El Salvador’s IP landscape has been relatively stable of late – its practitioners are well acclimatised to the effects of recent changes in administrative law, the most significant of which is the shortened timeframe for trademark office responses. Central America’s smallest country is a signatory to many global treaties and has an IP market which is predominantly reliant on imported work, yet it often poses challenges to those unfamiliar with its particularities; the first-to-file system can cause headaches and the law does not specify how much use is required to establish rights. The overall picture, however, shows signs of improvement. While the market has traditionally been dominated by tight-knit family outfits, new innovation-centric practices are emerging as the next generation enters the fray – a trend reflected in the addition of three new firms to the rankings this year.
- Espino Nieto
- Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Consortium Legal
- De La Gasca & Cia
- García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios
- Ideas Trademarks & Patents
- Ricardo Romero-Guzman
- Latam Lex
- Portal & Asociados
- Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo
Arias runs one of the most comprehensive full-service operations across Central America, with seven offices in six jurisdictions collaborating closely to satisfy the disparate needs of multinational clients. Its strong international footprint in the IP space is largely down to Salvadoran superstar Morena Zavaleta, the regional IP leader who established its integrated structure. Commended for her “responsiveness and diligence”, Zavaleta is not only a “market leader when it comes to trademark prosecution”, but also a redoubtable ally in brand, patent and copyright disputes. Besides her IP practice, she is admired for her efforts to promote women’s involvement in legal circles.
The largest firm in Central America, Consortium Legal is a lodestar for clients, due to the rich human and technological resources that underpin its premium centralised service. Adept in all areas of intellectual property, it stands out in particular for its specialisation in geographical indications – the European Union has come calling for assistance with numerous registrations and defence mandates. At the heart it all is Salvadoran department head Suzanne Berrios de Tablas who, as former IP chief at the Attorney General’s Office, has deep local market knowledge. While also “coordinating an important litigation practice”, de Tablas has been busy of late processing applications for Zodiac International and overseeing the transfer of a multinational petrochemical portfolio.
De La Gasca & Cia
For those seeking staunch protection and enforcement of IP assets, De La Gasca & Cia fights tooth and nail to secure the right results. The fresh-faced boutique was created with specific goals in mind: to provide a forward-thinking, tailored service in trademarks, patents and complex litigation which satisfies the individual legal and business need of its clients. Giancarlo de la Gasca is the mastermind behind this bespoke approach; with US education and practice under his belt, he brings international standards to every brief and has turned the firm into a “strong market competitor”.
“Espino Nieto is a pioneer of IP practice in El Salvador.” Since 1960, it has prioritised close communication both with clients and with an expansive network of foreign associates in order to cultivate fruitful, enduing relationships. Danilo Rodriguez Villamil is one of the country’s most reputed practitioners and, while outstanding in all aspects of intellectual property, enjoys real “prestige in litigation and technology”. Composed all-rounder Elena Puente is a trusted contact and is likewise fundamental to the set’s continued success. “In an oftentimes challenging jurisdiction, both Puente and Villamil make themselves widely available and approachable, and provide rapid-fire solutions which gratify commercial and legal needs.”
García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios
García & Bodán flows work seamlessly between offices and practice groups in five Central American jurisdictions, helping clients to realise their ambitions of expansion throughout the region. It comes “highly recommended for its agility, efficiency, transparency and commitment” – qualities that can be directly attributed to Julio César Vargas Solano. From the El Salvador branch, he oversees the entire regional IP effort, which uses a sophisticated case management infrastructure to ensure that all brand protection, enforcement and licensing tasks are carried out with the utmost efficiency and accuracy. Among many recent highlights, he has provided branding strategies for Juul Labs and catered to the myriad needs of Converse.
Ideas Trademarks & Patents
For brand owners looking to consolidate the supervision of their portfolios across multiple jurisdictions, IDeas is a smart choice; the boutique is applauded for its “proactive, fast and orderly approach”. Drawing on “strong networks in key countries, it can really spread the wings of clients, helping them understand the full potential of their IP assets and then implementing honest, responsible advice which helps them achieve it”. “A strong, straightforward and diligent professional for filing and tactical prosecution”, Marcela Mancía Dada holds down the fort in El Salvador. Recent activity has included productive application advice for Centroamerican Brands and trademark assignment deal negotiations for Stanley Black & Decker.
Intellectual property is a bedrock of the practice at Latam Lex, a full-service firm that renders stellar services across the legal spectrum. The IP department, which has professionals based in five jurisdictions, was founded by innovation enthusiast Luis Ernesto Guandique Chávez. He has done much to raise the IP profile of El Salvador and founded the Salvadoran Association of Intellectual Property, while also participating at a high level in international IP associations.
