The National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI) recently inaugurated its technology and innovation support centre, which was backed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The INAPI also recently implemented an advanced electronic signature programme, strengthened security measures to safeguard information and initiated a pilot plan that will enable the institute to become a paperless organisation.
A limitation fund was recently constituted in the context of a salvage and towage operation. The plaintiffs opposed the fund's constitution, arguing that, under Chilean law, salvors are not entitled to limit their liability. The Valparaiso Second Civil Court rejected the opposition and upheld the limitation fund. The decision is one of the most relevant substantive decisions in this regard and should provide future certainty in the safeguarding salvors' rights to limit their liability.
The Tax Department recently issued Circular 57, which provides a definition of a 'permanent establishment' for domestic law purposes and underlines that such fixed places of business require a tax registration number. Although the circular has been issued with a limited scope, it may have additional benefits, including identifying whether a foreign entity or individual has a permanent establishment operating in Chile.
The El Pelicano solar park, a photovoltaic power plant located north of Santiago, was recently opened. The plant, which represents an investment of $250 million, has a capacity of 110 megawatts (MW) and will provide approximately 42% of the energy required by the Santiago subway system. In 2014 solar power in Chile had an installed capacity of 11 MW. With the launch of the El Pelicano project, this capacity has risen to 2,100 MW.
A recent Supreme Court of Justice decision required the applicant in a proceeding initiated to complete the good and legal title of surface water rights to notify all holders of water rights in the same watershed to which the application referred. Failure to involve other rights holders in the same river basin in the respective proceedings, as required by this decision, could render subsequent proceedings obsolete and thus result in the loss of considerable time for the applicant.
Law 21,045, which was recently published in the Official Gazette, created the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Patrimony and reformed the IP Act through the creation of the National Cultural Patrimony Service. Under the changes introduced, the Intellectual Rights Department is now under the auspices of the National Cultural Patrimony Service. As a result, all IP matters are now part of the new Ministry of Arts, Cultures and Patrimony.
As with any other contract, general rules of interpretation are crucial to ascertain the scope and reach of arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court recently missed the chance to provide a sharper and more sophisticated decision concerning the applicable legal rules of interpretation of arbitration agreements, which is a crucial matter for the uniform enforcement of international commercial arbitration agreements.
The latest reform of the Competition Statute introduces a preventive control procedure for merger operations that have effects in Chile. As of June 1 2017 the national economic prosecutor will undertake a control procedure for merger operations before they begin. The amendment aims to provide legal certainty and reduce the length of merger control procedures.
The Supreme Court recently revoked two appeal court decisions in which the underlying issue was the Tax Department's authority to deny taxpayers the ability to issue invoices in certain circumstances. It is unclear whether the Tax Department will review its criteria in this regard, as court decisions in Chile affect only the parties in the specific case.
Congress recently approved a tax reform that introduced a new Pigovian or green tax and amended income and indirect tax rates. The green tax will apply directly to emissions derived from industrial processes that result in environmental damage. The new tax will be implemented before the end of 2017 and will affect industrial establishments that use boilers or turbines.
A taxpayer resident in Chile with a portfolio investment in the United States recently requested a ruling on whether he was entitled to a refund of certain withholding taxes paid by the portfolio because it included bonds issued in Chile. The taxpayer argued that withholding tax should be refunded to the beneficiary of the interest if the beneficiary is a Chilean resident. However, the Tax Department took a different view.
Law 20,954, which amends the Corporations Act in Law 18,046, was recently published in the Official Gazette. The amendment provides that custodians of shares in public companies that hold shares on behalf of other parties must provide the Securities and Insurance Commission with the identity of those parties. Banks that act as custodians must report this information to the Superintendence of Banks and Financial Institutions.
The Trademark Office recently rejected several trademark applications containing the terms 'corporation', 'corporations' or similar when the applicant was not a US-based company on the basis that they would result in error or confusion. However, the Industrial Property Appeals Court dismissed this argument and revoked the Trademark Office's decisions, stating that the law does not require a trademark to be concordant with the applicant's corporate structure or organisation.
A taxpayer recently requested a ruling on whether a certain type of tax treatment was available following the merger and consolidation of a group. The tax department ruled that the individuals who owned shares in the resultant entity were entitled to use a variable tax rate rather than the 32% fixed tax rate on corporate income tax already paid on profits, as there is no transfer of property in a merger process, but rather an assignment of property to a person who already has a legal interest therein.
The securities and insurance regulator (SVS) recently published for comment the fifth version of its methodology for determining the risk-based capital of insurers. The latest version ‒ as well as the conceptual bases developed by the SVS for analysis, discussion and improvement ‒ includes a number of changes from the previous version and will be subject to public consultation until July 31 2017.
The National Economic Prosecutor's new Guidelines on Leniency in Cartel Cases recently entered into force. The guidelines aim to strengthen leniency in cartel cases, allow more cases of collusion to be uncovered, enable the collection of evidence that assists in proving collusive conduct and identifying the parties involved, and provide certainty to individuals or companies engaged in collusive conduct that wish to obtain leniency benefits.
The Labour Reform Law 20,940, which was introduced in April 2017, focuses on reforming union rights. A centrepiece of the reform is the removal of an employer's right to replace personnel who go on strike with other workers. This amendment means that Chile is one of the only countries within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to remove this rule.
The autonomy of parties to agree on an arbitral procedure is a basic principle of international commercial arbitration. However, parties occasionally try to deny the recognition of awards issued according to agreed rules, claiming that they are unfair or contrary to due process. A recent Supreme Court case on this matter helps to circumscribe the concept of 'proper notice' and protects parties' procedural autonomy, which will ensure the continuing development of international commercial arbitration.
After more than eight years of litigation, the Pablo Neruda Foundation (heir to the rights of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda) obtained a favourable decision from the Industrial Property Appeals Court regarding its annulment action against the Reyes hereditary succession. This decision is not only relevant as an example of the application of IP Law and the Succession Law, but also refers to one of Chile's most famous names.
A taxpayer recently requested a ruling from the Chilean tax authorities on whether a branch of an entity resident in a third state should be considered a UK resident for the purpose of claiming the benefits provided under the Chile-UK double tax treaty. The tax department concluded that the person claiming benefits under the treaty was a resident of a third state and that its UK branch or permanent establishment did not meet the requirements to qualify as a UK resident under the treaty.