16 November 2012

Caribbean IP Part 17: Jamaica

ISO 3166 country code: JM.

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking country in the Caribbean and celebrated 50 years of independence in August. 

The Commonwealth of Jamaica is a member of, among others, the Berne Convention, Nairobi Treaty, Nice Agreement, Paris Convention, Vienna Agreement and WIPO Convention.

The Jamaican Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) adminsters intellectual property rights in Jamaica. They have a colourful and informative website containing the forms required for protection. It is necessary to have an Address for Service in Jamaica in order to act before the JIPO.

The Trade Marks Act, 1999 was modelled on UK trade mark legislation (from 1994) and is therefore a modern law. However, Jamaica would need to make amendments to its regulations in order to accede to the Madrid Protocol (and ensure International Registrations would be enforceable there). With the addition of such regulations, Jamaica would be ready to manage Madrid Protocol designations although they would need to ensure they can always meet the 18-month examination deadline.

There is a provision for registering design copyright. The legislation is much older than its trade mark counterpart and protection is available on a national basis only; it seems unlikely that Jamaica has any short-term intentions to join the Hague System. Unlike many other Commonwealth jurisdictions in the region, it does not appear protection is accorded for UK Registered Designs (automatically or by extension).

WIPO's statistics, for trade marks at least, look more accurate than many of the others I have discovered.

A successful tale of branding is also told on WIPO's website in relation to Jamaica Blue Mountain® coffee. If Jamaican brands can become popular around the world - coupled with any pressure from the likes of the US and EU - then this may compel Jamaica to join the Madrid Protocol.