A report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) keeps Costa Rica among the countries in the world that must be monitored for piracy.

Counterfeit shirts of the national soccer team, for example, are openly sold in public.

The report identifies business partners in the United States where the protection and enforcement of intellectual property have deteriorated or have remained at inadequate levels in accordance with international legislation in this area.

Intellectual property is the regime of private property rights that protects creations and inventions in order to grant the creator or inventor the exclusive right of exploitation and to prohibit unauthorized use by third parties.

According to the Report, although Costa Rica has made efforts in this area, they have been insufficient.

“Costa Rica remains on the Watch List in 2018. Despite a number of important unresolved concerns, the United States welcomes positive steps taken by Costa Rica, including the 2016 release of an online patent database, an increase in patent registrations, participation in a Patent Prosecution Highway pilot program with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as well as other ongoing engagement with the United States,” says the report.

In terms of unresolved concerns, the report says Costa Rica has made less progress on ensuring that government entities use only licensed software. In addition, the United States urges that effective action be taken against online markets that specialize in offering unlicensed works, as well as providing greater transparency and clarity in the scope of protections for geographical indications, in order to relieve the uncertainty in access to markets.

“To improve border enforcement, Costa Rica should create a formal customs recordation system for trademarks to allow customs officers to make full use of their ex officio authority to inspect and detain goods,” says the report. “The United States continues to call upon Costa Rica to provide  greater transparency and clarity as to the scope of protections for GIs to alleviate market access uncertainty.”

The fight against piracy and counterfeiting is part of the work of the Observatorio del Comercio Ilícito (OBCI) – Observatory of Illicit Trade of the Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica. According to OECD statistics, in 2013 international trade in counterfeit and pirated products represented 2.5% of world trade and is closely related to other organized crimes such as money laundering, corruption and trafficking in persons.

“The fact that Costa Rica remains on this list reminds us each year that our country is a paradise for piracy and counterfeiting. This not only generates millionaire losses for the holders or representatives of the brands that invest a lot of money in innovation, but it also generates multiple social consequences and impacts the finances of the State when evading taxes,” said Jason Chaves, executive director of the OBCI.

From the OBCI we make a respectful call to the new authorities to address this problem in a decisive way and we make ourselves available to coordinate joint actions in order to generate concrete solutions and reduce the levels of illicit trade in the country.

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