Local and regional entrepreneurs and innovators continue to ignore the importance of protecting their intellectual property rights, according to the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO).
However, CAIPO Registrar in Barbados Heather Clarke today said local and regional officials were working to develop a regional framework to address the issue.
Addressing the official launch of the 2017 Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC) at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) this morning, Clarke said too often innovators failed to protect their intellectual property, including areas of packaging patent.
She did not say how much this neglect was costing Barbados and the Caribbean, but she reasoned that protecting their intellectual property would ensure “a sustained developed path” for the businesses and countries in the region.
“For most innovators and entrepreneurs in the region unfortunately, that has always been the challenge, being able to develop to a stage where you can realize and monetize those assets . . . It is not just a weakness for us here in Barbados but throughout the region,” Clarke said.
“Having protected [your work] you can then look at utilizing it or exploiting it – whether you have your joint ventures or whether you have your licenses because those are areas that have over the years we tended to overlook. But in the past few years there has been a focus on developing an appreciation for that area of monetizing and technology transfer.”
Clarke said while Barbados was still without a utility model regulation, officials here were working with other Caribbean Community members and their respective intellectual property offices towards the harmonization of processes and procedures regarding trademark and patent laws.
She said a regional body was being established with work already begun for a regional trademark manual to harmonize the regional trademark laws and guidelines.
“At the local level the Government of Barbados has, with the assistance of the World Intellectual Property Organization, formulated a national intellectual property strategic plan which is aimed at enhancing institutional and capacity building through realignment of intellectual property and related development policies,” Clarke added.
She said the national plan would ensure that key areas such as creativity, innovation and productivity were “central to the economic social and cultural wellbeing of Barbados”.
The CIC is an international support programme and business start-up accelerator for entrepreneurs in the region, providing them with a support platform to transform their intellectual ideas into profitable business models. It is organized by the Young Americas Business Trust, in collaboration with the Regional Entrepreneurial Asset Commercialization Hub (REACH), and supported by the IDB through its flagship Demand Solutions innovation and entrepreneurship forum.