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.