San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lawmakers crack down on intellectual property violations

Costa Rica is one step closer to entering a free-trade agreement with the United States after lawmakers passed a measure yesterday to crack down on intellectual property violations.
The bill, which would punish copyright, trademark and patent law violations with fines or jail sentences, will become law after it is approved in a second debate and signed by the president.
Of the 13 bills that would put Costa Rica in compliance with the Central American Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA), four remain to be passed in a second and final debate. Lawmakers must approve them by Oct. 1, Costa Rica’s deadline for entering the treaty.
On Tuesday night, lawmakers passed a measure to open the state’s insurance monopoly, also a requirement under CAFTA. Other national and foreign companies will now be able to join the National Insurance Institute (INS) in offering insurance here.
The intellectual property bill has traveled a rocky road. The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) ruled in April that penalties in the bill were too harsh, and it took lawmakers nearly three months to decide on a new text.

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