JIS News

A two-day intellectual property rights (IPR) workshop targeted at authors, musicians, manufacturers among other groups, got underway yesterday (Dec. 6) at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
Through the event, organised by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), providers of goods and services will receive first-hand information on issues such as Copyright protection, service mark, protection of intellectual property rights and nation branding.
The workshop also presents the opportunity for those in attendance to discuss and interact with local and international experts regarding various aspects of intellectual property and branding.
Intellectual Property means the legal rights, which result from intellectual activity in the scientific, industrial, literary, artistic, musical and dramatic field.
Minette Palmer, legal advisor to Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, pointed to the fact that IPR were assuming increasing importance in almost every facet of life, as were the challenges arising from international trade and the prevalence of illegal activities such as piracy and counterfeiting.
“We need therefore, to ensure that our national intellectual property regime operates in the public’s interest and that it complements and enhances our broader policies for encouraging technological development and innovation,” she stated.
To succeed, Ms. Palmer said, Jamaica must be prepared to compete with the best in the world and aim to be among the best. “We still have a long way to go but the strategic development of national branding is now an urgent task and we see this workshop as part of the campaign to upgrade our premier brands and to increase the variety of available brands,”she noted.
Ms. Palmer noted however, that Jamaica still faced a number of challenges in implementing IPR protection due to limited technological, scientific capacity and the human and resource cost of establishing an effective IPR ring.
To fully exploit the potential of Jamaica, she said, exporters, producers and marketers must pay greater attention not only to building the Jamaican brand but to the protection of products and deterring the illegal use of brands such as Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaica Rum, Jamaican jerk, ackee and other authentic symbols.
Since becoming a signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and specifically, the trade-related aspect of intellectual property agreement, Ms. Palmer said that Minister Paulwell had been working assiduously on improving and implementing IPR legislation that would provide the foundation for the continued growth and development of the vibrant and growing sectors of the economy.
She said there is no reason why Jamaican brands could not take advantage of untapped opportunities within the global market place. “An attractive business climate, unique product mix and a readiness to facilitate e-business transactions are among the assets that this country possess. However, we must prevent or at least curb for example, the extent to which most of these benefits are not retained or exploited within Jamaica,” she said.
In order to succeed in such endeavours, Ms. Palmer said, Jamaica’s goods and services should have global recognition. “The time is therefore right for us to take stock as Jamaican companies, and indeed government, in building the Jamaican brand .globalisation leaves us no choice,” she stated.
Director of Policy Planning and Research in the Commerce Ministry, Reginald Budhan also stressed the importance of IP rights in a global economy. “Unless we move to embrace the provisions of intellectual property rights to enhance our competitiveness, our economies will lag behind. The implication is that others will build complicated monopolies ironically at a time when globalisation is advocating free competition and the removal of tariffs and non-tariffs barriers, ” he told the audience.
The net effect, he said, was that companies and countries, which were able to build these monopolies, would gouge themselves in market shares, while others scrounge around for scraps to sustain teaming millions of poor people.
He pointed out further, that Jamaica, like most developing countries were likely to face “certain problems” with the stringent provisions on intellectual property. This, he said, was likely to create significant marginalisation of developing countries to the dictate of the owners of IPR, who, in most cases, might not be so ready to transfer their technology at affordable prices.
“We have many examples of barriers that have been created restricting the production of say cheap drugs to fight global diseases like AIDS,” he cited.
Despite these challenges, Mr. Budhan said it had become obvious that Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries, could benefit from the intellectual property system in much the same way as industrialised nations.
The workshop continues today.

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