How to Register a Trademark in Costa Rica: Protect Your Brand and Ensure Business Success

por | Last updated Jul 6, 2024 | English

In this article, we address the main questions related to the trademark registration process in Costa Rica, explaining why it is advisable and beneficial to protect your intellectual property, which is essential for increasing the value of your business and differentiating it in such a competitive market.

Intellectual property protection, including trademarks and trade names, is crucial in the digital age we live in. Intellectual property is a valuable asset that can increase your company’s value and set you apart from the competition. Therefore, registering your trademark in Costa Rica can be a strategic decision for your business.

It is important to note that while registering a trademark is not mandatory, doing so can prevent uncomfortable and costly situations in the future. Additionally, the registration process is accessible and quick, especially if you have the advice of an expert attorney in the field.


How is Intellectual Property Regulated in Costa Rica?

Registering a trademark in Costa Rica is an important process to ensure the protection of industrial and intellectual property rights. The Political Constitution guarantees these rights, particularly those related to the exclusive ownership of a work, invention, trademark, or trade name.

It is essential to follow the regulations established in the Trademark and Other Distinctive Signs Law, No. 7978 of January 6, 2000, and its Regulations to carry out the registration of the trademark, trade name, or advertising sign.

Costa Rica has signed multiple international agreements related to intellectual and industrial property rights, which means that trademarks registered in the country are also protected in other member countries of these agreements. This is beneficial for companies and brands looking to expand their international presence.


What Are the Main Distinctive Signs Protected in Costa Rica?

There are three types of distinctive signs in Costa Rica: trademarks, trade names, and advertising signs.

  1. Trademark: A trademark is any sign that allows distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of another. They can consist of words, numbers, figures, or the shape or presentation of products or services. Trademarks are classified according to the Nice International Classification of Goods and Services and are granted for ten years.
  2. Trade Name: A trade name is a denominative or mixed sign that identifies and distinguishes a company or commercial establishment. Unlike a trademark, it does not protect the company’s products or services. Trade names are not classified according to the Nice Classification and have an indefinite duration.
  3. Advertising Sign: An advertising sign is a distinctive sign used to attract consumers’ attention to a particular product, service, company, establishment, or commercial premise. The application for an advertising sign must include the complete file or registration number of the trademark or trade name to be promoted.


How Long is a Trademark Protected in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, the registration of trademarks, trade names, and advertising signs is conducted through an attributive system. It is important to be the first to apply for registration to secure the distinctive sign, although there are exceptions for those who have previously applied for a trademark in a Paris Convention member country.

The ownership of a trademark or advertising sign is granted for ten years and can be renewed upon the owner’s request. Meanwhile, the ownership of a trade name is indefinite.


Is it Mandatory to Register a Trademark or Trade Name to Operate a Business in Costa Rica?

No, in Costa Rica, it is not mandatory to register a trademark, trade name, or advertising sign to conduct any commercial activity. However, it is advisable to register trademarks to protect them against misuse by third parties and to prevent others from registering them, which is unfortunately very common.

Keep in mind that if the trademark is not registered, you cannot oppose its use by third parties if it is used in a way that may confuse the public, which could severely affect the commercial and property rights of the interested party.


Who Has the Right to Register a Trademark in Costa Rica?

While it is not mandatory to register a trademark, trade name, or advertising sign, it is important to do so to protect it against misuse or registration by third parties. The owner of a trademark can be a natural or legal person, national or foreign, as long as the applicant owns a company, commercial or industrial establishment, or business offering services where the trademark is used.


Can a Foreigner Apply for Trademark Registration in Costa Rica?

Yes, a foreigner can apply for trademark registration in Costa Rica. However, the applicant must own a company, commercial or industrial establishment, or business offering services where the trademark is used, either in the country or abroad.


How Are Products and Services Protected by a Trademark Classified?

The products and services protected by trademarks are classified according to the Nice International Classification of Goods and Services. Based on this classification, each trademark must be applied for with an indication of the specific class according to the protected products and services, and it will be registered accordingly. To find out the class that applies to your product or service, you can visit the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.


What Is the Procedure for Registering a Trademark in Costa Rica?

To register trademarks, trade names, or advertising signs in Costa Rica, you must submit an application to the Industrial Property Registry of the Ministry of Justice and Peace. If the applicant is a foreigner, it is necessary to present a special power of attorney for the registration and opposition processes of all trademarks, trade names, and advertising signs applied for.

The application must include detailed information about the products or services to be protected, a description of the business in the case of a trade name, and a copy of the design or logo in digital or printed format. If you intend to claim priority, you must present a letter issued by the foreign office responsible for registering industrial property.

The Industrial Property Registry issues a «Novelty Report» and determines if the trademark meets the requirements according to current national legislation. If the report is positive, a resolution is published in the official government newspaper to give interested third parties a two-month period to oppose.

If there is no opposition, the distinctive sign registration is granted, and a certificate is issued indicating ownership of the trademark, trade name, or advertising sign. If there is opposition, the applicant is notified and given a two-month period to respond. The decision of the Industrial Property Registry can be appealed to the Administrative Registration Tribunal.

