NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Attorney General Ryan Pinder yesterday acknowledged The Bahamas’ failure to meet international standards in providing sufficient intellectual property protection for Bahamians, citing inadequate laws and a cumbersome registration system.
“The plain truth is that when it comes to providing necessary intellectual protection for our people to protect their creations and business innovations, and the creation of a proper platform for the domestic and international protection of these important assets, The Bahamas has been negligent in keeping up with international standards to provide you with adequate opportunities for economic growth and development,” Pinder stated while addressing an intellectual property awareness training workshop focused on the creative and agro-processing sectors.
He added: “Our laws are inadequate, our registration system is clunky, slow, and ineffective, and we are not a party to the necessary international conventions to ensure international protections to Bahamians who want protection for their intellectual property.”
Noting that the intellectual property application procedure is not efficient or easy, Pinder said that the government is looking to reform the process to make the application procedure easy, straightforward, and efficient to ensure timely protection of IP assets.
“With the passing of our legislative reforms, we will be in a position to operationalize an online intellectual property portal that will facilitate the application and approval of intellectual property protections online. This will allow clear, timely, and transparent review and approval of applications. The platform will be supported by WIPO so that your intellectual property is protected worldwide.”
Pinder stated that the government believes that intellectual property protection is a foundational element of economic empowerment for Bahamians and, as such, believes that the administration of intellectual property rights requires a focused and dedicated Intellectual Property Office.
“Once we have implemented our reforms, we will look to split the functions of administering intellectual property rights in The Bahamas from where it currently lies, in the Registrar General’s office, and have a stand-alone, dedicated IP Office,” said Pinder.
“This is the internationally recognized best practice and would provide the necessary focus on what our government believes is fundamental to Bahamian economic empowerment, especially in the creative industries and Orange Economy.”
He further noted: “In The Bahamas, the creative industries and orange economy are linked directly with our tourism industry. Art and creative industry productions have risen to a material component of our tourism offerings. There are tremendous opportunities for our Orange economy in our successful tourism industry. Our national festival, Junkanoo, is defined by colorful handmade costumes and unique music based on cowbells, goat skin drums, and horns. The sound is unique and the costumes are vibrant. We need to make sure the regime is appropriate for the protection of the music and visual arts associated with Junkanoo.”
He pointed out that Junkanoo is being copied in recordings around the world, with no compensation payable to the creators in The Bahamas.
“We will ensure the necessary reforms are in place to provide economic security to our creative industry and its participants in The Bahamas,” said Pinder.
Regarding agri-business IP protections, Pinder said that there are many ways that companies protect intellectual property in the agricultural industry.
“For example, companies file for utility patents to protect various plant-related inventions, such as breeding methods, plant-based chemicals, plant parts, and plant products. Plant Variety Protection certificates provide certain exclusive rights to breeders of any new, distinct, uniform, and stable sexually or asexually reproduced or tuber-propagated plant varieties. Our government is committed to broadening Bahamian’s participation in the agricultural industry, being innovators and reformers in agribusiness opportunities. We will ensure the necessary…