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Harmonized Manual on Trademark Registration Criteria for the DR-CAFTA countries

By Ricardo Anibal Mejia M., Associate-IP Director Bufete Mejia & Asociados - 04/09/2018
Harmonized Manual on Trademark Registration Criteria for the DR-CAFTA countries

The Harmonized Manual on Trademark Registration Criteria for the DR-CAFTA countries* is a working document drafted with the objective of serving as a guide for the examiners of the different trademark offices involved, in the task of performing formal and in-depth examinations of the trademark applications filed before them. It is a working document and therefore it is not a binding legal agreement.

Notwithstanding the above, the said manual was created with the goal of providing the trademark registrars, examiners and industrial property agents / attorneys of involved countries with a practical instrument considered as a common reference and that may also serve as an agreed and –to the extent possible- uniformly applied technical, administrative and procedural rules for the handling and processing of trademark applications and the subsequent granting of trademark registrations. The manual was also drafted with the purpose of providing the users of the Industrial Property System in the sub-region higher quality services with greater legal certainty, more transparency and improved predictability.

It is also important to note that, although each of the seven countries indicated above, have different trademark laws, the Manual presents a set of harmonized criteria in relation to both the interpretation and implementation of procedures, such as how to perform the main activities within the process of examining and processing a trademark application, from its filing until granting. In all its development, the Manual presents the corresponding citations and references that allow identifying the issues that have a differentiated treatment, in accordance with the legislation of each of the participating countries. In particular, the Manual contains information concerning conceptual aspects with an impact on the examination of trademark applications; the regulations applicable in each of the countries; guidelines for the formal examination of trademark applications and the criteria that must be applied in substantive examinations with respect to absolute and relative prohibitions for trademark registration. The Manual also incorporates several examples in the different topics developed, with the purpose of providing a better illustration of the criteria applied in each of the Offices.

The Manual is the result of more than three years of joint work of the Trademark and Patent Offices of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic, and reflects the interest of these offices to harmonize its administrative procedures and practices related to the examination of trademark applications. Such work counted with the support and collaboration of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Office Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) and consultants and experts from the region.

The said Trademark and Patent Offices have officially indicated their willingness to periodically update that the directives and content of the Manual in order to comply with legislative changes, the emergence of new issues affecting trademarks, as well as the evolution of criteria and jurisprudence created in the sub-region with respect to trademarks and trademark procedures. A first revision of the Manual has already been carried out. 

*Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa-Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

By Ricardo Anibal Mejia M., Associate-IP Director Bufete Mejia & Asociados - 04/09/2018
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