Protecting IP ownership and rights in Argentina: 5 things employers need to know


Jun 8, 2023

Intellectual property is a crucial part of what drives every company's success—it sets you apart from your competitors and comprises the value you offer to your customers. That's why it's so important to fiercely protect your company IP—especially as you expand into new, global markets.

If you're hiring in Argentina (or expanding business operations there), that means learning a whole new set of laws and regulations. IP law is complex no matter where you do business, but if your business hasn't operated in Latin America before, learning your way around how best to protect your trade secrets and other confidential information in Argentina can be a major undertaking.

That's where this guide comes in. Below, you'll find five things global employers need to know about protecting IP ownership in Argentina, as well as frequently asked questions about intellectual property rights as you expand your business. Let's get started (note: our guide is for informational purposes, and isn’t intended to provide legal advice).

1. Intellectual property protection from other countries may not extend to Argentina

Argentina is a member of several major international IP treaties, including:

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement)
  • The Berne Convention
  • The Paris Convention

But Argentina has not ratified some of the treaties that enhance the protection of international IP. In other words, if you're a global company with existing IP protection in your home country, that protection may not extend to Argentina. You may need to register for IP rights in Argentina to best protect your company's IP.

This is especially true for U.S. companies—the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has included Argentina on its Special 301 priority watch list since 1996 to warn global businesses that Argentina does not sufficiently protect and enforce IP rights (more on that below).

2. IPR enforcement can be thorny in Argentina

Argentina's regulatory framework for customs inspections of imported goods is in line with international agreements, which allows IP right holders to suspend the release of goods from customs if they suspect counterfeiting that infringes on their IP.

But enforcing other types of IP rights can be tricky in Argentina. The EU warns that enforcement tends to be slow and ineffective, and that injunctions and sanctions allowed under existing intellectual property law often aren't enough of a deterrent to stop infringement.

3. NDAs are enforceable in Argentina

In Argentina, non-disclosure agreements (or NDAs) are generally considered enforceable and legally binding. 

Confidential business information is protected by law in Argentina—TRIPs, Argentina's Confidentiality Law, and the Argentine Criminal Code create a legal framework that says that a person or legal entity can prevent information lawfully within their control from being disclosed to, acquired by, or used by others without their consent as long as that information is:

  • Secret
  • Commercially valuable because it's secret
  • Been kept secret by the information holder taking reasonable measures to do so

But here's where Argentine law falls short: it doesn't specify sanctions for breaking confidentiality laws. That means businesses also need an NDA, and it should clearly and specifically outline injunctions, damages, arbitration proceedings, or other procedures or consequences that will occur if the NDA is breached.

4. Employers should take steps to make sure they own IP created by employees or contractors

The general rule in Argentina is that inventions or works created by an employee belong to their employer if the employee was hired for the purpose of creating inventions or works. Otherwise, ownership falls to the inventor.

There's no legal requirement for having a written agreement specifying who owns what in an employment relationship, but it's highly recommended that employers in Argentina include a clause in their employment contracts to cover the following provisions:

  • That the employee was hired to invent or create work
  • That the employer owns all inventions and works created by the employee within the scope of their employment (i.e. on company time or using company resources)
  • That the employee waives their right to ownership of IP they create during the scope of their employment

Employers should do the same for independent contractors. Note that inventions or works made by independent contractors who were hired to invent and create are generally assumed to belong to the person or entity that hired them

5. IP can be assigned—but the assignment needs to meet certain requirements

IP rights can be transferred (or assigned) between individuals and entities in Argentina, but the requirements for assigning IP vary depending on the type.

For patents, patent applications, and utility models:

  • The assignment must be recorded with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI)
  • Any document can be used to record the assignment, as long as it identifies the parties and object
  • If executed in a language other than Spanish, the agreement must be translated into Spanish
  • If executed abroad, signatures for both parties must be notarized and apostilled

It's also recommended (but not required) to include the deed of letters patent with the agreement. This can be requested from the INPI.

For trademarks:

  • The assignment must be recorded with the INPI
  • Any document can be used to record the assignment, as long as it identifies the parties and object
  • If executed in a language other than Spanish, the agreement must be translated into Spanish
  • If executed abroad, signatures for both parties must be notarized and apostilled

For copyrights:

  • The assignment must be made in writing and registered with the copyright office
  • The registration must include the assignment contract (or a notarized and legalized copy) and a sworn translation of the contract into Spanish

For industrial design rights:

  • The assignment must be recorded with the INPI
  • The record must include the original certificate of registration of industrial property from the INPI
  • Any document can be used to record the assignment, as long as it identifies the parties and object
  • If executed in a language other than Spanish, the agreement must be translated into Spanish
  • If executed abroad, signatures for both parties must be notarized and apostilled

Frequently asked questions about IP law in Argentina

Who owns IP in Argentina: employee or employer?

The bottom line: An employer is presumed to own any IP created by an employee within the scope of their employment, provided they were hired to invent or create. However, IP enforcement can be difficult in Argentina, and it's a good idea to spell out IP assignments clearly in each employee's contract.

What is a PIIA agreement?

A Proprietary Information and Inventions Assignment Agreement (PIIA) is a legal contract between an employer and an employee or contractor to establish the ownership and protection of intellectual property created by the employee or contractor during their employment or work arrangement with the company.

PIIAs are common documents in North America (especially the US and Canada). They're less common in Argentina, where existing laws protect confidential business information. Still, it's always a good idea to cover your bases when hiring internationally and have employees and contractors sign a PIIA (or PIIA-like agreement) that specifies that their employer will own the IP they create while working.

What is a CIIA agreement?

CIIA stands for Confidential Information and Invention Assignment. This is just another name for a Proprietary Information and Inventions Assignment (PIIA). Some other names this type of agreement may go by include:

  • Employee Confidentiality and Inventions Assignment Agreement
  • Proprietary Information Agreement
  • Employee Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement
  • Protection of Company Interests Agreement

Are PIIAs and NDAs the same thing?

No. NDAs generally apply to IP and protected assets that already exist at the time the contract is signed.

PIIAs apply to IP and protected assets the employee or contractor creates during their employment or work arrangement.

What is an IP assignment agreement?

An IP assignment agreement is a contract that transfers ownership and rights to intellectual property from one party or entity to another. It's commonly used when a party wants to sell or acquire IP rights, like patents, trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets.

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Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: March 26, 2024

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.