Finally A Modern Patents And Designs Act For Jamaica!

Author:Ms Dianne Daley
Profession:Foga Daley

On January 23, 2020, the Jamaican Parliament passed the long-awaited Patents and Designs Act (the "New Act"). The New Act, which had gone through several iterations since Jamaica signed on to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement in 1995, was passed by the House of Representatives on December 3, 2019, and was given the nod of approval by the Senate on January 23, 2020.

From a system that has granted patents based on local novelty to one which now makes universal novelty a criterion for patentability, the New Act is a significant step towards well-needed reform in the field of industrial property rights in Jamaica. When it comes into force, the New Act will repeal the prevailing Patent Act of 1857 and the Designs Act of 1937, both of which had only undergone minor amendments up to 1975.

WTO - TRIPS Compliance

In conformity with the standards set by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), patents are available for inventions (products and processes) in all fields of technology provided they are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application. Like several jurisdictions, the New Act excludes from patentability plants and animals other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes, and plant and seed varieties. Interestingly, business methods are also excluded from patentability.

A Jamaican patent will last for twenty (20) years from the filing date which is up from fourteen (14) years under the 1857 Act. Unlike the old Act, there is no opportunity for an extension of time and patents will now be subject to an annual maintenance fee.

International Filing Systems

Of note in the New Act, are provisions which implement the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that Jamaica intends to sign. The PCT provides the facility for international patent filings through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It will also be possible to obtain international registration for a design by virtue of the implementation of the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. In addition, the New Act implements the Paris Convention on Industrial Property which is a welcomed development, since despite being a member of the Paris Convention from 1999, the Convention's provisions on patents and designs (notably, priority filings) have not been implemented...

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