Industrial Property Registry sets new rules for attorneys-in-fact
Under the Costa Rican legislation, it is necessary to submit a power of attorney when appearing as a representative of a company or an individual before the Trademark Office and Patent Office. This document requires very simple formalities, such as being acknowledged by a notary public, and does not necessitate any sort of legalisation. In the absence of this requisite at the time of filing, the local rules allowed representatives to file applications and related actions as attorneys-in-fact, provided that the power of attorney was filed within the following three months for international companies, and within a month for domestic entities.
However, Official Guideline DRPI-0004-2014 (dated October 23 2014, published in the Official Gazette on November 10) of the Industrial Property Registry established new requirements for the filing of applications and related actions as attorneys-in-fact.
Specifically, the use of this mechanism is subject to the presentation of a certificate of good standing of the company at issue, or of a life certificate or proper identification in the case of individuals. In both cases, the documents must be legalised when they have been issued abroad. Paradoxically, although powers of attorney do not currently require legalisation, the Industrial Property Registry conditioned the use of this mechanism on the presentation of the documents described above, as provided in the local Civil Procedure Code. If the requested documents are not submitted at the time of filing or after the Trademark Office or Patent Office has issued an office action, the application or related action will be archived and it will not be possible to reactivate it. This is quite worrying, since applications claiming priority would be at risk if the additional documentation is not filed on time.
This new development definitely causes difficulties for new applications and related actions. Groups such as the Costa Rican Association of IP Professionals have already met with officers of the Industrial Property Registry to discuss options and alternative mechanisms to comply with the new rules. For example, it is now allowed to file sworn declarations or certificates of good standing obtained from web pages to comply with the new set of rules. Nevertheless, these measures represent a step back in the simplification and improvement of IP protection.
Esteban Monge, Zürcher Lawyers, San Jose
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