Intellectual Property in Mexico: What You Need to Know


Among the many advantages of nearshoring to Mexico, particularly when compared to China, is the respect for intellectual property (IP). Trade policy between the U.S. and China has been notoriously shaky over the years, due to the ongoing trade war and the risk associated with IP theft by Chinese companies. According to a 2019 CNBC CFO survey, nearly one-third of North America-based CFOs say they’ve had their IP stolen from Chinese firms at some point over the past decade.

Intellectual Property in Mexico - What You need to Know

Meanwhile, favorable trade relations between the U.S. and Mexico have been in place since NAFTA and strengthened through the newly enforced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in July 2020. The USMCA has the highest standard of any U.S. trade agreement to protect and enforce IP rights. A few of the key highlights as outlined by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) include: 

  • Full national treatment of copyright and related rights
  • Minimum 15-year protection for industrial designs
  • Strong civil and criminal trade secret protections
  • Requires ex officio authority for customs officials to stop suspected counterfeit goods

Under NAFTA, many of these directives were not in place or explicitly detailed. These changes are included with new mandates regarding online piracy and IP protection within a digital environment, which is essential due to rapid innovations in technology in nearly every major manufacturing sector. 

Read more: The evolution of Mexico’s intellectual property laws.


How the USMCA Protects Technological Advancements When Nearshoring to Mexico


IPC president and CEO stated, “The USMCA promises to spur even greater integration among the North American economies and strengthen the region’s stature as a formidable global manufacturing base.”


According to the USTR, the top export categories from Mexico to the U.S. include machinery, electrical machinery, and vehicles. Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts automotive electronic and software market growth through 2030, increasing from $238 billion to $469 billion, with power electronics reporting an annual growth rate of 15 percent, sensor segments by 8 percent, and electronic control units by 5 percent. 


An executive summary published by IBM, detailing a digital transformation in the automotive industry, highlights two key areas where digital IP protection is crucial for the future: connected vehicles and mobility services. The growing number of consumers that expect digital features, such as navigation, security, multimedia, and service diagnostics, to be part of their personal vehicles will lead to product innovation and partnerships between the automotive industry and software, telecommunications, and electronics manufacturers. 


Additionally, the trend of mobility services, which provide in-vehicle innovation through smartphone connectivity and integration, which can be moved from vehicle to vehicle, are part of the operational models that guide the new products needed by the automotive industry. Fortunately, the IP protections in place under the USMCA also coincide with the rules of origin laid out in the agreement as well, which requires 75 percent of automotive content to be produced in North America. 


The enforcement of the USMCA further incentivizes manufacturers to include Mexico’s nearshore services as part of their strategy. With ongoing research and development necessary to meet evolving consumer expectations, U.S. manufacturers across all sectors will continue to rely on Mexico for the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of its skilled workforce in order to fulfill their production needs during this dynamic era of growth.


IP Support for Expansion Across All Manufacturing Sectors

As companies decide their best options for expansion, IP protection serves as another factor that pushes Mexico ahead of China in terms of trade relations with the U.S. Although the automotive industry is one of the largest sectors benefiting from the advantages of nearshoring to Mexico, it’s not the only one, since IP protection is essential to all industries, including aerospace, electronics, and medical devices, as technology is developed. 


Contact IVEMSA today to learn more about the benefits of nearshore services in Mexico and how we can help your operation grow.




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