|IP legislation almost ready, says minister
Monday, March 03, 2003
COMMERCE, Science and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell says Jamaica is in the final stages of modernising the Intellectual Property (IP) rights legislation.
"We have done tremendous work in updating our copyright legislation, and we are about to take to Parliament our new Patents Act, Designs Act, and Geographic Indication Act, and we are even looking at indigenous plant materials legislation to ensure that there are adequate and secure safeguards for our people's innovativeness," he said.
Paulwell was speaking recently at a symposium hosted by the Mona School of Business at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
The two-day symposium was geared towards providing a development link among researchers, financiers and entrepreneurs. It also presented an opportunity for these groups of persons to respond effectively to new developments in science and technology and businesses which are being dramatically transformed by the process of globalisation.
"It is lawfully recognised that if Jamaica is going make it, we will have to be totally pre-occupied with science and technology in a world that is increasingly global. And what is going to ensure that we make it, is our ability to compete and our competitiveness," he said, adding that it was not the heavy machinery that was going to produce wealth, but the available intellectual property.
Paulwell told the audience that the Government must assume a lead role in helping to create an environment in which innovations and advances in science and technology were systematically absorbed into the consciousness and culture of the people.
"Science and technology, if properly introduced in Jamaica, can be one of the most powerful tools to spark sustainable development," he said.
"We believe the business community also has an obligation to ensure that the relevant infrastructure is in place to facilitate the use of science and technology in the development process," he said, emphasising that the only obvious route of joining the ranks of developed countries in the near future, was by embracing science and technology.
The minister also said it was critical that "we create a synergy between our commercial sector and science and technology, an area that is in urgent need of our deliberation and attention".
He noted, too, that opportunities abound in organisations such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC), where using bio-technology applications, they have produced a range of disease-free plantlets, such as banana, plantain, ginger and various ornamentals.
The SRC has also promoted several new innovations, from increased economic activities to the development of new food products.
Paulwell said that to date, more than 50 formulations have been developed by the food technology institute. This included a sorrel-based product line, which has triggered the development of a sorrel industry that has promising economic potential.
"We now wish to divest them to the private sector, and the SRC is welcoming persons who wish to participate," he said.
In addition, he emphasised the importance of establishing links among researchers, financers and the business community, and said he hoped the symposium would serve as a catalyst in that regard.
Mosina Jordan, mission director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who also addressed the function, noted that the science and technology revolution affected almost every aspect of people's daily lives.
She noted that all the products people enjoyed today were ideas formed 10 years ago, and were the result of substantial investment and research.
"Jamaica now needs to better position itself in developing this cutting edge technology, and instead of mainly supporting other people's projects, it should launch its own projects. Any society that is not organised to harness the results of this rapidly growing revolution to build a platform for global competitiveness, will be left behind," Jordan remarked.