US entrepreneurs should have an intellectual property protection plan prior to venturing to foreign markets. The growing middle class of Latin America present both business opportunity and intellectual property risk. The 2012 US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) levels the intellectual property playing field so that nationals from either country can equally benefit from legal protections available to nationals in their own country. The National Treatment clause of the CFTA indicates that:
In respect to all categories of intellectual property [trademarks, copyright, patents, etc.] each country shall accord to nationals of the other Parties treatment no less favorable than it accords to its own nationals with regard to protection and enjoyment of such intellectual property rights and any benefits derived from such rights.
This does not mean that intellectual property rights are the same in each country. Instead, it prevents discriminatory application of legal benefits and protections to Americans in Colombia and vice-versa. Furthermore, in an effort to encourage trade between countries, registration of works through the Colombia Copyright Office is rather speedy at 15 working days.
What are your next steps?
The US Commercial Service and the Department of Commerce recommend some basic steps prior to venturing into Colombia:
1) Conduct and audit of your intellectual property inventory. Take inventory of your IP. Think about your tangible consumer products and intangibles such as software.
2) Obtain Legal Counsel in Colombia. Prior to registering a work in Colombia obtain help from qualified legal counsel in Colombia to help you navigate registration.
3) Prepare Your Paper: Gather details about the author, title of the work, and a sample of the work so that your Colombian counsel can help you submit the application.
4) Wait for results of your application: You will receive notice of acceptance or rejection of your application. If denied, your Colombian counsel can help you file a motion for reconsideration.
Contact LOIGICA today to review your intellectual property status and develop a strategy
that protects your assets in Latin America.