Ganja producers seek JIPO protection

Ganja producers seek JIPO protection

— potential for geographic indication status

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Friday, April 24, 2015

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MORE than a dozen applications to register ganja products are before the state-run Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), which overseas rights in Jamaica including patents and trademarks.

"There are approximately five patents and about 10 trademark applications," stated Lilyclaire Bellamy, acting executive director and legal counsel at JIPO's Trafalgar Road head office in Kingston on Monday.

JIPO didn't immediately reveal the name of the applicants but the Dr Henry Lowe-controlled Medicanja is reportedly among them.

Even as legal producers aim to register medical marijuana products, JIPO is encouraging them to work together and apply for geographic indication (GI) status. This would provide greater global protection by linking the plant to its geographical origin in an effort to protect against counterfeiting.

Legal producers would include the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology as well as others who will receive licences under the new decriminalised ganja regime.

"Ganja has a strong GI potential. What we are looking at is the medicinal aspects of ganja. Historically, Jamaicans have always known -- from a traditional knowledge point of view -- the medicinal benefits of ganja," said Bellamy.

"You can come up with medical derivatives from ganja and you can seek to have that protected as a GI," she said, giving examples of Cannasol and Asthmasol which were two Jamaican cannabis medicinal products which had the potential for patenting.

JIPO unveiled the island's GI logo this week and expects to register Jamaican jerk as the country's first GI by July.

The island initially started negotiations with jerk, rum and coffee producers eight years earlier to attain GI status. JIPO expects rum to follow closely but coffee consultations remain.

"GI serves as a model for other entities," said Bellamy who encouraged producers of cocoa, coconut, skinny ginger and logwood honey to apply. "There are several countries in the world that recognise the importance and value of GIs. So they will buy these products over another."

Importantly GIs protect against the use of misleading terms like Jamaican-style, Jamaican-kind, and Jamaica-type, according to the new GI Manual also launched on Monday by JIPO.

"GIs therefore enjoy stronger protection than certification marks as they must maintain that characteristic link to the country or other geographic origin," added the GI Manual.

In May 2008 JIPO launched a GI capacity-building project in partnership with the Swiss Federal Intellectual Property Institute to assist in developing GIs which led to jerk, rum and coffee becoming forerunners to GI registration.

On Monday, JIPO launched its intellectual property week which ends Sunday, April 26.

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