Panama’s geographic location and infrastructure make it a perfect base for entrepreneurs looking to do business in Latin America. It offers ease of access to some of the highest-ranking ports in the world, low labor costs, and various incentives for foreign entrepreneurs to set up shop.
One of the ways Panama encourages business is by offering strong intellectual property (IP) protections to individuals and companies. If you are doing business in Panama, consider applying for a trademark for your business to protect your ideas and inventions. Read on to learn more about applying for a trademark in Panama.
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Registering a Trademark in Panama: Local Authorities
In Panama, the process of registering a trademark, like that of obtaining a patent, is carried out before the General Directorate of Industrial Property of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. Similarly to a patent, a trademark offers protection from competitors who might want to use the trademark owner’s products for their own commercial gain.
Bear in mind that a trademark is only valid in the country it is registered in. There is no international protection. By obtaining the registration of a trademark in Panama, protection is achieved only in Panama.
Types of Trademarks in Panama
There are several types of trademarks in Panama that businesses can apply for:
- Expressions or propaganda signs
- Commercial names and associations
In your application, you must specify the type of trademark you want to register and also the nature of the item you want to protect. In Panama, you can apply for a trademark for any of the following classes of items:
- Names, words, and slogans
- Images, shapes, and designs
- Scents and smells
All trademarks registered in Panama follow the rules of the Nice classification, established by the Nice arrangement of 1957, which outlines a series of regulations that protect brands, products, and services.
Application Requirements for a Trademark in Panama
To register your trademark in Panama, you will need to do the following:
- Appoint a power of attorney
- Provide a sworn affidavit outlining how you intend to use the trademarked item
- Provide a description of the item you want to trademark
- Include with your application 3 branded samples of the trademark
- If the trademark is already registered in another country, provide the certification (this must be notarized, and apostilled or authenticated by the country’s local Consulate of Panama)
Registering a trademark in Panama takes approximately 8 months. One of the advantages offered in Panama is that the date when the application was initiated becomes the start date for the trademark. A trademark in Panama is granted for 5-10 years. It can be renewed up to 6 months after the expiration date.
To renew a trademark registration in Panama, a request must be made in the year immediately preceding the expiration date or within the six months following it. If renewal isn’t requested within this timeframe, the registration will automatically lapse. Renewal after the expiration date but within the first six months requires an additional surcharge.
During the trademark renewal process, no alterations to the trademark or expansions to the list of registered goods or services are allowed. However, the owner can choose to limit the list of registered goods or services. For any other changes or additions, a new application must be submitted.
The renewal process doesn’t require publication and doesn’t provide third parties the opportunity for opposition. If successfully renewed, the new trademark comes into effect immediately after the prior expiration date.
What Can’t Be Trademarked in Panama?
As with patents, the Industrial Property Legislation provides guidance on what businesses cannot register as a trademark in Panama. Some of the restrictions 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 due authorization.
- Descriptive or generic marks that have become distinctive or singular by use. Certification marks that refer to the place of manufacture or origin and in accordance with the terms established by regulation are excepted.
- Figures or three-dimensional forms or denominative marks that can deceive the public or mislead it, or those having been identified as constituting false indications about the nature, components, or qualities of the products or services that they represent.
- Anything that may lead to error or confusion for consumers, regarding the origin or attributes of the product, by seeking to distinguish in Panama a geographical indication or indication of origin or designations of origin.
- Anything that is 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). Portraits or names of historical figures are accepted.
- 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 practices for intellectual property protection. By joining the WIPO, Panama has demonstrated a commitment to developing local intellectual property protection standards. This commitment illustrates a desire 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 grappling with vastly different IP registration systems.
Commonly Asked Questions on Trademark Registration in Panama
Based on our extensive experience these are some common questions from clients registering a trademark in Panama:
– 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 according to the International (Nice) Classification of Goods and Services.
– A detailed description of the brand, origin, design, general description, and business activity.
– The date when you commenced using your brand commercially.
– If you wish to register your logo along with your brand, then provide the logo in JPG format.
The timeframe to register a trademark is 6-8 months, provided there is no opposition from third parties.
Trademark Your Brand in Panama With the Help of Local Business Specialists
The Panamanian government aims to create a secure commercial environment for foreign businesses by supporting intellectual property protection mechanisms. But the formation and incorporation process for companies looking to start up or expand into the country can still be complex for foreign actors to navigate.
Be sure to engage with a legal services provider who you can trust to help you successfully register your trademark in Panama. At Biz Latin Hub, our team of local and expatriate professionals offers a wealth of experience in market entry and back-office processes to our clients across all of Latin America, including Panama.
Contact the Biz Latin Hub team, a global legal expert with a local perspective to learn more about our tailored business solutions, and how we can support your business success.
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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.