A niche blog dedicated to the issues that arise when supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) extend patents beyond their normal life -- and to the respective positions of patent owners, investors, competitors and consumers. The blog also addresses wider issues that may be of interest or use to those involved in the extension of patent rights. You can email The SPC Blog here

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Costa Rica and patent term extensions

The SPC Blog doesn't often hear from Central America, so it's heartening to see some positive news on patent term extension from a zone in much of which hostility towards IP rights is sadly endemic.
Patent term extensions are available in Costa Rica as an adjustment of the patent term due to delays in the patent registration process or regulatory approval of a pharmaceutical product.

The Costa Rican Patent Law provides that patent term extensions are available for patents filed after April 25th 2008 and in the following cases:

* When the Patent Office takes more the 5 years to grant the patent, from the date of filing in Costa Rica, or from the date it entered the national phase in Costa Rica for PCT applications.

* When the Patent Office takes more than 3 years to grant the patent, from the date examination was requested.

For pharmaceutical products, when the approval for sale by the Ministry of Health has taken more than 3 years from the application.

Actions attributed to the applicant will not be taken into account to calculate the delays. The term to compensate will be 1 day per day of delay, as long as the remaining term of the patent does not exceed 12 years. Nevertheless, the total term to compensate shall never be more than 18 months.

The request to apply for patent term compensation shall be filed by the applicant with the Patent Office no later than 3 months after the patent was granted, or 3 months after the marketing approval was issued by the Ministry of Health.

An interesting fact is that patent term compensation was introduced into the Costa Rican Patent Law as a consequence of the enactment of DR-CAFTA, the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which means it should also be available in all the other countries party to the agreement, which are Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and the United States.
Patent term extension is not the only area in which Costa Rica has been raising its level of IP protection. Following a free trade agreement with Europe, that country is also beefing up its provisions for the protection of geographical indications and appellations of origin. This blogger hopes that Costa Rica's attitude is matched by increased investor confidence in IP-based industries, both in the pharma sector and beyond it.

Source: "Patent term extensions in Costa Rica" by Luis Diego Castro Chavarría (CastroPal Abogados, Costa Rica), first published in Lexology

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