‘Jamaica’, ‘Blue Mountain Coffee’, ‘Cannabis Sativa’ (ganja); ‘Jamaica Rum’, ‘Jamaican Patties’, ‘Boston Jerk’, ‘Jamaican Ginger’ and ‘Trelawny Yellow Yam’ are among names and brands that Jamaica is moving to protect against misuse or false use (see extensive list at the end of this article).
The island recently inked a history-making bilateral agreement with Switzerland on the protection of geographical indications at the 51st General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. The Jamaica Protection of Geographical Indications Act of 2004 defines “geographical indication” as a good originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Geographical indications serve as important marketing tools in the trading of quality products on the export market, and this has spurred likeminded countries, in this case Jamaica and Switzerland, to negotiate bilateral protection agreements under the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). “These agreements mutually recognise and protect geographical indications in order to facilitate and promote trade with each other, for products and services identified with such designations,” according to the signatory documents.
“This recently signed agreement protects designations regarding products and services originating in Jamaica and Switzerland, including the name ‘Jamaica/Jamaican’ and the names of official Jamaican territories such as counties and parishes, and ‘Switzerland/Swiss’ and the names of the Swiss cantons. This also applies to geographical indication used in translation or accompanied by such expressions as ‘kind’, ‘type’, ‘style’, ‘imitation’, ‘comparable to’ or other similar expressions,” the document said.
The signatories undertook to provide interested parties with the legal means, which include providing, in their national laws, for adequate and effective means to prevent the use of the designations for identical/comparative products and services not originated in the territories, or the use in a manner misleading to the public, including the use of graphic symbols which could cause confusion. [. . .] The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office and the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property are the authorities designated to act as contact points between both countries on any matter covered by this new bilateral pact, which must be ratified by the governments of both sides in order for it to come into force. [. . .]
Some other protected designations of Jamaica include Jamaican High Mountain Coffee, Catherine’s Peak water, Jamaican Roots wine, Jamaican Jerk, Walkerswood Jerk, Jamaican Allspice, St Andrew Thyme, Jamaica Logwood Honey, Lucea Yam, Jamaica Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Manchester Peppermint, St Elizabeth Escallion, St Elizabeth Thyme, Middle Quarters Shrimps, and Jamaican Pimento.
The list also includes Jamaican Ortanique, Jamaican Cocoa, Jamaican Red Pepper, Jamaican Patties, Jamaican Easter Bun, Jamaican Bun, Jamaican Jackass Corn, Bustamante Jaw Bone/ Backbone, Jamaican Paradise Plum, Jamaican Potato Pudding, Jamaican Gizzada, Jamaican Bammy, St Elizabeth Bammy, Jamaican Bissy, Jamaican Cannabis Sativa (For eg CANASOL and ASMASOL), Jamaican Blue Mahoe, Jamaican Cedar, Jamaican Lignum Vitae, Jamaican Bauxite, Jamaica Clay, Jamaican Limestone, St Elizabeth Hodges Clay, Castleton Clay, and Jamaican Thatch.