Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.
Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in Costa Rica. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP. Second, IP is protected differently in Costa Rica than in the U.S. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Costa Rica under local laws; your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Costa Rica. There is no “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. Most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions are simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.
Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so you should consider applying for trademark and patent protection before selling your products or services in the Costa Rican market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government generally cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Costa Rica. It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Costa Rican law. The https://www.trade.gov/business-service-providers-americas provides a list of local lawyers or companies that may assist with registrations.
While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the U.S. Government can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been revoked. In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the obligation of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.
It is always advised to conduct due diligence on potential partners. Negotiate from the position of your partner and give your partner clear incentives to honor the contract. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, whether to allow your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will not list partners’ names as the IP owner which can result in failing to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Projects and sales in Costa Rica require constant attention.
It is also recommended that small and medium-sized companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both Costa Rica and U.S.-based. These include:
- Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)
- International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
- International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
- International Trademark Association (INTA)
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
- The Coalition against Counterfeiting and Piracy
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
A large amount of information on protecting IP is available to U.S. rights holders. Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:
- For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues — including enforcement issues in the United States and other countries — call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit STOPfakes.gov.
- For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the United States as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199.
- For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959.
- For US small and medium-size companies, the Department of Commerce offers a SME IP Advisory Program.
- For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP toolkits visit STOPfakes.gov’s webpage. This site is linked to the USPTO website for registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. and in foreign countries), the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website to record registered trademarks and copyrighted works (to assist customs in blocking imports of IP-infringing products) and allows you to register for webinars on protecting IP.