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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, has reiterated the Government’s commitment to creating and maintaining an enabling environment for Jamaican innovators to register, protect, monetise and commercialise their intellectual property (IP) rights.

“The protection of the intellectual property of our innovators is another step in the ecosystem that we must bolster in support of their growth and expansion,” said the Minister, during his address at the virtual Regional High-Level Meeting on Intellectual Property Capacity Building for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Support Institutions, on Tuesday (November 10).

“The Government recognises that the IP system is instrumental to leveraging the potential of the MSME sector as a catalyst for economic growth and development and social and cultural well-being,” Mr. Shaw said.

He further noted that the Government acknowledges the importance of a modern intellectual property regime as critical to striking a balance between the interest of innovators and the public interest, thereby providing an environment in which creativity and invention can flourish, for the benefit of all.

At the same time, the Minister said it is critical that Jamaica increase its understanding and registration of IP rights for the MSME sector, especially given the contribution of the MSME to the local job market.

“Our MSMEs account for 80 per cent of the jobs in our economy and contribute significantly to our gross domestic product, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and, importantly, female employment and social stability,” he said.

Therefore, Mr. Shaw said that “improving their capacity to innovate, as well as the capacity of the institutions that support them, is key to national development”.

To this end, he said the Government has implemented several initiatives to benefit MSMEs, including the $540-million allocation to the Access to Finance for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises project, which aims to improve the availability of financing for MSMEs.

The Minister commended the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) for its sterling effort and contribution to the development of the MSME sector in Jamaica.

Mr. Shaw also thanked the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the webinar, which sought to raise awareness of the importance of IP to enhancing the competitiveness of MSMEs.

For her part, Executive Director of JIPO, Lilyclaire Bellamy, expressed hope that more members of the MSME sector will recognise the importance of IP protection in helping with the development of their businesses and to move forward.

“Now, in this time of COVID, it’s really critical that you distinguish yourself with your branding, and it is also an opportunity for us here in Jamaica and the rest of the region to utilise the change in our global circumstances to promote our industries,” she said.

Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, WIPO, Beatriz Amorim, underscored the close connection between IP and innovation.

She, however, noted that IP goes beyond technological innovation, as industrial design, trademarks, copyright and geographical indications are also very crucial.

She cited GraceKennedy Limited as one of the successful global brands from the region, which is “a great example of smart and innovative use of trademark, design and packaging”.

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