The judiciary has produced a manual of instruction to strengthen understanding and enforcement of intellectual property crimes.
The authors are experts in this area. They were identified as civil judges Alvaro Hernández Aguilar and Guillermo Guilá Alvarado, criminal Judge Marjorie Alvarez Morales and prosecutor Ronald Segura Mena.
Intellectual property laws protect a broad range of creative works, including trademarks, brand names, video, audio, software and printed and written material.
Costa Rica passed legislation to comply with the Free Trade Treaty with the United States and Central America, but intellectual property protection is not well understood.
Among other aspects, the new manual outlines how such crimes should be investigated. Another chapter specifies what actions a judge can take before trial to halt the criminal action.
The most obvious violations of intellectual property are the counterfeit videos, CDs and clothing often sold on the street.
One also can see images of internationally known individuals or movie characters in local television commercials and frequently the use of copyrighted music or written material.
The protection of copyrighted songs has become a hot issue in some areas because bar and restaurant owners are being asked to pay for using the music.
Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez went so far as to issue a decree altering the country’s status in an international treaty for the protection of those who were using the songs.
Costa Rica generally is regarded internationally as having adequate laws in this area but limited enforcement.
The new book is titled “Manual para administradoras y administradores de justicia sobre delitos de propiedad intelectual.”