Find out how to register a trademark in Colombia to protect your business and its distinctive signs. This includes conducting a comprehensive trademark search in Colombia to understand current registered trademarks and ensure yours is unique.
Colombia is fast becoming one of Latin America’s hot spots for foreign investment and business expansion. Of late, the Colombian government has worked hard to offer investment incentives in a number of sectors and industries.
Former President Ivan Duque spearheaded the promotion of the country’s ‘orange economy’ by offering tax incentives to businesses moving into creative industries. Key to the success of these businesses is strong intellectual property rights and the availability of trademarks or patents, to protect ideas and inventions. Secure your commercial success by registering a trademark for your business ideas in Colombia.
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Register a Trademark in Colombia to Protect Intellectual Property
In comparison to its regional counterparts, Colombia offers strong investor and intellectual property (IP) protection policies, and tax incentives to foster a responsive business environment in this emerging market.
Colombia’s IP framework is supported by several resolutions aimed at improving local protections for people and businesses. The country subscribes to the Andean Regime, whereby Andean Law rulings apply to local law. Under this system, the Andean Law 486 of 2000 is the prevailing IP law for Colombia’s people and businesses. The country has also ratified or committed to the following international IP regulations:
- Patent Prosecution Highway agreement with the United States
- Universal Copyright Convention
- World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement
- Geneva Convention for Protection of Sound Recordings
- Paris Convention on Industrial Property
- Budapest Treaty on International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure
- Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
- Brussels Convention on Distribution of Satellite Signals
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty
- WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
- Trademark Law Treaty
- Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Colombia also made amendments to its Copyright Act of 1982 to extend copyright protection from 50 to 70 years.
Definitions: copyright and trademark in Colombia
In Colombian law, copyright protects the creations of literary and artistic works such as books, music, painting, sculpture, films, computer programs, databases, commercials, maps and technical drawings.
Trademarks cover the distinctive signs intended to differentiate the products or services of one company from those of another.
Differences between industrial property and copyright
The crucial difference between these two fields falls on the ultimate goal of each of them. On the one hand, copyright protects that intimate relationship between the author and intellectual creation, while industrial property covers the application of intangible assets in industry and commerce.
The relationship perceived between copyright and new inventions is more easily demonstrable than the correspondence of this right with trademarks.
The main objective of having distinctive signs are that a business’ consumer recognizes the brand and story behind the products and services offered in the market, and develops loyalty towards new or creative products or services. This is the outcome of the goals behind building creative content.
Compatibility of trademarks and copyright in Colombia
The relationship of law between trademarks and copyright is not always clear. Despite the absence of a direct relationship, its compatibility is essential for the harmonious development of both branches and their converging points. Article 136 of Decision 486 of the Commission of the Andean Community of Nationals – the Common Provisions for Industrial Property – states that:
” No podrán registrarse como marcas aquellos signos cuyo uso en el comercio afectara indebidamente un derecho de tercero, en particular cuando:
(…) e) consistan en un signo que infrinja el derecho de propiedad industrial o el derecho de autor de un tercero, salvo que medie el consentimiento de éste.”
[“Those signs whose use in commerce will unduly affect a third party right may not be registered as trademarks, in particular when:
(…) e) they consist of a sign that infringes the industrial property right or the copyright of a third party, unless the consent of the third party is mediated.”]
This excerpt outlines that designs or markings that violate a right enshrined in favor of a registered author, and whose applicant does not have the same legal authorization, cannot be registered.
Additionally, we must bear in mind that this relationship does not work in reverse; that is, a copyrighted item can be formally registered and protected under trademark, but items that are trademarked through the formal registration process are not protected by copyright provisions.
If a figurative mark is registered, for example, this is already a legally protected piece of work and therefore its author already has rights over it. It’s not necessary then that the owner seeks additional recognition by any authority. The brand must always be distinctive, while the copyright does not value the merit of the work, but only its existence in itself and the relationship it has with its creator.
