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KINGSTON — The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) has been instructed to fast-track efforts to protect brand Jamaica in the area of rum through Geographical Indication (GI) registration.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Christopher Tufton, who made the revelation during a tour of the Spanish Town Road manufacturing and bottling facilities of J Wray and Nephew e yesterday (Sept. 14), said the move will  significantly boost brand recognition of the product.

He informed that a fast-paced timetable of mid to year-end 2012 has been set for the promulgation of the relevant GI legislation to facilitate the process.

A Geographical Indication is a name or sign used on certain products, which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin. In the context of the Jamaican product, this designation will protect the integrity of Jamaican rums, discourage piracy and product counterfeiting and in general, enhance the competitiveness of the product. 

Commending Wray and Nephew for continuing to "grow and modernise the iconic enterprise", the Minister emphasised that despite the challenges, manufacturing has a future in Jamaica. He said that at this important stage in the country's economic life, manufacturers like Wray and Nephew need to send a strong signal and become the catalyst to spur others to invest and build.

The Minister charged manufacturers to strategise and improve operations, noting that "this was the best time in 30 years to retool and assume critical efficiencies." 

Bemoaning what he referred to as the "entrenchment of uncompetitiveness" because of the acquisition and utilisation of dated technology, Dr. Tufton advises that in today's scenario, the emphasis must be on "following the lead of one's competitor,"  rather than on obtaining technology that has been outdated and discarded.

Re-tooling in cutting edge technology, he stated, can save as much 10 per cent of the cost of production.

The Minister noted further that with capital equipment depreciation (which allows for the write-off of the cost of equipment over its estimated useful life) manufacturers now had a great opportunity to retool and modernise and in so doing, enhance their productivity, compete successfully and grow the Jamaican economy.

By Allan Brooks, JIS Reporter