Dominican Republic IP Overview

The Dominican Republic is one of the countries that grants one of the highest levels of protection to intellectual property in the region, being a signatory of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the WTO, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Cooperation Treaty in Patents (PCT), Chapter 15 of DR-CAFTA and other international agreements.
Current legislation states that classifications for registration purposes must be consistent with internationally recognized classification systems: For patents and utility models, the Strasbourg Convention of 24 March 1971; for industrial designs, the Locarno Agreement of October 8, 1968; and for trademarks, the Nice Agreement of June 15, 1957. The government agency responsible for granting patents and registering industrial property rights is the National Office of Industrial Property (ONAPI), which is under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Civil and criminal penalties may be applied in case of infringement of intellectual property rights by the courts and these include payment of damages and fines and / or imprisonment.
Patents may be obtained to protect inventions and utility models. An invention is defined as any idea or creation of the human intellect related to products or procedures, capable of being applied in industry. It must be novel, i.e., it must be unknown in the relevant industry. Dominican regulation contemplates essential requirements for registration, such as possessing an innovative nature (it must be unknown given the current state of scientific development) and it must have an inventive character, (it must not be able to be deduced by a person with technical knowledge). Any changes that present novelty or uniqueness in aesthetic components of a product, without changing the character or function of the product, must be registered as industrial designs. Requests for patents and industrial designs are directed to ONAPI and must comply with the requirements stated by law. Patents of invention have validity of 20 years counted from the date of submission of the


application in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican law protects all kinds of trademarks, including collective trademarks, certification trademarks and sound and scent trademarks. The registration of a trademark grants exclusive rights over the same. On the other hand, the period of use of those trademarks that have been registered (more than 6 months) determines the priority for the registration. Dominican law also recognizes certain rights of priority for trademarks registered abroad. New trademarks are registered in favor of the person who first requests them. Registration is granted for a period of 10 years, renewable for consecutive periods of 10 years. Among the distinctive signs that may not be registered are some prohibitions relative to the sign itself, such as:
Signs that may be used commercially to describe the product;
Generic or scientific denominations of products, colors, etc.;
Signs that are contrary to the public order or moral standards ;
Signs that ridicule persons, religions, countries, or others;
Signs that may deceive the public in terms of the nature or the qualities of the product, etc.
Names, brands, emblems, slogans and other elements that identify a company or establishment are protected by the law as tradenames. The right for the exclusive use of a commercial name comes from its first commercial use. The protection is granted even before registration and eases with the abandonment of the name. Only in cases of commercial slogans, the right of exclusive use is granted by registering. Tradenames may not be composed of indications or signs that are contrary to public order or moral standards, or that may create confusion in the public in terms of the nature, activities, or any other aspect related to the company or business associated with the same or its products and services.
The main objective of the Dominican copyright law is to provide a legal and institutional framework in accordance with the provisions of the Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement related to Commerce (TRIPS), which allows for the effective protection of copyrights in the Dominican Republic, taking into account the national interest. The National Copyright Office (ONDA), ascribed to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, is the national authority in charge of the registration and organization of the applications related copyright. For these purposes, the law has granted administrative, supervision, and arbitration powers. Its supervision activities are enforced by the obligation of any importer or distributor of commercial goods, services, and equipment with author or related rights to register the same.
Likewise, the country has ratified the following international conventions regarding this matter:
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works from 1886;
Universal Copyright Convention from 1952;
Rome Convention for the Protection of Interpreters, Audio Producers, and Radio Transmission Organizations from 1961; and,
Treaties of the Intellectual Property World Organization (OMPI) for the Rights of Authors and Interpreters and Phonograms of 1996. Dominican copyright law protects all kind of original intellectual creations that may be fixed, transmitted, or reproduced by any existing means or are existing in print, reproduction, or dissemination. It also protects the independent creations derived from original works, such as those resulting from the adaptation, translation, or in another manner transformed from its o r i g i n a l version.

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