Trademark rights in Panama are established through use. Thus, the person or company that first and continuously uses a trademark inside Panama is the one who will have preferential rights when registering it. However, in order to prevent others from using a trademark, registration of the trademark in Panama is required. Therefore, it is highly recommended that trademark owners register their trademarks in Panama. The main benefit of registering a trademark is to have presumption of ownership of the mark. Having the trademark registered will prove useful in cases of infringement.
In order to register a trademark in Panama, an application must be filed through the Register of Intellectual Property of Panama (DIGERPI).
If you register a combined trademark (which includes both word elements and figurative elements) in Panama, the exclusive right to use the trademark is limited to a use of the trademark is limited to a use of the trademark in the exact configuration or way in which it was filed and registered. If you wish to use the word element of your trademark separately from the logo (or vice versa), it is recommended you register for another trademark including only the word or figurative elements you wish to use and protect separately.
Nevertheless, if a third party eventually intends to register or use a trademark for similar goods or services that includes a primary or distinct part or portion of your trademark, you will have the right to oppose the application based on confusing similarity. Probabilities of success for an opposition will vary in each case depending on the circumstances.
In order to oppose the registration of a trademark, opposition actions must be presented within two (2) months after the date on which the application to be opposed is published in the Industrial Property Bulletin.
A registered trademark in Panama will have a validity period of ten (10) years from the date on which it was applied for. Trademarks in Panama may be renewed for a further period of ten (10) years. There is no limit to how many times a trademark may be renewed. A trademark in Panama may be renewed up to one (1) year prior to the date of expiration. If a trademark is not renewed before its date of expiration a grace period of six (6) months is granted. In this case an extra fee will have to be paid.
Proof of use of the trademark is not required in order to register it in Panama. However, once a trademark is registered, if it goes unused by the owner for a period of five (5) consecutive years, third parties may present cancellation actions based on grounds of non-use.