Industrial Designs obtain automatic protection for three years once revealed which prevents others from copying or using similar designs. By registering the design with the government, inventors receive 10 years of protection with a five-year extension.
The registration process for industrial design patent in Panama takes approximately 8 to 12 months. Applications are submitted to the Industrial Property Office (DIGERPI) of the Ministry of Commerce.
Industrial Desing according to Panamanian Law
An industrial design (“industrial drawing” for the effects of the Panamanian law) is understood to be any combination of figures, lines or colors that are incorporated into an industrial product for ornamentation purposes and that give it its own peculiar appearance.
The protection granted to an industrial design under this Law shall neither preclude nor affect any protection for which the same design might be eligible under other legal provisions, notably those relating to copyright.
Requirements for Eligibility
The protection of an industrial design that meets the conditions of Article 70 shall be acquired:
- Either by first disclosure of the industrial design patent in Panama;
- or by registration of the industrial design under this Title.
An industrial drawing will enjoy protection if it is new and capable of industrial application. An industrial drawing that is independently created and differs significantly from known industrial designs or combinations of known characteristics of industrial designs is considered new.
For the determination of novelty, no regard shall be had to disclosure that occurs during the 12 months prior to the date applicable under the foregoing subparagraphs, provided that the said disclosure is the direct or indirect result of acts engaged in by the creator of the design or his successor in title, of a breach of trust or contract or of an unlawful act committed against either of them.
Industrial drawings that:
- They do not conform to the definition established in this Law;
- Whose use is contrary to public order or morality;
- Constitute an unauthorized use of a work protected by copyright law;
- Constitute emblems of States, official control signs and emblems of intergovernmental organizations in accordance with the provisions of article sixth of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property ratified by Panama;
- Contravening provisions of this Law, will not be accepted for registration.
An industrial drawing that meets the conditions established will enjoy protection for a period of three years, counted from the date of its first disclosure, made by the person to whom the right to protection corresponds. This protection is independent of that which could be obtained by registering the same drawing in accordance with the law.
Term and Rights
The right to protection for an industrial design shall belong to the creator thereof. Where the industrial design has been created by two or more persons jointly, the right shall belong to them jointly. The right may be transferred by inter vivos transaction or by succession.
Where the industrial design has been created under a commission or service contract or an employment contract, the right to protection shall belong to the person who commissioned the work or contracted for the services, or the employer, unless otherwise provided in the contract.
An industrial design shall not be considered new solely because it possesses minor or secondary differences in relation to other, earlier designs, or because it refers or applies to goods of another kind.
Industrial designs shall not be protected where their use is contrary to public policy or morality.
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Industrial design Registration Process
The protection of an industrial design shall confer on the owner thereof the right to prohibit third parties from exploiting the said industrial design. By virtue of the foregoing, subject to the limitations provided for in this Law, the owner shall have the right to proceed against any person who, without his consent, manufactures, sells, offers for sale or uses, or imports or stocks for any of those purposes, a product that reproduces or incorporates a protected industrial design, or the appearance of which gives a general impression that is the same as that of the protected industrial design.
The application for registration of an industrial model or drawing shall be submitted through a lawyer in a form supplied by DIGERPI for this purpose. In it, the applicant and the creator of the model or drawing will be identified, and the type or genre of products to which it will be applied will be indicated, and the class or classes to which said products belong, in accordance with the international classification adopted.
The application will not be accepted if, at the time of submission, it does not contain, at least, the following elements:
- The identification of the applicant and her address. And for applicants domiciled abroad, the designation of domicile in the Republic of Panama for the purposes of administrative and judicial notifications;
- A graphic representation of the industrial model or drawing, and
- The proof of payment of the fee and the established right.
DIGERPI shall examine the application to determine whether it meets the requirements of law. Once the application has been published, any interested party may file an opposition to the registration applied for, before the competent court within a period of two months counted from the date of publication.
If on the expiration of the aforesaid period without any opposition having been filed, or, as the case may be, where an opposition ruling has found for the applicant and all the prescribed requirements have been met, DIGERPI shall register the industrial design and issue the corresponding registration certificate to the applicant.
The creator of the industrial design shall have the right to be mentioned as such in the registration and in the corresponding official documents, except where he has stated in a written declaration addressed to DIGERPI that he does not wish to be mentioned. Any agreement or arrangement whereby the creator of the industrial design undertakes in advance to make such a declaration shall be null and void.
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Registered Industrial Designs
The registration of an industrial design shall have a term of ten years counted from the date of filing in Panama of the application for registration.
The registration of an industrial design may be renewed for an additional period of five years against payment of the prescribed renewal fee (The expenses would be $78.50 and lawyer fees $200.00). The request for renewal shall be filed within six months prior to the expiration of the registration. The renewal fee shall be paid before the registration of the industrial design expires.
A six-month period of grace shall be allowed for payment of the fee, subject to the prescribed surcharge; the registration shall remain in full force during that time.
At the request of any interested party, the competent court shall invalidate the registration if it is proved that it was affected in violation of any of the provisions established by law.
In the event of non-compliance with Article 68, the aggrieved party may claim his right or seek invalidation of the registration. That action shall be brought before the competent court and shall be statute-barred after five years following the grant of the registration, except where the latter has been affected in bad faith, in which case invalidation may be sought at any time during the currency of the registration.
Costs to Register an Industrial Design in Panama
Official Fee: USD 78.50
Legal Fees: USD 500.00
Other expenses: USD 75.00
Bank Commission: USD 50.00
Total: USD 703.50
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Mr. Garcia Lopez is also involved in trademark, patent and copyright litigation, registration procedures, as well as coordination of trademark and patent prosecution throughout Latin America.
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