28 September 2012

Caribbean IP Part 4: The Bahamas

ISO 3166 country code: BS.

The Registrar General's Department in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, is responsible for the administration of IP rights on the islands.

Their website provides some brief information on registering a trade mark. They do not provide the forms on the website and these need obtaining from the Office. The site also indicates that the official fees are variable depending on the size of the mark.

There is no information on designs on the website but it is possible to register design copyright with the Registrar under provisions in the Industrial Property Act, 1965 - Cap. 324.

I feel WIPO's stats need taking with a pinch of salt. They state an increase of trade mark filings from 221 applications to 2,016 in one year (2005-2006) which I find hard to believe.

The Registrar General's website states that trade mark registration can be achieved in 18 months. In my experience this is a bit optimistic and registrations taking 3-4 years are not unheard of and can be closer to the norm.

The trade mark law is highly archaic, using the former British classification system and requiring a separate Authorisation of Agent per class. Classes 23 through to 35 (of 50 classes) relate to textiles and cloths, which perhaps gives you an idea of the era and location in which the classification was devised. This classification also lacks provision for service marks. If you would like a copy of this classification please contact me.

In conclusion, the Bahamas is a very prosperous nation in this region, albeit almost exclusively dependent on tourism and offshore banking, but its IP functions and legislation are in major need of modernisation and investment.