Understanding Intellectual Property Protection in Mexico


For many businesses, their intellectual property is among their most important assets, and it is critical to protect this property, especially when nearshoring in Mexico or manufacturing in other foreign countries. National laws in Mexico are designed to enforce the protection of intellectual property and other technical or proprietary knowledge.

NAFTA and the new USMCA dictate minimum requirements for intellectual property protection, but the US, Mexico, and Canada have their own laws that exceed these requirements. Mexico’s legal framework, for example, offers express protection for industrial secrets, heavy piracy penalties, and the ability to patent pharmaceuticals.

Here are some basic terms to know about Mexico’s intellectual property laws, as well as the steps businesses can take to protect their intellectual property when manufacturing in Mexico:


A patent can cover any invention, industrial design, or model of an invention and guarantees their exclusive use. Patents in Mexico are authorized by the Patent and Trademark Office and are granted for a set period of time.


The registry is similar to patents but applies directly to utility models or industrial designs.


Mexico’s IP laws don’t strictly define what an invention is, but they do specify things that are not considered inventions, including:

  • Theoretical or scientific principles
  • Natural things
  • Plans or business methods
  • Software or computer programs
  • Forms or processes of presenting information
  • Artistic or literary creations
  • Medical procedures or treatment

Utility Model

A utility model is an object, tool, device, or utensil that arises from the modification of an existing item. The new object must have more purposes or uses than the original.

Industrial Design

An industrial design is any element that is newly created and significantly improves the way of doing any activity. Industrial designs can be drawings or models that are to scale and three-dimensional representations of the new elements.

Steps to Protecting Intellectual Property When Manufacturing in Mexico

For businesses looking to obtain patents or register their intellectual property, the process is straightforward. However, it’s important to keep records of all your documentation and be patient.

  1. Submit a patent application to inform the Mexican Intellectual Property Institute (IMPI) of your intention to obtain registration or a patent. The application should be submitted in person or by an accredited legal representative.
  2. Submit documents that explain the creation in detail, including its physical or chemical elements, operation or uses, and indispensable or unique characteristics.
  3. Submit all drawings, diagrams, and descriptions.
  4. Submit any other documents requested by the IMPI, including information about patent requests submitted in other countries.


The IMPI will review all submitted materials and make a determination in about six months.

If you have questions or concerns about protecting your intellectual property in Mexico, working with a shelter provider in Mexico is a great option. Our team can answer all your questions and walk you through the steps needed to register or obtain patents so you can run your manufacturing operations in Mexico with peace of mind. Contact us today to learn more.


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