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The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), is seeking certification and registration for three of Jamaica’s best known products under the Geographical Indications (GIs) Protection System, to assist with branding for enhanced global marketing, and to help Jamaica fight counterfeiting of its GIs.
The products are: Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaica Rum, and Jamaica Jerk Seasoning. The disclosure was made by local expert, Coordinator of the Geographical Indications Jamaica Project, Sara-Ruth Allen, at a workshop held yesterday (September 15), for coffee growers and processors at the Coffee Industry Board in Kingston.
“A geographical indication (GI ) is a specific category of intellectual property rights and they (GIs) are designations which identify a good or a service, as originating in a specific territory where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its (product) geographical origin,”
Mrs Allen explained that, “many developing and industrial countries acknowledge the utility of GIs as a tool that contributes to the promotion of economic and cultural value of the product.”
The main purpose of the workshop, which is sponsored by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, is to formulate production standards and a well designed Code of Practice (Rules), which are to be set up collectively, in order to preserve the quality and reputation of the respective products, and to allow for the proper monitoring of the standards.
Continuing, Mrs. Allen explained that, “whether it’s Jamaica Blue Mountain for coffee or say, Geneva for watches, the exclusive right to use these geographical names for products that have a corresponding origin, is of a genuine commercial interest for each country, especially through globalisation of trade.”
“So little countries like Jamaica and Switzerland, which generally can’t compete on the scale of the production must focus on quality, sometimes we like to say niche products, to be able to remain competitive in the national and international market. So this being said, Jamaica acknowledges the importance of having an effective protection system, for the geographical indications at the national level, hence the Geographical Indications Act of 2004,” she stated.
Mrs. Allen added that part of the project will see the completion of the Act, by the drafting and passage of the regulations. “So the Jamaican Government is preparing to implement the GIs protection in its legal system and to be able to take measures against the illegitimate use of Jamaican GIs by anybody,” she assured.
Mrs. Allen cited legal support, implementation of the effective sustainable GI protection, and a country’s ability to effectively fight counterfeiting of its GIs, as the main benefits and opportunities of regulations supporting Jamaican GIs.
The last crop of coffee yielded 270,000 boxes, weighing 60lbs each, before processing and 9.5 lbs after processing, totalling 2.6 million lbs, which equates to US$35 million to US$40 million on the international market. Next year, the yield is projected at close to 400,000 lbs, as the country recovers from the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, as well as two other storm systems.
The remaining two workshops, one each for Jamaican rum and Jerk seasoning producers, will be held on September 16 and 17, whilst another, which brings together representatives of the three major products, along with Government and legal bodies under the umbrella of the GI Working Group will be held on Thursday, September 18, at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica in Kingston.
The workshops are being facilitated by Dr. Sophie Reviron, who holds a PhD in Food Economics. Her particular interests are in supply chains organisation, global performance of the food systems, and food marketing.