All questions

Intellectual property

i Brand search

The Chilean Patent and Trademark Office (INAPI) has an online system that provides most of the information regarding trademark registrations and pending applications. The same information can be obtained in the case of patent applications.

In the case of trademarks, the search engine allows the user to search for phonetical and graphical coincidences, and also to check the classes and goods or services descriptions. All this information is public and can be accessed through INAPI's website. However, although the system is undergoing constant improvements, the information may not be completely accurate and might need completion by means of a material review of some files.

In addition, there are private services that perform more detailed searches and that are in a position to prepare and draft thorough reports on the registrability of a trademark.

ii Brand protection

In Chile, it is possible to obtain trademark protection for goods and services. Applications will need to designate classes (using the Nice Classification) and to contain a description of the products or services that are to be covered by the trademark.

Protection can be sought for word marks and for figurative marks. The same can be done for slogans and for sound marks. Three-dimensional trademarks cannot be registered.

To obtain trademark rights in Chile, a trademark application must be filed with INAPI and prosecuted according to the rules established in the Chilean Intellectual Property Law (the IP Law) and its implementing regulations. Some basics that can be highlighted are as follows:

  1. trademark applications can be filed by individuals or by corporations;
  2. trademark applications can be filed by Chilean persons or entities, or by foreign persons or entities;
  3. trademark applications are the subject of a formal examination and examination as to substance;
  4. trademark applications are published in the Chilean Official Gazette, for third parties to file their possible opposition in writing;
  5. the final decision, independently of whether the application has been the subject of opposition, can be appealed before the Court of Industrial Property; and
  6. the final decision of the Court of Appeals can be the subject of an annulment recourse filed before the Supreme Court of Chile.

Trademark registrations are granted for 10 years. This term can be renewed for further periods of 10 years provided a trademark renewal application is properly filed.

Currently, the IP Law does not provide for mandatory trademark registrations. In other words, the registration of a trademark is not mandatory for its use as a trademark in Chile, provided, of course, it does not interfere with the legally superior rights of third parties. In addition, if a person decides to file an application for the registration of its trademark, and finally a registration is granted by the Chilean authority, said registration will not be subject to cancellation on the grounds of non-use. In fact, the use of a trademark is not mandatory to maintain a trademark registration in force. In this respect, a bill for a new IP law is still being discussed by the Chilean Congress, and this draft contains a provision concerning the mandatory use of trademark registrations.

The IP Law also provides for the application, prosecution and granting of other IP rights, such as patents, industrial designs (3D), industrial drawings (2D) utility models, geographical indications and integrated circuits.

As far as franchising contracts are concerned, it would be advisable, although not mandatory, for the owner of a trademark and owner of a franchising programme to file for a trademark application for its trademarks before entering the Chilean market and, in some cases, before offering franchises locally or even before starting a search for potential franchisees or a master franchisee.

While it may seem expedient to forego this process, as it is not mandatory, the use of a trademark alone will not give significant rights to its user. Trademark property or ownership is acquired in Chile through filing a trademark application, the prosecution of this application and the final granting of trademark rights by the Chilean authority, INAPI.

iii Enforcement

According to Chilean practice, all franchising agreements contain a trademark licence agreement. In some cases, the licence agreement is part of the main body of the franchise agreement while in other cases it is drafted in an annex or exhibit of the franchising agreement.

On the assumption that the trademark will be registered in the name of the owner of the trademark or the franchisor, for a licence agreement to be enforceable against third parties, it will be necessary to register it with INAPI. Although, according to Chilean law, a licence agreement will be valid between the signatory parties because of the sole fact of their having a valid executed agreement, granted in good faith and with a clear intention to enter into the agreement, for the agreement to be valid or enforceable against third parties, it is necessary to register the contract with INAPI.

iv Data protection, cybercrime, social media and e-commerce

Chilean legislation does not provide for a data protection law as such. Nevertheless the Industrial Property Law4 contains provisions regarding protection of 'industrial secrets'.

In addition, Chilean legislation provides for a Law on Protection of Consumer's Rights,5 a Law on Electronic Documents and Electronic Signature6 and for a Law on Privacy Protection.7 The latter regulates the 'adhesion contracts' usually found on internet websites under the title of 'general terms and conditions of use'.

In Chile, the sole visit to a website that offers access to certain services does not impose any obligation on the user, unless the user has unequivocally previously accepted the conditions offered by the provider. Typical clauses such as 'by accessing this website you acknowledge that you have read, understood and accepted these terms and conditions of use' do not obligate users in Chile.

To comply with the legal requirements for the 'electronic formation of consent', users must accept the terms and conditions of a website in writing. This can by achieved by clicking the relevant box to indicate acceptance of the terms and conditions. Once the contract is agreed, the provider must send written confirmation to the consumer.

Law No. 19,799 on Electronic Documents and Electronic Signature and its Certification recognises the validity of the acts and contracts agreed electronically, and gives them the same value as a written document.

Regarding personal data, Law No. 19,628 on Privacy Protection states that the user must authorise in writing the use of its personal information. This written agreement can be replaced by an electronic registration process if the identification of the user can be determined and a record of the authorisation can be kept.