Protection of copyright in Argentina is based on the constitutional principle set forth in Article 17 of the Constitution.
The work must be expressed in a tangible, material form (thus excluding abstract ideas), and must contain a minimum degree of originality and novelty.
The IP Law extends protection to scientific, literary, artistic or educational works, regardless of the medium. As a result of the broad definition of protected works, copyright protection has been granted to:
a. Writings (as varied as dictionaries, prayer books, almanacs and articles); musical works and plays.
b. Cinematographic, choreographic and pantomime works (as long as the same have been materialized in a tangible form).
c. Drawings, paintings and sculptural works.
d. Architectural, artistic or scientific works.
e. Maps, plans and other printed matter.
f. Plastic works, photographs, engravings and phonograms.
g. Titles and characters as an integral part of a work.
h. Works of applied art.
i. Computer software and databases.
j. Derivative works, new versions, compilations, and translations, etc.
Law 11.723 of September 28, 1933, as amended (“IP Law”).
Decree 165/1994 concerning legal protection of computer programs and databases.
IP Law grants rights to the author for life and to his/her heirs and assignees for seventy years after the author’s death.
For photographic works, the copyright period runs for twenty years counted from the date of the first publication.
For cinematographic works, the term has been extended from thirty to fifty years from the date of first publication in order to comply with the Berne Convention.
Foreign authors must have complied with the formalities required for protection in the country where the work was first published, (provided that he/she is a national of a country recognizing copyright), or have satisfied the conditions for protection under a copyright convention to which Argentina is a party.
Registrations of foreign works are not mandatory in Argentina; however, it is advisable to register them in order to simplify the enforcement of rights.
The author has rights which are not transferable or revocable. The author, in our country, is the original owner of the rights related to the work. He/she may assign the economic or patrimonial rights related to his/her work to a third party; but the author has the right to preserve the work integrity or the right to paternity of the same.
Computer related software: Software and databases are included within the scope of IP Law (Decree 165/1994 concerning legal protection of computer programs and databases).
Consumer protection is ruled by Law 24.240. Consumers have the right to initiate individual actions from the moment their rights are threatened. The Commerce Secretary enforces the Consumer Protection Law by reviewing contracts of adhesion, conciliating in disputes and imposing penalties in the event of violations.
The Law protects consumers of products and users of services against incorrect or improper information about the goods or services offered in commerce.
Acts which restrict or distort competition, constitute an abuse of a dominant market position, or cause damage to the general interest are prohibited. The law imposes penalties on companies (and their officers) that willfully participate in behavior which infringes the provisions of the Antitrust Law.
Examples of such acts are: fixing prices (directly or indirectly); imposing discriminatory conditions for the purchase or sale of goods; limiting or controlling technical development; establishing minimum quantities or allocating zones, markets or customers; excluding one or more competitors from access to markets; refusing to sell when purchase orders are effectively placed in market conditions; destroying products at any stage of production or processing; etc.
The Law defines “dominant position” as the position enjoyed by a company in the market where it is not exposed to substantial competition from third parties or where there is no effective competition between them.
Complaints must be submitted to the National Commission for the Defense of Competition, which may bring actions. This commission may also institute proceedings by itself.
Any information, design, device, process, composition technique or formula which is maintained as a secret and which affords its owner a competitive business advantage is protected by different regulations and principles.
This concept is typified in the Argentine Penal Code (article 953) which sanctions those persons who act using illicit means to deviate the clientele for his own benefit. Examples of such acts are: using or practicing deceit to discredit of a competitor, generating confusion in the consumer in relation with the involved products or services, etc.
Additionally, Article 10 bis of Paris Convention establishes that the countries of the Union must secure an effective protection against unfair competition.
GOOD TRADE PRACTICES
Law 22.802 on Commercial Loyalty governs the identification of goods, and establishes the indication that products must comply with to be commercialized in the country. It also regulates advertising, avoiding deceptive or false advertising, and governs sales promotions of goods and services by way of prices or awards.
PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION
Law 20.247/73 on Seed and Phytogenetic Creation (Plant Varieties Law), April 1973, seeks to promote seed production and commercialization, to secure seed identity and quality and to protect the ownership of a phytogenetic creation, which is “the variety obtained by discovery or by application of scientific knowledge to plant improvement.”
By Law 24.376 of October 1994 (which modified the above referenced Law) Argentina is a party to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (“UPOV”). The UPOV provides for a registration proceeding in member countries granting an exclusive right in the commercialization of the registered product. With respect to patents on agricultural products, the general regime for patents explained above is applicable hereto, with the exception of vegetable varieties, animals and purely biological processes which are not considered patentable by the Patent Office although no prohibition is established by law.
The general requirements are novelty, distinctiveness, homogeneity and stability. With respect to the novelty, the variety should not have been offered for sale in Argentina when filing, or in other States (with whom Argentina has bilateral or multilateral agreements) 6 years (in the case of trees) before filing.
Certificates are granted for a period of at least 10 or a maximum of 20 years, and may be assigned. Certificates for foreign varieties must be requested by the creator and shall be granted provided that the country of origin recognizes the same right to Argentine phytogenetic creations.
Any person that delivers seeds with the owner’s authorization, or that reserves and plants seeds for his own use, or that uses or sells seeds as raw material or foodstuff does not violate ownership rights.
The law establishes penalties for the different infringements and allows public officers to inspect, take samples and make analysis of seeds at any time or place in order to comply with the law.
TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY
The Transfer of Technology for consideration from a non-resident to a resident is regulated by Law 20.326/81 on Technology Transfer and Decree No. 581, March 1981, regulating the Law, and modified by Decree No. 1853/93, September 1993.
Transfer of Technology Agreements are not subject to prior government approval. Agreements between independent companies as well as between related companies (such as parent-subsidiary companies) may be registered (but it is not mandatory) at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) for information and tax purposes.
If the agreement is not submitted to be recorded, payments made to the licensor under the agreement are not deductible by the licensee as operating expenses (not receiving, therefore, special profits tax treatment).
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AND DATA
The confidentiality of information and products legitimately under control of one entity and unlawfully divulged in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices is regulated by Law 24.766, of December 1996.
The protection of personal data is regulated by Law 25.326, of November 2, 2000.
The .ar domain is the country-specific domain of Argentina.
The registration of domain names in Argentina is regulated by NIC Argentina according to international practices. Nic Argentina identifies the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, as the Argentine Internet Domain Manager.
It is possible to register names of up to 19 characters in length excluding the four characters corresponding to “.com”.
The registration of a domain name is valid for a one-year period from the registration date and may be renewed. The renewal can only be applied for during the last month that the registration is in force.
The registration process is completed within approximately seven working days from the filling date.
Domain name registration “.com.ar” is independent of any registration in other countries, also of the registration of trademarks. Nevertheless, domain properties may be the subject of trademark dispute when the domain name was registered in bad faith infringing the rights of third parties. In these cases it is possible to bring a judicial action requesting the nullity of the domain name registration.
The domain name can be reserved or also delegated. If it is delegated, it is necessary to provide the information about the domain name servers.