Jonathan Hinkson, Lawyer, within Intellectual Property Department of Augé Grup answers:
The significant relevance of the Andorran trademark and the Andorran patent stems from the broad Andorran market: there are more than 8 million visitors per year, mainly French and Spanish, due to its ideal location in the South of Europe. In view of these figures, there now is a real incentive for companies and inventors to protect their trademarks and inventions in the Principality.
An Andorran trademark can only be filed with the Andorran patent and trademark office (art. 9 of Law of 11 May 1995 on Trademarks, hereafter “Law on Trademarks”) (no designation within the Madrid Arrangement or Protocol). The Andorran trademark covers the territory of the Principality of Andorra and remains in force for successive periods of 10 years (art. 13 Law on Trademarks).
The registration of an Andorran trademark is also a way to be eligible to a domain name with the Andorran Country Code Top-Level Domain (« .ad ») (Rule 5a) of Regulation of 20 September 2000 on the use of “.ad” as a domain name).
An Andorran patent can only be filed with the Andorran patent and trademark office (art. 14.1 of Law 26/2014 on Patents, hereafter “Law on Patents”); it confers a monopoly of 20 years to its right holder within the Andorran territory as of the filing date (art. 37 Law on Patents).
Practically speaking, obtaining an Andorran patent is possible since 2015 and is rather straight forward and flexible as: the patent application can be filed in Catalan, English, French or Spanish (art. 14.3 Law on Patents); there is a merely formal prosecution of the patent application (the latter can only be denied/rejected in case of manifest lack of novelty) (art. 27 Law on Patents); the filing costs and annuities/maintenance fees are very low in comparison with other countries (art. 8 of Law 27/2014 on Patent Taxes, hereafter “Law on Patent Taxes”).
Andorran trademarks and patents are efficient legal tools, in particular: within a defense strategy to prevent potential infringement (e.g a machine that is patented in France and Spain could be lawfully imported and sold in Andorra); for valorizing an Intellectual Property portfolio (2% tax on worldwide royalties- Legislative Decree of 29 April 2015 on Corporate taxation).
Once the Andorran trademark and/or Andorran patent is granted, the right holder has an array of options to assert its rights: launching a lawsuit at the Andorran Courts, implementing border seizures (preventing the entrance of infringing goods both at the French and Spanish borders), resorting to arbitration and/or mediation and so forth.
The Andorran trademark and patent registry is public and all contracts involving Andorran trademarks and Andorran patents can be recorded (art. 22 Law on Trademarks and art. 30 Law on Patents).
The diversification of the Andorran economy, and the openness of the country to foreign investment, must not hide the strength of local entities that will find benefits in protecting their trademarks and inventions, in particular in the area of health (e.g innovative medical centers) and new technologies (e.g tech & comms innovations).
For IP matters, Andorra now seems to be « the place to be ».