Commercial advertising prohibited in cultural locations

On May 13 2010 a resolution of the Ministry of Culture prohibiting all commercial advertising and propaganda, or any form of communication that might be perceived as such, at institutions or entities affiliated to the ministry, was published in the Official Gazette (39.423).
Lack of compliance with the resolution will result, when necessary, in administrative and/or disciplinary penalties. Therefore, trademark owners in Venezuela should take the resolution into account before launching advertising campaigns for their products or services so as to avoid penalties. However, the resolution does not clarify:
  • which entity will be in charge of implementing the resolution; and
  • which procedures and guidelines must be followed in order to impose penalties for lack of compliance.
The Ministry of Culture's website provides a list of entities affiliated to the ministry, including the Institute of Cultural Heritage - which, in turn, is in charge of a large number of cultural properties across Venezuela. In addition, an interactive map gives a detailed picture of the cultural assets of the country.
In April 2009 the Institute of Cultural Heritage had ordered the withdrawal of an advertisement for a well-known Venezuelan chocolate, Cri-Cri, from the Polar Tower, which is a cultural heritage property. Moreover, on February 2 2010 the mayor of Caracas ordered the removal of the famous 'Pepsi Sphere' from the Polar Tower on the grounds that it violated the Ordinance on Advertising and Propaganda.

Therefore, due to the media coverage of such events, trademark owners - and, in particular, large corporations - may be perceived by ordinary citizens as infringing the law.
The resolution is effective as of the date of publication in the Official Gazette. 

Gabriela Camargo Ramírez, Estudio Antequera Parilli & Rodríguez, Caracas

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