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Bill boosts protections for location-specific intellectual property

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Apr 30, 2015

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The Geographical Indications Bill, 2015, tabled yesterday in the House of Assembly, seeks to bring the country’s protection of geographical indications in line with standards set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.

The bill, tabled yesterday in the House of Assembly, was one of a suite of seven bills seeking to overhaul the country’s intellectual property (IP) legislation as the country seeks WTO accession. Powers of enforcement lie within the registrar of the Registrar General’s Department with responsibility for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

A geographic indication identifies goods as originating in a territory where the quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is attributable to its geographical origin.

Common examples of products using such origin labeling include many French wines and regional cheeses, where regional or geographic distinction may act as certification of a product’s qualities or enjoy a certain reputation.

In fact, the bill devotes an entire section to the protection of homonymous geographical indications for wines to comply with WTO standards. However, geographic indication legislation has since become increasingly associated with protecting handicraft and agricultural products.

According to the bill, “Nothing in this act shall prevent continued and similar use in The Bahamas, of a particular geographical indication of another country identifying wines or spirits in connection with goods and services by citizens or permanent residents if The Bahamas, who have used that geographical indication in a continuous manner with regard to the same or related goods or services in The Bahamas for a period of at least 10 years immediately preceding the commencement of this act.”

The bill provides protection to a geographical indication whether or not it is registered and will exclude protection should the indications “offend public order and morality” or cease to be protected in their country of origin, “or that have fallen into disuse in that country”.

Furthermore, a practicing counsel and attorney who is a Bahamian resident must represent applicants whose ordinary residence or principal place of business is outside The Bahamas.


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