This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs' Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov
Last Published: 11/14/2016
Real Property
The majority of land in Panama, and almost all land outside of Panama City, is not titled; a system of rights of possession exists, but there are multiple instances where such rights have been successfully challenged. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report notes that Panama has risen to 84 out of 189 countries on the Registering Property indicator, though it still ranks 148 on Enforcing Contracts.

The judicial system’s capacity to resolve contractual and property disputes is weak and open to corruption, as illustrated by the most recent World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, which rates Panama’s judicial independence as 119 out of 140 countries. Americans should exercise greater due diligence in purchasing Panamanian real estate than they would in purchasing real estate in the United States. Engaging a reputable attorney and licensed real estate broker is strongly recommended.

Panama enacted Law 80 (2009) to address the lack of titled land in certain parts of the country; however, it does not cure deficiencies in government administration or the judicial system. In 2010, the National Assembly approved the creation of the National Authority of Land Management (ANATI) to administer land titling; however, some investors have complained about ANATI’s capabilities.

Intellectual Property Rights
Panama has an adequate and effective domestic legal framework to protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR). The government of Panama is making efforts to strengthen the enforcement of IPR. Since 1997, two district courts and one superior tribunal have been exclusively adjudicating antitrust, patent, trademark, and copyright cases. Since January 2003, a specific prosecutor with national authority over IPR cases has consolidated and simplified the prosecution of those cases. Law 1 of 2004 added crimes against intellectual property as a predicate offense for money laundering, and Law 14 establishes a 5 year to 12 year prison term, plus possible fines. Law 10 of 2011 moved the Copyright Office from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. A Committee for Intellectual Property (CIPI), comprising representatives from five government agencies (Colon Free Zone, Offices of Intellectual Property Registry and Copyright under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Customs, and the Attorney General), under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is responsible for development of intellectual property policy in Panama.

In order to implement the requirements of the TPA, Panama passed Law 62 of 2012 (industrial property) and Law 64 of 2012 (copyrights). These laws introduced important updates to Panama’s IPR enforcement legislation. These updates offer improved standards for the protection and enforcement of a broad range of IPR, including protections for patents, trademarks, undisclosed test and other data submitted to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals, and digital copyrighted products such as software, music, text, and videos, as well as further deterrence of piracy and counterfeiting.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Resources for Rights Holders
Embassy point of contact:
Colombia Primola
Economic Specialist
PrimolaCE@state.gov
Local lawyers list: http://panama.usembassy.gov/emergencycontact/list-of-attorneys.html

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Panama Economic Development and Investment Law