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Fielding a 31-strong team (including five partners) across offices in Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey and Tijuana, the practice at Baker McKenzie S.C. is divided into core sub-practices including administrative/tax litigation, FTA and rules of origin, day-to-day consultancy; compliance, anti-dumping, export control, and international trade planning and structuring. Recent headline matters saw the ‘highly professional and absolutely expert team’ advise Emerson Electric on internal due diligence of the corporate and trade compliance obligations of certain parts of its network power and EPG divisions, with an aggregate value of $5.1bn; as well as the structuring and implementation of a plan to ensure the ongoing maintenance of compliance obligations. Latin American regional practice coordinator and national department head, Manuel Padron-Castillo has huge expertise in the maquiladora sector with particular emphasis in the automotive industry. Practice coordinator in the firm’s Monterrey office Armando De Lille-Calatayud’s practice focuses primarily on IT&C litigation, as well as consultancy, planning and trade auditing matters. In Mexico City, local partner Adriana Ibarra-Fernandez is a former legal director of Economy Ministry’s Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures & Safeguards department; her experience includes both the negotiation of FTAs and participation in the first dispute resolution cases initiated by Mexico against the US under NAFTA. In Guadalajara, director of the customs committee of INDEX Daniel Sanchez-Elizondo focuses on foreign trade and customs matters, while newly appointed partner Alejandro Martinez-Galindo has extensive experience of foreign trade compliance matters, IMMEX programmes, tariff classifications, customs valuation and issues concerning place of origin. Other matters included advising automotive-parts manufacturer Lite-On Technology on its establishment in Mexico, including all relevant licenses and authorizations; as well as issues relating to temporary imports, tariff classification and customs audits. Clients include Aerovena, Avery Dennison, Cummins, Delphi Automotive Systems, CommScope, Starbucks, Grupo Mexico, Mount Franklin Foods, Mahle Behr and Nokia.

Particularly known in this sector for its work representing major importers in anti-dumping investigations, ‘heavyweight player’ and ‘market-leading tax boutiqueChévez, Ruiz, Zamarripa y Cía SC is ‘hugely strong’ in auditing matters and displays ‘complete knowledge’ of the customs side of the practice. The firm fields a 13-strong team (with five partners) which works throughout the sector, particularly in consultancy regarding free trade agreements (notably NAFTA and its associated IMMEX programme), commercial remedies and WTO rules, along with all associated administrative representation and litigation. Hailed as ‘a towering figure’ and ‘a litigator of note’ in trade matters, practice head Guillermo Sánchez Chao is a former president of the foreign trade commissions of the accountancy bodies CCPM and IMCP, as well as a technical consultant to COMCE (the Mexican Entrepreneurial Council on Foreign Trade), and has over 30 years’ experience in the sector. The ‘first class’ Francisco Cortina focuses on customs law, indirect taxation as related to IT&C operations, international trade law, FTAs and WTO procedures; ‘deeply knowledgeable about dumping, safeguards and subsidies’, he is also a listed arbitration panellist for NAFTA chapter XIX anti-dumping disputes. Also noted in Mexico City are Ricardo Romero Aburto (‘outstanding’ and ‘very technically skilled’); group head Eduardo Díaz Gavito was made partner in 2013 and is a ‘very good young lawyer’; and ‘talented’ senior associate Gerardo Canseco Romero, who is ‘definitely up-and-coming’. In Monterrey key figure Jorge Sanchez Peralta is ‘hugely knowledgeable and experienced’; associate Samuel Salvador Martínez is also noted.

