Tuesday 16 October, 2018

More protection for goods, Senate approves Geographic Indication Bill

Manufacturers of goods in Jamaica now have greater protection against persons especially in those in overseas markets who try to offer inferior products claiming the products were made or produced locally.

This has been made possible as the Senate on Friday approved the Protection of Geographical Indications Bill with three amendments.

The Bill seeks to provide a stronger level of protection on geographical indications (GIs) of goods, thereby preventing a designation of a product as being made other than in the true place of origin.

GIs are defined as indications that identify a particular product as originating in the territory of a region or locality where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Piloting the Bill, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, said it was necessary to amend the law to protect the country's image from abuse of foreign competitors who would seek to misappropriate the country's reputation.

“This would be done by creating imitation Jamaican products. The amendments to the Act seek to accord the highest level of protection for the geographical indications afforded by the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS),” said Johnson Smith who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

In his contribution to the debate, Government Senator, Don Wehby, said the Bill will protect Jamaican goods and will significantly benefit local farmers, as it will stimulate development.

“It will encourage innovation and sustainability to the agro-industry and provide a sociocultural boost and a transformation of our farmers, and create employment,” Wehby said.

And Opposition Senator, Sophia Fraser-Binns, in her contribution to the debate, noted that the amended legislation will help to achieve greater intellectual property rights.

Fraser-Binns commended the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) for its work to “not just give support to intellectual property rights, but also to advocate and increase public education on the importance of intellectual property rights”.

Among the provisions of the legislation is the extension of protection to all goods, including wines and spirits.

It also seeks to provide for the establishment of a Geographical Indications Advisory Committee, which is tasked with the reviewing of applications for the registration of a geographical indication.

It also makes provision for the utilisation of the Intellectual Property Journal, whereby certain requisite publications will be made by the Registrar of JIPO.