14 September 2012

Caribbean IP

I'll now start a regular feature on intellectual property in the Caribbean. I'll use the definition of the Caribbean provided by Wikipedia and supplement it with Belize, Guyana and Suriname. As these three countries are not officially Spanish-speaking they are more often associated with the Caribbean than they are with Central America or South America.
It is easy to think of the Caribbean as paradise holiday islands in the sun, which can be true, but it is a diverse region containing high income territories such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands to Haiti, often considered the "poorest country in the Western Hemisphere", and communist Cuba.

This is a region where lots of IP legislation has been modelled on that of the United Kingdom, and many British firms have good contacts in this part of the world. 12 of the independent Caribbean jurisdictions have a British colonial past, and five remain British overseas territories. However, do not rely solely on the UK Intellectual Property Office's advice contained on their website. I have found that this contains errors, particularly with respect to designs. I brought these to their attention when I wrote that blog post but it seems as though they are not in a rush to amend these pages.

The Caribbean contains three independent nations that can also be put into a Latin America bracket: Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

I will not include the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique or the overseas collectivities of St Barthélemy and St Martin as these (except St Barthélemy) are covered by French and Community Trade Marks (including International designations). Inhabited Caribbean islands belonging to Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela will also be excluded.

This will leave two insular areas of the United States: Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and finally the Dutch Verwantschapslanden (kindred countries): Aruba, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

To avoid any bias which I could have - and I have been lucky enough to visit three of the region's beautiful islands - I will approach this in alphabetical order:
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Cuba
  • Curaçao
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Puerto Rico
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sint Maarten
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • US Virgin Islands
Bermuda is omitted here as it is not a Caribbean country; it is actually located closer to Canada. However, it is an associated member of the economic group the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Furthermore, Britain's second oldest remaining colony (after Bemuda), St Helena is often wrongly assumed to be with the other "Saint" islands in the Caribbean. It is very remote being located in the South Atlantic Ocean; Africa is the usual continent it is assigned to.

Nevertheless, if there is time I will also take a look at Bermuda and St Helena. In the meantime, stay tuned for 'Episode 1: Anguilla' next week.

As my practice concentrates on trade marks and designs I will focus on these IP rights in the main, but being able to handle extension of UK patent rights where this is a purely administrative task, I may touch on these too.