression that refers to cannabis in the mark itself or within its coverage comes down simply to the individual criteria of the responsible IP Office examiner, given that, being a restricted product, it could lead to objections. To date there are differing opinions, without any clear position on the matter. In any event, the number of accepted cannabis trademark applications is much higher than those which have received official objections or oppositions from third parties.

Nevertheless, there are both cases of granted cannabis trademark applications, as well as applications which have received official objections. Therefore, it is very important to take care with the wording of the applied-for goods or services, with the aim of reducing the possibility of receiving an official objection. In the same way, it will be very important to consider the mark’s word elements as well as the elements making up the graphical part of the label, keeping in mind the absolute grounds for refusal as provided for by Article 135 section p) of Decision 486, corresponding to Article 360 section 18 of the Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation Law, also known as the Ingenuity Law, which provides for the refusal of marks contrary to law, morals, public order or decency.

At the start of this year, the Ecuadorian IP Office or SENADI as it is known locally according to its Spanish acronym, had processed a limited number of trademark applications and even fewer patent applications. It is reckoned, since there are no exact official figures, that a high proportion of such trademark applications have been accepted, in contrast with the patent applications whose application process is significantly longer.

It is important to point out that various associations of producers of hemp and its derivatives have been formed, as well as groups that lobby for the therapeutic use of cannabis in Ecuador, even some that have the support of the Public Defender’s Office, as an alternative means for those that suffer from catastrophic or chronic illnesses, such as palliative care against pain, epilepsy and other oncological or brain impairment problems.

CorralRosales has actively participated in various international forums about the different opportunities and challenges brought about by the use of cannabis for therapeutic and medicinal aims. The firm has also provided legal and regulatory advice for what is a nascent industry in Latin America.

If you want to read this article (in spanish), click here