VENEZUELA: Hit by Hyperinflation Exchange Rates, SAPI Suspends Collection of Official Fees for Foreign Companies
Contributor: Rafael A. Márquez L., Marquez & Marquez, Caracas, Venezuela
Verifier: Angel Gabriel Viso, Escritorio Viso, Rodríguez, Cottin, Medina, Ramírez & Asociados, Caracas, Venezuela
The recently enacted Exchange Rate Agreement No. 39 between the Venezuelan government and the Central Bank of Venezuela, which entered into force by publication in Official Gazette No. 41,340 of February 14, 2018, is causing problems for Venezuela’s Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property (SAPI). In light of this new situation, SAPI published a notice on February 2, 2018, indicating that all new payments in foreign currency must be suspended until the competent authorities issue a new course of action regarding the application of Exchange Rate Agreement No. 39.
Article 37 of the Agreement established a single exchange rate for all currency traders. This dramatically alters the fees SAPI has been collecting under the Stamp Duty Law that entered into force by publication in Official Gazette No. 6.150 – Extraordinary, dated November 18, 2014. The Stamp Duty Law increased the government fees for most IP proceedings. It also discriminated between local and foreign owners of IP rights, calling for foreign applicants to pay fees in the equivalent U.S. dollar exchange‒buying rate established by the Central Bank of Venezuela or the U.S. dollar exchange‒buying rate traded at the end of the day.
More importantly, it also compelled foreign applicants to apply the lesser of the several exchange rates’ applicable values when there were different exchange rates in force. With this method, for instance, foreign applicants could end up paying up to USD 2,000 for a single trademark registration fee or USD 3,500 for a trademark assignment or merger fee.
As a consequence of Exchange Rate Agreement No. 39, SAPI has lost a significant source of income in U.S. dollars, as it must now collect its fees at a much higher exchange rate. This will result in the office now receiving cents instead of thousands of dollars for services.
Under the Stamp Duty Law, the official fees were calculated at an exchange rate of VEF 10 to USD 1. Thus, if the SAPI fee for a trademark assignment was VEF 31,000, then payment in USD was equal to VEF 31,000/USD 10 = USD 3,100.
By contrast, under the new exchange regulation, official fees are calculated at an exchange rate of VEF 35,000 (Feb. 28, 2018) to USD 1, meaning that if the SAPI fee for a trademark assignment is VEF 31,000, then payment in USD must be VEF 31,000/35,000, or USD 0.89.
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© 2018 International Trademark Association
“This article first appeared here in the INTA Bulletin and was reprinted with permission from the International Trademark Association (INTA).”