With ‘good experience on the technical side’ and ‘a really great teamSAI Consultores, S.C. is perceived as ‘having the capacity to be truly effective in the new political horizon’. Fielding a combination of lawyers and economists the firm has built a strong reputation for its capabilities in sophisticated international trade matters related to policy (particularly as concerns NAFTA), and anti-dumping cases. In the wake of the US elections the firm has experienced an uptick in consultations on the potential outcomes of the renegotiation of NAFTA and is currently advising clients including major players in the financial and energy sectors on the possible impact upon their investments in Mexico in a range of scenarios. Clients highlight the synergies of a team composed of both lawyers and economic specialists, and specifically note the 11-strong trade team’s ‘technical expertise’ and ‘great service’. Recent work has seen the practice mandated to advise governments regarding trade strategies and policy, particularly in relation to free trade agreements. On the anti-dumping side, current mandates include representing domestic producers in investigations into ferro-alloy importation from third countries and aluminium cookware from China; and the team also represented Bachoco et al in an investigation against chicken-quarter imports from the US (the resolution favouring its clients has since been challenged by the US exporters and is currently before a NAFTA Chapter XIX panel). Other matters include advising a US client on a verification-of-origin procedure by the Mexican tax authorities (SAT). Singled out for her negotiating skills, practice head and former Mexican undersecretary of Foreign Trade (2006-11) Beatriz Leycegui has over 20 years’ experience in the sector. Primarily competition-focused, Lucía Ojeda also has strong involvement, particularly in relation to NAFTA. The team can also call on economists Luz Elena Reyes (who focuses on anti-dumping matters); Gonzalo Robles (a specialist in foreign trade and value chains); and former Mexican Secretary of Trade and Industry, Jaime Serra. Key senior associates include Fernando Carrasco S, who focuses primarily on NAFTA and WTO matters; and Itziar Esparza on trade remedies and international trade dispute resolution.

Clients comment ‘without doubt one of the best firms for international trade matters in Mexico’ and ‘a key firm for anti-dumping matters’, Vázquez Tercero & Zepeda is ‘highly recommended’; ‘I wouldn’t go anywhere else’ commented one client. The 17-strong team (including five partners) operates from offices in Guadalajara, León, Monterrey and Reynosa, in addition to Mexico City, and handles the full range of IT&C matters including trade policy, customs compliance, regulatory issues, high-value customs litigation, tax planning and litigation, as well as lobbying and negotiation for the IMMEX industry in customs tax-related matters. Recent work in the antidumping subsector includes: representing the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters (CCCMMC), and a number of exporters and traders, in an investigation concerning ceramic tiles from China, wherein the team successfully secured a price undertaking; and Indian exporter Welspun Corporation in an investigation regarding welded steel piping – the case has now gone before the Federal Administrative Tribunal (TFJA). Other cases include investigations concerning apples from the USA; mobutyl ether, also from the USA; and coated steel from China and Taiwan. The team has also advised on customs audits, successfully obtaining a number of customs settlement agreements. ‘Competitive and highly prepared’, with ‘fast response times’ and ‘excellent service’, both ‘partners and the associates display deep theoretical and practical knowledge’, clients note, making the team ‘highly reliable for any consultation’. ‘Detail-oriented’ manging partner Adrián Vázquez displays ‘profound knowledge’ and ‘the highest commitment to each-and-every project’; he is also an approved panellist of the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Body. Key partner Horacio López-Portillo heads the Transactional, Export Controls and Customs Security practice at the firm; clients laud his ‘very fine analytic capability’ and ‘provision of multiple perspectives as part of his advice’. A former chair of the tax committee of the maquiladora and export industry body CNIMME (now: INDEX), Eduardo Zepeda leads the IMMEX customs and tax-related practice. Regulatory and domestic dispute settlement practice heads, respectively, Verónica Vázquez Bravo and Eduardo González Espinosa are also noted. In addition, the team can also call on founding partner Hector Vazquez-Tercero, an economist and former head of the Antidumping and Trade Practice Agency of the former Secretaria de Comercio, who is now of counsel at the firm. Clients include ExxonMobil Mexico, Mitsubishi Electronics, Preneal, Mexican Juvenile Products Association, Mexican Bicycle Manufacturers Association, ConocoPhillips, Johnson Controls, Gildan, American & Efird and JFE Steel.

