Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Editors' Forum | Protect your property through trademarks - JIPO

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

For a one-time payment of $20,000, Jamaican producers of original works can secure protection for their intellectual property, but many Jamaicans producers and designers are failing to take advantage of this legislation.

Officials of the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), which is the country's primary agency with responsibility for matters relating to intellectual property rights, last Tuesday used a Gleaner Editors' Forum to appeal to persons to protect their original works.

Lilyclaire Bellamy, executive director of JIPO, told the forum that she was astounded that several exhibitors at the just-concluded Expo Jamaica 2018 trade show had a blank stare when she asked if they protected their creations.

"Walk into JIPO to protect your trademark, and protecting your property is one of the cheapest you can get. You spend $17,800 and you have that protection for 10 years. That gives you protection in one class.

"To give you protection in an additional class you spend $2,200. It's worth your while, and you shouldn't be at somewhere like the just-concluded Expo Jamaica 2018 and not have your trademark protected," said Bellamy.

Among the intellectual property which JIPO wants Jamaicans to protect are artistic development and programmes which are part of our cultural history, and Stephen Davidson, director of marketing and public relations at the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation (JCDC) agrees.

"The JCDC is about artistic development, but there are programmes and activities that are a part of the creative and cultural industry. Of course, we have to protect those products as well. So all our trademarks are protected under JIPO," Davidson told the forum.

"Also, we are producers of certain content such as festival songs and gospel songs, so those are also protected," added Davidson.

For Bellamy, foreigners take steps to protect their intellectual property which might be popular in Jamaica, and Jamaicans, who have spent time, energy and money to develop intellectually property, should also seek protection.

She noted that Jamaica's credibility is at stake when Jamaicans abuse the intellectual property of others.

"When Jamaica signed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreements, commonly referred to as the TRIPS Agreement, we indicated to the world, and the WTO, that we would follow certain guidelines and procedures.

"We would respect certain people's property, and when we speak about property ... whether local or foreign, this is tied up in the brands," argued Bellamy.

Attorney-at-law Sara-Ruth Allen noted that TRIPS covers all areas of intellectual property and provides the governing rules that member countries agree to play by.

"Ultimately, those rules are incorporated in our local legislature, which gives us power and authority to protect, here locally, and if we have difficulties, we have member states which also recognise those rights.

"There is an element of reciprocity which we have with TRIPS," Allen told the forum.

She said legislation now before Parliament is superior to TRIPS, and Jamaica will set a higher standard of protection of intellectual property. More than 150 countries are signatories to TRIPS.