A trademark, a visible sign composed by words, letters, numbers, images, and shapes or any combination of the previous that has as main feature the distinctive character, is the best tool to distinguish goods and services from competitors.
As such, it is important to know the legal actions that every owner of a trademark, whether legal or natural person, can exercise to defend their rights against third parties who attempt to misuse the same, or a similar mark.
This sign may represent an invaluable asset in a company, so much so that it can be as valuable as the company itself, or in many cases its economic value exceeds the business itself. Unfortunately a trademark is vulnerable to various attacks by third parties that make an improper and illegal use of it or profits for using similar signs.
In order to defend the trademark, it is essential to register it before the competent authorities. In Nicaragua, the registration of a trademark provides legal protection to the owner by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services for a period of 10 years, renewable indefinitely. This right is fundamental because it ensures that the holder of the trademark is the only one able to use the trademark on the goods or services listed in the registration title legally, and is the only one who can authorize its use by a third party, or oppose a third party for the registration of a trademark which is identical or similar and applied to the same or similar goods or services causing confusion among consumers.
Given the situation that said protected right has been infringed , the holder is entitled to take legal actions before the competent judicial authority against any person performing without their consent any act involving infringement of their rights.
As for defense actions, our legislation recognizes in civil matters different measures that can be ordered, such as the cessation of the acts constituting the infringement, compensation for damages, seizure of the products, ban on import or export of goods, and any necessary measures to prevent the continuation or repetition of the offense, including the destruction of products or materials used in their production.
Furthermore, the civil authority may order the plaintiff to provide any information about third parties involved and means of production or distribution channels for products or services object of the infringement. In relation to criminal proceedings, the seizure of counterfeit goods, materials and accessories used for the commission of the crime and the assets related to the infringing activity may be requested.
It is important to highlight that actions for infringement of a right conferred by law expire after two years since the owner had knowledge of the offense or five years since the offense was last committed; while pursuing criminal actions related offenses is public , ie ex officio and prescribes six years after they were last committed.
Finally, our legislation provides protection against acts of unfair competition, entitling the holder of a registered trademark to request the competent court to find and declare the unlawfulness of an alleged act of this kind. The measures described above for civil actions also applies in this matter.
In this regard the registration of a trademark hinders attempts by unfair competitors to use identical or similar distinctive signs and it is essential that appropriate measures are exercised accord- ing to each case.