With its broad service offering and strong industrial and manufacturing client base Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C. has long played a role in international trade and commerce. The last few years have seen the practice group in a period of transition following a generational hand over, and the group’s caseload is primarily made up anti-dumping matters. ‘Capable, responsive and personable’, department head Sergio Barajas is current President of the Mexican Executives Foreign Trade Institute (2016-18). His practice covers all aspects of customs and tariff work, IMMEX (maquiladora) matters and anti-dumping, as well as negotiations, lobbying and litigation in the sector, and he can also draw on his experience at the Mexican tax administration service (SAT). A capable second line includes senior associate Belén Barroeta who has a strong customs-related practice; and experienced associate Topaqui Diaz, who has both in-house experience and an LLM in international trade from China. Also noted is junior associate Félix Ponce-Nava gives the team Japanese-language facility and expertise. Past work include advising on the international trade matters related to a major manufacturing joint venture; nullity claims against VAT classifications; and customs regularization of temporarily imported goods. Clients include Herbalife, Technical Tape, Sephora México, Elli Lilly, Costco de México, VF Outdoor México, Aerovías de México, Eastman Chemical, Ericsson Telecom, Gap and GPS Import Services.

The merger of the former Rubio Villegas y Asociados with Ciudad Juárez-based EC Legal, formalised in June 2017, has resulted in the industrial investment-focused EC Legal Rubio Villegas, a 65-strong firm with offices in Mexico City, Cd. Juárez, Querétaro and Irapuato, and a ‘desk’ in León. The firm’s services are hailed by clients who note ‘great attention to detail’, a ‘genuine business orientation’ and ‘magnificent customer relation skills’. Given the new firm’s geographical footprint, focus on the industrial sector and strong involvement in the maquiladora sector, its role in international trade matters can be expected to grow, building on the former Rubio Villegas y Asociados’ reputation in anti-dumping matters, where it was recently at the forefront of the investigation concerning US apple imports (representing the principal exporter, Northern Fruit Exporters). The team’s extensive experience in international trade work extends beyond dumping work to countervailing duties, NAFTA-related matters, determinations of origin, customs duties and market access barriers; and it also handles administrative proceedings, investigations and contentious matters. Trade-practice head Juan Carlos Partida is a former legal advisor to NAFTA secretariat SECOFI, and is ‘a genuine expert on NAFTA issues’ (particularly chapter XIX), according to peers, as well as on WTO trade remedies in general. Eduardo David García is a well-known anti-dumping specialist and also handles countervailing duties issues and international trade-related litigation as part of his broader corporate practice. Alejandro Montes’ involvement in the sector covers trade agreements, rules of origin, tariff preferences, import-export programs and the full array of dispute settlement procedures. Dedicated associate Jimena Acosta is also noted, particularly in relation to customs matters and sanitary regulations. The team can also draw on the resources of the firm’s reputable tax and administrative litigation practices as necessary.

The Mexican office of a global player, Hogan Lovells BSTL, S.C.’s IT&C practice continues to see growth in its customs-related caseload (a sub-sector where new IMMEX/maquiladora regulations and related compliance requirements have increased the complexity of cases) as well as an increase in consultancy matters linked to the uncertainties raised by the prospect of the renegotiation of NAFTA. The trade practice is co-led by Maria Jorge Yáñez and office founding partner Juan Francisco Torres Landa, with tax partner Arturo Tiburcio leading on customs matters (with support from Yáñez). The small team is increasingly involved in consultancy, compliance and (primarily contentious) administrative matters. Following the departure of Ana Gabriela Olmeda, who moved in-house, in mid-2015, the firm recruited senior associate Lourdes Lizarraga, only for her to make the same move. The team subsequently hired Mario Alberto Lara from Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C. in mid-2016; now a senior associate, he has become an integral member of the team. Recent matters include representation of key poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride in a major investigation into chicken-meat imports, Honeywell Resins & Chemicals on an investigation into ammonium sulphate imports, and Valspar Aries Coatings in relation to an investigation into the importation of monobutilic ether (EB); the first two cases are now on appeal before NAFTA Chapter XIX panels, the last is subject to a NAFTA bi-national panel review. The team is also advising new client Cooper Tire & Rubber on a potential anti-dumping investigation of Chinese tire imports. Other matters include ongoing advice regarding bonded warehouse operations, counsel on strategy to implement changes in the tariff classification for products exported to Mexico, NAFTA-related administrative claims, customs advisory work, and advice and follow up on a customs authority audit concerning temporary imports. Other clients include JBS, Mitsubishi, Productos Rich, Tempur Sealy México, JM Smucker de México, and International Paper Company.

