In the context of this year’s expanded coverage of Central America, the WTR 1000 is pleased to welcome El Salvador, the region’s smallest and most densely populated nation. With a modest economy compared to certain Latin American giants, the country still struggles with high levels of violence and crime, yet has experienced significant political and social development over recent decades and now ranks above the regional average in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. The IP scene also presents a positive picture; most practitioners are happy with the current framework for trademark protection and are particularly pleased with the work being carried out by the director of the National Centre of Registries. The government, too, is displaying interest in IP matters, having issued an official public policy for intellectual property and discussing amendments to the country’s Trademark Law. As to the composition of trademark practice, the Salvadoran landscape remains mostly populated by family-based firms, but new, often regional, players are starting to emerge and claim their own place in the market – a development which is reflected to some extent in the rankings.
- Espino Nieto
- Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Consortium Legal
- De La Gasca & Cia
- García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios
- Ideas Trademarks & Patents
- Latam Lex
- Ricardo Romero-Guzman
A full-service powerhouse with offices sprinkled all over Central America, Arias is a one-stop shop for clients with a regional presence but shows unique strength when operating within El Salvador’s borders. Covering all aspects of intellectual property, from trademarks and patents to copyrights and data protection, regional IP and life sciences are managed by Morena Zavaleta, who has single-handedly shaped the department into the seven-office, six-country success that it is today. In addition to upholding an active IP practice, Zavaleta keeps busy as a board member of the Salvadorian Association of Intellectual Property (ASPI) and runs events to promote the participation of women in law.
The largest firm in the Central American market, Consortium Legal has become a distinguished name for IP matters in the region. Especially strong in geographical indications and denominations of origin, the outfit runs a tight trademark practice that delivers an “immediate, complete and high-quality service” to those who reach out to it. Suzanne Berrios de Tablas, head of the El Salvador office’s IP division, utilises her valuable experience as former IP legal adviser to Microsoft (Honduras) to lead by example: “Suzanne provides quick, first-class service, providing full reports and quick solutions to our problems.”
De La Gasca & Cia
De La Gasca & Cia’s managing partner Giancarlo de la Gasca lives and breathes intellectual property. When he set out to build the firm in 2013, he dreamt of it as El Salvador’s one and only IP boutique – so it became and so it remains. To present its gourmet menu of three elevated options – trademarks, patents and complex litigation – the practice uses a combination of innovation and passion that pleases clients and simultaneously stimulates talent, a strategy that has proven a highly successful mentoring tactic, judging by five fruitful years in the market. As the brains behind the strategy, de la Gasca doubles up as trusted counsellor and inspired litigator, making a masterpiece of every case.
At the pinnacle of El Salvador’s IP market, Espino Nieto’s exceptionally smooth client service has earned it an international reputation. Besides building strong partnerships with those it serves, the firm often goes one step further and actively pushes for improved legal frameworks to be implemented in the country, protecting clients’ interests on a 24/7 basis. Danilo Rodríguez Villamil, one of El Salvador’s most admired IP lawyers, plays this part to perfection: “Villamil is a true expert in intellectual property, constantly studying and developing the area in the country.” By his side, charismatic Elena Puente is another reliable pair of hands in trademark-related cases and a popular name among overseas connections.
García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios
To this day, García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios remains the only Nicaraguan law firm to have expanded outside national borders and clients are thrilled about it. Had this not occurred, international companies doing businesses in the region would have been deprived of the set’s “high-quality work, timely responses, proactiveness and in-depth knowledge” – qualities that are in much demand in the country. Keeping the bar high at the El Salvador office, managing partner Julio César Vargas Solano has been working hard to successfully grow the local practice through his “loyalty, generosity and ethics”. In the words of one competitor: “Julio combines the best of both worlds – being really good at his profession and excelling at how he relates to colleagues. If I could pick a lawyer in El Salvador, it would be him.” However, managing the office amounts to only a small part of Vargas Solano’s practice. Handling trademark portfolios is still his forte and he continues to be personally responsible for those of several marquee clients in the food and beverages, entertainment and telecoms industries.
