Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property rights in Panama. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect IPR. Second, IPR is protected differently in Panama than in the U.S. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Panama under local laws. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants. Please contact us at Daniel.Crocker@trade.gov for a list of qualified attorneys in Panama.
It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. Embassy generally cannot enforce rights for private companies in Panama. It is the responsibility of the rights' holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. While we are willing to assist you, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IPR in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights in the mistaken belief that the US Embassy can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to doctrines such as statutes of limitation or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a law suit. In no instance should our advice be seen as a substitute for the obligation of a rights holder to promptly pursue his case.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on partners. We recommend conducting more due diligence than would be normal for the U.S. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentives) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in Panama require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Panama laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions. In certain instances we can assist you with conducting due diligence by conducting a background check through our Business Facilitation Service. For more information on this service, please contact us.
We also recommend that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IPR and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both in Panama and the U.S.