Tuesday, 11th December, 2018

AJ Park supports WIPO workshop in the Pacific and Samoa accedes to Madrid

Lynell Tuffery-Huria, on behalf of AJ Park and the International Trademark Association (INTA), was invited to assist with a Sub-regional Multi-stakeholder Practical Workshop on Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge, and Traditional Cultural Expressions held in Apia, Samoa from 26-28 November 2018.

The conference was convened by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Government of Samoa through the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL), Samoa.

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The first day of the conference provided an introduction to intellectual property (IP) rights, traditional knowledge (TK), and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). Each of the representatives from the different registries (Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Tuvalu) provided an overview of the protection already in place to protect TK and TCEs.

The second day of the conference included presentations on branding and geographical indications (GIs), the documentation of TK, and how these tools can assist with the protection of aspects of TK and TCEs.

Lynell then facilitated a workshop, which examined two case studies. The first case study drew out issues that arise when an international company uses local traditional designs as part of its logo, and the potential impacts of the registration of that logo as a trade mark or copyright on the traditional communities and their use of the same sign. The discussions concluded that care needs to be taken to ensure the underlying traditional designs are not monopolised in such a way that would prevent the local communities from continuing to use their designs in a traditional manner. The second case study examined local communities who use traditional knowledge to grow and nurture a unique produce not found elsewhere, and how the creation of a trade mark or GI could assist in providing a framework for the protection of that underlying traditional knowledge, and some of the pitfalls that could arise if use of that GI or name by a third party is allowed. The workshop was an interactive session where attendees were given the fact scenarios and asked to brainstorm answers, followed up by a group discussion to delve further into some of the issues for use and TK and TCEs.

The last day of the workshop included a discussion on current practices, case studies, and experiences related to IP, TK, and TCEs in each of the countries in attendance, with each attendee providing feedback on how TK and TCEs might be protected in their own IP systems.

The workshop provided a great opportunity to explore the issues that arise in the intersection of IP, TK, and TCEs. The representatives from each of the registries took away some tips on how the Pacific Island territories can ensure their laws provide sufficient protection for TK and TCEs.

As part of the conference, the MCIL announced that Samoa had acceded to the Madrid Protocol, and the formal accession documents were filed on 5 December 2018.

It will be interesting to see if any other Pacific countries sign up to Madrid in the near future.