Ideas Trademarks & Patents
Costa Rica-born Ideas Trademarks & Patents has greatly expanded its reach, providing first-class services to clients seeking a one-stop shop in Central America and the Caribbean. Offering “quick, creative and attentive” IP counselling, the boutique goes out of its way to get to know its clients’ businesses, especially when partner Marcela Mancía Dada takes charge. “Very knowledgeable of the specific jurisdictions she works on, Mancía thinks outside the box and provides spot-on advice to clients in the region.”
Latam Lex’s El Salvador office, formerly known as Guandique Segovia Quintanilla, has been in practice for nearly 50 years as a collective firm with no family ties between partners. A pioneer in the traditional Salvadorian landscape of the time, the leaders’ creative drive has not stopped there. Luis Ernesto Guandique Chávez, in particular, picked up on rising innovation trends in the region to found the firm’s IP department, which he has headed and continued to develop ever since. Not fully content with this accomplishment, Guandique Chávez went on to expand the IP scene in the country by founding ASPI, of which he is currently director.
The oldest IP firm in El Salvador and a founding member of the country’s IP practice, Ricardo Romero-Guzman continues to be a well-established outfit in intellectual property. “The team at Ricardo Romero-Guzman has plenty of multinational clients and unparalleled experience in the field.” Effectively running the traditional family firm, veteran Ricardo Romero acts as the group’s frontman and is the must-see person for interested parties.
Romero Pineda & Asociados
In Romero Pineda & Asociados, clients are guaranteed the crème de la crème of Salvadorian IP work. For 40 years the firm has been perfecting its legal services, which is evident in feedback from foreign counsel. “Romero Pineda’s lawyers are always available and prompt, producing high-quality work with a quick turnaround time. The IP practice there is at the level of top law firms in big economies.” Starting life as an IP boutique, the outfit has since expanded into a business-oriented ensemble with corporate, banking and litigation arms. However, intellectual property remains at its core, largely due to José Roberto Romero’s dedication to the field. Vice president and managing partner of the practice, Romero has been developing the IP department since 1984, ensuring that it keeps up to date with the latest innovation trends. Joining him in this venture is Roxana Maria Romero, co-leader of the IP department and a favourite among large multinational clients.
Other recommended expertsCentral Law’s José Manuel Argüello is “a fantastic lawyer who knows exactly how to cover the needs of his clients”. Well established in the IP and life sciences arenas, he is always in great demand among food, agriculture and pharmaceutical companies. Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo’s Gilberto Fajardo is a true IP all-rounder; from searches, registrations and licensing to enforcement and complex litigation, there is nothing that he has not seen or done in his 17 years in the field. Edy Guadalupe Portal de Velasco chairs Portal & Asociados’ IP department, but that is far from all she does; the queen of extracurricular activities, she is also a dynamic member of INTA, the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property and ASPI, where she currently presides. Fabiola Torres Corletto runs a strong, primarily non-contentious practice as regional head of LatinAlliance’s IP department – he saves clients in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries precious resources by keeping them out of court.
- Danilo Rodriguez Villamil - Espino Nieto
- Morena Zavaleta - Arias
- José Manuel Argüello - Central Law
- Suzanne Berrios de Tablas - Consortium Legal
- Giancarlo de la Gasca - De La Gasca & Cia
- Gilberto Fajardo - Rivera Rodriguez Fajardo
- Luis Ernesto Guandique Chávez - LatamLex
- Marcela Mancía Dada - Ideas Trademarks & Patents
- Edy Guadalupe Portal de Velasco - Portal & Asociados
- Elena Puente - Espino Nieto
- Jose Roberto Romero - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Ricardo Romero - Ricardo Romero-Guzman
- Roxana Maria Romero - Romero Pineda & Asociados
- Fabiola Torres Corletto - LatinAlliance
- Julio César Vargas Solano - García & Bodán Abogados & Notarios