Understanding Intellectual Property in Cuba

Living in a globalized world means that businesses sometimes need to become well-acquainted with international laws. It allows you to scale and ensure compliance with regulations — both local ones, as well as international treaties, such as World Trade Organization (WTO), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). 

Things can get a bit murkier when conducting business with countries with a dicey history with the United States, such as is the case with Cuba. In such cases, transactions are also monitored by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which  administers sanctions based on foreign policy and national security concerns. 

However, Cuba has a good history complying with international treaties regarding intellectual property (IP), as the country holds IP creations in high regard. This is because they are recognized as essential for the development of commerce. 

Intellectual Property Regulations in Cuba

Cuba is a member of almost all of the intellectual property treaties as the United States. And just like in the US, Cuba offers protection to all IP creators from unauthorized use, for a predetermined period of time. 

All applications must be filed with the Oficina Cubana de la Propiedad Industrial or OCPI (Cuban Office of Industrial Property). Foreign applicants have the same rights and obligations as Cuban applicants, in accordance with the international treaties between Cuba and the country of origin of the applicant. 

It’s crucial to comply with all of the requirements not only of filing an application for protection of intellectual property in Cuba but also with the embargo requirements under OFAC. Failing to do so can cause the application to be abandoned and expose the U.S. company to sanctions. 

Be mindful that all documents presented must either be in Spanish or include a translation into Spanish. 


When it comes to copyrights, Cuba also provides derived ownership, which applies to: 

  • The heirs of the author, even if the works are published posthumously
  • Written works were published anonymously
  • The person or entity that publishes work created by an unknown author

This protection extends for the duration of the life of the author, plus 50 years after their death. The clock begins to tick on January 1 of the year following the death of the author. 


Cuba recognizes that certain business assets are crucial for industrial and commercial development. And their trademark laws apply to the same assets as in the United States: words, phrases, business names, logos, and symbols.

The application must include detailed information regarding the asset you’re seeking to protect. Applicants are also required to pay an application fee. You must also include a list of products and services you’re seeking to protect.

Once a trademark application has been granted, protection is effective for 10 years. You can also file renewals for additional 10-year terms. 


Applications for patents are also presented with OCPI. Just like in the United States, for an invention to receive protection, it must be an original.

Every application must include the following information: 

  • The name of the invention
  • The industry in which the invention will be used
  • A detailed description of the invention. It must include enough information so that a subject matter expert would be able to bring it to life. 
  • All of the information related to the inventor(s) and applicant(s), patent drawings, and a Claims section.

If there are different variations to build the invention, the application must include details regarding all of them. If a concept is too complex, you can include detailed drawings and make reference to the drawings on the description. 

Once a patent application is approved, the invention will be protected for 20 years from the date of filing; while utility models receive protection for 10 years. 

Can You Request IP Protection If You’re Not Yet Doing Business in Cuba? 

Any foreign entity that is either domiciled in Cuba or has a local office within the island can file their IP petitions through their legal representative, a designated representative, or through an agent of OCPI. 

If a foreign entity is not currently domiciled in Cuba, please reach out to our offices so we may assist you through the process.

What is Decree 203, and What Does It Mean For Intellectual Property in Cuba? 

Decree 203 (Ley Número 203 de Marcas y Otros Signos Distintivos) extends intellectual property protections to anything else that may be directly related to your business’ IP, such as three-dimensional objects, colors, sounds, and fragrances. It also includes anything involved with a protected product, such as wrappings, containers, or any other way in which goods are presented by a business. 

In the event an unauthorized party utilizes protected IP, the trademark owner is entitled to a 20-day temporary restraining order. The injunction can be permanently extended after a court hearing. 

This legislation is yet another example of actions instituted in Cuba to incentivize conducting business in the island. 

If You Need a Consulting Regarding Intellectual Property in Cuba, Sanchelima & Associates Can Help

Sanchelima & Associates, P.A. is one of the leading intellectual property law firms in South Florida — and we also conduct extensive IP work in Cuba. With over 40 years of experience, we have represented the IP interests of a wide array of businesses, including Fortune 500 companies. 

Whether you need a consultation or prosecution of a patent, trademark or copyright, we can protect your business’s interests. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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