Example: International Differences

Why is it Prudent to be Cautious from an IP Strategy Perspective?


Let us assume that your company is based in France and sells its products online around the world, including in Mexico. Your marketing team develops a catchy advertising jingle for your website. The jingle is an updated version of a well-known French song that your marketing team knows is in the public domain in France, given that the composer of the song died 75 years ago. However, can you rely on this same circumstance when a Mexican consumer accesses your website in Mexico and the jingle is played?

What Should You Do?

Depending on the circumstances, because Mexico and France are part of an international treaty system, and Mexico does not restrict the application of its copyright term to countries that have the same duration (the rule of the shorter term in article 7[8] of the Berne Convention), Mexico will give the French composer/copyright owner the benefit of its copyright law. You may therefore still need to obtain permission from the copyright holder (it might be the composer’s estate in this example) if your website targets and sells your products to Mexican consumers, since copyright in the song won’t expire for another 25 years in that country. 

Lessons Learned

What may be absolutely legal in one jurisdiction may be unlawful in others, and more generous legal rules may operate in one country but not in another.

You need to make sure that you are aware of the differences that might exist in the IP laws of any country in which you want to carry on business.

While lawyers are generally the ones who can help with the details surrounding this transnational complexity, a good IP strategy will take the transnational context into account in light of the business’s current and future objectives.

Last modified: Tuesday, 1 September 2020, 3:11 PM