Panama’s geographic location and logistic facilities make it the perfect springboard into the rest of the continent for business. Consider the ease of access to some of the highest-ranking ports in the world, low cost of labor, and various incentives for foreign entrepreneurs to set up shop.
One of the ways Panama encourages business is through the types of protection it offers for individuals’ and companies’ intellectual property (IP). Protect your ideas and inventions – apply for a trademark for your business in Panama.
Registering a trademark: local authorities
The process of registering a trademark, as well as obtaining a patent, is carried out before the General Directorate of Industrial Property of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. Like the patent, the trademark offers protection so that its owner can distribute their product without direct competitors using it for commercial gain.
Bear in mind that the registration of a trademark is of a territorial nature, meaning there is no international protection. By obtaining the registration of a trademark in Panama, protection is achieved only in Panama.
Types of trademarks
There are several types of trademarks that businesses can apply for in Panama:
- Expressions or propaganda signs
- Commercial names and associations
In addition to the type of trademark, you must also classify your application based on the nature of the item you want to protect. In Panama, you can register any of the following for a trademark:
- Names, words and slogans
- Images, shapes, and designs
- Scents and smells
Each trademark to be registered in Panama is governed by the Nice classification, established by the Nice arrangement of 1957 that obeys regulations protecting brands, products and services.
To register your trademark, you’ll need to do the following:
- Appoint a power of attorney
- Provide a sworn affidavit outlining how you intend to use the trademarked item
- Provide description of the item you want to trademark
- Include with your application 3 branded samples of the trademark
- Provide certification of the registered trademark, if registered in another country (this must be notarized, and apostilled or authenticated by the country’s local Consulate of Panama).
Registration time and cost
Registering a trademark in Panama takes an approximate period of 8 months. A great advantage offered in Panama is that the trademark is registered with the date from when the trademark registration application was initiated, and it is granted for 5-10 years. It can be renewed up to 6 months after the expiration of the brand.
The trademark registration process costs around US$140.50 for each category in which the trademark is to be registered.
What can’t be trademarked?
As with patents, the Industrial Property Legislation also provides guidance on what businesses cannot register as a trademark. Some of these include (but are not limited to):
- The reproduction or imitation of the shields of arms, flags and other emblems; acronyms, denominations or abbreviations of any State or of any national or international organization, without the due authorization;
- Descriptive or generic marks that have become distinctive or singular by use, and collective or certification marks in what refers to the place of manufacture or origin and in accordance with the terms established by regulation are excepted;
- The figures or three-dimensional forms or denominative marks that can deceive the public or mislead it, having been identified as constituting false indications about the nature, components or qualities of the products or services that they represent;
- Those that may lead to error or confusion in the consumer public, regarding the origin or attributes of the product that seeks to distinguish in Panama a geographical indication or indication of origin or designations of origin;
- Those that are contrary to morality, public order or good customs;
- The names, pseudonyms, signatures and portraits of people other than the one requesting the registration, without their consent or – if they have died – that of their heir(s). Cases of portraits or names of historical figures are excepted;
- The designs of coins, bills, guarantee or control stamps used by the State, stamps, or tax species in general.
Commitment to international protection standards
Panama joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1983. The WIPO has 192 member countries, and among them, it promulgates best practice for intellectual property protection within their territories. In joining the WIPO, Panama demonstrates a commitment to developing their local intellectual property protection standards. Additionally, this commitment shows a drive to empower local businesses to make their inventions and ideas profitable.
Developing IP standards around an internationally accepted model also makes it easier for businesses to seek the same trademarks for their products abroad, should they choose to expand. As Panama’s IP protection regulations are only applicable within its borders, being a member of the WIPO eases the pain for internationally expanding businesses to grapple with vastly different IP registration systems.
Work with Biz Latin Hub
Without a doubt, Panama is a regional center for business. If you want to invest in Panama and establish a brand or invention that needs protecting, you’ll need some local guidance for the trademark registration process.
Get in touch with us – we offer a range of professional services that support new and expanding business across Latin America. In Panama, our experts offer legal representation and company formation services that can help get your business across the line in terms of local compliance requirements.
Contact us at [email protected] for personalized advice on the market and back-office support to help you with any questions or concerns about the process of incorporating the company, trademark registration or obtaining a patent in Panama.