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Costa Rica: Brief Primer Intellectual Property Protection

Thanks to the international harmonizing trend in IP laws, the procedure for registration and protection of patents of invention, trademarks and other IP rights is fairly standardized in Costa Rica and Latin America in comparison to the rest of the world. Most of the basic considerations regarding protection abroad also apply.

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Where do you register your rights? 

IPRs are registered by the Industrial Property Registry of Costa Rica.

Is a trademark registration mandatory?

Rights are acquired by mere use of the mark in commerce to identify goods and services. However, registration provides the greatest protection.

Before commercialization may begin, chemicals, hygienic products, cosmetics, medicines, biomedical machines, biomedical materials, and similar goods require a sanitary registration before the Ministry of Health. In these cases, a trade or service mark registration may be a formal requirement.

It is essential to plan any filings ahead of time to avoid any potential delays in entering the market.

What if my rights are infringed?

While use-based rights are recognized, it is preferable to initiate legal action after registration to reduce the burden of proof on the plaintiff.

In addition, it is common for local distributors to register the foreign company’s marks when the former fails to do so in a timely fashion. Sometimes this is done as a necessity (for instance, to secure sanitary permits), but other times as a way to obtain leverage in future negotiations.

How long does it take to secure a registration?

In the case of trade and service marks, the standard is 5 to 9 months. Additional delays may occur if the application encounters any issues.

Patents of invention and industrial designs may take upward from 24 months to register.

How to apply?

It is always advisable to conduct a search to determine if there are any conflicting third-party registrations or statutory limitations before you begin the application process.

If you wish to proceed with the registration process, you will need to have a Law Firm file and prosecute the application for you.

Law firms are appointed through a Power of Attorney. This document only requires notarization under the laws of the country of issuance, but not legalization by the Consulate/apostille. Often this is the only document that will be required to obtain a patent or trademark registration, but sometimes additional documents may be required (for instance, to prove assignment of rights or claim priority based on foreign applications).

Term of Registration

The registration term for trademark is 10 years from the date of registration, renewable for additional intervals of 10 years each. The term for patents of invention is 20 years from the priority date.