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Intellectual Property

Registration in the Intellectual Property Registry

General information

1. What is the Intellectual Property Registry?

The Registry is a mechanism created by Act No. 96 of July 15, 1988, as amended by Act No. 55 of March 9, 2012, to protect the so-called moral rights of the Puerto Rican or foreign author domiciled in Puerto Rico, with respect to his creation, namely, the preservation of its integrity, its disclosure and the retraction thereof within the situations contemplated by the Act.

2. What benefits will an author obtain with the registration of his work in the Register?

The registration of the author's work shall constitute prima facie evidence of the validity of the moral rights of the author and of the circumstances described in the certificate of registration in any litigation in which such rights are in dispute. The registration of the work in question will allow the option of claiming statutory damages in case of a violation of moral rights.

The certifications issued by the Registrar on the content of the registrations shall be public documents admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding.

3. Which works cannot be registered?

Mere ideas, concepts, proposals, or systems not incorporated in a means of expression contemplated by law or incorporated in such a way that does not comply with the legislative intent to protect the creativity of the Puerto Rican author are not registrable. In this sense, a minimum but sufficient level of originality must be satisfied.

Works created for advertising or promoting goods or services, works of Commonwealth officials made in the exercise of their duties, or compilations, anthologies, or compendiums of fragments of works by other authors cannot be registered either.

Finally, inventions of novel mechanisms or processes of a purely practical or functional nature, or the names of products, groups, or companies, as well as mere titles, are not registrable in the Register.

Entries in the Register

1. How is a work registered in the Intellectual Property Registry?

The work must be submitted in person by the author or the legitimate rightful claimant. By means of the act of submission, the work will immediately obtain all the protection of the Law for the duration of the submission period and, subsequently, once registered.

2. What is meant by the presentation of a work?

The presentation of a work is the accumulation of steps required by the Law and Bylaws prior to the acceptance of the work for its final registration. The filing includes the qualification or evaluation by the Registrar to verify that it complies with the requirements of the Law. Once the qualification is successfully completed, the submitter will comply with the final formalities prior to registration and the deposit of two copies or bound reproductions.  The work will then be registered and will obtain the protection contemplated in the Law. Only a final and binding judgment of a Court of Justice may annul a registration duly entered in the books of the Register.

3. When the Registrar "qualifies" or evaluates a work to determine if it is registrable, is the content of a work judged?

Not at all. The Registrar does not judge the content of submitted work. Only its form. It is necessary to determine whether the work is the type contemplated by Law 55 as appropriate for registration. For example, it is not a mechanical invention that is only protectable by a "patent," not by "copyright."

4. What is the cost?

The registration fee is $30.00, in the form of an Internal Revenue Voucher, using code 5113, which must be acquired at the Collector's Office of the Treasury Department.

The indirect costs involved in the process are the fees of the notary who takes the affidavit and the binding of the copies to be deposited.

Previously, the Bylaws also required the publication of the notice in the form of an edict in a newspaper of general circulation. With the entry into force of the new Regulations on May 19, 2000, this requirement is eliminated with a saving of about $45.00 dollars for the client and with a substantial reduction in the time it takes to reach the final stage of registration.

5. Is registration in the Federal Register mandatory before publishing, exhibiting, presenting or otherwise publicly disclosing a work?

Until January 1, 1978, if a work was published or disclosed without protection under the Federal Law, the author lost all rights because the work fell into "public domain".

Although after March 1, 1989, both the registration in the Federal Register and the copyright notice are optional for purposes of preservation of the right, they are still of great importance. The reality is that, in the absence of registration and the omission or misuse of the notice, it will be very difficult to assert the right in court in the event of infringement, and if it is possible to do so, significant benefits will be lost.

6. What about the Intellectual Property Registry in Puerto Rico?

In the Puerto Rico Registry, using the mark (an 'R' within a triangle) in registered and published works is mandatory to assert moral rights in state courts.

Protection of Puerto Rican authors and their works abroad

1. If the work of a Puerto Rican author is published, exhibited or performed in an objectionable manner abroad, will his rights be protected by registration in the Registry?

No. The protection of the State Registry is limited to the territorial extension of Puerto Rico.

2. Is the Puerto Rican author defenseless if his work was mutilated abroad?

Not necessarily. The United States became a member country of the "Berne (Switzerland) Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works" in March 1989 and the Puerto Rican author, as a U.S. citizen, is covered by its terms.

3. Does the Berne Convention protect moral rights?

Yes, in its VI-b, but the United States, in accepting the treaty, initially excluded this aspect of the enabling legislation. However, as of June 1, 1991, Federal law recognizes certain aspects of the "moral rights" of "visual artists" and recognizes those moral rights that are incorporated in VARA.

4. What does this mean in terms of protecting the moral rights of our authors?

Authors who are not "visual artists" lack moral rights protection in the United States and in those countries that are not members of Berne, even if they have national legislation protecting moral rights.

5. What about the Berne signatory countries?

If they recognize moral rights in their national legislation, the Puerto Rican author could then sue in that jurisdiction under the locally applicable terms and conditions.

6. What about the violation of the economic rights of our authors abroad?

The United States provides protection to its citizens on the economic rights of authors abroad, by virtue of its membership in the Berne Union. In addition, the United States was a founding member in 1955 of the other major multilateral treaty, the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) administered by UNESCO. The UCC is in force in several places that are not members of Berne, notably the Soviet Union and many Central American and Caribbean countries. The UCC does not recognize "moral rights", only economic rights.

Applications for Registration

  • Application Form (Download)
  • Instructions to the Submitter of Works for Registration(Download)