My wife and I were in Puerto Rico this past week for our one year wedding anniversary. Please hold your applause. For those of you who’ve never been, the above photo is actually of Fort San Felipe del Morro taken from the adjacent Fort San Cristobal in Old San Juan.
Because I’m an attorney (and therefore naturally dull), I caught myself wondering what the trademark protection environment was like down in Puerto Rico. This spontaneous and somewhat bothersome brainwave was propagated as our tour bus drove past a Puma service station which flew a logo that I thought was strikingly similar to Puma clothing.
As you’ll note, they actually don’t look that similar, but the damage had already been done and my brain began to whir. I thought to myself, “Self, as a Commonwealth of the United States, is Puerto Rico subject to all federal laws, including trademark laws, or does it have its own framework for intellectual property protection?”
It turns out that Congress specifically directed that United States laws be applicable in Puerto Rico. See 48 U.S.C. §734. This would include the Lanham Act, which provides federal trademark protection in the United States. My inquiry, however, did not end there. I also wanted to know what protection, if any, Puerto Rico might provide in addition to the federal law. It actually turns out that it is relatively substantial.
While the point of this posting was primarily to brag about my trip to Puerto Rico, there is another point. One should always consider the various avenues of protection that might be available for intellectual property in your particular locality. Although it is not always the case, a state or territorial registration might provide added benefits that a federal registration alone cannot.