Long known in IT&C circles for its prowess in anti-dumping matters, Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C. remains very active in this aspect of the practice where recent mandates include advising Noksel España on an anti-dumping investigation into carbon steel pipes from Spain. The practice has been involved in most – if not all – recent anti-dumping investigations, including the representation of Matson Fruit in the major investigation into apple imports from the US (involving more than 50 exporters); and Internacional de Céramica in the investigation into tile imports from China, as well as other investigations in sectors ranging from chicken to reinforced steel. Other mandates include advising Laboratorios Farmasa, Auto Zone and Quiksilver on their respective importation to Mexico of medicines, automotive spare parts and sportswear; counselling Trade Comercializadora Internacional on customs matters regarding the importation and finishing of textiles; and Almidones Mexicanos with regard to the potential impact of changes in NAFTA and the status of a sugar-dumping case in the US. ‘An old hand in the sector’ practice head David Hurtado is a well-known figure, ‘particularly for dumping matters’ but his practice reaches across the sector, as reflected by his role as coordinator of the trade and investment committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (he was also previously chairman of the trade and logistics council of the American Chamber of Commerce). On the consultancy side, key support comes from senior associates Julia García de Acevedo (on dumping, customs matters and health-related international commerce), and Carlos Solano (also customs and health-related trade, along with migration and competition issues). For contentious matters the team has recourse to tax and administrative litigator, counsel Luis Carballo. Other clients include Forza Steel, Ferrero de México, Unifi Manufacturing and Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua.

The international trade and customs practice at Jones Day’s Mexico office can draw on the expertise amassed across the firm’s global network, offering a certain advantage in terms of remaining up-to-date with matters that do not initially arrive in Mexico. Considered an increasingly noteworthy option in the sector, the six-strong local team advises on matters including maquiladora operations, customs valuations and audits, customs and tax litigation, NAFTA audits, health and sanitary import authorizations (a growing niche specialization of the practice), and administrative and regulatory procedures. In current work, the team is providing ongoing advice to Adidas on commercial and regulatory issues before the Customs and the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (PROFECO); Universal Pictures on the importing and exporting of technical equipment and marketing products; Mizhuo Bank on the customs and foreign trade implications of loans and guarantees to its clients (both Japanese exporters and Mexican importers); and Husqvarna on the restructure of its logistics procedures and customs-department functions. The team is also advising UPS on the provision of parcel and courier services in Mexico following its 2015 acquisition of Coyote Logistics. The practice also has some activity in the antidumping subsector, recently representing Jindal Saw and Elecnor during Mexican investigations into steel pipe imports from India and Spain, respectively. Part of the firm’s Government Regulation, International Trade and Customs department, the practice is co-led by administrative and regulatory practitioner Mauricio Llamas and ‘well known NAFTA specialistLuis Rubio Barnetche. However, it is ‘technically brilliant’ associate Javier Cortés (‘he real knows the sector’) who is perhaps the key practitioner; he can draw on his experience at both the Mexican tax authority (SAT), and as a trade and customs consultant at a noted tax firm. Corporate counsel Guillermo Larrea participates in compliance matters in the sector. Other clients include CBRE, Lanxess, Dufry, Steris Corporation and Lowe’s Companies.

The ‘noteworthySánchez Devanny provides ‘very good service levels at reasonable cost’, has ‘excellent breadth of knowledge’, and clients report response times as ‘among the best for a Mexican law firm’. The eight-strong practice group covers all import and export matters, customs and administrative litigation, audits, NAFTA-origin verifications, and strategic advice on free trade benefits across the Americas; it also has particular experience advising service companies working with quasi-state energy entities CFE and PEMEX, and in relation to manufacturing sectors subject to export controls. Key partner Turenna Ramírez-Ortiz focuses on the strategic planning of trade and customs matters, and litigation, as well as having specialist knowledge of FTAs, customs audits, export promotion programmes and verifications of origin; while José Alberto Campos (‘a very good lawyer indeed’), handles the tax and regulatory aspects of the IT&C sector, particularly tariff and non-tariff requirements and export controls. Between them, the pair has some 40 years’ experience in the sector. Senior associate Eduardo Sotelo is also noted. Recent matters include advising Niagara Bottling on all aspects of its establishment of a Mexican subsidiary including successfully obtaining the company’s reincorporation into the SAT’s General Importers Registry, its erroneous suspension from which had jeopardised the $60m investment in new facilities in Nuevo León. In other work the team has assisted clients with SAT audits related to declared customs values; a self-disclosure process related to a NAFTA rules-of-origin issue and the regularization of (potential) associated liabilities; complex, high-value litigation before the TFJA relating to royalty payments and declared customs values; the restructure of foreign trade operations control in the IMMEX sector; and issues arising from temporary imports, among others. Clients include Embotelladora Niagara De Mexico, Edgewell Personal Care, Kellogg Company, Instavin, Kar Auction Services, Sharp Corporation, Under Armour, Marubeni, Nippon Seiki, American Eagle, Grupo Altex, Zimmer Biomet and Zodiac.

