Stiffer Fines Coming For Breaches Of Geographical Indications Law


The Senate yesterday (Feb. 20) passed amendments to the Protection of Geographical Indications Act, 2003, which will see fines for breaches of the Act increased to more meaningful levels.
When Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology Phillip Paulwell piloted the Bill in the House of Representatives on January 13, he explained that it would help to further demonstrate that the Government of Jamaica was serious about implementing measures that would seek to protect national and international companies that invest or wished to invest in Jamaica.
Presenting the amendments on Friday, Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman explained that changes to clause seven, which had been agreed on in the previous sitting of the Senate, would provide for more appropriate penalties to apply to persons who used a geographical indication in a manner that was contrary to the Act and thereby obtain gain illegally.
As set out in the amendments, any such person is liable on summary conviction in a Resident Magistrate’s court to a fine not exceeding $1 million or to imprisonment for up to 12 months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Mr. Whiteman explained that if the Resident Magistrate saw the need to transfer the case to the Circuit Court, the offender would be faced with a term not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment. In the Circuit Court however, there will be no ceiling on the fine.
Following suggestions by Opposition Senators that the Registrar should publish a notice of registration of geographical indication not only in the Gazette, but also in a daily newspaper as the Gazette was being circulated, the Government side agreed to an alteration to clause 10, subsection 9 of the Act, which now reads: “The Registrar shall publish in the Gazette and a daily newspaper circulating in Jamaica, a notice of the registration of the geographical indication and shall issue to the applicant a certificate of registration in the prescribed form”. A total of six amendments were made to the Act.
A Geographical Indication is a sign used in connection with goods in order to indicate their geographical origin. However, because Geographical Indications are usually protected on the national and regional levels under a wide range of different principles, this has led to a variety of concepts and terminology in this area. Although Geographical Indications and Trade Marks perform similar functions, they have important differences.
While a Geographical Indication identifies a geographical area where one or several enterprises are located to produce the product for which the Geographical Indication is used, a Trade Mark (which is basically a distinctive sign which identifies the enterprise which offers certain products or services on the market) identifies the enterprise, which offers certain products or services to the market.
Geographical Indications are applied to natural and agricultural goods and to goods of handicraft and industry such as sugar, fruit, wine, coffee, tea, wood, tobacco, textile and woven goods. Multilateral treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) contain provisions for the protection of geographical indications and among these is the Paris Convention of Industrial Property to which Jamaica is a party. Also of significance is the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement).
The Act provides for the protection and registration of geographical indications; the power of the Court to grant remedies in respect of the misleading use of such indications; exclusion if certain indications from protection; rectification of the Registrar and cancellation of registration and appeals from the Registrar’s decisions.

JIS Social