Before Registering a Trademark in Colombia
To successfully complete the process of trademark registration in Colombia, it is not mandatory to hire a lawyer. However, bear in mind that beginning commercial activity, including registering your business and its trademarks, does require a comprehensive understanding of local law. To navigate the process, it is recommended you seek assistance from local experts who can guide you and ensure your commercial activity is properly protected.
During the trademark registration process, you must be prepared to respond to any declarations of opposition from third parties. These may be people or businesses with trademarks for similar ideas already in place. Colombia’s Industry and Commerce Superintendency, known locally as Superintendencia de Industria y Comercia (SIC), will make the final decision on the validity of any and all objections to your application. You must ensure that you can demonstrate the key differences in your idea, invention, or procedure to other similar competitors, if any.
Conduct a Trademark Search in Colombia
Make sure to conduct a thorough trademark search in Colombia before submitting your application. You may need the help of a local trademark law specialist to undertake the search on your behalf.
The trademark search will involve checking current registered trademarks in the country. It is crucial to confirm that your distinctive signs are unique and available in order to avoid potential legal issues or objections from third parties during the trademark application process.
Register Your Trademark in Colombia
In Colombia, you can undertake your trademark registration process in-person at the offices of the SIC, or digitally through the SIC website. You should undertake this process only after you have conducted the trademark search in Colombia.
Ensure you have the required documentation and a comprehensive outline of your business activities, and follow due process when registering your trademark.
1. Trademark Search in Colombia
As mentioned above, your application will be open to scrutiny by other businesses. It is therefore crucial to undertake a thorough trademark search and understand potential similarities with current registered trademarks. Identify and present the salient differences between your business and others, and you will have a greater likelihood of success in your application.
Statistics on application success are presented on the SIC platform, or through a request to the agency itself.
2. Classify the Products and/or Services
You must be clear about the classification for the products and/or services that you want to register a trademark for. In Colombia, goods or services are categorized according to the Nice International Classification, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
3. Submit Relevant Documents
The presentation of all documents and forms can be done physically (at any point of Attention) or by virtual means through the Virtual Office of Industrial Property (SIPI).
Documents to submit include:
- Identification of the owner of the trademark: this can be demonstrated with a Certificate of the Chamber of Commerce.
- Power of Attorney (POA): if you have chosen to seek legal guidance through this process, you must show the identification and authentication of your legal representative. Authentication can be achieved through a Colombian notary, and if the POA is a foreigner, this must be apostilled.
- A completed form containing the category of the products/services according to Nice Classification. If required, you must present the image, letters, or sound you wish to trademark.
Process Tracking of Your Trademark Application
You must monitored the process of your application periodically, either through the account created on the SIC website or in-person at the office’s locations. Take into account the legal deadlines of the application process so that you understand your obligations to respond in time and through proper procedure.
The renewal of a trademark registration must be requested either within six months before the expiration of the 10-year grant term or during a grace period of six months after the expiration. Failure to request renewal within this timeframe will result in the trademark becoming expired.
Establish Your Brand
Your brand is the image that distinguishes your products and services from those of any other business. You must direct your market on how you wish to be perceived, by using specific words, images, forms, and sounds.
Register a trademark in Colombia to protect your brand, as well as its core goods and services, when doing business in the country. Doing so ensures your business stays unique and well-covered from potential piracy.
Commonly Asked Questions on Trademark Registration in Colombia
Based on our extensive experience these are some common questions from clients who are registering a trademark in Colombia:
– 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.
The timeframe to register a trademark is 6 months, provided there is no opposition from third parties.
Contact Us for Help with Your Trademark Registration in Colombia
Colombia offers myriad opportunities for foreign investment and entrepreneurial success within its borders, and in dealing with its key international partners. The country’s stable government and pro-business mindset draw increasing levels of foreign commercial actors to its largely untapped markets.
Regardless, expanding to Colombia requires attention to and understanding of local laws. Newcomers should seek local support and expertise while setting up.
Reach out to our friendly Colombia team for personalized assistance and help registering your trademark in Colombia.