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Enforcement of IPRs in Honduras


Enforcement of IPRs
The major cause of counterfeiting is the flouring presence of counterfeit goods, which goes undetected due to the lack of stringent administrative measures.
Office supplies, tobacco, agrochemicals, electronic accessories, and medical products are the goods that most often face counterfeiting.
The laws include - Law on Copyright and Related Rights (Decree No. 4-99-E, as amended by Decree No. 16-2006); Industrial Property Law (approved by Decree No. 12-99-E); and Customs Law (approved by Decree No. 212-87) (Extract).
Trademarks, Patents, Copyright and Related Rights are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Honduras.
Yes - An infraction action may be filed within the next 09 years from the date on which the client was informed of the said infraction according to the current Penal Code.
The right to file a civil suit for infringement of trademark rights will expire after 02 years counted from the moment in which the trademark owner had knowledge of the infringement or 05 years counted from the last time the infringement took place, applying the term that expires first.
A) Government Authorities - Yes
B) Police Officials - Yes
C) Judiciary - Yes
D) Customs - Yes
A) Injunctions - Yes
B) Monetary Compensation - Yes
C) Raids - Yes
D) Seizures - Yes
E) Destruction - Yes
Infringement actions before the TM office have a typical time frame of 06 to 12 months before first instance resolution is issued.
Civil actions before the courts have a typical time frame of 15 to 20 months before a first-instance resolution is issued.
Criminal complaints before the criminal courts have a time frame of around 15 to 20 months before a first-instance resolution is issued.
Complaints before the IP division of the attorney general’s office have a time frame of 01 to 02 weeks before the preliminary injunction is issued.
All decisions, including the preliminary injunctions, rendered by the above-mentioned administrative offices and courts, are subject to appeal before the higher administrative office and Court of Appeals, respectively. The injunctions issued by the IP division are subject to an appeal to be resolved by the attorney general’s office within 02 weeks.
A) Responsible Authority - Higher and Highest Administrative Office, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court
B) Imprisonment Term - Patents: 03 to0 6 years; Apart from that Under the Criminal Code, acts or procedures that obstruct "free competition in the production and marketing of goods" are punishable for 03 to 05 years of imprisonment and fines ranging between L50, 000 to L100, 000 (between US$2,870 and US$5,740 at the average May 2003 exchange rate); copyright: up to 06 years
C) Monetary Fine - Trademarks, Designs: fines of up to 20 times the minimum wage (around US$10,000), Copyright: fine of ten (10) to two hundred (200) minimum wages; Patents: 0,000 to 100,000.00 lempiras
Alternative dispute resolution methods are available in Honduras; however, they are not commonly used. This may change in the future since the enacted revisions and additions to the Investment Law of July 2011 require the mandatory use of alternative dispute resolution methods before filing suits on intellectual property matters. This provision does not affect complaints before the special IP unit of the attorney general’s office.
Honduras does not have any formal method of recordation of IPRs with the customs. However, the intimation of infringing goods can be cited by the proprietor to the customs to ensure that it aids in the process of claiming damages against the alleged infringing after bringing a suit in the appropriate court of law.
As part of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) agreements, the Honduran customs office may block the importation of products bearing infringing trademarks into the country. However, in practice, the IP special unit of the Honduran customs office will ask the TM office to notify the attorneys of the registered owners of a possible infringement, and this will give the said owners a window of 48 to 72 hours to initiate an action before the IP unit of the attorney general’s office to work with the said office and obtain the seizure of the goods bearing the infringing marks before they are released in the Honduran market.
The customs office also allows for some firms that handle a large number of cases to provide them with lists of relevant registered trademarks to receive a forewarning when an importation petition is filed or when the merchandise arrives at the port of entry. This, however, is not mandatory and does not have a clear-cut procedure.
The remedies follow after the institution of the suit in a civil or criminal proceeding. The same includes seizure, detention, and destruction of goods, but may extend to penalties, inclusive of fine and imprisonment, as has been descriptively mentioned above.
Failure to act within a window period of 48 to 72 hours to initiate an action before the IP unit of the attorney general’s office shall result in release of goods from detention.
Court proceedings
The lack of formal custom measures could pose a threat to both the domestic and foreign investors in Honduras.