Guatemala – a fresh face in this WTR 1000’s edition – is the largest economy in Central America by far and stands out as one of the strongest performers in the region. As a result, the country’s start-up, innovation and IP scenes are some of the most vibrant among its neighbours, with numerous firms and practitioners offering high-level IP services at competitive prices; a dynamic reflected in the rankings below. Nonetheless, the legal framework for innovation remains far from perfect at the time of writing and the government’s reported neglect of intellectual property is raising some eyebrows in the IP community. In particular, practitioners speak of an understaffed Registry of Intellectual Property, where trademark registrations can take up to one year to issue and oppositions are well above the regional average. A lack of training for IP professionals at the registry and the absence of specialised IP judges, too, are said to contribute to these delays, working as obstacles to innovation in the country. If Guatemala is to maintain its strong position and keep up with Central America’s growing innovation levels, the government might want to reduce these barriers and rethink its overall attitude towards intellectual property.
- Consortium Legal
- Palomo Abogados
- Viteri & Viteri
- Central Law
- Comte and Font Legalsa
- Mayora & Mayora
- Palacios & Asociados/Sercomi
- AD Sosa & Soto
- Carrillo & Asociados
- Dentons Muñoz
AD Sosa & Soto
AD Sosa & Soto is living proof that success can be achieved by combining tradition and innovation: “Since its very onset, AD Sosa & Soto has distinguished itself for its ability to adapt in order to stay current in the legal market.” Following a simple business model, “combining the generation of value with good customer service”, the boutique is home to an “extremely competent team” of IP lawyers, whose international exposure is second to none. Juan Sebastián Soto is a perfect example of the firm’s global vision and the name to call upon for IP and technology-related matters. “A professional with extensive knowledge of legal issues in his native country and internationally, his acknowledgments, achievements and international network speak for themselves.”
A key branch of “one of the top regional structures in the region”, Arias’s Guatemalan office is particularly notable in the market for its “outstanding experience in IP matters”; a reputation directly linked to Ivón Hernández’s “strong ethical values, excellent knowledge and brilliant leadership”. “Fantastic, dedicated and highly regarded,” she is versed in all topics related to intellectual property and “one of the most active and recognised professionals in the region”, advising clients in complex litigation matters while pushing for improved IP regulations and laws in her free time.
It is no coincidence that heavyweights such as H&M, GlaxoSmithKlein, Warner Media and Facebook have chosen to place their regional IP assets in the hands of BLP’s Guatemala-based staff – the firm’s ample Central American presence, mixed with a 360-degree offering of IP services, make an attractive combination for large multinationals seeking to protect their rights regionally. To top it off, those clients selecting the Guatemalan office as their regional hub for IP matters directly benefit from the “notable IP expertise” of Luis Ruiz, for whom patrons “have only positive comments and feedback”. A founding partner of BLP in Guatemala, Ruiz is a respected authority in complex litigations and counseling proceedings; as testament to this, he has recently been asked to produce a complex cross-jurisdictional legal opinion for Facebook concerning trademark advertising regulations and the platform’s rights to broadcast UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup matches in Latin America.
Carrillo & Asociados
Historically one of the strongest players in the Guatemalan IP market, Carrillo & Asociados’s creativity, strategic know-how and client-centric approach have certainly not faded over time. Quite the opposite: the firm has adopted and perfected a uniquely integrated approach to counselling over the years, drawing from the different legal areas it covers to provide first-rate advice to patrons. For interested parties, practice leader Analucía Carrillo is the first port of call.
“Top-notch, fun, and featuring extensive networks across Latin America,” Central Law is doing well for itself. Centralising the provision of comprehensive, full-service legal advice in the region, the firm offers “excellent service and fast responses at competitive costs” regardless of practice area but shines particularly bright in the IP firmament, especially when Gustavo Noyola takes charge. “An excellent lawyer, Noyola is quick and direct, giving you the simplest solution to the problem, but also one that works for the client.” His most notable quality, however, is the speed of his communications, which patrons could not emphasise more: “the most important attribute he has is how fast he can respond. It can be about trademark searches, preliminary opinions, status or just to confirm specifics costs – he is available 24/7”.
Comte and Font Legalsa
A popular choice among local entrepreneurs and inventors, Comte and Font Legalsa’s IP practice is fluent in the language of start-ups, developing tailor-made IP strategies and offering an extensive menu of services that caters to their unique needs. Spanish delivery app Glovo, for instance, has become a big fan of the firm’s ultra-personalised services, relying on Karina Calderón’s valuable advice to guide its own innovation plans. The key pillar of the practice, highly admired Calderón is a “very knowledgeable, professional and patient attorney that keeps things simple and always maintains clients informed on their progress”. In the words of a patron: “she is extremely responsive, a great strategist and a wonderful lawyer. Her advice has proven correct again and again and she constantly exceeds client’s expectations, especially when negotiating complex IP transactions. I have the best opinion of her work.”
One of Central America’s largest law firms, Consortium Legal also stands out as one of the region’s most prestigious IP practices, specialising in trademark portfolio management, prosecution and geographical indications. On the latter topic, the boutique’s expertise was requested by the European Union in 2013, when it sought to register over 100 geographical indications in Central America alone. “Wonderful, dedicated, quick and pragmatic” Ninoshka Urrutia helms the Guatemalan office – not only the respected leader of Consortium’s IP practice, she is also “one of the most active IP attorneys in the country, possessing unmatchable experience in the trademark field”.
