Economy - overview: Colombia's economy has experienced positive growth over the past three years despite a serious armed conflict. The economy continues to improve in part because of austere government budgets, focused efforts to reduce public debt levels, an export-oriented growth strategy, an improved security situation in the country, and high commodity prices. Ongoing economic problems facing President Uribe range from reforming the pension system to reducing high unemployment, and to achieving congressional passage of a fiscal transfers reform. New exploration is needed to offset declining oil production. International and domestic financial analysts note with concern the growing central government deficit, which hovers at 5% of GDP. However, the government's economic policy and democratic security strategy have engendered a growing sense of confidence in the economy, particularly within the business sector.
Who May Apply?
Any individual, company, or association may apply for registration of a mark.
What Can Be Registered?
Signs that are discernible, sufficiently distinctive, and subject to graphic representation may be registered as trademarks. Commercial slogans are also registrable, together with the marks to which they refer. Collective marks: Associations of producers, manufacturers, service suppliers, organizations or groups of persons legally established, shall be able to apply for registration of a collective trademark to distinguish in the market the goods or services of their integrating members. Appellations of origin: The declaration of protection for a denomination of origin shall be given ex officio upon request from whomever may evidence having a legitimate interest, being it understood that those are the persons whether natural or legal persons engaged in the extraction, production, or manufacturing of the product or products intended to be protected by the denomination of origin, as well as associations of producers. State, departmental, provincial, or municipal authorities are also deemed to constitute interested parties, when they refer to denominations of origin of their respective circumscriptions. The enforceability of the declaration that grants the right to the exclusive use of a denomination of origin shall be determined by the subsistence of the conditions which gave origin thereto, in the judgment of the national competent office. Such office may declare the term of enforceability if such conditions were not maintained. Notwithstanding, interested parties may again file applications when they deem that the conditions required for protection have been reestablished, without prejudice to any administrative remedies provided for in the internal legislation of each member country. The national competent office may grant the corresponding authorizations of use. The authorization of use may also be granted by public or private entities representing the beneficiaries of the denominations of origin, if so established by national provisions.
What Cannot Be Registered?
Signs may not be registered as trademarks if: (a) they cannot constitute a mark pursuant to the first paragraph of the preceding article; (b) they lack distinctness; (c) they consist exclusively in forms that are usual to the products in relation to the goods, or to their containers, or in forms or characteristics imposed by the nature or the function of the product or of the related service; (d) they consist exclusively in forms or other elements that provide a functional or technical advantage to the product or service to which they apply; (e) they consist exclusively in a sign or indication that may serve in commerce to designate or describe the quality, quantity, destination, value or place of origin, the time of production, or other characteristic data or information about the products or services for which the sign or indication is to be used, including laudatory expression referring to those products or services; (f) they consist exclusively in a sign or indication constituting the generic or technical name of the product or service concerned; (g) they consist exclusively or would have been converted into a common or usual desgination of the related product or service in the current language or in the use of the country; (h) they consist in a color regarded separately, without being delimited by a specific form; they may deceive trade circles or the public, particularly on the geographical origin, the nature, the mode of manufacturing, the characteristics, qualities, or capacity for use of the related products or services; (j) they reproduce or imitate or contain a denomination of origin protected for similar products or for different products, when their use may cause a risk of confusion or of association with the denominationl or when their utilization implies taking an unfair advantage of the charactersitic of being well-known or famous; (k)they contain a denomination of origin protected for wines and spirits; (l) they consist in a geographical indication, national or foreign, capable of inducing to confusion with respect to the products or services to which they apply; (m) they reproduce or imitate, without authorization form the competent authorities, whether as trademarks or as elements thereof, the armorial bearings, flags, emblems, signs and official control and guanranty punches of the states and any imitation from the heraldry point of view, as well as coats of arms, flags and other emblems, abbreviations b initials, or denominations of any international organization; (n) they reproduce or imitate signs used to indicate compliance with technical standards, unless their registration is applied for by the competent national entity for the control of technical standards and quality in the member countries; (o) they reproduce, imitate, or include the denomination of a plant variety protected in a member country or abroad, if the sign is for products or services concerning such variety or its utilization is likely to cause confusion or association with the variety; or (p) they are contrary to law, morality, public order, or good habits.
