The National Copyright Directorate, part of the Ministry of Education of Panama, established in 1995 under Law 15 of 8 August 1994, on copyright and related rights, is the authority with jurisdiction over cases of infringement of copyright and related rights in the administrative context (Article 2(2) and Article 109 of Law 15 of 8 August of 1994, on copyright and related rights).
9.2 Which persons have standing to assert IPRs? How may they be represented? Are there requirements for mandatory personal appearances before the court by the right holder?
The persons having standing to assert copyright and related rights are the owners and right holders who have legal capacity to engage in such proceedings.
Authors, as natural persons may, in their personal capacity or through legally appointed proxies, make complaints to the National Copyright Directorate, about administrative infringements by users of protected works, interpretations and productions.
National companies or corporations holding copyright and related rights, or foreign companies or corporations domiciled in another country but with permanent business or establishments in Panama, must establish in the place or places where they have such business proxies or agents able to represent them under the terms of Article 589 of the Judicial Code, for which purpose they shall comply with the legal provisions on companies or corporations.
Mandatory appearance by the right holder before the National Copyright Directorate is not required.
9.3 What authority do the judicial authorities have to order, at the request of an opposing party, a party to a proceeding to produce evidence which lies within its control?
Neither the copyright law nor any other legal provision enables the National Copyright Directorate to order a party to a proceeding to produce evidence which lies within its control. However, in this case Article 43.1 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is applied, since this Agreement, like the others that go to make up the Marrakesh Agreement, was adopted under Law 23 of 15 June 1997 and is immediately applicable, pursuant to the procedures established by the Constitution in Articles 4 and 153 (3).
9.4 What means exist to identify and protect confidential information brought forward as evidence?
Neither the Copyright Law nor any other legal provision contains rules pertaining to identification and protection of information brought forward as evidence in administrative proceedings. However, in this case Article 43 of the TRIPS Agreement, approved under Law 23 of 15 July 1997, applies.
Moreover, the Regulations to the Copyright and Related Rights Law, establish that the Directorate shall preserve the confidential nature of computer programs. However, the authors or holders may be required to provide the requisite information to access the computer program's sequence of instructions, contained in the magnetic support, in cases of arbitration submitted to the Directorate or on a court order (Article 66, (10), of Executive Decree 261 of 3 October 1995).
Article 837 of the Administrative Code establishes that anyone is entitled to copies of documents in public offices, provided they are not confidential. It also stipulates that no employee may give an ordinary copy of a document of a confidential nature or an authentic copy of any document, without an order by the chief of his office.
9.5 Describe the remedies that may be ordered by the judicial authorities and criteria, legislative or jurisprudential, for their use.
Pursuant to Article 75 of the Regulations to the Copyright and Related Rights Law, adopted under Executive Decree 261 of 8 of August 1995, an order may be issued for precautionary measures, as established in Article XII of the Inter-American Convention on Copyright on Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works, signed in Washington in 1946, namely, seizure, ex officio or at the request of the injured right holder, of all publications or reproductions, and suspension of any public performance of theatre works or musical compositions in breach of copyright, at the request of the injured right holder. These measures may be adopted without prejudice to any relevant civil and criminal actions.
The Third (Administrative) Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, in an administrative claim to declare Article 75 of Decree 261 of 1995 null and void on the grounds that it is unlawful, recently handed down a judgement of 22 October 1997 stating that the provision is not illegal inasmuch as Article 4 of the Constitution requires the Republic of Panama to abide by the rules of international law and, consequently, it does not infringe provisions of Law 15 of 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights. Moreover, the Supreme Court recognized that Article 128 of the Law establishes a special regime of protection for foreign works whereby international agreements and copyright and related rights take preference over the Panamanian legal regime.
