El Salvador’s economic landscape offers great opportunities for foreign business. As a small country with a small set of staple revenue generators, potential for development lies in almost every sector.
El Salvador’s new President, Nayib Bukele, was dubbed the ‘candidate of change’ for the country, and his intention is to achieve exactly that in the country’s commercial environment.
Businesses looking to take advantage of increasingly attractive business conditions must however understand their rights in terms of intellectual property protections, and how to activate them.
Why do business in El Salvador?
As the smallest country by population in Central America, El Salvador is looking to diversify its economy and reliance on traditional sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining, and commerce. Additionally, remittances from Salvadoran workers in the United States makes up a large percentage of the country’s GDP. In 2018, remittances totalled US$5.4 billion (21.3% of GDP).
In recent years the government has worked to improve El Salvador’s ease of doing business – and subsequently, foreign investment levels – by introducing a number of regulation reforms in areas of taxing, importing and exporting, accessing permits, and property.
Doing business in El Salvador means having the opportunity to stake your claim in almost any market with few competition barriers. The country, with its small clutch of economic strengths and government appetite for development, offers potential in many diverse sectors for foreign businesses to make their mark.
It pays to note, before diving in, how to get the right protection for your business’ intellectual property, so that your work remains a profitable venture in the country.
IP registration process
For the process of registering the distinctive signs of your company, the dedicated government authority is the National Registry Center, or Centro Nacional de Registros, through its Intellectual Property Registry area. In the following section we offer a summary of how to undertake the process for the registration of your company’s distinctive signs:
1. Conduct research
Although this first step in the process is not mandatory, it is recommended to perform a previous search of your distinctive sign, in order that there are no other signs registered or in process and that they have similarity with your distinctive sign. An existing design too close to that of your own would prevent the registration of IP protection for your brand
2. Presentation of application
Once the search for your distinctive sign has been carried out, the next step is the presentation of the application before the Intellectual Property Registry. This application must contain the design and description of the products and services that it protects or identifies.
It is important in this step that you have well-defined products and services of your distinctive sign. Once the application is submitted and it is accepted by the Registry, you will not be able to modify it during the process, in the sense that you would like to expand the product range or services that are identified with it as it stands.
If your application for registration of a distinctive sign is accepted by the Registry of Intellectual Property, you will be given what is known as a set of “posters.” These must be published before the National Printing Office of El Salvador (known in Spanish as Imprenta Nacional de El Salvador) and any other newspaper of greater circulation of El Salvador. This publication presents your design to the public, in the event that a business with a similar design may make a formal objection.
For this step, you have a period of 6 months from the delivery of the posters by the Registry of Intellectual Property in which you must make the publications. If you do not do so within that period, your distinctive sign is declared abandoned and closed your process.
4. Presentation of publications
2 months after the publication of the posters in the National Printing Office of El Salvador, you must return to the Intellectual Property Registry, requesting that you register your distinctive sign and present the posters published as proof of this.
5. Application review
Once your application for registration of a distinctive sign is submitted and the posters published, the Registry of Intellectual Property will conduct a second review. This review focuses primarily on any oppositions made by the public for the registration of your sign.
6. Registration of distinctive sign
In the case that there are no oppositions in the second review, the Registry will notify you to proceed with the registration of your distinctive sign. You’ll then have to pay the registration fees, which are USD$100. Once the payment is made you will be given the certificate of your distinctive sign.
Period of validity
The lifespan for the registration for your distinctive sign is 10 years. You can renew it, but you must do so within this 10-year period (i.e. before the expiry date).
You must be very precise with the scope of the services and products that your sign protects or identifies, as once it is registered you will not be able to modify it. For future-proofing purposes, make sure you understand fully the specifications you want to attach to this design for your business into the foreseeable future.
Protect your business’ intellectual property
As mentioned at the beginning, intellectual property in these times is a very valuable asset for companies, since it serves their image and market positioning. Protecting your brand ensures you stay competitive in your chosen market.
At Biz Latin Hub, we have a team of professionals who can provide you with advice and assistance regarding the complexities of registering your Intellectual Property.
If you want to know more about the subject, contact our friendly El Salvador team via [email protected] for personalized support. We are ready to help you get started.