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JMBM IP Update: Free Trade Agreement Being Implemented between U.S. and Central America/Dominican Republic

In August 2005, President Bush signed the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) into law. The other member countries, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, have approved the DR-CAFTA, and the treaty is awaiting approval by the parliament of Costa Rica.

The DRCAFTA covers many issues including agriculture, investment, trade in services, the environment and intellectual property. The DR-CAFTA significantly reduces tariffs on manufacturing and agricultural imports from the U.S.

In the patent and trademark area, the DR-CAFTA clarifies and enhances the protections of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement. For example, after joining DR-CAFTA, El Salvador has amended its trademark laws to permit registration of non-traditional trademarks such as sound, smell and certification marks, and has created specialized intellectual property courts.

DR-CAFTA also requires enhanced protection for copyrights, particularly digital works.

At JMBM, we regularly work with local counsel in the Central American/Caribbean countries to serve our clients’ needs. We are hopeful that the treaty will provide more tools for protecting the rights of intellectual property owners in the member countries.

For more information, contact Rod Berman at 310.201.3517 or