Presentation held at Legal History and Empires: Perspectives From The Colonized Conference, 2018 Faculty of Law | Cave Hill Campus |UWI | July 13, 2018


After nearly fifty-six (56) years of independence from Great Britain Jamaica's Intellectual Property (IP) Laws have undergone considerable changes including some stark departures from English Law particularly in the realms of copyright and passing off.

The factors of change have been largely external consequent to Jamaica's entry into the international IP legal framework governed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (now a member for 40 years) and the country's participation in a network of treaties and agreements in the global trade arena since the mid 1990s (the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and CARIFORUM (EPA)).

There has also been a ground-swell of local lobby groups advocating for indigenous policies and legislative amendments that are better suited to the national context and some judicial decisions that have tread uncharted territory in attempts to break new ground.

Even with the evolution in the laws, some of which now feature uniquely Jamaican markers, imprints of the Imperial Statutes on Jamaica's IP regime are still discernible throughout.

While this is particularly stark in relation to Patents and Designs protection which remain governed by pre-independence statutes traces are found in Copyright and Trademarks as well.

  • Additionally, the influence of British jurisprudence remains seemingly immovable as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council continues to weigh in on local decisions as the final appellate court.
  • Despite attempts by learned Counsel and the Jamaican Judiciary to break new ground in their interpretation of IP law, the final court serves as a reminder that we are still not truly independent.
  • This presentation gives an abbreviated history of Jamaica's IP laws as received when the country was a British Colony through to their evolution in independent Jamaica over the past five decades and reviews a few landmark decisions, showing Jamaica in her process of transformation from Crown Colony to Middle-aged Independent.

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