Costa Rica: Yearly Tax on Legal Entities Ruled Unconstitutional


We have discussed the Yearly Tax on Legal Entities in several several different occasions.

This is a tax levied since 2012 on legal persons in Costa Rica (the prime examples being “sociedades anónimas” or corporations and limited liability companies), payable in January of every year. The tax is enforced by strict penalties that could even lead to dissolution of the delinquent entities.

However, in Decision No. 1241-2015 of January 28, 2015 the Costa Rican Constitutional Court ruled on a lawsuit brought against the law that has been pending since November 2012. As a result, the Tax on Legal Entities Law was partially declared unconstitutional and will cease to be effective as of 2016.

The decision has been controversial because despite the Court’s findings that the law is contrary to Costa Rica’s constitutional regime, it has chosen to maintain its effectiveness up to 2015. Ordinarily, any ruling of unconstitutionality has retroactive effects to a law’s date of effectiveness. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court has powers to decide otherwise, based on the potential fallout of the decision. In this particular case, a ruling of unconstitutionality since the effective date of the law would have forced Costa Rican authorities to reimburse any payments made under the law, which could harm public finances. Instead, the Court opted to maintain the tax’s effectiveness until the end of the year.

As a result, qualifying legal entities are still required to pay the tax during 2015. The penalties for lack of payment have been somewhat lessened in expectation of further clarification from the Court regarding the effects of the unconstitutionality ruling, which are still not fully clear. For instance, documents filed by delinquent entities before the National Registry are no longer automatically refused registration or recordal, but are suspended pending payment (thus maintaining an effective filing date that can constitute constructive notice to third parties).

Client alerts are meant solely for general information and should not be regarded as legal advice. If you would like additional information, please contact:

For more information:

Luis D. Acuña
tel. 00 (506) 2221-9058

Reforma a Reglamento de Patentes de Invención y Diseños en Costa Rica en Abril de 2014

A partir del 24 de abril de 2014, se implementaron reformas importantes de procedimientos para inscripción de patentes de invención, diseños y modelos ante la Sección de Patentes de Invención del Registro de la Propiedad Industrial de Costa Rica

La reforma es notable por introducir importantes cambios de fondo y forma al pago de anualidades, así como la presentación e inscripción de solicitudes de patentes de invención, diseños industriales y modelos de utilidad. La reforma también consolida práctica adoptadas de facto por para la Oficina de Patentes, pero que carecían de fundamento legal hasta la fecha.

Las reformas fueron emitidas mediante el Decreto Ejecutivo No. 38289-H, publicado en la Gaceta No. 78 del 24 de abril de 2014, la cual reforma el Reglamento a la Ley de Patentes de Invención, Dibujos y Modelos Industriales y Modelos de Utilidad del 12 de diciembre de 1983.

Algunos de los cambios más notables incluyen:

Patentes de Invención y Modelos de Utilidad

  • Dimensiones de los dibujos no pueden exceder 15cm por 15cm (5.90 pulgadas por 5.90 pulgadas) y no pueden contener texto; solo signos de referencia que correspondan a lo indicado en la descripción
  • Los dibujos podrán consistir en fotografías del objeto de la solicitud, siempre que tengan un fondo neutro y sin sombras
  • Las solicitudes manifiestamente improcedentes pueden ser rechazadas de plano, mediante resolución razonada, concediendo la devolución del 50% de la tasa de presentación
  • A petición del solicitante, la publicación de la solicitud puede ser postergada hasta pro doce meses desde la fecha de presentación
  • Es posible solicitar una única prórroga, debidamente justificada, para presentar el poder luego del plazo de 3 meses después de la presentación de la solicitud
  • Ante un examen de fondo adverso, el solicitante tiene 15 días para solicitar una reunión con el examinador para discutir el fondo
  • Las tasas anuales para mantener la vigencia de la patente deberán ser pagadas por años adelantados. La tasa que debe abonarse por la inscripción y expedición del certificado, exonera el pago de la primera anualidad. La segunda anualidad y las siguientes que se adeuden desde la presentación de la solicitud y hasta la fecha de la concesión de la patente, deberán ser canceladas en un plazo máximo de dos meses contados desde la fecha de concesión.

Diseños y Modelos Industriales

  • Se reforma el concepto de originalidad. Un dibujo o modelo industrial es original en tanto su aspecto exterior se derive de un esfuerzo creativo individual del creador y no implique un nuevo cambio de colorido o forma de modelos o dibujos ya conocidos


Tel. (506) 2221-9058 o 2222-1785
Fax (506) 2222-6054

Amendment to Patent & Design Regulations in Costa Rica as of April, 2014

As of April 24, 2014, several new important changes practice before the Costa Rican Patent Office regarding Patents of Invention, Designs and Industrial Models & Utility Models came into effect.

The amendment is notable for introducing new  formal and substantive changes to payment of annuities, prosecution and filing of applications for registration of patents of invention, designs and industrial models and utility models. The amendment also consolidates de facto practices adopted by the Patent Office that did not have prior legal basis.

The Regulations were issued via Executive Decree No. 38289-H, published in official Gazette No. 78 of April 24, 2014, which amends and expands the existing Regulations to the Patents Law.

Some of the most notable changes include:

Patents of Intention and Utility Models

  • Dimensions of drawings may not exceed 15cm by 15 cm (5.90 inches by 5.90 inches) and shall not contain any text; only reference numbers to the corresponding text in the specification.
  • Drawings may consist of photographs of the subject matter of the invention, as long as they have a neutral background and no shadows.
  • Applications that are notoriously deficient may be automatically refused. 50% of the filing fee will be returned to the applicant.
  • One single extension of time to submit the Power of Attorney may be requested, as long as sufficient justification is provided.
  • At the request of the applicant, publication can be delayed for up to 12 months after the filing date.
  • Applicant facing an adverse examination report have 1 month to file a formal response. Within the first 15 days of said deadline, the applicant may choose to meet with the examiner to discuss the issue.
  • Payment of the grant fee for patents and utility models is assimilated to payment of the first patent annuity. However, at the same time, the applicant must pay second and subsequent annuities as of the date of presentation of the application. Failure to pay will cause the Patent Office to initiate legal action for collecting the amounts owed by the applicant.

Designs and industrial models:

  • The concept of novelty was changed substantially. A design or industrial model is deemed to be original as long as the exterior appearance is due to the creative effort of an individual creator and does not imply a change in color or shape of known designs and industrial models.


Tel. (506) 2221-9058 or 2222-1785
Fax (506) 2222-6054