23 October 2012

Caribbean IP Part 11: Curaçao

ISO 3166 country code: CW.

Do note that Curaçao was the main island (in population and where the capital was located) of the now dissolved Netherlands Antilles. The ISO 3166 country code for the Netherlands Antilles was AN.

As an example of the latter's continued use, the Bureau for Intellectual Property still uses a domain name with the .an suffix. It was formerly the IP Office for the Netherlands Antilles and being located in the Curaçaoan capital of Willemstad has continued as the IP Office for Curaçao.

The Office has a useful website which details the various IP rights available. It also provides an 'i-Envelope' service for establishing the date of creation of an idea; this appears similar to - and possibly modelled on - the 'i-DEPOT' facility provided by the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.

Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of The Netherlands which has extended most of its international treaties to Curaçao. Of particular note is the Madrid Protocol being available for Curaçao; the country must be designated separately and it requires the payment of Individual Fees.

The Bureau for Intellectual Property encourages use of the Madrid Protocol for local applicants and even for foreign applicants who may incorporate a company in the island, which could be beneficial from a tax perspective.

Applications can be made in English, Dutch, Papiamentu or Spanish although a local representative is required. It is also possible to register industrial designs locally, but International registration is not possible as the Hague Union has not been extended to Curaçao by the Dutch Government.

Curaçao boasts an efficient IP Office and with Madrid Protocol applications available to foreign brand owners is an easy Office to deal with. However, as it is not a member of the Madrid Protocol in its own right the country is not listed in the members list provided by WIPO; information on Curaçao is in the small print at the bottom of the list. Therefore, don't forget that it is available through the Madrid Protocol as part of any international trade mark filing strategy.