Panama

One of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Panama is among the wealthiest nations in Central America and a safe hub for foreign investment. Looking to solidify this position, the government has scrapped diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established a diplomatic and commercial relationship with China. Since then, the latter has voiced its intentions of using geographically strategic Panama as a gateway to Latin America and, at the time of writing, a high-profile free trade agreement between the two countries was the main topic on trademark professionals’ minds. With negotiations well under way, practitioners spoke of a likely increase in the influx of Chinese counterfeits and consequent pressure on Panamanian customs authorities, police and IP lawyers – a dynamic that could weaken legal enforcement for brand owners. On a brighter note, local registrations are on the rise and the levels are expected to stay high with the positive economic winds brought by China’s backing – something to be appreciated by trademark prosecution agencies.

Firms

Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez

Full-service outfit Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez adopts a collaborative approach to legal practice, drawing on the combined expertise of 150-plus professionals to ensure that all of its clients’ needs are met promptly and in full. When it comes to IP matters, Marissa Lasso de la Vega Ferrari leads the way. “Highly responsive and proactive,” the IP departmental head’s “in-depth knowledge” of her subject area impresses local and foreign counsel alike, as do her litigation superpowers. By her side, Monique Ferrer stands out for her “intelligence and skill”, being a go-to professional for trademark prosecution, advertising and labelling compliance.

Cedeño & Méndez 

“Simply extraordinary” Cedeño & Méndez joins the WTR 1000 Panama rankings this year thanks to fantastic feedback. Providing “extremely quick, thorough and complete responses” to patrons’ queries, the youthful practice specialises in the delivery of personalised, dynamic, technologically advanced and effective services on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide. The litigation department in particular is experiencing a noticeable growth trajectory, with one overseas connection calling it a “huge success”. The brains behind this is anti-counterfeiting wizard Roberto Emilio Gómez Cedeño, “a wonderful attorney with a keen eye for detail”. Available round the clock, he offers “strategic, practical and clear advice in a timely and cost-efficient manner”, comfortably navigating most Latin American and Caribbean jurisdictions.

Estudio Benedetti 

Described by a competitor as “the top firm in Panama for intellectual property”, Estudio Benedetti is home to the deepest IP bench in the country, covering the full spectrum of services in the field. “Organised, responsive and eminent,” the firm’s IP practice is going from strength to strength, shining particularly bright in the area of anti-counterfeiting – a practice likely to grow even stronger in the face of the China-Panama free trade agreement. “Excellent attorney” Audrey Williams is “a key player” in this area, enjoying a stellar reputation for enforcement, litigation and anti-counterfeiting proceedings. Joining her in litigious territories, “astute, hard-working and people-oriented” Diana Leandro not only heads the litigation department, but also plays an active role in improving the national IP landscape, having heavily contributed towards the drafting of the 2012 Trademark Act. Founding partner Ramón Benedetti is a thought leader in trademarks, having worked on the subject for more than 40 years.

Guinard & Noriega

Since its separation from full-service Vallarino, Vallarino & Garcia-Maritano in 2016, Guinard & Noriega’s IP work has grown by one-third – a testament to the success of the boutique’s specialised approach. Providing “high quality services at incredible speed”, partners Luis Guinard Rennert and Vanessa Noriega “pay personal attention to each case, offering accurate strategies to meet each client’s needs”. “Extremely knowledgeable and hard-working” Guinard has a talent for “finding business-oriented and cost-effective solutions”, being particularly sought after for his strategising skills. Noriega is a franchising genius, offering starting businesses comprehensive advice on all aspects of IP commercialisation.

Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán 

Throughout its 100-year existence, Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán has shaped the legal landscape in Panama and enjoyed an unparalleled reputation as a result. A full-service outfit, it does not hold back in IP matters, priding itself on the superb quality of Gabriela Tejada de Britton’s portfolio management. Admired for her vast experience and legal proactiveness, she is a “key player” in the field and performed a crucial role in drafting the current industrial property laws. Fernando González-Ruiz handles trademark prosecution and anti-counterfeiting cases across numerous jurisdictions, offering “a winning combination of attention to detail and practical advice”.

Jiménez, Molino y Moreno

A corporate and IP boutique, Jiménez, Molino y Moreno is a safe pair of hands for trademark registrations and portfolio management in Panama. Nevertheless, the family firm stands out for its strength in IP litigation, thanks to Edwin Molino’s excellent courtroom skills. In the words of a competitor, “Molino is a fantastic litigator and an experienced, well-rounded lawyer who navigates the law like no other”.

MORAN IP

A brand new name in the Panamanian legal community, MORAN IP is already a familiar one; the first-ever IP-only boutique in the country is home to enforcement legend Hugo Moran R, who ensures the delivery of “out-of-the-box, specialised and prompt legal advice” to some of the world’s most prominent fashion brands. Boasting an investigative team of its own and strong connections with relevant trademark authorities, the firm’s success lies in the informed approach that it takes to brand protection, drawing from deep knowledge of local enforcement and judicial practices. In Moran, clients find the embodiment of this approach. “One of the best anti-counterfeiting attorneys in the region,” he combines “pragmatic business acumen” with “profound theoretical expertise and knowledge of the Panamanian legal system”.

Other recommended experts

Benedetti CL Abogados’s “excellent and knowledgeable” Yolianna Arosemena Benedetti is an all-round IP attorney who covers all areas of intellectual property, offering shrewd and prompt advice to top clients in various sectors. At Morgan & Morgan, “proactive, responsible, astute” Allen Candanedo “fully understands clients’ needs”, providing “super-fast” service on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide. Skilled in trademark prosecution and protection, De Puy & Asociados’s Miguel A De Puy III has become an authority in the field, lecturing widely and holding frequent training seminars for national customs authorities.

Individuals

  • Ramón R Benedetti - Estudio Benedetti
  • Gabriela Tejada De Britton - Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán
  • Luis E Guinard Rennert - Guinard & Noriega
  • Marissa Lasso de la Vega Ferrari - Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez
  • Edwin Molino - Jiménez, Molino y Moreno
  • Hugo Moran R - MORAN IP 
  • Audrey Williams - Estudio Benedetti
  • Yolianna Arosemena Benedetti - Benedetti CL Abogados
  • Allen Candanedo - Morgan & Morgan
  • Miguel A De Puy III - De Puy & Asociados 
  • Monique Ferrer - Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez
  • Roberto Emilio Gómez Cedeño - Cedeño & Méndez 
  • Fernando González-Ruiz - Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán
  • Diana Leandro - Estudio Benedetti
  • Vanessa Noriega - Guinard & Noriega