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Oct 16, 2014

BELIPO Holds Seminar on Intellectual Property

You may have heard about patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyrights…they’re terms used by companies and businesses to brand their products in the local and international markets. A two-day sub-regional seminar is being held at the Radisson on industrial designs and the Hague System. It is organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with the Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO). The seminar includes stakeholders from various industries who are being sensitized on the importance of the protection of industrial designs through legislation and the hazards of not doing so. One of the key presenters at the seminar is Deputy Registrar Candace Westby Fisher, who says that the laws have been in place since 2000 and producers and companies should take advantage of them to solidify their identities.

 

Candace Westby Fisher, Deputy Registrar, BELIPO

“We just want to bring awareness to it so that Belizeans know that it is already there, let’s use it. Big developed countries are using intellectual property to their advantage; they are using industrial designs and trademarks to get their products out there and to increase their market and competitiveness. And so we want to say to Belizeans that listen we have the same thing in place here in Belize and you can use it to create your identity and to get your products out there.”

 

Duane Moody

“What are some of the challenges that Belizean companies face when it comes to this particular law?”

 

Candace Westby Fisher

Candace Westby Fisher

“One of the challenges is the education—not being aware of what your rights are and what is available—that is the first thing we find and so that is why we have initiatives like these because if you are not aware, how do you know how to use it? You need to be aware of it. And then sometimes the challenge might be that it is too expensive, it’s too over your head; it is all these law terms…I cannot do it, I cannot use it. No, we are saying to you come into the office, speak to us, we will assist you.  The distinction would have to be your brand. You would have to come up with your own trademark that identifies your zericote carving from that from someone in Jamaica for example. But you will find that because of the ancestry and the commonalities that we have in the Caribbean, that a lot of the traditional knowledge that we have extends across the Caribbean and so wbhat the World Intellectual Property Organization is trying to do right now, is to figure out how do we address this issue of traditional knowledge because really it doesn’t belong to one person because really it belongs to the Mayas, to the Garifunas, to the Creoles. So that is an area that is really still up in the air because who will own it, how will we give them back the monies? Does it go to the individual or to the entire Garifuna community? So that is still an issue that WIPO and the world is trying to decide.”

 

Duane Moody

“But nevertheless, you need to register your brand?”

 

Candace Westby Fisher

“Register your brand, register your designs, take charge of your copyright materials. Just know your rights and protect them.”

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