Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts a highly educated population of 5 million people and a thriving economy having established itself as a Central American hub for foreign investment and innovation. Intellectual property is a buzzing area of local legal practice at the moment; the Costa Rican trademark office registers marks at a quicker rate than a lot of offices in other jurisdictions in the region and the enforcement environment, despite still being problematic, has been improving too. The WTR 1000 identifies the leading firms and individuals in Costa Rica for the first time this year.

Firms

  • BLP
  • Zurcher, Odio & Raven
  • Arias
  • Consortium Legal
  • Dentons
  • Eproint
  • Ideas Trademarks & Patents
  • Facio & Cañas
  • Hulbert Volio Abogados
  • Morera Abogados & Consultores

Arias

From a one-man show in El Salvador to a Central American empire, Arias has come a long way over the eight decades since it was established. Boasting a network of 160-plus lawyers, the firm leverages serious social capital to offer clients first-rate services across the region. In the Costa Rican office, Simón Valverde and Valeria Agüero lead the way and deal with trademark matters “promptly and with high-quality standards”. A thought leader in the field, Valverde has an impressive résumé, having founded and presided over the Costa Rican IP Association (APPICR) and authored several leading publications on trademark and patent law. Agüero is innovative and resolves complex problems with creative strategies.

BLP

To many, BLP’s IP practice is “the best in Central America”, as one respondent espouses: “The firm’s responsiveness, efficiency, work ethic, communication skills and strategic thinking are outstanding, and it is cost-effective too.” The Costa Rican team covers absolutely everything trademark-related and features three superstars. First among equals is Giselle Reuben, a “superb and dedicated” litigator and repository of trust for many international brands. “Top-notch all-rounder” Uri Weinstok earns commendation as a natural problem solver who is “always available and ready to provide practical and business-wise counsel”. León Weinstok is hailed as a “responsive and meticulous IP practitioner who spares no effort until the desired results are achieved”. Available around the clock, Weinstok is a dynamic and precise lawyer and “demonstrates vast experience and a deep knowledge of IP matters and stays up to date on evolving trends”.

Consortium Legal

In the two years that Fabiola Saenz has been at Consortium Legal IP practice director, she has truly transformed the department’s internal culture; strengthening relationships with clients and adding to the menu of services provided out of Costa Rica. Making the most of Consortium’s regional full-service offering, she has acquired important clients in diverse sectors, such as banking and cosmetics. Her hard work and commitment have burnished her already fantastic reputation: “Fabiola is incredibly organised and highly specialised in trademark portfolio management. She devises tailor-made and effective brand protection strategies for clients and is without doubt a top professional in the country.”

Dentons

Dentons is the only truly global firm with a presence in Central America – a status which gives it a major advantage over others when it comes to guiding multinational clients and expansionist regional companies. Overseeing an excellent regional IP team from her office in San Jose is Monserrat Guitart. Highly effective at capitalising on the firm’s resources and leveraging all the right technical tools to drive efficiency in portfolio management, Guitart is also an acutely intelligent IP strategist and transactional lawyer with expertise, which encompasses trademarks, technology and privacy. Another name to note is Costa Rican IP Office employee Milena Picado who draws on a cultivated understanding of the retail and fashion sectors.

Eproint

Unbeatable in terms of its coverage of the Central American and Caribbean regions, Eproint excels at delivering sophisticated and customised cross-border IP strategies to well-known international brands. Especially strong when it comes to trademarks – but proficient in all areas of intellectual property – the team renders commercially astute advice and proves itself not only efficient handling routine matters but also highly adept at dealing with complex trademark issues, such as designation of origin disputes and non-traditional trademark protection. An outstanding cohort of associates at the firm take inspiration from Gabriella Bodden and Aaron Montero. Bodden brings incredible international expertise to the practice and is brilliant at getting things done in the Caribbean and other locales. Meanwhile, Montero is a patent and trademark ace and a veritable IP authority.

Facio & Cañas

The IP pros at Faycamark – which is the IP department of Facio & Cañas – have a nuanced understanding for intangible rights protection in Costa Rica having served as advisers to local companies, international clients and foreign correspondents for over three decades. The team has mastered the art of safeguarding brands while keeping patrons out of costly and difficult litigation scuffles; proactivity in working with and training the local customs authorities has been instrumental in this regard. Excellent regulatory and data law knowledge adds value to the set’s well-rounded service offering. Leading the line is Milagro Chaves, a vastly experienced partner who has access to an excellent international network. Companies look to her as a pathfinder; for example, Godfather’s Pizza recently faced obstacles when trying to enter the Costa Rican market but Chaves cleared the way without breaking a sweat.