For Dentons Muñoz, national borders are nothing more than a construction: the cross-country team works closely together as a single, fully integrated unit, maintaining a constant stream of communication stream between its offices in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. As a result, work flows effortlessly from country to country and practice to practice, being picked up only by those best suited for the job. A strong advocate of this approach, the “wonderful” Gabriela Gandara is a key piece of this region-wide strategy. Respected locally for her work as an IP professor, she uses her in-depth knowledge of trademark law to grow the practice alongside Guatemala’s burgeoning film industry – a strategy she plans to eventually recreate elsewhere in the region.
Mayora & Mayora
The past 12 months have been fantastic for Mayora & Mayora’s “very responsive, efficient and multi-jurisdictional” IP practice, with the number of trademark enforcement workflows and anti-counterfeiting cases growing exponentially. This recent upturn at “one of the oldest and most prestigious IP practices in Guatemala” comes soon after a period of generational transition, which saw the firm’s IP department add significant new local accounts to its almost entirely international portfolio. As part of its modernisation efforts, the group also became the first Central American outfit to migrate to the ANAQUA platform – a software specifically aimed at strengthening its trademark portfolio management capabilities. The brain behind these strategic changes is that of Eduardo Alvarado Mayora – managing partner and primarily a corporate lawyer, his services are nevertheless called upon whenever IP litigations and major transactional cases are at stake. By his side, Santiago Mayora keeps the IP practice in order, matching the right case to the appropriate team member as well as handling trademark matters himself for some of the group’s most emblematic clients.
Palacios & Asociados/Sercomi
Palacios & Asociados/Sercomi’s Marco Antonio Palacios, “a very good, very energetic, very observant” lawyer, runs an acclaimed Guatemala City-based firm, featuring some five-star multinational accounts among an enviable list of clients. A newcomer to the local IP market, Sercomi boasts “an active, heavy-duty trademark practice with an edge in border measures, litigation cases and infringement actions”, which falls under the leadership of the astute Hilda Monterroso. “A clear, organised and conscientious attorney,” Monterroso’s mandate as head of the IP division has witnessed a rise in the number of regional portfolios that the boutique handles – a testament to the power of her commitment and leadership aptitude.
Local trademark counsel for Apple, Starbucks, Gilead Sciences and Giorgio Armani (to name but a few), Palomo & Porras is fully deserving of its tier 1 spot in the WTR 1000 rankings this year. “Thorough, direct and well organised,” its internationally renowned trademark practice collects the best reviews in the whole jurisdiction, a sign of true patron satisfaction. One comments: “Palomo’s attorneys are reliable, client-oriented, responsive and have a deep knowledge of intellectual property; the firm is really the best we have been working with in the whole Latin American region.” International superstars Sandra Iriarte and Héctor Palomo run the show at this cost-efficient boutique. Iriarte, co-founder of the IP department, has a knack for large multinational portfolio management, deftly helping patrons to “navigate around pitfalls and obstacles”, but is also “hugely successful at defeating opponents in complicated disputes involving multiple applications, registrations and competing products”. Another referee remarks: “Our correspondence with her has always revealed thoroughness and profound knowledge of the subject matter; the quality of her work is really outstanding.” The other half of the dynamic duo, Palomo is the current co-director of the IP practice, standing out for “the quality of his arguments, proactive services and prompt responses”.
Viteri & Viteri
Home to the “most traditional, famous and largest” trademark filing practice in the country since time immemorial, Viteri & Viteri’s name is synonymous with intellectual property in Guatemala. Crafting “exceptional work” on the back of nearly 100 years’ experience, the IP-skewed boutique’s success is still strongly linked to the incomparable care, precision and experience of managing partner Ernesto Ricardo Viteri Echeverria’s services. Described by peers as “the intellectual property practitioner in Guatemala”, he has over 50 years’ in the field, leading by example with his ultra-responsive and proactive approach.
Other recommended expertsBermejo & Bermejo’s Luis Fernando Bermejo is a “very dedicated IP attorney who pays special attention to every single detail of each case”; a quality for which he is highly praised by overseas referees. At Bufelco Bufete, Guillermo López Davis keeps an active and highly respected IP practice, handling several trademark portfolios for a number of renowned Fortune 500 companies. María Mercedes Marroquín de Pemueller, founding partner at Marroquin Perez & Asociados, prides herself on her wide-ranging legal practice, offering clients well-rounded advice in issues of corporate, IP and procedural law. Proactive Cristina Umaña not only heads the IP practice at the eponymous Umaña & Associados, but is also a professor at one of Guatemala’s most prominent universities, playing a crucial role in moulding the IP minds of the future.
- Karina Calderón - Comte and Font Legalsa
- Ivón Hernández - Arias
- Sandra Iriarte - Palomo Abogados
- Marco Antonio Palacios - Palacios & Asociados/Sercomi
- Ninoshka Urrutia - Consortium Legal
- Eduardo Alvarado Mayora - Mayora & Mayora
- Luis Fernando Bermejo - Bermejo & Bermejo
- Guillermo López Davis - Bufelco Bufete
- María Mercedes Marroquín de Pemueller - Marroquin Perez & Asociados
- Gabriela Gandara - Dentons Muñoz
- Santiago Mayora - Mayora & Mayora
- Hilda Monterroso - Palacios & Asociados/Sercomi
- Gustavo Noyola - Central Law
- Héctor Palomo - Palomo Abogados
- Luis F Ruiz - BLP
- Juan Sebastián Soto L - AD Sosa & Soto
- Cristina Umaña - Umaña & Asociados
- Ernesto R Viteri E - Viteri & Viteri