Protecting Panama Intellectual Property Laws
Foreigners creating new Panama businesses who sell their brands or unique products face a risk of piracy of intellectual properties as they would in any foreign country.
Panama has several laws protecting intellectual properties:
Commercial products which are new and innovative inventions applied to industries can apply for Panama patents. This includes obtaining patents for unique processes and special uses which can be sold as commercial products, like software. On the other hand, business or scientific principals or theories, therapeutic or surgical and diagnostic methods can’t obtain Panama patents.
Panama Patent Process
1. File an application for a Patent.
2. After an application has been made for a Panama patent, a panel of experts will be appointed to review the application and will determine whether this is the
making of a new invention with industrial usage.
3. Upon approval by the panel, there is a 14 month period for study from the date of the first usage or the invention date. This process determines if anyone else used the invention prior to this date or invented the product before then which is known as the “state of the art” period.
4. Upon completion of this 14 month period it is then published for two months in the Panama Industrial Property Bulletin.
5. If no legitimate prior usage claims or any objections are raised over the applicant’s rights for a Panama patent the application will be granted and the Panama patent is fully protected for 20 years from when the applications was filed.
6. No appeals are available once the Letters of Patent are issued.
7. There is a 10 year statute of limitations to challenge the Panama patent in civil
court. There is only one exception allowing a challenge based on the application for the Panama patent was made in bad faith.
Panama is a member of the International Patent Cooperation Treaty with 145 other nations.
Panama Utility Model
A Panama “utility model” protects in a different way than a patent. While this protection is similar to a Panama patent it has less rigorous requirements to qualify but only has a 10 year protection period. The only thing a Panama utility model needs to prove to be accepted is that it is new and applicable for industrial use.
Industrial Designs obtain automatic protection for two years once revealed which prevents others from copying or using similar designs. By registering the design with the government inventors receive 10 years protection with a five year extension.
A Panama Trademark for services or products is available by applying to the Panama government. Protection of the business logo and trade name is included.
Panama Trademark Process
1. Choose a unique, uncommon mark or design.
2. Perform an Industrial Property Registry search to see that are no similar designs or marks in the registry.
3. File the application which will provide 10 years of protection of the Panama trade name and Panama trademark.
4. File an application renewal at least one year before expiration. Renewals can be filed every 9 years indefinitely.
Licensing: Registered Panama trade names and Panama trademarks can be licensed to third parties. If the original license allows, sublicenses can be granted.
As soon as an intellectual work is created Panama copyright protection will occur immediately.
Panama Copyright protects works of art, photographs, computer programs, audiovisual, educational or scientific works, architectural renderings, literary works, folklore and websites.
Copyright authors are considered to be the original writer or creator. Panama’s Ministry of Education permits copyrights remaining in effect during the creator’s lifetime plus 50 years. Written commercial rights for all copyrighted work can be allowed to third parties.
Panama Intellectual Properties Registration
Copyrights, trademarks, trade names, patents, industrial designs, and utility models can also be registered at the Panama Customs Office and the Colon Free Trade Zone. This registration allows government representatives to examine and confiscate merchandise suspected of violating these rights.
Internet The Nic-Panama (PANNET) registers internet domain names. Nic-Panama is administered by the Technological University of Panama. Domain names must be renewed every year. Panama’s country code is .pa
In Conclusion: Panama’s patent, trademarks, and copyright laws are similar to those found in the U.S. and Europe. Hire a knowledgeable attorney before filing for intellectual property protection applications.