The Costa Rican Trademark Law provides a list of signs that cannot be registered as a trademark due to intrinsic reasons. Among those signs, the law includes "the reproduction or imitation, in whole or in part, of a denomination or abbreviation of any State or international organization, without permission of the competent authority or organization".
This is typically a form of protection for country names against registration by parties unconnected with the constitutional authorities of the country. In the case of Costa Rica, however, the law does not distinguish if the applicant has in fact, or not, any affiliation with the country in question.
There is another element that has not been specified within the law. Who are the authorities competent to grant the required authorization?
In a recent case, a trademark application containing a country name was rejected by the Costa Rican Trademark Office, since the authorization of the country was not submitted. Applicant’s attempts to obtain the necessary authorization before different governmental authorities of the country in question were unsuccessful. This requirement had not been enforced in past applications, until now. But the Trademark Office has not yet provided any guidelines as to the necessary steps in order to obtain such permission.
In preliminary conversations with the trademark authorities, the difficulty of obtaining a valid authorization from a competent authority has been discussed. Although foreign trademark registrations do not have a binding effect on the examination by the Costa Rican Trademark Office, the Administrative Court of Appeals has acknowledged that the required authorization might be considered to be "implied" if the trademark containing a country name has already been registered before the Trademark Office in the country of origin.