Costa Rica: Alert – Exemption on real estate transfer fees for qualifying legal entities up to October 1st, 2012

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The Legal Persons Tax Law of Costa Rica that became effective on April 1st of 2012 established a 6-month period of grace under which owners of corporations that have been inactive for the prior 24 months before the tax authorities may transfer any real estate held in their name without payment of any government fees, transfer tax and registration expenses. The term for qualifying entities to benefit from this exemption expires on October 1st, 2012.

The provision is meant to encourage real estate owners that registered a corporation solely for the purpose of holding title over real estate to reclaim ownership of any assets and dissolve their corporation. Dissolving such corporations will also allow their owners not to pay the Legal Persons Tax from 2013 and onwards.

Please feel free to contact us should you require more information.

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
LDAcuna@AcunaLegal.com

 

Costa Rica: Brief Primer Intellectual Property Protection

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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.

Costa Rica: New Guideline for Suspension of Trade and Service Mark Applications

by Luis Acuna, Asesores Legales en Propiedad Industrial (ALPI), Costa Rica

The merits of granting a request to suspend prosecution of a pending trademark, service mark or trade name application before the Costa Rican Industrial Property Registry has traditionally been evaluated in a case-by-case basis. No clear statutory, administrative regulations or judicial decisions have ever been defined, thus making it unclear under which circumstances applicants may file for such a request to fulfill time critical deadlines, allow for ownership changes to be recorded or hindrances to registration to be lifted while maintaining a filing date.

On January 6, 2012, the Director for the Industrial Property Registry issued a Circular DRPI-01-2012 (published in the Official Gazette of February 8, 2012), which states that based on the examination of any related documents filed before Registry, an application may only be suspended if its immediate examination could cause discrepancy with a later final decision.

Regrettably, the circular is not clear and does not go into any detail to explain what is meant by this new guideline, in which cases it applies or how it is supposed to alter existing practice.