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Panama Facts: Patents and Industrial Designs

â–ª The registration and regulation of Patents is provided by Law No. 35 of May 10, 1996, whereby “Provisions regarding Industrial Property are issued”.

â–ª To patent an invention in Panama it must be a new invention, be a result of an inventive activity and be subject to an industrial application.

â–ª The following are not considered to be inventions subject to patent:*

1. Scientific or theoretical principles;

2. Discoveries that consist in providing knowledge or revealing something that already existed in nature, even when this was previously unknown;

3. Economic or business plans, schemes, principles or methods, which refer to purely mental activities and those of games;

4. Computer programs per se that refer to the use designated for one computer;

5. Forms for presentation of information;

6. Esthetic creations and artistic or literature works;

7. Methods for surgical, therapeutic or diagnosis treatment, applicable to the human body, and those related to animals. This disposition does not apply to products, especially the substances or compositions, nor to the inventions of apparatus or instruments for the practice of such methods;

8. Juxtaposition of known inventions or mixture of known products, variation in their form, dimensions or materials, except that it really deals with a combination or smelting in such a manner that cannot function separately, or that its characteristic qualities or functions are modified to obtain an industrial result not obvious for a technician in the field;

9. Inventions contrary to national laws, public health and order, to moral, and to good customs or security of the State.

10. Plant species and animal species and breeds; biological cases for the procurement or reproduction of plants, animals or varieties thereof, if the same trespass the morality, integrity or dignity of human beings; biological material as found in nature; and inventions that concern live parts of the human body.

â–ª Pharmaceutical patents are enforceable and represent approximately 80% of the total patents registered annually in the Panamanian Patent Office.*

â–ª Agricultural patents are enforceable and most registered in Panama refer to pesticides.*

â–ª Software patents are not enforceable.*

â–ª Patents which refer to business methods are not enforceable.*

â–ª Chip design/IC topographies are not subject to protection.*

Patent and Utility Model Applications

The requirements for filing a patent or a utility model application are:

1. Power of Attorney duly signed and authenticated by Notary and legalized by the Panamanian Consul of the place of origin or Apostille.

2. Certificate of existence of the company duly signed and authenticated by Notary and legalized by the Panamanian Consul of the place of origin or Apostille.

3. Priority Document. In the event of claiming priority due to the Convention, a certified copy of an application filed in a Paris Convention member country is required.

4. Drawings, description, summary and claims of the invention. These documents need not be legalized.

â–ª The State of the Art Report must be filed within the 14 months from the date of the prior foreign application date.

â–ª The registration proceedings can take from 20 to 36 months.

â–ª Patents are granted for 20 years from the deposit date.

â–ª Utility Models are granted for a 10-year period as of the deposit date.

â–ª In all cases Panama's Patent Office will cancel protection if the annuity payment is not made on time. The government fee can be cancelled for the total protection period or every 5 years (annuity payment).

Design Applications

â–ª Industrial designs have an automatic protection for two (2) years from their first disclosure in Panama, without the need of a registration.

â–ª To file a design application in Panama requires the following:

1. Power of Attorney duly signed and authenticated by Notary and legalized by the Panamanian Consul of the place of origin or Apostille.

2. Certificate of existence of the company duly signed and authenticated by Notary and legalized by the Panamanian Consul of the place of origin or Apostille.

3. Assignment Document duly executed by the inventor(s) and the assignee or its representative, duly authenticated by Notary and legalized by the Panamanian Consul of the place of origin or apostille.

4. Priority Document. In the event of claiming priority due to the Convention, a certified copy of an application filed in a Paris Convention member country is required.

5. Drawings and Specifications. These documents need not be legalized.

Drawings and specifications must include the following:

     1. Detailed description of the industrial object, and the preferred application.

     2. Brief description referring to the graphic reproduction of the design.

     3. Main characteristic which distinguishes the design, providing it with novelty and originality, or giving the object its own characteristic and appearance.

     4. Claims.

â–ª The State of the Art Report must be requested within 14 months from the prior foreign application's date.

â–ª Registration Process. Generally registration proceedings range from 18 to 24 months.

â–ª Registration Period. Design registrations are granted for a 10 year period from the deposit date.

â–ª Extension of Registry. During the last year of registry (tenth year), the protection can be extended once more for an additional 5-year period.

Finally, we report that there presently is a proposal for amending the existing law for patents.

Pardini & Associates has a complete IP Legal Group with the expertise and know-how necessary to advise and support our multinational clientele. Should you have any inquiries regarding Patents in Panama or other IP matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Gilda Berman de Vilar
 

* Based upon the AIPLA Country Worksheet form.

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