On Friday 1 February 2019, a year after announcing fee changes, the Venezuelan PTO (SAPI) finally published their new schedule of charges. Payment of official fees had been suspended since February 2018.

This new resolution creates serious issues, at least for US IP holders, since it states that foreign entities must pay all official fees (either for pending matters or new petitions) in PETRO, a “cryptocurrency” created by Mr. Nicolas Maduro administration in February 2018 as a way to collect US dollars while avoiding US sanctions.

However, an Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump on 19 March 2018, banned transactions involving “any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018”.

This prohibition is applicable to (unless exempted by a license granted by US authorities):

  1. United States citizens, permanent resident aliens,
  2. Entities organised under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches of such entities), or
  3. Any person within the United States.

The full text of Executive order No 13827 can be found here.

The new SAPI Official Fees Schedule is retroactive to all transactions since it suspended fee payments, back in February 2018, and also establishes a 60 days term (which could may be extended at SAPI’s sole discretion) to pay official fees for all national and foreign entities interested in maintaining patent or trademarks rights accepted for registrations during the suspension of fees.

In view of the above complex scenario, it is strongly recommended that all non-Venezuelan IP holders with patent and/or trademarks interests in the country, confer with their compliance team before proceeding with making any payments in PETRO.