The Free Trade Agreement between Chile and the United States was recently concluded and the US trade representative has just released the wording of the agreement. It is likely that this agreement will form the basis of negotiations on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States, to which El Salvador will be a party.

If this is the case, then El Salvador and its Central American neighbours should expect an obligation to ratify various international IP right agreements, including:

  • the Brussels Convention on to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Satellite Signals;

  • the Patent Cooperation Treaty;

  • the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants; and

  • the Trademark Law Treaty.

In addition, El Salvador and the other signatories to the agreement will need to:

  • implement a dispute resolution procedure to prevent trademark piracy in cyberspace;

  • recognize new rights related to the digital age, such as the exclusive right of authors to make their works available on the Internet;

  • include longer terms of copyright protection based on the US standard of 'life plus 70 years';

  • introduce an extension of patent terms, as a way of compensating for administrative delays during the patenting procedure;

  • limit the use of patented subject matter to support an application for approval of pharmaceutical products; and

  • reinforce the criminal and civil law relating to violations of IP rights, for example by introducing stiffer penalties for damage based on the legitimate value of the goods and the profits obtained by the infringer.

Negotiations with the United States on the CAFTA regarding IP matters are about to commence, but these guidelines should give some indication of the path which these negotiations may well take.

For further information on this topic please contact Lilian Zelaya at FA Arias & Muñoz by telephone (+503 257 0900) or by fax (+503 257 0901) or by email ([email protected]).