1. What is the Intellectual Property Registry?
The Registry is a mechanism created by Law No. 96 of July 15, 1988, as amended under Law No. 55 of March 9, 2012, to protect the so-called moral rights of the Puerto Rican author or of the foreign authors domiciled in Puerto Rico, regarding their creation, namely the conversation about its integrity, its exposure and withdrawal thereof within the situations that the law provides.
2. What benefits will an author with his or her work inscribed in the Registry obtain?
Although registration of a creative work under Law No. 55 of March 9, 2012 is a voluntary act, it brings important advantages such as creating a public record of your work. In addition, registration will give the author the option of claiming statutory damages in case of a moral rights infringement.
Certifications of registration issued by the Registrar will be public documents admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding.
3. What works cannot be registered?
It is not possible to inscribe mere ideas, concepts, proposals or systems that are not incorporated into a means of expression contemplated by law or incorporated in a way that does not comply with the legislative intent of protecting the creativity of the Puerto Rican author. In this sense, it must satisfy a minimum but sufficient level of originality.
Nor is it possible to inscribe those works created to advertise or promote goods or services, those of the officials of the Commonwealth created in the performance of their duties, nor compilations, anthologies or abstracts of fragments of works by other authors.
Finally, it is not possible to inscribe in the Registry any inventions of novel mechanisms or processes of purely utilitarian or functional nature nor the names of products, groups or companies, nor mere titles.
1. How register a work in the Intellectual Property Registry?
The works must be submitted personally by the author or the legitimate copyright holder. Through the act of submission, the work can instantly get all the protection of the Law during the duration of its presentation and thereafter once registered.
2. What is meant by the presentation of a work?
The presentation of a work is the ensemble of efforts that the Law and the Regulation require prior to the acceptance of the work for final inscription. The presentation includes the rating or assessment by the Registrar to verify that the work meets the requirements of the Law. Upon successful completion of the qualification, the presenter will meet the pre-inscription final formalities and deposit two copies or bound reproductions of the work to be registered. The inscription process will then be completed and the work will get the protection provided by the Law. Only a final and binding judgment of a Court may cancel a registration duly incorporated in the Registry books.
3. When the Registrar “qualifies” or evaluates a work to determine if it is inscribable, is the content of the work judged?
Not at all. The Registrar does not judge the content of a presented work. Only its shape. It is necessary to determine if the work is the type contemplated by Law 55 as appropriate for inscription. For example, a work protected by Law 55-2012 a mechanical device which is protectable only by a “patent”, not by “moral rights”.
4. How much does it cost?
The inscription fee is $30.00 in the form of an Internal Revenue Payment Receipt using the key 5113, which must be purchased in the Treasury Department’s Collections Office.
Indirect costs involved in the process are the fees requested by the notary public making the affidavit and the binding of the copies to be deposited.
5. Is it mandatory to inscribe a work in the Federal Register before publishing, exposing, presenting or otherwise publicly disclosing such work?
Until January 1, 1978, if the publication or dissemination of a work without protection under the Federal Law occurred, the author lost all his or her rights as the work became of “public domain”.
Although after March 1, 1989, both inscription in the Federal Register and the notice of “Copyright” are optional for purposes of preserving the rights of the author, they are still very important. The truth is that if no inscription exists and the notice has been omitted or wrongly used, should a violation emerge it will be very difficult to claim the right in court and, even if it is possible, some important advantages may be lost.
6. And what about the Intellectual Property Registry in Puerto Rico?
The inscription in the Register of Puerto Rico is compulsory as well as the use of the symbol (an ‘R’ inside a triangle) in registered published works in order to be able to defend the moral rights in state courts.
1. If the work of a Puerto Rican author was published, displayed or interpreted in an objectionable manner abroad, will his or her rights be protected for being inscribed in the Registry?
No. Protection of State Registration is limited to the territorial extension of Puerto Rico.
2. So is the Puerto Rican author defenseless if his or her work was mutilated abroad?
Not necessarily. The United States became a member of the “Berne (Switzerland) Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works” in March 1989 and the Puerto Rican author, while he or she is a US citizen, is covered by its terms.
3. Does the Berne Convention protect moral rights?
Yes, in its VI-b. But the United States initially excluded this aspect of the enabling legislation when accepting the treaty. However, as of June 1, 1991 the Federal Law recognizes certain aspects of “moral rights” of “visual artists”; it recognizes those moral rights that are incorporated into the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA).
4. What does this mean in terms of protection of moral rights of our authors?
Authors who are not “visual artists” lack protection in the United States in terms of moral law and in countries that are not members of the Berne Convention even if they have national legislation to protect the moral law.
5. And what about in the Berne Convention signatory countries?
If they recognize moral rights in their national legislation, the Puerto Rican author could sue in that jurisdiction under the terms and conditions locally applicable.
6. What about the violation of economic rights of our authors abroad?
The United States provides protection to their citizens on the author’s economic rights abroad, by virtue of its accession to the Berne Union. Moreover, the United States was a founding member in 1955 of another major multilateral treaty, the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) administered by UNESCO. The UCC is in effect in several places that are not members of Berne, notably the Soviet Union and many countries in Central America and the Caribbean. The UCC does not recognize “moral rights”, only economic rights.
- Application Form (Download)
- Instructions for the Work Presenter for Inscription in the Registry (Download)
Note: The files of the application form and instructions for the presenter are in .pdf format. Before downloading the form the user must have installed a version of Adobe Acrobat. If you do not have this program please click the following button: