As in most developing countries, intellectual property laws and enforcement leave something to be desired. Nicaragua's current copyright law was created in 1904 and is completely obsolete. It does not provide for audio, video, or computer related property. In any market, copies of "My Heart Will Go On" and "Torn" sell for 2 bucks and if you decide to rent a video, it will undoubtedly be an illegal copy. Piracy knows no limits-- cable operators here consistently tap into US broadcasts illegally. But the treachery doesn't end there, for they have devised even more ways to make a profit. During extremely popular broadcasts, such as the infamous Hollyfield-Tyson bout, the cable broadcasters will shut off all the channels carrying the show, forcing viewers to watch the broadcast from a local TV station. Luckily, new legislation to curb this problem is in the works at the National Assembly and in 1996 and 1997, respectively, the National Assembly ratified the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Central American Convention of Industrial Property, Inventions, and Design. The US and Nicaragua also reached an agreement near the end of 1997 which ensures US concerns that their intellectual property rights such as copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, semiconductor layout designs, encrypted satellite signals, and geographic indications will be respected in Nicaragua
Nicaraguan trademark law provides for trademarks, service marks, collective marks, tradenames, design marks, and slogans. The trademarks are internationally recognized and the language of registration is Spanish. There are preliminary examinations of anteriority and validity conducted before applications are approved and one application must be filed for each class. Trademarks must be published in the Official Journal three times and oppositions can be filed within two months of the first publication. Registration lasts 15 years and can be renewed every ten years within one year of the expiration date by individuals. The system, however, is inadequate and trademark infringement remains a problem.
Patents are also an area in need of improvement. Many types of original creations such as computer programs, films, and music can not be patented adequately under the ancient patent law and although there is legislation waiting for the National Assembly it is not under consideration. Furthermore, patents last just ten years, compared with seventeen in the US.