Update on Intellectual Property laws in Central America

Technology, trade and international economic policies have been transformed in recent years, forcing countries to adopt measures that correctly regulate the exchange in international markets in order to determine a country’s capacity to compete.

In Intellectual Property (IP) issues, the Central American region has not advanced enough in relation to the importance and role of Intellectual Property in socioeconomic development. IP has become a strategic national resource for the development of innovation and proof of this is the lack of adequate regulation on technological and commercial issues. In any case, in recent years there have been some reforms to Laws or Ministerial Agreements that are worth mentioning, among these:

In Nicaragua:

Reforms to Law No. 380, Law on Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs and Law No. 354, Law on Patents of Invention, Utility Models and Industrial Designs were approved on March 24 and 25, 2020 by the National Assembly of Nicaragua. The most relevant aspects of the reform focus on the following aspects:

The Registry of Powers of Attorney was established and from the filing a number will be established to each Power of Attorney, this must be updated every five years by the representative;
Before the Intellectual Property Registry: the following deadlines are reduced:

i. For the response to the examination of form, 15 working days, extendable for 15 days.

ii. 30 working days to oppose a published application, extendable by 15 working days.

iii. To submit evidence during the opposition period: 15 working days, extendable by 15 working days.

iv. To answer opposition: 30 working days

v. Deadline for issuance of decision: 60 working days.

vi. Deadline to answer objection: 30 working days, extendable by 15 working days

vii. Deadline for ratifying informal management: 30 working days, extendable by 15 working days.

Notification of proceedings by e-mail was implemented;
Protection was granted to national Geographical Indications through their insertion in Article 8(g);
Change in the procedure for publication of notices of application for registration, in which only 15 working days are allowed for official publication once the notice has been withdrawn.
Increase in the fees of 40% in general for the different services, this fact places Nicaragua in one of the countries with the highest percentage in cost of official fees, it is worth mentioning that the reform also brought with it the creation of new fees, the most relevant are the following:

Registration of power of attorney: U$ 20.00

Unofficial management: U$10.00

Registration of cancellation of a trademark ordered by a judicial authority: U$40.00

Replacement of notices: U$25.00

Change of attorney-in-fact: U$40.00

Request for extension of terms: U$ 20.00

Opposition: U$50.00

The validity of trade names is limited to a term of 10 years. A term of 3 months is granted to all holders of trade names registered for more than 10 years to carry out the renewal application procedures in order to maintain their validity.
Regarding patents, the reforms only affect the application fees, which were increased by 20%, as well as the restoration of PCT applications, granting the right of international priority to international applicants.

In Guatemala:

In the case of this Jurisdiction there have been no reforms in more than 5 years, however, three Ministerial Agreements issued by the Ministry of Economy and published on September 27, 2021 related to Intellectual Property have been published:

In Ministerial Agreement 396-2021 it is informed that the Intellectual Property Registry may apply the latest version of the Strasbourg Agreement, established in articles 165 and 167 of Decree 57-2000 of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala of the Industrial Property Law; relating to the International Patent Classification of March 24, 1971 ;(the 2021 version).
Ministerial Agreement 397-2021 informs that the Intellectual Property Registry may apply the 11th version of the Nice Agreement concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Registration of Trademarks established in articles 164 and 167 of Decree 57-2000 of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala of the Industrial Property Law (June 15, 1957).
Ministerial Agreement 398-2021 informs that the Registry of Intellectual Property may apply the latest version of the Locarno Agreement that establishes an International Classification for Industrial Designs established in articles 166 and 167 of decree 57-2000 of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala of the Industrial Property Law.

In the case of El Salvador, there is a draft law aimed at reforming important aspects of Intellectual Property, which is being discussed by the Administrative Assembly.

In the countries of Honduras and Costa Rica there are no reforms to the Intellectual Property laws.