Furthermore, Article 114 of Law 15 of 1995 stipulates that the National Directorate, either ex officio or at the request of an interested party, shall proceed to suspend any kind of works or interpretations protected by the Law in question when the person responsible fails to demonstrate in writing that he is an assignee or licensee of the relevant right and method of utilization, without prejudice to the interested party's power to request the judicial authorities to take definitive measures falling within their competence.
The National Directorate has powers, among other things, to impose fines of B 1,000 to B 20,000 (equivalent to US$) for infractions which "do not constitute offences" (in other words, administrative fault). In the event of repetition, namely repetition of an act of the same kind within a period of one (1) year, the fine may be doubled, as specified in Article 109 (7) and Article 113 of Law 15 of 8 August 1994.
The National Copyright Directorate may also impose sanctions on companies, ranging from a warning (Article 109 (5) and (6) of Law 15 of 1994 and Article 72(5) of Decree 261 of 1995), whether public or private, a fine of B 1,000 to B 20,000 (equivalent to US$), suspension of the operating permit and cancellation of the operating permit.
The National Copyright Directorate may also intervene for the purpose of conciliation and arbitration in disputes concerning utilization, by ex parte request, and monitoring and inspecting activities that arise in connection with the use of copyright and related rights (Articles 109(5) and (6) of Law 15 of 8 August 1994 and Article 72(5) of Decree 261 of 3 October 1995).
9.6 In what circumstances, if any, do judicial authorities have the authority to order the infringer to inform the right holder of the identity of third persons involved in the production and distribution of the goods or services found to be infringing and of their channels of distribution?
The National Copyright Directorate does not have the authority to exercise the powers established in Article 47 of the TRIPS Agreement, inasmuch as this rule applies in the event of criminal infringements and the Directorate has jurisdiction only over administrative infringements.
9.7 Describe provisions relating to the indemnification of defendants wrongfully enjoined. To what extent are public authorities and/or officials liable in such a situation and what "remedial measures" are applicable to them?
Neither the Copyright and Related Rights Law nor any other legal provision authorizes the National Copyright Directorate to order indemnification of the defendant in the cases provided for in Article 48 of the TRIPS Agreement. However, it can impose disciplinary sanctions such as transfer or removal of officials for proven incompetence in a period of not less than a year in the performance of their duties or in acts inconsistent with the ethics to be observed by an official, pursuant to the procedure established in Law 47 of 1946, as supplemented and amended by Law 36 of 6 July 1995, on the organization of the Ministry of Education, and Executive Decree 618 of 9 April 1952. Abuse of the enforcement procedure by officials of the National Copyright Directorate, since it forms part of the Ministry of Education, is covered by the above-mentioned faults, except in cases of acts carried out in good faith in the administration of the Law, as stipulated in paragraph 2 of the Article. Without prejudice to this, an official who commits a disciplinary fault may also incur criminal liability for abuse of authority, pursuant to the terms of Article 336 of the Criminal Code.
9.8 Describe provisions governing the length and cost of proceedings. Provide any available data on the actual duration of proceedings and their costs.
Neither the Copyright Law nor any other legal provision regulates the duration and cost of administrative proceedings. It is not possible to determine accurately the real length, for in connection with an administrative claim against Article 75 of the Regulations to the Copyright and Related Rights Law (Executive Decree 261 of 3 October 1996, under which the National Copyright Directorate may order precautionary measures) the Third (administrative) Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice decided to suspend the effects of the provision in an Order dated 12 July 1996 (the year in which the Directorate started actions against pirated goods) and, consequently, all proceedings were suspended.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Justice, in Judgement 22 of October 1997, declared that Article 75 of Decree 261 of 1995 is not illegal and it revoked the precautionary suspensive measure, a step which has made it possible to resume the cases before the Directorate. However, since the Supreme Court's recent decision, no claim has been made to the Directorate and hence the real length of proceedings cannot be determined accurately. However, it can be estimated as five (5) to six (6) months.
As to costs, it should be noted that the National Copyright Directorate has not so far established any rates or charges for its services in connection with administrative proceedings.