Costa Rica has sought to widen its economic and trade ties, both within and outside the region. Costa Rica signed a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico in 1994, which was later amended to cover a wider range of products. Costa Rica joined other Central American countries, plus the Dominican Republic, in establishing a Trade and Investment Council with the United States in March 1998.
Who May Apply?
The first applicnat is entitled to registration; ownership of a mark is acquired solely by registration as evidenced by the certificate of registration. Admittance of the application for registration in Costa Rica grants the applicant a priority right of six months during which he may apply for registration in other member countries; any application filed by third parties in other countries during that period will be subordinated to the first application. Priority right will be evidenced by a certificate issued by Costa Rica and acceptable in other member countries without legalization. In case of applications by different applicants for the same mark in different member countries that have the same date of admission, the filing date will govern.
What Can Be Registered?
The treaty is applicable to all trademarks, trade names, and slogans owned by persons and corporations whether domiciled in the member countries or not, but persons and corporations domiciled in each of the member countries will be treated as nationals in the other member countries. While registration of marks is not generally compulsory, pharmaceuticial, chemical, medicinal, veterinary, and food marks must be registered. Moreover, the Registrar is empowered to order registration of other marks. Marks may be registered in any language.
What Cannot Be Registered?
Flags, emblems, insignia, signs or names of member countries or of international bodies to which member countries belong, or of other countries without their official consent. Red Cross signs and emblems or those of religious or welfare entities recognized by member countries, representations of legal tender, negotiable instruments, commercial paper or fiscal stamps of member countries. Marks contrary to ethics, public order or good taste. Names, signatures, family names and pictures of persons other than the applicant without consent. Generic names, descriptive phrases, colors alone, bottles commonly used and lacking in novelty, simple indications of origin. Marks already registered, or that would cause confusion with marks already registered or would deceive the public. Maps, unless constituting an element of a mark. Marks indicating any prizes obtained. Terms commonly used in trade, industry, or services. The following trade names also cannot be registered: those constituting or containing personal names of persons other than the applicant or its partners without consent. Names already registered for a similar line of business; names identical or similar with a registered trademark owned by a third party and covering the same goods or services as those of the applicant. Names contrary to ethics, public order or good taste. The following slogans also cannot be registered. Those that are simply descriptive of the business, lack originality or are generally known in connection with a third party; are contrary to ethics, public order, or good taste or are offensive, tend to discredit another business or refer to other persons. Those that promote unfair competition. Those that include a trademark or trade name that cannot be legally used or those already registered by a third party, or that may cause error or confusion.
No specific provision.
Power of attorney, legalized if executed in a nonmember country. The Trademark Office may permit an individual or attorney to file applications as an attorney-in-fact, without a power of attorney. Seventeen prints of the marks, trade name or slogan. Electrotype, if the mark, trade name, or slogan has a special design, type or form. Certified copy of home registration or legalized declaration in which applicant states it has adopted a trademark for use in the country of interest, that it owns in the home country a manufacturing or commercial establishment, and the exact list of goods in respect of which the trademark will be registered in a particular class. Proof of priority or certificate of registration required if applicant is domiciled in a member country. All documents not in Spanish must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish.
Evaluation & Review
Applications are filed with the Registrar of Industrial Property by applicant personally or through a local attorney. If the application complies with the requirements as to form and substance, the Registrar issues a certificate of priority; if the applicant does not meet the requirements, the applicant is given 15 days in which to correct the application. If the Registrar discovers prior registrations or applications, he may reject the application or suspend decision until the status of the prior applications has been decided.
Registration of a trademark is granted for 10 years from the date of registration and is renewable for like periods; application for renewal must be filed within the year preceding expiration of registration. Applications for renewals of marks registered under the former law and for renewals with altered classifications are advertised three times in one month in the official bulletin, with opposition permitted within two months of first publication. Application for renewal must be filed within the last year of the registration term (no grace period). Registration of trade names and slogans is granted for an unlimited term, with no renewals necessary.
While use of trademarks is not compulsory, chemical, pharmaceutical, veterinary, medicinal and food products may be sold to the public only if they bear a trademark registered in Costa Rica. No provision for nonuse.
Registration of a mark grants the owner certain enforcement rights such as the right to oppose its registration by third parties; to demand that third parties cease to use or imitate the mark; to enjoin importation of goods bearing the mark (unless the goods are produced in Union of Customs of Central American countires); to obtain damages for infringement; to press charges for criminal violations; and to demand that infringing goods be impounded.