by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Intellectual Property Office of St. Kitts and Nevis is seeking public opinion on identifying goods and services that are colloquially, culturally or natively Kittitian and Nevisian.
Jihan Williams from The Intellectual Property Office of St. Kitts and Nevis made that call during the August 16 broadcast of Island Tea hosted by Azem Bailey, Kevon Hanley and Jade Johnson.
The Intellectual Property Office is responsible for registering intellectual property rights, copyrights, trademarks, patents, geographical indications, etc., in the Federation and abroad.
The 2008 economic partnership agreement with CARIFORUM through the European Union (EU) affords entrepreneurs and local businesses protection of the intellectual rights of St. Kitts and Nevis products and services marketed and sold within the EU.
“St Kitts and Nevis, entrepreneurs, having the opportunity to trade their goods in the EU, but specifically today what we’re talking about is registering trademarks, and if you want to export to the EU, that’s something that you should consider. It’s about protecting your brand. I always say trademark protection is like insurance for your brand,” explained Williams.
What about goods and services colloquially St. Kitts and Nevis and may not be easily translatable when classifying an item or service or trademark to the outside world?
“So bags [are] easy. But what happens when it’s guava cheese, and people in the EU don’t know, never heard about guava cheese… different local names that we use here that may not be obvious to people. So next thing, no, they will go and classify guava cheese in the class with cheese right when really and truly it belongs in the class we candy because of the nature of it… So what we have the opportunity to do now is to submit a list of products and services to the EU that are local; well, not necessarily originating in St Kitts and Nevis, but from the name of the product and the service, it’s not immediately obvious what it is. So we want to make sure that when somebody exports guava cheese to the EU, that it’s not wrongly classified.”
The exercise is being conducted throughout CARICOM and William emphasised that this is an opportunity for the Federation to identify the goods and services native to our island.
After referencing Michael B Jordan’s attempt to Trademark J’ouvert as the name for his signature rum, Williams cleared up some misconceptions of trademarks.
“I don’t think so. I think people perhaps are not aware of how trademarks work. So I think they think that once you trademark something, you’re protected, and nobody else at all in the world could use it… A trademark has a time period, so it can only be registered for a ten year period, which can be renewed indefinitely… you only get protection for the class or classes that you registered it in, and you only get protection in the country that you registered it in; I think [those are] three big misconceptions that people have about, about trademarks.”
If you have any suggestions to be included in the goods and services of St. Kitts and Nevis to be added to the EU list, you can email email@example.com.