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JIS News

‘Paving the way to growth and development through the protection of intellectual property rights,’ is the mantra that characterises the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), the agency responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Jamaica.
Established in January 2001, JIPO, which falls under the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, has the critical mandate of administering intellectual property systems in Jamaica in the areas of: Trade Marks; Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications; Copyright and Related Rights: Patent; New Plant Varieties; and Layout-Designs (Topographies).
Since its inception, JIPO has undertaken several activities to enhance the development and protection of intellectual property rights in Jamaica.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Director at JIPO, Carol Simpson, says that JIPO’s primary focus is implementing the legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights, heightening public awareness and working in partnership with various agencies to ensure the protection of Jamaica’s intellectual property rights.
Copyright, she points out, is the protection of the legal rights of creators in their literary, artistic, musical, dramatic works; computer programmes; and architectural designs.
Trademarks, she outlines, is a distinctive sign that distinguishes the product of one enterprise from another, while patents has to do with the right that an inventor or innovator has.
“There is also the protection of geographical indications, which is the protection of products based on their geographic origin,” the Executive Director told JIS News. She adds that Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican rum and jerk are just some of the products that fit in this category.
Miss Simpson points out that a wide cross section of the public utilises the services of the Office, including companies; small business interests; entertainers; lawyers representing individuals and entities; creators; and inventors and designers.
“Many of the persons who come in, are those who want to register their trademark. They might have a product or service that they offer to the public that they might want to register. Other persons come for copyright information, seeking how they should go about protecting their works under the copyright system,” she outlines.
Additionally, she notes that other persons come in seeking information about collecting societies that can assist them, while there are students who visit to get information on intellectual property issues which they might be researching.
Highlighting the trademark registration process, Miss Simpson explains that firstly, an application to register a trademark must be filed at the Trade Marks & Designs Directorate of JIPO, on a specific form called TM1.
The application must contain a clear reproduction of the Mark being filed for registration, including any colours, forms, or three-dimensional features and should also contain a list of the goods and/or services to which the Mark will apply.
Miss Simpson also says that it is recommended that an applicant conducts a preliminary search and examination at JIPO, to ensure that the Mark for the goods and/or services which he/she is applying for, is not the same as, or similar to a Mark already registered, as this would prevent the applicant’s Mark from being registered.
In terms of payments, she notes that the Trade Mark fee is payable in two stages: $3,500, upon application to register; and additional payments when the mark is accepted for registration. On acceptance, $1,320 is also required for advertising the Mark in the Jamaica Gazette, and $3,500.00 for actual registration.
On the matter of enforcement of intellectual property rights and protection, she says that there is an intellectual property unit within the Organised Crime Investigation Division of the Police Force, which investigates complaints that are made in relation to the piracy of CDs and DVDs, or any intellectual property infringements which may exist.
“We are also fortunate to have in Jamaica, three collective administrations of rights which are societies that represent various creative groups,” Miss Simpson says.
These societies are: Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY), representing authors of literary works; Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JCAP), which represents songwriters and music publishers; and Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS), which represents producers of sound recording.
JIPO also assists the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), she relates to JIS News, to establish a regional system for the music society called the Caribbean Copyright Link. This society is a cost effective way of assisting with the distribution of royalties to the various songwriters and music publishers within the Caribbean.
“Our creators, therefore, based on this framework, are able to earn royalties whenever their work is used locally or internationally,” Miss Simpson states.
Discussions, at the international level, are currently taking place regarding the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and folklore.
“There is no international instrument that now protects these areas, however we are in discussions at the international level to come up with some international treaty or norm that will protect the expressions of our traditional culture,” she points out.
She adds that locally, JIPO has been working with the maroons and the Rastafarian community in this regard.
In terms of other day-to-day services, Miss Simpson says that the Office works closely with sister agencies, particularly the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), by conducting workshops and training sessions for their clients within the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector.
“We give them legal guidance and once they have an idea for a product or service to be offered to the public, we talk to them about how to protect the creative expressions that will result from these ideas,” the Executive Director tells JIS News.
Miss Simpson adds that JIPO has been carrying out an extensive public education campaign islandwide, and has plans to develop a curriculum for intellectual property within the teachers’ colleges.
“Intellectual property rights affect our lives every single day. We are in touch with the creative world one way or another whether the entertainment aspect, the music, the literary, the computer programme that we use in our daily lives or the products that we use,” she says.
“It is the invention of the motorcar, the microwave that makes our lives so much more enjoyable…so it is important that we seek to have persons respect the right of our creators, and that the creators themselves are able to benefit and earn from the use of their work by others,” Miss Simpson tells JIS News.
For more information on the work of JIPO or the services that they offer, call 754-6360 or visit their website at www.jipo.gov.jm.