Third parties may, without the consent of the trademark registrant, use their proper names, domiciles or pseudonyms; use a geographical name, or any other fact related to the type, qualitym, quantity, intended use, value, origin, period of production or any other characteristic of the goods or services for which the mark was registered.
Filing requirements are the application, containing the name of the applicant, a clear and complete description of the mark for which registration is sought, a list of the goods and services belonging to the class for which the trademark is sought, and a receipt showing payment of the established filing fee. Power of attorney, duly notarized and legalized by Apostille. Two prints of the mark in 12x12 cm. Certified copy of foreign trademark application when the six-month priority is claimed.
Evaluation & Review
The national competent office shall examine within the 15 working days counted from the filing date of the application to ascertain whether it meets the filing requirement of the law. If the application is in accordance with the law, the competent national office will order it to be published. If form the examination it appears that the application does not meet the filing requirements established in the preceding paragraph, the national competent office shall serve process upon the applicant so that the applicant completes the requirements within a term os 60 days following its service. If within the term established the nonconformities have not been remedied, the application shall be deemed abandoned and will lose its priority. Within 30 days following the publication, whoever may be lawfully concerned therewith may file a grounded observation to prevent the registration from being granted. At the request of any third party, the national competent office shall grant an additional term os 30 days for filing the evidence in support of the observation. Ungrounded observations shall be sanctioned when provided by national regulations.
The trademark registration term is 10 years from the date of grant; registrations may be renewed for successive 10-year periods. Applications to renew a trademark must be filed with the competent national office iwthin six months prior to the expiration of the mark. However, the registrant is permitted a six-month grace period following the expiration date to file an application for renewal. At the end of the grace period, any person may seek to register the mark. The renewal shall not require proof of use; it shall be granted automatically, under the same conditions the original registration was granted. However, it does not preclude the proprietor of the mark from his or her right to subsequently waive, in whole ir in part, the goods or services protected by the mark. The duation of the declaration that confers exclusive rights to the use of an appellation of origin shall be determined by the continued existence of the conditions on which it was based, in the judgment of the appropriate national office, which may declare its termination if such conditions have not persisted. The interested parties may, however, reapply for the declaration when they consider that the conditions governing its protections have been reestablished, without prejudice to the administrative remedies provided by the national laws of each member country. The term of the authorization for the use of a protected appellation of origin shall be 10 years, renewable in equal 10-year periods, in accordance with the procedur for the renewal of marks established in Decision 486.
At the request of an interested party and after a hearing at which the trademark registrant is present, the competent national office may cancel a mark that has not been used in an Andean Group country by its registrant or his or her licensee within the three consecutive years prior to the date in which the action for cancellation is brought. Cancellation of the trademark for lack of use in commerce may also be sought as a means of relief following proceedings for infringement, opposition and invalidity when those proceedings are based on a trademark that has not been used. Whenever lack of use of a mark shall affect one or some of the products, or shall affect one or some of the products or services for which it was registered, a reduction or limitation of the list of products or services comprised in the registration of the mark shall be ordered, eliminating those with which the mark was not used; for such purpose the fact of being identical or similar to the products or services shall be taken into account. Use of the trademark must be substantiated by proofs to be determined by each member country of the Andean Group, and the burden to do so is on the trademark reigstrant. Acts of God and unforeseen circumstances are justifiable causes for the failure to use a trademark. A trademark is considered in use if the goods or services for which it is used have been commercialized or are available on the market, in reasonable quantity and normal fashion, taking into acount the nature of the goods or services and the manner in which they are marketed. A trademark is also considered in use if it is used to distinguish goods slated for export from any of the Member Countries of the Andean Group. Use of a mark in a manner only slightly different from the form in which it was reigstered, regarding details or elements which do not affect its distinctive character, shall not be reason for cancellation on the grounds of lack of use, nor will it diminsh the protections conferred by registration.
Denominations of origin recognized in other countries must be recognized and protect in Colombia. Unauthorized use of a denomination of origin can be enjoined and registration denied if the associated goods or services do not originate in the corresponding location.