Protect Your Brand: Register a Company Name in Costa Rica

Register a trademark in Costa Rica to protect your brand and secure your company’s reputation. Registering a trademark is a crucial step business must undertake to establish their brand and protect their intellectual property in this vast and promising market. Register your company name in Costa Rica to protect your brand and ongoing commercial reputation. One of the most important steps in creating a new business is defining your business name. This step is about building a badge that will differentiate you from the competition in the market.

Costa Rica continues to be an attractive destination for business and investment. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported robust economic growth for Costa Rica, predicting a growth of 5.1% in 2023, and rates of 3.5% and 3.6% for 2024 and 2025, respectively.

In terms of corporate regulations, the government has introduced some changes. For example, the Beneficial Ownership Transparency laws require Costa Rican companies to submit an annual form to the Central Bank of Costa Rica disclosing all shareholders or beneficial owners of the company. This measure is intended to prevent the misuse of corporate structures for illicit purposes, such as money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion. The filing of the form is generally required from April 1 to 30 of each year. However, for 2024 the filing has been extended from July 1 to July 31, 2024.

But how do businesses protect their image and branding once settled and operational? We look at the protections the country offers to ensure companies can maintain profitable commercial activities. Read on to learn more about how to register a company name in Costa Rica.

Types of distinctive signs for trademark registration.
Types of distinctive signs for trademark registration. Although similar, the process to register a trademark in Central America differs by country. Protect Your Brand: Register a Company Name in Costa Rica

Trademark Your Brand in Costa Rica: Registering a Company Name

When establishing a new company in Costa Rica, entrepreneurs will register their business name. This name is unique, and choosing it is the first step towards developing a brand for their business. The company name is registered alongside an identification number that the Costa Rican authorities grant each new business for administrative and tax purposes.

Don’t treat this step lightly; the name selected during this step of the company formation process will be the one the company carries in the long-term and will be registered in the National Registry of Legal Entities. The registration prevents others from using the same name for their company and brand.

Protection of the company name does not cover its commercial use. You must register your commercial name as an element of Industrial Property before a different Registry. This step grants the name protection under the country’s Intellectual Property laws.

The commercial name, according to the Law on Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs is (translated from Spanish) “a denominative or mixed sign that identifies and distinguishes a particular company or commercial establishment.” The commercial name must not be related to the name that another company has registered.

The exclusive right to a commercial name can be established by using the name commercially. Such exclusive rights end when the company or establishment using the name closes. However, it is advisable to register you commercial name properly, with the appropriate authorities. That way you can better protect the use of the name and secure your brand. You are more able to prevent third parties using the name improperly to promote their own commercial activities. Registering your company name avoids brand dilution and public confusion.

In Costa Rica, you can register a commercial name in no more than 6 months and the protection begins from the moment the application is approved. It is important to mention that this protection is not subject to manual renewal, since it is associated with the business and its ongoing operational existence.

Before beginning the application process to register your company name in Costa Rica, you must verify the availability of the name in Registry databases. Once completed, the corresponding application must be submitted with the following written information:

  1. Name and address of the applicant
  2. Place of incorporation and domicile of the applicant when it is a legal person
  3. Name of the legal representative or power of attorney (POA) appointed during the company formation process
  4. Name and address of the POA in the country, if the applicant has no effective domicile or establishment in the country
  5. The name or sign to be registered
  6. A translation of the sign, if it written or communicated in a language other than Spanish
  7. For commercial names: the address of the establishment that will be identified with the requested sign must be explicitly and accurately indicated, as well as the business activity
  8. For propaganda signs: the products or services that will be promoted with the requested sign must be indicated as well as the brand or commercial name, whether registered or in process, to which the sign will be linked
  9. Proof of payment of the established fee
  10. Mailing address

Once the application has been submitted to the Registry, a form test will be carried out to check that all requirements are met and that any issues are corrected. If asked to provide extra information, it is important to include all necessary information as soon as possible – any gaps in information will cause delays, and any major hold up in providing the information requested could result in the application being rejected. Additionally, the first-in, first-served nature of this process means that delays put you at risk of someone else registering your desired name/sign before you are able to. If you are unsure about what information to include in the application, seek local legal advice upfront.

Publication of Your Name and/or Sign

After the examination of the form and substance of your name or sign, the Registry will issue an edict requesting it be published 3 times in the official newspaper to raise awareness among third parties about your proposed application.

After 2 months, if no objection has been received, the commercial name or sign is registered and your IP protection request is granted.

Note the following additional characteristics of a registered commercial name:

  • It has no expiration period. Since its validity is indefinite, reliant only on the existence of the company that uses it, it does not have to be renewed.
  • It cannot be transferred to third parties unless it has been sold in conjunction with the business.
  • The owner of a commercial name may prevent a third party using the name or a similar one.

Based on our extensive experience these are some common questions from clients who are registering a trademark in Costa Rica:

1. What are the requirements to register a trademark in Costa Rica?

  • The Applicant`s Contact Information (Business name, business ID number, country of incorporation, phone number, office address, email address, etc.).
  • Determine the class of your products/services to be registered in the International (Nice) Classification of Goods and Services.
  • A detailed description of the brand, its origin, design, general description, and business activity.
  • The date at which you commenced using your brand commercially.
  • If you wish to register your logo along with your brand, we request that you provide the logo in JPG format.

2. How long does it take to register a trademark in Costa Rica?

The timeframe to register a trademark is 6 months, provided there is no opposition from third parties.

3. Can I register a company name remotely or do I need to be present in Costa Rica?

While travel to the country is not mandatory, it is advisable to hire local legal representation to effectively navigate the complexities of Costa Rican business laws.

4. What are the costs associated with registering a company name in Costa Rica?

Costs vary depending on legal fees, administrative expenses and additional services required. It is advisable to budget accordingly and seek transparency from legal counsel regarding fee structures.

5. Are there any restrictions on company names in Costa Rica?

Yes, company names must be unique, not infringe on existing trademarks and comply with the legal requirements established by the Costa Rican authorities.

6. Can I register a branch or subsidiary of a foreign company in Costa Rica?

Yes, the registration of a branch or subsidiary of a foreign company is allowed in Costa Rica, subject to compliance with the relevant regulations and documentation requirements.

If you are thinking of creating a new company in Costa Rica, it is wise to get legal advice and assistance right from the beginning. The process involves appointing a legal representative, and you will want to partner with a team you can trust to work in the best interests of your business.

Biz Latin Hub can help you protect and establish your company and its name in Costa Rica by carrying out the required process with due diligence. Our suite of market entry and back-office services goes beyond filling out paperwork – we ensure your needs are met, and our bilingual team bridges bureaucratic and cultural gaps to reduce confusion and delay.

Reach out to our Costa Rica team here at Biz Latin Hub, so we can help you make the most of this developing market.

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The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Legal Team Costa Rica

Legal Team Costa Rica

Legal Team Costa Rica is the Biz Latin Hub leading experts on doing business in Rica The Team writes on the news, doing business, law, and changing regulations. The team are experts in corporate law, Administrative law, Employment law, Immigration law and legal advisory services. Read more about them here. You can contact Legal Team Costa Rica via our "contact us page".

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