BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – 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 four million (US$4.23 million to US$5.16 million) 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 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.
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, who 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.”
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 focuses on boosting the participation of CARIFORUM countries in the world economy and stimulate innovation and competitiveness of the private sector.
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 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 a mentorship programme, among others.