Boosted by the return of senior associate Mario Valencia Concha upon the completion of his masters (on WTO trade issues), the six-strong team at Galicia Abogados SC has been particularly active in relation to the solar power sector, recently. Here, mandates have included representing the Asociación Mexicana de Energía Solar Fotovoltaica (ASOLMEX) regarding the tariff classification of solar panels imported from China (a case hinging on the Ministry of Finance’s attempt to classify the panels as “generators”); advising Sunpower Corporation Mexico on importation strategies in the sector, and assisting TAI Durango Uno on nullity claims challenging tax assessments, again in relation to tariff classifications. Practice head Daniel Amézquita works across both the customs and trade aspects of the practice, and has ‘great experience in administrative litigation’. Head of the firm’s Asia desk, of counsel Juan Pablo Cervantes is ‘a key member of the team’ and has particular expertise in antidumping investigations. Other recent matters include representing the China Chamber of International Commerce in an antidumping investigation in the aluminium cookware subsector; Angus Chemical on import permits for dangerous chemical products; a nullity claim regarding a tax assessment for the temporary importation of films on behalf of Walt Disney and Sony Pictures; and representing UK Carbon & Graphite in countervailing (anti-circumvention) investigations concerning the importation of graphite electrodes from China. Associate José Andrés Muñiz is also noted. Other clients include Grupo Aeroméxico, Siemens Grupo Modelo, Scotiabank Grupo Celanese and B&G Foods.

The January 2017 arrivals of Alejandro Gómez-Strozzi and Marcos Carrasco Menchaca (from Tax Law Consultores and Carrasco García Abogados, respectively), has radically re-booted the Mexico-office practice at bi-national firm Gardere, Arena y Asociados S.C.. Now five-strong, the team has ‘hit the ground running’ and is praised for its proactivity, reliability and ‘quick, clear and precise responses and opinions’ that ‘attend to all scenarios and risks’. Recent matters saw the group advise a multinational consumer-goods manufacturer regarding the sunset review of liquid caustic soda from the US; counsel various automotive parts manufacturers with the implementation of Mexican foreign trade programmes; and assist a multinational auto parts supplier (and other clients) on reimbursement requests filed with the SAT. Gómez-Strossi also obtained a permanent injunction against the cancellation of Imports Standard NOM 030 ZOO during the course of an “amparo” trial opposing the proposed cancellation; while Carrasco (who is noted for his ‘clarity, experience and knowledge’) is handling an ongoing administrative appeal on behalf of a major local printing company regarding the seizure of imported machinery. Other matters include VAT exemptions and IMMEX audits. Associate Miguel Angel Concha is also noted.

Founded in 2004, Gómez Violante y Velázquez Elizarrarás, S.C. is a specialist boutique dedicated to economic law and international trade. Over the last decade it has established an excellent reputation for its expertise in the anti-dumping sub-sector, where, most recently, it has been involved in the investigation into US apple imports. Founding partners Mauricio Gómez (who was formerly at White & Case S.C.) and Miguel Ángel Velázquez (who was previously at the Economy Ministry’s international commercial practices unit (UPCI)), are both noted. Velázquez has over thirty years’ experience in the sector and has amassed particular expertise in steel industry matters, where he has worked with clients such as Ternium. Intermediate associate Lourdes Lizeth Velázquez Pazarán is also noted.

