By Arthur & Castillo (info@aclaw.com)

I. Intellectual Property Overview

The Dominican Republic’s laws on patents, copyright and trade-marks provide the main protection for intellectual property matters. Dominican Republic is a member of the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and has agreed to the minimum standards of protection and reciprocal treatment provided in this treaty, pursuant to international norms on Industrial Property, as well as Copyrights and related rights.

Industrial Property is governed by Law 20-00, enacted on May 8th, 2000. By means of this Law, the applicable legislation to patents of invention, trademarks, trade names and related matters was updated, for the purpose of adapting the same to the obligations assumed in the agreement of trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) in the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Competent Authority to enforce law 20-00, is the Dominican Industrial Property Office (“ONAPI”).

II. Patents of invention

An invention is patentable when its industrial application is possible, is innovative and has an inventive level. The innovation implies that the invention does not previously exist in the current technique, meaning that it is something that has not been disclosed or published, in any part of the world, within the year preceding the date of the patent request in Dominican Republic.

Every request of patent must pass through an exam of form and an exam of substance.

The validity of the registration of a patent of invention has a duration of twenty (20) years nonrenewable, starting of the date of the presentation of the request in the Dominican Republic. To maintain the validity for patent, annual fees shall be paid starting from the third year.

The right of use of a patent may be granted to third parties. Such agreement must be duly registered before ONAPI.

On the other hand, mandatory licenses may be granted by ONAPI, in cases where the title holder of the patent does not respond to a license concession request (made in reasonable terms and conditions) within a specified period of time and subject to the compliance of certain conditions. In addition, there are mandatory licenses derived from the absence of exploitation of the invention in a period of three (3) years after the patent was conceded, excepting in cases of force majeure. Mandatory licenses may also be granted when ONAPI determines that the title holder of the patent has incurred in anticompetitive practices.

Patents for models of utility and industrial designs may be also registered under the umbrella of Law 20-00.

A model of utility is any new form, configuration or disposition of elements of any artifact, tool, instrument, mechanism or other object that permits a better or different functioning, utilization, fabrication, or that provides some utility or additional advantage. The model of utility may be patented for a period of fifteen (15) years.

An industrial design is any gathering or combination of colors, or any two-dimensional or tri-dimensional external form, that incorporates an industrial or craft art product, in order to provide it with a special appearance without modifying the use or purpose destined for such product. The validity of the registry of an industrial design has a duration of five (5) years, renewable for two additional periods.

III. Trademarks

A trademark is any sign or combination of signs that may be presented graphically, to distinguish the products or services of a business from the products and services of other businesses.

The exclusive right to use a Trademark is acquired through registration in ONAPI, and preference is given to the person using the trademark in the country for the longest time, for more than six (6) months, if applicable.

The registration of a trademark has a duration of ten (10) years, renewable for equal periods indefinitely.

IV. Trade Names

Trade name is defined as the name, denomination, designation or abbreviation which identifies a business or commercial establishment. It is acquired by its first use in commerce. Nonetheless, registration of trade name constitutes a good way of proving ownership.

The registration of a trade name has a duration of ten (10) years, renewable for equal periods indefinitely.

V. Copyright Protection

5.1 Overview

Copyrights comprehend the protection of literary and artistic work, and the literary and artistic form of scientific works, including creations of the intellect in such areas, regardless of the form or way of expression, disclosure, reproduction or communication, the genre, merit or destiny; as Law 65-00, dated March 14th of 2001 as amended.

A copyright is tied with the creation to the author and is independent from the property of the material supporting it. Therefore, the transfer of such material does not entail the transfer of rights over the creation to the acquirer.

The intellectual production of literary and artistic works is protected in the Dominican Republic (“DR”) by Copyright Law 65-00 of August 21st of 2000.

Among the intellectual works that the Copyright Law covers are:

  • Works expressed in writing, in the form of books, magazines, pamphlets or other texts;
  • Lectures, addresses, discourses and other works of the same nature;
  • Musical compositions with or without lyrics;
  • Works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography and other artistic works;
  • Illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works related to geography, topography, architecture or the sciences;
  • Computer programs, under the same terms as literary works.

5.2 Works protected under Copyright Law

  • Works of which the author or at least one of the joint authors is Dominican or resides in the Republic;
  • Works published in the DR for the first time or published there within 30 days of their first publication;
  • Works of nationals, or persons resident in, countries that are parties to any of the international treaties to which the Dominican Republic is a party or to which it becomes a party in the future;
  • Works first published, or published within 30 days of their first publication, in any country that is a party to such agreements or treaties;
  • Artistic performances, phonographic productions and broadcasts, under the terms set out in the Title of this Law relating to neighboring rights to copyright.

Pursuant the provisions established, the author of an intellectual work will have a perpetual, inalienable, imprescriptible and undeniable right to claim authorship of his work at any time, object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work, keep the work unpublished or anonymous until his death or thereafter and withdraw the work from circulation or suspend any form of use.

In general, the rights to transfer the works, in exchange of consideration or for free, is held by the author throughout its entire life, after which the right is transferred to the spouse and heirs for a period of 70 years.

5.3 Duration of Copyrights

Pursuant the Dominican Copyrights legislation, the duration of the rights belonging to an authors are deemed to be with them until their death, and for their spouses and successors for seventy (70) years, starting from the author’s date of death. In the case of joint authorship, the period of 70 years will commence on the death of the last joint author.

Collective works and computer programs are protected for seventy (70) years from the date of their publication or creation, copyrights for photographs and audiovisual works are protected for seventy (70) years from first publication, public display or presentation. Phonogram producers and Broadcasting organizations are protected for seventy (70) years.

5.4 Copyrights contracts

Pursuant Law 65-00, copyrights are transferable by written legal acts among persons, assignment of rights contracts, licenses and also can be transferred by succession or subject of legacy or testament dispositions.

The Law covers editing contracts, contracts for inclusion of a work in phonograms, representation contracts.

5.5 The National Registry of Copyrights (ONDA)

For publicity, guarantee and insurance purposes, the registration of works, interpretations, productions including phonograms, and contracts in connection with copyrights or related rights, shall be made before the National Office of Copyright (ONDA for its Spanish acronym).

Such office shall grant a resolution within a period of 30 days after filing of a written request with the required supporting documents, which may vary depending on the type of works.

Pursuant Law 65-00, among the acts subject of registry are the following:

  • Scientific, literary or artistic works, performances, phonographic productions and broadcasts in the private domain that the relevant right holders voluntarily submit for registration;
  • Instruments or contracts under which all or some of the rights recognized under the Law are transferred and those which constitute rights of enjoyment  and which the interested parties opt to register;
  • Judicial, administrative or arbitral decisions that entail the establishment, declaration, clarification,adjudication, modification, limitation, encumbrance or transfer of rights, that provide for precautionary measures or that affect a declaration or registration made with the Registry;
  • Powers conferred on natural or legal persons to deal with the Copyright Unit;
  • Any other instruments or documents, as set out in the Regulations.

5.6 Radio & television Broadcasting and Retransmissions

According to Law 65-00, any natural or legal person authorized to provide transmission public services of Radio or Television under Telecommunication Law 153-98, shall not re-transmit the signals broadcasted by other broadcasters without their prior authorization.

For enforcing said provision the Copyright Unit at ONDA can supervise and undertake technical inspection visits to the breaching parties and may require the assistance from the Telecommunication Authority in order to sanction the breaching parties.

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This AC Law Publication is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice. Any transaction related to any of the described aspects shall require adequate legal assistance in the appropriate jurisdiction. Arthur & Castillo. © 2017. All rights reserved.