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Brand Jamaica to get protection

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

JAMAICA can mean anything these days. It could describe the world's fastest man, it could be the name of a French Rock band, or it could indicate the home of the late reggae icon Bob Marley.

So popular and intriguing is brand Jamaica that the Government plans to sign the Madrid Protocol, a treaty that protects international trademarks. "Brand Jamaica is most exploited," said Carol Simpson, executive director of Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).

The country has performed well in the creative industries, notably, music and fashion and most recently the sporting arena, thus attracting copycats.

The international community's penchant for brand Jamaica, without regard to authenticity, means the island should protect its image, Simpson said.

JIPO was displeased when a French rock band named itself Jamaica, but had no power to intervene, she said.

"Negative connotations can be associated with the name Jamaica," Simpson said. And once an impression has been created it becomes hard to change.

JIPO unsuccessfully lobbied the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, for the protection of county names via an amendment to another treaty, the Paris Convention, she said.

"Everything Jamaican cannot be protected, but some products can be." Anthony Hylton, Minister of industry, investment and commerce, said at a meeting with stakeholders that Jamaica will sign the protocol once the Trade Marks Act has been amended.

Under the protocol, Jamaican companies and businesses marketing and distributing products and services internationally would be confident that their brands and trademarks were protected.

The signing of the protocol is timely, said Simpson, as the government is pushing businesses to export.

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