Stakeholders learn how to make use of geographical indications
June 26, 2015
Stakeholders learn how to make use of geographical indications

Some local producers could possibly justify selling what they make at higher prices if they make use of geographical indications (GI).

At a workshop on June 18, organized by the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was explained that GI is a way for producers to identify distinctive qualities of their product{{more}} in order to justify higher prices and to protect characteristics of the product from exploitation by producers of competing products.

CIPO representative Susan DeShong disclosed that since the passage of an Act to facilitate GI in 2004, no applications for GI have been submitted to CIPO.

Last week’s workshop was therefore geared at increasing stakeholder capacity on GI, to identify their technical assistance needs and to assist them in developing drafts for GI applications.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and featured speaker Nathaniel Williams declared that no famous work of art could be compared to the beauty of the Caribbean as a set of island chains. He further highlighted that a Caribbean product should be unique and distinguishable from other products made in other areas of the world. He said the governments of the Caribbean recognized that there was need to look closely at the wide range of elements provided under intellectual property rights and encouraged participants to see their skills as more than a hobby, but as a specialty that can add value to their country through the use of GIs. He, however, expressed disappointment that so few practitioners had come forward to be a part of the workshop.

According to Malcolm Spence, a representative of the Office of Trade Negotiation at the CARICOM secretariat, the workshop was designed to help persons change some operational methods in order to ensure what is required to protect products through geographical indications.

He said GI products come from particular places and people pay extra for them because they know where the original product comes from.

“This workshop, we hope, will break the barriers that may have been preventing some of the applications that could come forward to come forward by helping you understand where you need to look for the value first of all and then how you might use the geographical indication process as a way of protecting that value.”(BK)