Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Gov't moves to protect brand Jamaica
Jamaica Observer
Thursday, November 20, 2003



CABINET on Monday gave the go-ahead for the tabling of a Bill which seeks to support the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights through the Protection of Geographical Indications Act.

"What this Bill seeks to do is to protect the brand name linked with a geographical origin of particular goods," Senator Burchell Whiteman, the minister of information, said at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

The Bill, he said, would play a critical role in commercial relations, both nationally and internationally. He pointed out that the wrongful use of geographical indications was contrary to honest practices in industry and commerce, and misleading for purchasers of goods for which the indications are used.

The term 'Geographical Indications', he explained, was chosen by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), to describe the subject matter of a new Treaty for the international protection of names and symbols, which indicated a certain geographical origin of a given good.

The minister noted that persons wrongfully use such indications to secure an unfair advantage over their competitors.

"Jamaica is a brand in many areas," said Senator Whiteman, as he commented on the financial gains for the island under the Act. "The intention is to ensure that we do not lose in the future and that we do not permit persons to misrepresent their product and therefore, in a sense, detract from our potential to earn because our product has a particular character or quality."

He cited the "millions of dollars" the country has lost because of inadequate protection of its music and other art forms.

According to Prime Minister PJ Patterson, the legislation to protect the island's Geographical Indications would be fast-tracked in both Houses, because of the urgency to also protect Jamaica's produce.

"It will be tabled in Parliament very quickly, as soon as it is in printed form, and we hope we will gain the concurrence of the Opposition to pass it with dispatch, because it is in the interest of Jamaica's exporters and the productive sector," the prime minister said.