Tue | Aug 3, 2021

Protecting Brand Jamaica

Senators agree that the public should be educated about trademarks

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Senator Don Wehby addresses the Senate during the debate on the The Trade Marks (Amendment) Act, 2021 last Friday.
Senator Don Wehby addresses the Senate during the debate on the The Trade Marks (Amendment) Act, 2021 last Friday.
Senator Donna Scott-Mottley addresses the Senate last Friday during  debate of the bill titled The Trade Marks (Amendment) Act 2021, which was passed in the Senate without amendments.
Senator Donna Scott-Mottley addresses the Senate last Friday during debate of the bill titled The Trade Marks (Amendment) Act 2021, which was passed in the Senate without amendments.
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Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive national public education campaign to get Jamaicans from all walks of life conversant with the Trade Marks (Amendment) Act 2021 which was passed without amendment in the Senate on Friday.

Now instead of multiple applications for registration and various fees, Jamaicans can use a single application and pay one set of fees to register and protect their intellectual property rights.

In his contribution, Government Senator Don Wehby highlighted the fact that Jamaicans are a creative, talented and innovative people so they need to understand the value of their intellectual property and how to protect it.

“We often pass legislation and it is not supported by a significant education campaign,” he charged. “The little man on the corner of North and Duke streets who is, as we would say, ‘bussing a tune’, he can benefit from this amendment. The gentleman in the Ocho Rios market creating a new product, he can benefit from it. So this is not about the big companies; this is about educating all the creative minds in Jamaica to benefit from this amendment.”

The need to collaborate to provide education and sensitisation programmes about the importance of trademark registration and the benefits to be derived from Jamaica’s pending accession to the Madrid Protocol is urgent and should be prioritised, according to the Senator Wehby, given its potentially far-reaching impact.

“I see this legislative change as a huge positive for the small and medium-sized business sector once they are properly educated. Our accession to the Madrid Protocol and the changes to this bill will provide benefits to multiple sectors of the economy – manufacturing and export, agriculture, tourism, creative industries – artisans, musicians, songwriters, to name a few,” noted.

SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT

Explaining that the bill represents a huge step forward for Jamaica, in that it will give strong support and encouragement for the development of Jamaican talent and authentic local products, while reducing the costs associated with protection against brand exploitation and providing increased access to new markets and speed to market for businesses, he said it was a game changer.

In agreeing with Senator Wehby, Opposition Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns insisted that in keeping with the passage of modern and relevant legislation, there is also an urgent need to educate, inform and to get compliance among our populace on these very important matters.

“While we pass these amendments today, I ask the Government to commit to a new and inventive public education campaign that will allow everyone to understand and to comply. Because some people understand but they don’t comply, and I am hoping that as we continue, we will have a greater compliance rate.”

Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, while also giving full support to the bill, warned against a potential downside to the legislation, calling for a cost benefit analysis to determine if Jamaica stood to benefit financially, or lose revenue, as in the case of one of its Caribbean neighbours.

“I do understand that in terms of putting Jamaica in the category of being a place where it is easy to do business, that is a clear advantage but there are other aspects that you must analyse before we embark on a process. Trinidad actually became a member of this protocol in January 2021, and speaking to my colleagues from that jurisdiction, I gather that the income which is earned from the registration is already reduced because the international companies they would normally represent in Trinidad are now opting to file elsewhere.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com