JIS News

Government’s move to protect brand Jamaica has been advanced with Parliament passing the Geographical Indication (GI) Law on January 14.
The law gives recognition and protection to Jamaica as a brand, ensuring that persons do not misleadingly pass off their products as originating from the island.
Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, commenting recently on the passing of the legislation, said it would ensure greater protection for the name “Jamaica”. He pointed out the development was “quite significant as Jamaica is a good brand internationally.”
GIs are used to indicate the geographical origin of particular goods, whether agricultural or manufactured, provided that those goods derive their particular characteristics from their geographic origin. It suggests to customers, some key characteristics of the goods, such as quality and reputation, which are essentially attributable to its geographic origin.
Considered to be valuable to business interests, GIs are protected under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of 1994.
The TRIPs Agreement requires WTO members to provide the legal means for interested parties to prevent the use of a GI that: (1) indicates or suggests that a good originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the good; or (2) constitutes an act of unfair competition.
In the past, GIs were regarded as exclusively of interest to a few wine and cheese producing countries, in addition to having developed the reputation of being that area of intellectual property, which was seldom understood and was thus dominated by a few specialists.
This has however changed owing mainly to the coming into force of the TRIPs Agreement, which contains obligations for WTO members with regards to the protection of intellectual property. In addition, countries have become increasingly aware that geographical indications, like trademarks, are valuable as marketing tools.
A central trait of GI is that each and every producer, which is located in the area to which the GI refers, has the right to use the indication for the products originating in the particular area, and is generally subject to compliance with quality standards and other requirements.
Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet press briefing last November, explained that the GI legislation would play a critical role in commercial relations, both nationally and internationally, while pointing out that the wrongful use of GIs was contrary to honest practices in industry and commerce, and misleading for purchasers of goods for which the indications were used.
The Minister noted that persons wrongfully used such indications to secure an unfair advantage over their competitors.
Noting that Jamaica stood to gain financially from the passing of the legislation, Mr. Whiteman said, “the intention is to ensure that we do not lose in the future and that we do not permit persons to misrepresent their product and therefore, in a sense, detract from our potential to earn because our product has a particular character or quality.”

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