JIS News

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) to undertake a Geographical Indications (Technical Cooperation) Project.
A Geographical Indication (GI) refers to a special category of intellectual property right. It is a designation, a sign similar to a trademark, which identifies a good/product/service as originating in a specific geographical territory where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
During the launch of the project and signing of the MoU at the Mona Visitors Lodge at the University of West Indies (UWI) yesterday (May 28), Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern, said that the project reflects “our growing recognition of the importance of intellectual property to our efforts to grow the Jamaican economy in a sustainable manner. In particular, it focuses on the tremendous potential of Geographical Indications.”
The two-year project, from July 2008-June 2010, will cost approximately US$730,000, and has the objective of assisting Jamaica to establish a functional and effective protection system for Geographical Indications in order to better position Jamaican quality products on national and international markets, using distinctive signs.
According to Mr. Stern, the project will, among other things, “identify the Jamaican products to be protected and establish a Geographical Indications Registry, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. This positive interaction will also bring an awareness of the importance of Geographical Indications to Jamaica and its capacity to contribute to the economic success of genuine Jamaican products”.
He noted that Jamaica has been blessed with products of unique quality, strong brand identity, and rich cultural traditions such as Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaican ginger, a range of jerk seasonings, spices, condiments, exotic rums and liqueurs.
Mr. Stern further noted that the project, which would reinforce efforts to promote the Jamaican brand, was timely, given counterfeit products that have emerged claiming to be genuine Jamaican products. “Not only do these practices deprive our economy of national income, but it poses a grave danger to the integrity and reputation of things Jamaican.this threat cannot be ignored,” he stated.
“We believe that this joint initiative will further enhance the development of Jamaica’s intellectual property system and promote greater levels of creativity and innovation among our people,” he added.The Protection of Geographical Indications Act was passed in 2004, establishing the legal framework for the protection of products designed under the Geographical Indications regime in Jamaica.
Work has begun on the accompanying Regulations, and it is anticipated that amendments to the Act will also allow for higher levels of protection for non-wines and spirits products, the Minister revealed.
Deputy Director of the IPI, Felix Addor, expressed pleasure to be able to collaborate with Jamaica in the project and to offer expertise in the development and protection of GIs. “Our collaboration in the two-year project is designed to enable Jamaica to develop an effective protection system for GIs, which meets the demands and tasks of Jamaican stakeholders. Without and effective protection at home (in Jamaica) you can’t do anything in preventing others from abusing well known geographical names of Jamaica,” he stated.
Turning to other intellectual property initiatives, Mr. Stern said that during this year, a Patents Directorate will be fully established with the passage of the new Patents and Design Act. An online system will be created to facilitate service provision by the directorate.
In addition, work on the Trademarks Automation System continues with the system now being used to conduct internal trademark searches, preparation of certificates and office action correspondence.
In addition, work is now at an advanced stage on a number of pieces of legislation, which are designed to assist the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) to continue to establish a modern and effective property system that will act as a catalyst for international competitiveness.
Cabinet has also approved the promulgation of the law for the protection of the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants and a working committee comprising representatives from the legal departments of the Ministries of Industry, Investment and Commerce and Agriculture, along with JIPO, will now begin work on drafting instructions.

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