Sat | May 25, 2019

Law to protect branding overdue, says JCC

Published:Wednesday | May 15, 2019 | 12:23 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Sarah Hsia (left), attorney-at-law of Rockstone Legal; Melanie Subratie (centre), chair of the JCC Legs and Regs Committee; and Marlene Porter, manager, agribusiness, of JAMPRO, pore over a document at the JCC Stages Seminar on the Madrid Protocol at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday.
Sarah Hsia (left), attorney-at-law of Rockstone Legal; Melanie Subratie (centre), chair of the JCC Legs and Regs Committee; and Marlene Porter, manager, agribusiness, of JAMPRO, pore over a document at the JCC Stages Seminar on the Madrid Protocol at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday.

The head of a powerful business lobby is urging Jamaican lawmakers to fast-track long-overdue legislation on the Madrid Protocol to make it necessary for the protection of intellectual property on the world stage.

Trevor Fearon, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), said yesterday that while it was universally accepted that multiple pieces of legislation were queued for tabling, the organisation was calling for fresh impetus to be given to the protocol for the protection of Brand Jamaica.

Fearon told The Gleaner at yesterday’s JCC legislation and regulations seminar that be Jamaican businesses and products must be given support in order for them to benefit from any competitive advantage that can be garnered.

“We realise that sometimes there is a gap between what we say we want to do and the speed at which we get around to doing it. Sometimes there are just competing priorities,” said Fearon. “There are quite a few pieces of legislation that are in a queue. I think it’s very important, and so we certainly want to urge our legislators to bring it towards the front of the queue and get it done as quickly as possible,” he said.

The main advantage of the Madrid Protocol, according to Fearon, would be the ability of companies to have simultaneous registration of brands in as many of the countries that have acceded to the protocol. The JCC boss said that Jamaican firms must recognise the enormity of their brand equity and protect it or lose it.

TIME FRAME

From as far back as 2012, then Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton had placed on record his desire for the Portia Simpson Miller administration to set a time frame for signing the Madrid Protocol, which he had argued was necessary for Jamaica’s participation in the European Partnership Agreement.

Tufton stated then that Jamaica’s current trademark system only allowed for national protection, while the Madrid system provided for international registration and protection of trademarks.

MANY ADVANTAGES

Sarah Hsia, intellectual property attorney-at-law at Rockstone Legal, said that establishing the Madrid Protocol would be advantageous for Jamaican companies.

There are 120 countries that are already part of the Madrid Protocol and 104 signatories, including a number of regional organisations. Canada has signalled that it will accede to the agreement, while Trinidad and Tobago is scheduled to do the same by 2021.

Known colloquially as the Madrid system, the protocol has helped businesses protect more than a million marks worldwide over the past 120 years. The Madrid system is the primary international system for facilitating the registration of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions around the world and accounts for more than 80 per cent of world trade.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com