As in other legislations around the world, in Central America each country regulates those cases in which, for justified reasons of extreme urgency due to emergencies in public health or national security, and when anti-competitive or abusive practices exist, the State may require the granting of a compulsory license of a patent to attend said state of emergency.
The general criterion for granting such compulsory licenses is when the patent owner is abusing his right, for example, charging excessive prices for medicines in a public health emergency situation, such as a pandemic of highly contagious disease.
Since the fundament of patents is to grant an incentive to inventors for their time, knowledge and economic investment, this measure is granted in an extremely exceptional way, hence the regulations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala contemplate in all cases, an economic compensation to the owner in cases of compulsory licenses, according to the circumstances and the economic value of the invention.
Unlike other countries as Spain, in Central America, the possibility of the compulsory expropriation of a patent is not expressly contemplated; however, the possibility of expropriation remains open for legal analysis, as happens with other types of assets or properties in cases of public calamity.
In the cases of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, the legislation expressly contemplates the need for a prior hearing with the patent owner, while in El Salvador the legislation is silent on this matter.
It is clear in all cases that the validity of the compulsory license will depend on the state of emergency, and in various circumstances, said license may be revoked.
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