Gaining a clear understanding of the trademark search and registration process in the Dominican Republic, will help your business protect its inventions and characteristic signs. Expanding into a new market is exciting, but it is also fraught with challenges. Therefore, it is important that when doing so, companies make every effort to protect the returns on their investments. To remain profitable, and build credible brand awareness, you will want to gain exclusive rights over your company’s unique products and design elements.
Intellectual property rights in the Dominican Republic are constitutionally protected. Article 52 of the country’s Constitution identifies creators’ exclusive rights over their ideas, inventions, trademarks, and distinctive signs.
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In this article, we outline the Dominican Republic trademark search and registration process to help companies expanding into the country.
Dominican Republic Trademark Search and Registration
There are several steps your company must take to successfully register a trademark in the Dominican Republic. Once completed, your trademark is valid for a period of 10 years.
Dominican Republic Trademark Office
Companies seeking to register a trademark in the Dominican Republic, will need to have knowledge on the local government authorities that manage trademark registration, and the laws that govern the process.
The Dominican Republic’s trademark office is called the National Office for Industrial Property. It is known locally as the Oficina Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (ONAPI). The ONAPI is a branch of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The ONAPI governs the trademark registration process in the Dominican Republic for:
- Industrial designs
- Trade names
- Utility models
- Geographical indications and designations of origin
Through the ONAPI, you can:
- Conduct a trademark search in the Dominican Republic (this applies to both signs and inventions)
- Apply to register your trademark in the Dominican Republic, using a secure online platform
- Check the status of your application
Dominican Republic Trademark Registration Process
To register a trademark in the Dominican Republic, the first step is to familiarize yourself with local trademark laws, and the types of items you can register a trademark for. You will also need to find a legal representative who can act on your company’s behalf for the remainder of the registration process.
Then, you must conduct a thorough trademark search using the Dominican Republic’s national database. This step must be completed before beginning the application.
1. Understand Local Industrial Property Laws
There are two main pieces of legislation that provide the framework for protecting intellectual property in the Dominican Republic:
- Ley No. 20-00, Ley Sobre Propiedad Industrial (Industrial Property Law)
- Ley No. 65-00, Ley Sobre Derecho De Autor (Copyright Law).
This legislation outlines the designs and characteristics of a brand, idea, or invention that can be registered as trademark or copyright.
According to Dominican law, a trademark can consist of (translated from Spanish):
“words, names, pseudonyms, trade slogans, letters, numbers, monograms, figures, portraits, labels, coats of arms, prints, vignettes, borders, lines and stripes, combinations and arrangements of colors and three-dimensional shapes. They may also consist of the shape, presentation or packaging of the products, or their packaging or wrapping, or the means or premises for the sale of the corresponding products or services.”
The legislation is clear about what may not be a trademark, including generic and commonly used names, words or symbols, or markings that could be confused with other already-established trademarks.
The ONAPI’s classification aligns with the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks of 1957, also known as the Nice Agreement.
2. Sign a Power of Attorney
In the Dominican Republic, you will need formal legal support to carry out the trademark application process. To get assistance from a knowledgeable local trademark expert, you must appoint a legal representative in the Dominican Republic, and grant them authority to prepare your trademark application.
Formal authority is granted to legal representatives through what is known as a Power of Attorney contract, signed by the company and the legal representative. This document is a legal mandate that the elected individual can act on behalf of the company on certain legal matters.
3. Conduct a Dominican Republic Trademark Search
Before you submit an application for trademark registration, you need to know if your markings, names or designs are available. You can do this by conducting a trademark search in the Dominican Republic.
Visit the ONAPI website to conduct a trademark search for your desired signs. For patents, there’s also a search function for existing inventions.
4. Prepare and Submit Your Application
Once you have completed the trademark search and confirmed that your trademark is available, you can prepare and submit an application to ONAPI.
You can find the necessary forms for your application on the ONAPI website, and you can submit it online using their secure trademark platform. The platform is called ‘E-SERPI’, and you will need to create an online account.
Most applications will need to include the following information and documentation:
- Name of the trademark owner and their representative
- Applicant’s address and other contact details
- Power of Attorney document (this must be legalized by the Dominican Consulate, or apostiled)
- Copy of the representative’s passport
- Trademark description and international class
- Five 15 cm x 15 cm copies of the trademark design
5. ONAPI Evaluates and Publishes Your Application
The ONAPI will publish your application for review by the general public, in order to give third parties the opportunity to comment on your proposed trademark.
The agency will make the following information publicly available for comment:
- The proposed mark
- Name of the applicant
- Your application number
- Date the application was submitted
- Any related goods or services associated with the trademark
- Representation of the trademark
ONAPI gives the public 45 days to provide comments or objections to your application, before it will evaluate your proposed trademark. If your application receives public comments, ONAPI may ask you to clarify or change your proposed trademark accordingly.
Commonly Asked Questions on Trademark Registration in the Dominican Republic
Based on our extensive experience these are some common questions from clients who are registering a trademark in the Dominican Republic:
– 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 10 months, provided there is no opposition from third parties.
Why Register a Trademark in the Dominican Republic?
Registering your trademark in the Dominican Republic gives you the exclusive legal right over your designs and unique markings. This not only protects your brand credibility, but also secures the profitability of your business.
You will have the power to take legal action against any third parties who attempt to use your trademark for their own commercial gain. Penalties for unlawful use of a trademark include hefty fines and, for the most severe cases, jail time.
In the Dominican Republic, you can renew your trademark, provided you begin the renewal application process 6 months before the trademark expires.
Note: although your trademark is protected for 10 years, it may be cancelled if you don’t use the trademark for 3 consecutive years.
Industries Where a Trademark is Mandatory
Be aware that in the Dominican Republic, it is illegal to use unregistered marks for certain products. This includes:
- Veterinary goods
- Tobacco products
- Food and drinks
- Industrial chemical products
If your business intends to sell any goods that could fall under the above categories, you are required by law to register a trademark first.
International Intellectual Property Treaties
The Dominican Republic participates in a number of international treaties on intellectual property, such as the Paris Convention. Under these treaties, trademark owners in one country have ‘priority rights’ over obtaining the same trademark in other countries.
This goes both ways: if you are expanding to the Dominican Republic from a country that has also signed the Paris Convention, then you can claim priority attention for your application. Note that you must have submitted your trademark application in the home country at least 6 months prior to applying in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is party to 15 international treaties listed on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website. The country is serious about meeting international intellectual property standards, and providing the best possible environment for businesses to protect their ideas, inventions and designs.
Biz Latin Hub can Support Your Dominican Republic Trademark Search and Registration
To carry out the proper process for trademark search and registration in the Dominican Republic, you will need to find a trusted trademark specialist to be your legal representative.
At Biz Latin Hub, our experienced team of local and expatriate professionals can guide you through the trademark registration process, ensuring you are fully compliant with the law during each step of the process.
We provide a full range of multilingual market entry and back-office services, including in company formation and trademark registration. Reach out to us today here at Biz Latin Hub for a customized quote, and let us help you do business in the Dominican Republic.
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