Panama

Over the past year, IP practitioners in Panama have capitalised on their country’s increased exposure following its hosting of the International Trademark Association leadership meeting in November 2015. Many saw their trademark practices grow significantly, energised by international brand owners’ heightened awareness of the need to secure Panamanian IP protection. The expansion of the Panama Canal has also led to an uptick in workloads and intensified the focus on this strategically important jurisdiction, which is a gateway between North and Latin America and a major thoroughfare for international trade.

Firms

1
Benedetti & Benedetti
Icaza González-Ruiz & Alemán
2
Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez
GUINARD, NORIEGA & MARTINELLI
Jimenez, Molino y Moreno
3
Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega
Arosemena Noriega & Contreras
Morgan & Morgan
Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez
Alongside corporate, intellectual property is a strong suit for storied outfit Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez. It has significantly geared up its services to efficiently meet the needs of international companies, securing watertight protection for the likes of PepsiCo, adidas and BASF. Responsibility for the IP department rests with Marissa Lasso de la Vega Ferrari, a “knowledgeable, incredibly responsive and fun person who is a pleasure to work with”. She has proved instrumental in expanding the firm’s client base in Asia over the past year, while also further developing her extensive internet and social media expertise.
Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega
Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega is one of Panama’s leading full-service outfits. The IP team is one of 14 practice groups; it thus never advises on trademark issues in a vacuum, instead interweaving its shrewd IP counsel with comprehensive commercial insight. Peers consider the departure of former IP head Ileana Del Martinelli to have slowed the firm’s progress, although it still fields a reliable squad of highly knowledgeable practitioners. Carol Durling leads the section and is a good first port of call.
Arosemena Noriega & Contreras
The compact team at ANORCO provides a top-quality service across multiple legal disciplines, including intellectual property. Operating at an international level for nearly half a century, it has abundant experience of both contentious and non-contentious matters. José Miguel Navarrete is the IP partner in charge. The savvy litigator knows how to put difficult cases to bed in the most effective manner.
Benedetti & Benedetti
Benedetti & Benedetti is widely recognised as the pre-eminent IP practice in Panama. It is the country’s largest trademark filer by a long shot, processing nearly double the applications of its nearest competitor; rights holders flock to it time and again for its fast, meticulous service which ensures optimal protection of their most valuable brands. Prosecution maven Diana Leandro has the magic touch when it comes to getting results at the General Directorate of Industrial Property; the highly organised practitioner is the perfect choice to handle the most time-sensitive matters. The group shines on enforcement, too, with a crack in-house team of investigators and one of the country’s standout litigators and anti-counterfeiters in Audrey Williams. The “exceptional” and persuasive Williams has a knack for ending disputes favourably and at a very early stage, with patrons loving not only the outcomes, but also the lower costs incurred. Overseeing the group’s activities is the sage Ramón Benedetti. He has astutely played the IP game for decades, so there is little, if anything, that he hasn’t seen before. Exuding the expertise and gravitas of a senior statesman, he nonetheless rolls up his sleeves to personally tackle the day-to-day issues as well.
GUINARD, NORIEGA & MARTINELLI
Vallarino, Vallarino & García-Maritan recently established IP-focused affiliate firm GUINARD, NORIEGA & MARTINELLI. The change follows the arrival of former Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega star Ileana Del Martinelli, a famed IP all-rounder who is equally proficient in contentious strategy and deal making. She joins the highly recommended Luis Guinard Rennert, who is hailed as one of the quickest lawyers on the market: “If you need something yesterday, you call Luis.” According to one regional correspondent: “He gives fast and complete advice, and understands his clients’ needs. He isn’t cheap, but he is very cost efficient.” Another confirms: “He gets back right away with assertive answers and his pricing is right where it needs to be.”
Icaza González-Ruiz & Alemán
Peers strongly endorse gold-rated commercial player Icaza González-Ruiz & Alemán, paying testament to its quality, integrity and reliability; many of them send conflict of interest referrals its way, such is the high degree of confidence that it commands. The team dexterously handles all aspects of the prosecution, assignment, licensing and litigation of IP rights throughout Central and Latin America, as well as in the United States and Caribbean jurisdictions. Ace portfolio manager Gabriela Tejada de Britton is the group’s talisman. “She is extremely ethical and dedicated, and her work is highly accurate. She excels at handling client relations, too.” Contentious maestro and superb brand strategist Hugo Morán is another name to circle in the address book. He has extensive knowledge of customs protection and criminal litigation, and is a powerful weapon to deploy in the fight against fakes.
Jimenez, Molino y Moreno
The robust prosecution and portfolio management practice at Jimenez, Molino y Moreno has grown significantly of late; impressed by its incisive strategies, many of the companies for which it handles litigation are now moving their non-contentious files its way. Disputes, however, remain its bread and butter; protecting clients’ house marks from infringement in both civil and criminal proceedings is a specialty for the crew, which is currently handling a high-stakes case in the telecommunications sector. The group routinely goes the extra mile, such as by compiling comprehensive market research and survey evidence to prove the notoriety of a mark. Thriving in the cut and thrust of the courtroom is Edwin Molino, an “excellent attorney who gets fantastic results. He really knows about litigation strategy and the rules of procedure, because he handles not only IP cases, but other types of civil and commercial dispute.”
Morgan & Morgan
Muscular full-service set-up Morgan & Morgan boasts a standout transactional IP practice and is a go-to for licensing and franchising queries; cutting deals to end disputes is a particular forte. Enrique Jiménez is a key contact for any commercial IP matter. He leads the IP and tax groups, and draws on a broad understanding of business law when advising brand owners. His group also handles the registration of IP rights and advises on contentious matters with alacrity. María Eugenia Brenes is the person to call for speedy resolution of portfolio management and infringement issues. Like Jimenez, she complements her broad IP expertise with deep knowledge of tax law.

Individuals

Ramón R Benedetti - Benedetti & Benedetti
Luis E Guinard Rennert - GUINARD, NORIEGA & MARTINELLI
Marissa Lasso de la Vega Ferrari - Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez
Edwin Molino - Jimenez, Molino y Moreno
Gabriela Tejada de Britton - Icaza González-Ruiz & Alemán
Audrey Williams - Benedetti & Benedetti
María Eugenia Brenes - Morgan & Morgan
Miguel A De Puy III - De Puy & Asociados
Ileana Del Martinelli - GUINARD, NORIEGA & MARTINELLI
Enrique Jiménez - Morgan & Morgan
Diana Leandro - Benedetti & Benedetti
Hugo Morán - Icaza González-Ruiz & Alemán
José Miguel Navarrete - Arosemena Noriega & Contreras
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Issue 69