If the Registry rejects the registration, the decision can be revoked and appealed to the Administrative Registration Tribunal.


What Is the Procedure in Case of Opposition to the Registration of a Distinctive Sign?

In case of opposition to the registration of a distinctive sign, the Industrial Property Registry notifies the applicant and grants a two-month period to respond.

Once this period is over, the Industrial Property Registry issues a resolution on the registration’s validity. The decision can be appealed by the applicant or the opposing party to the Administrative Registration Tribunal.


How Long Does the Trademark Registration Process Take in Costa Rica?

 In Costa Rica, the trademark registration process can take around five months from the application submission to obtaining the registration certificate. This period could be extended if there are third-party oppositions.

What Are the Steps to Register a Trademark in Costa Rica?

To summarize, it is important to follow these steps to properly register a trademark or trade name with the Costa Rican authorities:

  1. Submit the Trademark Registration Application: This involves submitting the registration application to the Industrial Property Registry.
  2. Formal Examination of the Application: This step verifies that the application meets the specific requirements established in the Trademark and Other Distinctive Signs Law and its Regulations.
  3. Substantive Examination of the Application: Here, it is verified that there is no similarity between the requested trademark and any already registered trademarks.
  4. Issuance of the Publication Edict: If there are no substantive objections, the Industrial Property Registry issues a publication edict for the trademark registration.
  5. Publication of the Edict: The edict is published in the Official Gazette La Gaceta. From the publication date, third parties have two months to oppose the registration. If there is no opposition, the next step follows.
  6. Issuance of the Registration Certificate: In this final step, the Registration Certificate is issued, certifying the trademark’s ownership. It is important to note that a trademark registration is valid for 10 years from the date of registration and can be renewed for equal periods.

The trademark registration process in Costa Rica follows a rigorous and well-defined process that guarantees the protection of industrial property rights. It is essential to follow the steps mentioned above to avoid unnecessary complications and ensure the trademark’s protection against unfair competition and unauthorized uses.


Is a Logo or Design Required to Register a Trademark?

 It is not mandatory to have a logo or design to register a trademark, as it is possible to register a trademark without a specific design associated with it. In some cases, it is possible to proceed with a trademark composed only of a word, slogan, or combination of letters or numbers.

However, in most cases, trademarks are associated with some design or logo that visually distinguishes them from other similar trademarks. These visual elements help create a brand identity, making it more recognizable and memorable.

Before starting the registration process with a specific design, it is advisable to ensure that the design meets originality requirements. The design must be original and distinctive, with elements that prevent it from being confused with already registered trademarks, even phonetically.

There are professionals specialized in graphic design and personal branding, such as Emmanuel Gutiérrez, who support and enhance the creation of professional brands that meet the requirements and position the businesses they protect.


Why Is It Important to Register a Trademark?

 Here are some of the main reasons to protect intellectual property:

  • Legal Protection: Registering a trademark grants an exclusive legal right to use that intellectual property in the territory where it has been registered. This means that no one else can use an identical or similar trademark on similar products or services, preventing unfair competition and providing legal tools to defend against such situations.
  • Differentiation: A registered trademark helps differentiate products and services from competitors, which can increase customer recognition and loyalty for any business or activity.
  • Business Valuation: A registered trademark constitutes an asset, which can increase a company’s value, especially if it has legal protection. This can make a company more attractive to potential investors or buyers.
  • Internationalization: Having a registered trademark facilitates the registration process in other countries, which is advisable in case of international expansion. International recognition of a trademark generates consumer confidence and adds value to the business.
  • Legal Strengthening: If another company attempts to use a registered trademark without authorization, the owner can take legal action against them. If the trademark or trade name is registered, it will be easier, quicker, and more economical to defend and claim damages, as well as apply for precautionary measures.
  • Durability: The protection of a registered trademark is extensive (10 years) and can be indefinite if renewed periodically and its use is demonstrated.

There is no doubt that registering a trademark or trade name is a very important investment for any company or business, protecting the creator’s ingenuity and ensuring the protection of their invention.

If you are ready to protect your brand and ensure the success of your business, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our expert attorneys at BGA Abogados. With extensive experience in intellectual property law, our team is fully equipped to guide you through every step of the trademark registration process.

Let us help you safeguard your valuable assets and provide the legal assurance you need to thrive in a competitive market. Contact us today to secure your brand’s future.


The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection in Costa Rica

Registering a trademark or trade name is a crucial investment for any business, as it protects the creator’s ingenuity and ensures the security of their invention. At BGA Abogados, we understand the significance of intellectual property protection in fostering innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. For more information or legal assistance in intellectual property matters, please contact us.

Contact for Legal Advice on Intellectual Property

For further guidance and support on trademark registration and intellectual property protection in Costa Rica, feel free to reach out to our expert legal team at BGA Abogados. We are here to help you safeguard your business assets and ensure your brand’s success in the competitive market.