SMPS Legal fields a four-strong international trade team that ‘continually outstrips expectations’ and is lauded for its ‘fine service levels’. Working across the entire sector, it is particularly active in NAFTA rectifications related to verification-of-origin; efficient customs structure consultancy, and foreign trade audits. Past matters include obtaining tax authorisation for tax credits on temporarily imported goods; the development and implementation of defence strategies against foreign trade liabilities; and general foreign trade counselling and due diligence procedures. ‘Brilliant’ practice head Alexis Michel has over twenty years’ experience in the sector and also has a tax qualification; he’s ‘a great person to have at your side in a customs dispute’. Assisting with matters ranging from routine classification matters to complex appeals of administrative opinions, the practice is ‘a first port of call for IT&C work’. Key support comes from senior associates Ana Karen Navarrete who was formerly a consultant at the Customs Brokers Association in Mexico City; and Paloma Armella who focuses on administrative procedures, rules of origin and trade audits. The team can also call on tax partners Christian Solis and Ana Paula Pardo on litigious and international taxation aspects of the practice as required. Clients include Grupo Azucarero Sainz, Grupo Tampico and Grupo Axo.

With offices in Querétaro and Monterrey as well as Mexico City, full-service firm Santamarina y Steta is well positioned for the NAFTA and IMMEX (maquiladora) issues that generally dominate Mexican international trade and customs practice. The six-strong team acts on all aspects of the sector, from anti-dumping to foreign trade programs, and also undertakes all associated administrative representations, but of late has been most active in specialist customs advisory matters. Recent work involved advising a multinational company on the import and export of raw materials between countries in the region (and on the analysis of potential BIT and FTA benefits); assisting a client with the identification of relevant tariff and non-tariff barriers on certain imports prior to establishing a franchise operation; and advice on environmental and customs regulations and procedures involved in the export of hazardous and non-hazardous industrial waste; on the new customs regime applicable to Special Economic Zones; and on the documentation and recording of import and export transactions. In addition to a strong client roster in the health, pharma, consumer goods and retail sectors, the team is particularly active in the burgeoning automobile construction sector and its related supply-chain (the firm has represented General Motors de México for over 50 years), and has growing involvement in the aerospace area. Practice head Alejandro Luna has over 20 years’ experience in the sector. Key support comes from associate Karina Robledo, who is particularly active on international trade audits and fiscal matters. The Monterrey-based César Cruz adds further weight to the practice. The participation of experienced competition practitioner Ernesto Dunhe (particularly as regards anti-dumping but also on general trade matters and rules of origin), and tax specialist Mariano Calderón (particularly on administrative matters related to trade) is also noted. Customs consultant Manuel del Bosque has left the firm.

Mid-sized, full-service firm Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC has an established international trade practice that works across the entire sector but evidences a strong focus on NAFTA and maquiladora-related matters: ‘I regard them as go-to for US-Mexico cross-border matters’, commented one source. Recent mandates include advising Shaw Industries on a verification-of-origin procedure brought by the Mexican authorities in the US; Vircila International on the regularization of temporarily imported merchandise; and Trimas on the establishment of an IMMEX maquila entity. The six-strong team is led by Luis Miguel Jiménez, who has over 15 years’ in the sector: ‘experienced, responsive and reliable’, he has particular expertise on IMMEX matters and the automotive industry, and also in the verifications-of-origin niche. Key support comes from senior associate María de Lourdes Salazar who has increasing profile in the sector; and in a new hire the practice has added senior associate Mónica Reyes, increasing both its capacity and expertise. Also noted is ‘very fine’ tax partner Fernando Moreno who leans-in to the sector in relation to matters such as reductions and pay backs. Other work saw the team aid clients with the restructuring of both import and export inventory control systems (in line with IMMEX requirements); advice on the pros and cons of adhering to the IMMEX programme; and significant (and successful) litigation against the SAT. Clients include BMW, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Fresenius Medical Care, and MARS.

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  • Notorious Marks

    Notorious marks or the declaration thereof, has always been an issue widely discussed in Mexico by the IP legal community. This is so because provisions of the Paris Convention dealing with this topic have for a long time been uses as an effort to cancel or nullify trademarks registered by Mexican authorities without really making an extensive evaluation of proposed denominations and without examining in depth if such marks may be potentially affecting rights acquired by third parties elsewhere. So, a specific regulation and legal frame that at least tries to resolve this issue is always a good start in the right direction.

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