15 January 2013

Caribbean IP Part 24: Suriname

ISO 3166 country code: SR.

Suriname, or Surinam, is the smallest independent nation in South America but with a Dutch-colonial history it is often categorised with the Caribbean (see also neighbouring English-speaking Guyana). It is an ethnically diverse nation yet Dutch remains the official language, although there are dialectal differences from the Dutch dialects spoken in Europe.

Suriname is a member of the Berne Convention, Hague Agreement, Nice Agreement, Paris Convention, Strasbourg Agreement and WIPO Convention. Most of these memberships were continuations of the Netherlands' memberships following Suriname's independence in 1975.

Notably, this includes the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. However, this membership only extends to the Hague Act and not the Geneva Act. Applicants from Geneva Act only members will not be able to use the Hague System for protecting designs in Suriname. This would include an EU applicant who can rely only on the EU's Geneva Act membership e.g. the likes of British, Danish, Finnish, Irish, Spanish and Swedish applicants.

It is not apparent that independent industrial design registration is available for Suriname. For trade marks, Suriname does not have membership of the Madrid Protocol but national applications can be filed locally. There are backlogs with applications but it isn't a complete black hole and applications do eventually mature to registration.

Service marks are not yet registrable - the trade mark legislation dates from colonial times - and patent protection is unavailable in Suriname. Little mention appears to being made to updating legislation in relation to intellectual property which leaves an impression that Suriname has little interest in intellectual property rights.