Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandohie.
Business industry stakeholders are optimistic about the benefits to be derived from Jamaica’s impending accession to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, also known as the Madrid Protocol.
The global treaty, which is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), facilitates the process of registration by trademark owners in multiple member countries by virtue of filing a single application in any of those territories.
This process will be facilitated locally through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).
Jamaica’s accession is being supported through proposed amendments to the Trademarks Act, piloted in the House of Representatives by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw.
The Bill, titled ‘An Act to Amend the Trademarks Act’, was passed unchanged in the House on Tuesday (June 1).
Minister Shaw, in closing the debate, indicated that he would be seeking Cabinet’s approval for Jamaica’s accession to the Protocol and looking to expedite development of the supporting regulations, with a view to ratifying the facility by July.
Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandohie, says the Madrid Protocol’s adoption will be an “important step in Jamaica’s robust economic recovery”, while noting that it will “positively impact” multiple key sectors.
“This will bring immediate benefits of market access, better speed to market, protection against brand abuse, and lower cost of registration, to not only companies in the manufacturing and export sectors but also to persons in the creative industries, our sportspersons, our musicians [and the] agricultural sector,” he tells JIS News.
Additionally, Mr. Pandohie says that Jamaica, on becoming a signatory to the Protocol, will join more than 120 other member countries that, he points out, account for more than 80 per cent of global trade.
The President notes that a trademark is a key aspect of a business’ identity and a core part of connecting with clients/consumers.
“It has the potential to increase in value and is an intangible asset which can even be used as collateral to obtain financing,” he adds.
Mr. Pandohie says that as a “vocal advocate” for Jamaica’s accession to the Protocol, the JMEA is heartened that the Government has embarked on this undertaking.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr., says the decision is “a step in the right direction”.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr.
This, he notes, as it will present the opportunity for Jamaican businesses, especially those in the creative industries, to get their trademarks registered and, in the process, “protect themselves” against exploitation.
Noting that the Protocol is a convenient and cost-effective way to register trademarks internationally, Mr. Distant says the facility will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, “as previously, the cost of registration on a country by country basis was very expensive”.
“Certainly, we [at the JCC] are quite pleased to see [the proposed accession] being placed as a primary agenda of the Government, and we are actively supporting moving this forward,” he tells JIS News.
Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, foresees the Protocol also safeguarding Jamaica’s globally renowned brands against commercial piracy.
“If we get those registered, then you won’t have… [external] entities benefiting from our brands, and our losing potential revenue,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Wan argues that, in the same vein, local companies would need to be mindful and ensure they are not copying or engaged in unauthorised use of any brand/name or product they are seeking to register and market.
Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) President, David Wan.
“Overall, I think [accession to the Madrid Protocol] is a very good move [that] will serve to protect us,” he adds.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is described as Jamaica's "Business Ministry." It's mandate is to lead the development of policies that will create growth and jobs, while achieving social inclusion and consumer protection. The Ministry, working its stakeholders is primarily responsible for business policy development, monitoring and evaluation, while giving direction and oversight to a cluster of implementing departments and agencies.
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