JBDC (Jamaica Business Development Corporation) | Head Office: 14 Camp Road, Kingston, Jamaica | Incubator & Resource Centre: 76 Marcus Garvey Drive 1 876 928 5161-5 (Camp Rd.) | 1 876 758 3966-8 (IRC) info@jbdc.net

Protecting Your Intellectual Property (IP): IP Means Business

On November 2, 2013, Coach Winfried Schäfer of the Reggae Boyz declared in a statement that it is extremely important to develop the Jamaican trade mark. Coach Schäfer is aware that this IP term, “Trade Mark” represents the key to progress and growth by “branding” Jamaica in a way, which assures recognition of Jamaica’s quality, credibility and success in whatever we do.

Just as important, is the use of IP in your everyday business to grow your asset portfolio, build and maintain customer loyalty, protect hard-earned assets, and become recognizable in a competitive business environment. Here are a few ways in which intellectual property can impact your business:

  • Trade Marks/Branding
    The Houston Chronicle through its Small Business portal recently published an article entitled Importance of Product Packaging in Marketing which includes a very important statement about packaging. It reads: “Many product providers may think that the product and its performance is more important than what the packaging looks like, but the product packaging can play a role in the success or failure of the sales of the product”. Using a TRADE MARK to make your product or service identifiable plays a pivotal role in maintaining existing customers and wooing new ones to gain long-term customer loyalty. For example, Jamaican company Patwa Apparel began in 2007 as a home-based business and the brand quickly became known for innovative apparel with popular Jamaican phrases featured on them. The company grew rapidly within the last 5 years and now occupies a store at the prestigious Devon House. The focus of the company as one producing items reminiscent of Jamaica’s deep-rooted culture and traditions has inspired the owner to develop a new brand of Jamaican sauces and jams, 10 Fyah Side, which was launched in November 2013. The goodwill of a brand can build customer loyalty and company credibility to an all-time high, and will undoubtedly stimulate the development of other brands and products which can potentially corner the market. If MSMEs properly create and manage their brand(s) and become known “by name”, instead of just by product/service, any marketing campaign will be highly successful.
  • Copyright
    Original creations including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works are automatically covered by COPYRIGHT when created. This means that even if you fail to take steps to register your copyright to bolster its protection you still have a legal right of action if your creativity is infringed by another party. Therefore works which qualify for copyright including novels, plays, choreography, computer programs, architectural drawings, photographs, graphics and more can only be reproduced, performed, recorded, and translated with your permission, and this can include a licensing fee or royalties. Copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus an additional 50 years. A fledgling company may not see the importance of copyright and its protection from the outset, however having these assets as part of the company’s portfolio after up to 50 years of company growth will increase their value immensely over time.  These assets can be assigned, sold, traded, licensed or exclusively held and with Jamaica’s move towards IP being accepted collateral for funding/loans, a collection of IP assets can be the key to the growth of your business.
  • Patents and Designs
    A PATENT is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. Patents can also include pharmaceuticals. For example, in Jamaica one of the most famous patents is Canasol eyedrops, which is a pharmaceutical derivative of cannabis. On a daily basis, MSMEs create new technologies and equipment which tend to be bought by larger companies for use in their manufacturing processes. Not only does the finished product hold value, but the owner of the patent can create, re-create and modify the invention without seeking permission and that is the ultimate value available, particularly with the rate of change in modern technology. DESIGNS protect the stylistic and aesthetic elements of an item so that exact copies of these items cannot be created which will deceive the consumers, whether deliberately or innocently. This helps to protect the distinctiveness of a product from becoming commonplace and thus less valuable in the marketplace. Bridget Sandals, for example, manufactures footwear in many unique designs which, bolstered by the protection of these designs through registration, retain their value due to their exclusivity.

IP should be viewed as a very serious consideration for every business of every size. MSMEs are in the prime position to create and grow their IP asset base and to take advantage of the value of IP, which will grow with the business and gain credibility as the business grows. IP is a global concept and Jamaica has just as important a role to play in contributing to the sphere of IP-related products and services. Have you thought about your IP portfolio yet?