After a red-letter year spent enhancing its regional presence – making numerous hires and opening a new Honduran office – full-service LatinAlliance makes a deserved WTR 1000 debut for 2021. Its IP offering is spearheaded by Fabiola Torres Corletto, an IP, corporate and regulatory whizz who knows exactly what businesses want and how to deliver it. With “cutting-edge software which helps clients attain crucial information on their assets quickly”, the department shines brightest on cross-border prosecution, providing cost-efficient services which prove particularly popular with pharmaceutical clients.
Portal & Asociados
Intellectual property is a central pillar at WTR 1000 newbie Portal & Asociados, which also runs specialised litigation, corporate and tax departments. A dynamic, internationally renowned patent service dovetails neatly with a robust trademark practice which is blossoming under the guidance of Edy Guadalupe Portal de Velasco. This seasoned all-rounder, with an impressive US education, is a formidable foe of counterfeiters who brings the heat in the fight against fakes for international brand holders across various industries.
Ricardo Romero-Guzman is El Salvador’s original IP firm and enjoys considerable market prestige for its A-to-Z service and unstinting dedication to client care. Reputable professional Ricardo Romero upholds this reputation to this day, drawing on deep subject-matter knowledge to meet and exceed the demands of even the most exacting clients.
Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo
Another WTR 1000 newcomer is Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo, a fresh, dynamic outfit committed to providing creative solutions across the legal spectrum. The IP team exemplifies this approach: although more than capable of processing routine branding filings with acuity, it stands out for its ability to “provide simple, concise advice on complex topics” – most significantly in complex litigation and enforcement mandates. Under the wing of “IP master” Gilberto Fajardo, it has come on in leaps and bounds and now runs one of the busiest anti-counterfeiting departments in El Salvador. Fajardo comes “highly recommended for his clear, honest and transparent” style and is involved in many high-profile disputes – his representation of Monster Energy Company in a spat with the Coca-Cola Company is just one recent highlight.
Romero Pineda & Asociados
“Promptness and efficiency” are hallmarks of the IP team at Romero Pineda, which is “comparable to top firms in jurisdictions with large economies and deserving of its premium recognition”. For 40 years, it has operated at the vanguard of the market through consistent investment in its people and infrastructure – the state-of-the-art technology it has adopted makes light work of all protection and enforcement briefs. Jose Roberto Romero, Carlos Castillo, Roxana Maria Romero and Elsy Durán provide inspiring leadership to the team. Jose is the managing partner and vice president, whose insight and networks have been integral in establishing the firm’s dominant market position. Heading up the litigation division, Castillo has long been an eminent name in the field, thanks to his polished courtroom performances and broad scholarly activity. The pair have made great strides to advance the domestic IP scene through a pilot programme ran by USAID, through which they analyse the assets of local businesses and craft strategies to help establish them as competitive franchises. The founder of the banking department, Romero also co-leads the IP department and is considered “a go-to for her ability to handle and proficiently assist in the management of expansive portfolios”. IP manager Durán makes her debut in the guide this year and has many key accounts on her books – a long-time counsel of MLB and NBA, she also provides regulatory advice to the likes of Belcorp.
Other recommended experts“José Manuel Argüello is a responsible lawyer with broad and deep experience in the IP world”, which he deploys to assist players in the food, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries. He operates out of the Salvadoran branch of regional powerhouse Central Law. Breaking into the listings this year, Edna López Toledo is a firm favourite of blue-chips such as McDonalds, which she recently advised on a portfolio acquisition; she is trademark head at boutique Mayora & Mayora’s El Salvador branch.
- Carlos Castillo - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Danilo Rodriguez Villamil - Espino Nieto
- Jose Roberto Romero - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Roxana Maria Romero - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Morena Zavaleta - Arias
- José Manuel Argüello - Central Law
- Suzanne Berrios de Tablas - Consortium Legal
- Giancarlo de la Gasca - De La Gasca & Cia
- Elsy Durán - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Gilberto Fajardo - Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo
- Luis Ernesto Guandique Chávez - LatamLex Abogados
- Marcela Mancía Dada - Ideas Trademarks & Patents
- Edy Guadalupe Portal de Velasco - Portal & Asociados
- Elena Puente - Espino Nieto
- Ricardo Romero - Ricardo Romero-Guzman
- Fabiola Torres Corletto - LatinAlliance
- Julio César Vargas Solano - García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios
- Edna López Toledo - Mayora & Mayora