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The European Union flag flies in the wind in front of the economic bloc's office in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: The Daily Observer)

EU recommits support for the use of Intellectual Property Rights in the Caribbean

The European Union flag flies in the wind in front of the economic bloc's office in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: The Daily Observer)

 The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) says it is increasing its support to the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation (CarIPI) project.

CarIPI will increase its budget from Euro 3.28 million to 4 million (One Euro =US$1.29 cents) to further aid regional enterprises in increasing their innovation and competitiveness.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has agreed to add Euro 750,000 to the CARIFORUM Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation project with the aim of stepping-up efforts to strengthen the intellectual property (IP) rights environment in the Caribbean.

“With the addition of more funds to the CarIPI project, we can carry out more activities that support innovation, economic diversification and private sector development — all essential in assisting the Caribbean nations to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and pave the way to economic recovery,” said the Ambassador to the Delegation of The European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Malgorzata Wasilewska.

Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, head of delegation, European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM
(Photo: Tallawah Magazine)

CarIPI’s project manager, Alexandra Mayr said “we would like to reach out to more firms in the region, and help them to use intellectual property rights to generate more value from their products and services”.

The EU said intellectual property and innovation are critical components in fostering trade and investment  as  well  as  stimulating innovation and competitiveness in the private sector.

It said local enterprises that trade their products across borders within the Caribbean and beyond increasingly face the reality of unauthorised use of their reputation and brand image.

“Their design or technology may be copied and pirated and counterfeit versions of their products sold to consumers.  There is a global increase in the proliferation of pirated   and   counterfeited   products,   even   within the   critical pharmaceutical   and health-related product markets.”

(Photo: Dacast)

According to a statement issued here, an exporter, whose brand name is already being used and protected by another entity in major export markets, can be forced to undertake a costly rebranding exercise to maintain market presence in the region. Therefore, it is critical for exporters to understand the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) protection and the role IP plays in international trade.

“Added to this, the current global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the rise in online trade, and the growth in the use of online business platforms. As a result, more companies, including micro enterprises, are now thinking about protecting their innovation and creativity around their products and brands.”

Since its launch in November 2019, the CarIPI project has worked towards creating a strong   enabling   environment   for   IP   creation,   protection,   administration, and enforcement. It also  focusses  on boosting the  participation  of  CARIFORUM  countries in  the  world  economy  and  stimulate  innovation  and  competitiveness  of  the  private sector

“We want regional entrepreneurs to know: your products or services have uniqueness and value that can be recognised nationally and internationally. It is important to wrap it in the protection of some form of intellectual property…”

— Dr Wendy Hollingsworth, CarIPI activity leader and IPR expert

The CarIPI project is successfully advising the private sector in the Caribbean working directly with producers of origin-linked products (OLPs) such as rum, spices on how to use the Intellectual Property system to boost exports in international markets, and protect their brands.

Resources such as webinars training, and a mentorship programmes for OLPs using geographical indications will be launched this summer.

“We want regional entrepreneurs to know: your products or services have uniqueness and value that can be recognised nationally and internationally. It is important to wrap it in the protection of some form of intellectual property and be able to develop a strong market position as you trade individually or as a group,” said the Barbados-based CarIPI Activity Leader and IPR expert Dr. Wendy Hollingsworth.

The CarIPI project also includes training all stakeholder groups in the public and private in IP and Innovation solutions, providing support on legal reform processes for IP, supporting states in setting-up or improving their current IP administration practice, and supporting businesses in their IP strategies through mentorship programme, among others.