Intellectual Property registrars and other legal advisors for Governments in Caricom territories will gather in St George’s next week to participate in a one week World Intellectual Property Organisation Sub-Regional Training Workshop and Round Table on Geographical Indications and Branding in the Context of the Implementation of the Intellectual Property Provisions of the EC-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement.
Speakers will include Mr. Malcolm Spence, Senior Coordinator, Intellectual Property, Science and Technology Issues, Office of Trade Negotiations, Bridgetown, Barbados; Mr. Paul Regis, Head, Caribbean Unit, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean; Mr. Vincent Fautrel, Senior Program Coordinator from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation development program in the CARICOM region and Policy Adviser to the Minister for Legal Affairs, Mr Robert Branch.
Participants are also expected to discuss Key concepts of origin-linked products and geographical indications; National/Regional branding; Contributions of trademarks and Geographic Indicators with regards to development, use, protection, economic value of protection and enforcing and The basics of business strategy and the role of IP in marketing origin-linked products with a strong identity linked to a territory/region.
The one week workshop will be held at the Coyaba Hotel conference room and will be open by Minister for Tourism and Culture Hon Alexandria Otway-Noel. The benefits of Geographic Indicators as an Intellectual Property tool has long been used by companies and some states as a means to bring financial rewards, but Grenada and many Caricom nations are yet to put the structures and mechanism in place to take advantage of the financial benefits.
A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.
The best case for the region is the impact Blue Mountain coffee has brought to Jamaica not just as an international export product but to its tourism industry. “It is believe that Grenada’s nutmeg and cocoa have some special qualities and it’s from that vantage point we can use it as a geographic indicator to promote the country’s product and destination,” said Robert Branch of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Like trademarks, geographical indications are regulated locally by each country because conditions of registration such as differences in the generic use of terms vary from country to country. When products with GIs acquire a reputation of international magnitude, some other products may try to pass themselves off as the authentic GI products. This kind of competition is often seen as unfair, as it may discourage traditional producers as well as mislead consumers.