Hulbert Volio Abogados

Hulbert Volio is known for its focus on trademark enforcement and litigation. While demonstrating a fine-tuned sense of client risk tolerance, the Hulbert team loves to push boundaries and often manages to resolve conflicts that, in different hands could turn combative. Recently, the firm has made moves to strengthen its practice by hiring experts in damages and alternative dispute resolution. Providing robust leadership on the IP side is Luis Esteban Hernández. “A local counsel of choice for trademarks, Hernández is very responsive and creative, extremely knowledgeable and capable of providing strategic, outside-the-box and customised solutions. He is surely one of the best professionals in Costa Rica.”

Ideas Trademarks & Patents

Clients looking to consolidate the management of their trademark portfolios across Central America and the Caribbean in a single entity would be wise to look up Ideas; the outfit’s regional service is lauded as being “fast and accurate”. In Costa Rica, Maricruz Villanea Villegas and Ana Cristina Arroyave Roja link up to make great things happen. A founding member of the firm and the APPICR, Villegas is an influential voice in the Costa Rican trademark community, and a leading expert when it comes to retail and fashion brands. Roja is in her element when devising and executing anti-counterfeiting programmes. She has the distinction of being the first local attorney to coordinate the authorities of two countries on a Costa Rican border enforcement matter.

Morera Abogados & Consultores

Since 1978 Morera Abogados & Consultores has been “executing and delivering a highly skilled service and demonstrating a flawless understanding of local law and practice”. The ever-reliable firm “handles prosecution, portfolio management and enforcement cases expertly”. Founding partner and director Francisco Morera Alfaro is the key name to note for interested parties.

Zurcher, Odio & Raven

Zurcher, Odio & Raven is one of the most well-established full-service firms in Costa Rica. It shines brightly in the trademark area too and earns WTR 1000 gold-tier ranking thanks to the size of its practice – its name can regularly be found at the top of the filing statistics table – and the quality of its work. Praise abounds for María Del Pilar López, a “well-organised, highly specialised lawyer who is devoted to intellectual property and her clients. Maria is very experienced and runs the practice extremely well – and you can’t fault her work ethic.”

Other recommended experts

Legal Print’s Monserrat Alfaro provides “excellent trademark services” and her active participation in IP-related committees and associations have earned her a world-leading international reputation. Admired for her strategic and prosecution nous, Marianella Arias of Divimark is “proactive, highly skilled and an excellent leader”. She has an outstanding track record in IP litigation. Copyright whiz Carlos Corrales oversees Core IP’s trademark practice with panache: “Carlos lives and breathes intellectual property, is a great communicator and an amazing strategist and one of the smartest attorneys in Central America.” Melissa Mora Martin is a “straightforward, aggressive and client-oriented” attorney who impresses with her anti-counterfeiting superpowers. She operates out of her eponymously named firm. Colbs Legal Studio’s brand-new IP coordinator Jessica Ward is “intelligent, thorough, dedicated and assertive”. “She offers exceptional, innovative and efficient counselling on complex cases and negotiations. Jessica has strong analytical, logical reasoning and communication skills and is detail-oriented, reliable, proactive and available. She engages fully with her clients and aligns her work with their business objectives.”

Individuals

  • María Del Pilar López - Zurcher, Odio & Raven
  • Melissa Mora Martin - Mora Martin IP
  • Monserrat Alfaro - Legal Print
  • Marianella Arias - Divimark SA
  • Ana Cristina Arroyave Rojas - Ideas Trademarks & Patents
  • Gabriela Bodden - Eproint
  • Milagro Chaves - Facio & Cañas
  • Monserrat Guitart - Dentons
  • Luis Esteban Hernández - Hulbert Volio Abogados
  • Aaron Montero - Eproint
  • Giselle Reuben - BLP
  • Fabiola Saenz - Consortium Legal
  • Simón Valverde - Arias
  • Maricruz Villanea Villegas - Ideas Trademarks & Patents
  • Jessica Ward - Colbs Legal Studio
  • Uri Weinstok - BLP
  • Valeria Agüero - Arias
  • Carlos Corrales - Core IP Limited
  • Milena Picado - Dentons
  • León Weinstok - BLP