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Organizations promoting Intellectual Property awareness in April

By Benjamin Flowers

 

The Belize Coalition of Service Providers and the Belize Intellectual Property Office are both holding a series of activities this month to educate Belizeans on the topic of intellectual property and its relevance to Belize.

 

The BCSP, which focusing on IP from an export perspective, will be working with the various organizations such as the Music Industry Association of Belize and the Belize Copyright Licensing Agency (BECLA) to disseminate pertinent information about IP in their respective fields.

 

Apart from making media rounds, BELIPO is planning a full week of activities later this month in celebration of World Intellectual property week (April 23-27) with World Intellectual Property Day being celebrated on April 26. During the activities, the office will hold lectures with the University of Belize and St. John’s college Junior College, as well as hosting a two-day working session with cacao growers in southern Belize and a guest presenter from Trinidad and Tobago who will speak on the importance of branding for the cacao industry.

 

Tiffany Cadle, senior assistant registrar with BELIPO, explained that the office deals primarily with patents, which protect the rights to the make up and processes of an invention and trademarks, which protects the rights of words, phrases and symbols used in identifying a product or service. Cadle explained that the office, through its outreach efforts, hopes to dispel common myths about IP in Belize.

 

Myth #1- “I am registered with the company’s registry so I am protected.”

 

Cadle emphasized that BELIPO and the Comapny’s Registry are two different entities which protect two different set of rights. Registering a company gives the legal basis under which a busness can be conducted, while registering a trademark ensures that no one can use another person’s brand and benefit from the work that went into building that brand’s reputation.

 

“Your logo is the soul of your business. It’s how people identify you. It’s what comes to their minds when they think about your business. If someone comes and registers your logo before you do, you will be banned from using it and they will benefit from your hard work,” Cadle said.

 

She further highlighted the importance by recounting the famous example of Marie Sharp’s Hot sauce, which started out as Melinda’s Hot Sauce, but had to change the name because a Mexican company had already registered the trade mark.

 

Myth #2- “I need an attorney to register a trademark”

 

Cadle acknowledged that seeking legal advice is a viable option when it comes to registering a trademark, however, it is not the only route. She stressed that the staff at BELIPO are trained, capable and stand ready to walk anyone through the process of getting their trade marks registered, and answer any other questions about IP.

 

Myth #3- “I need to have a company to register a trademark”

 

Noting that the third is a widely held misconception, Cadle said that entities such as snack shops and diners can and should register their trade marks, to ensure that their rights are secure. The BELIPO office is located in Belmopan, and can be reached at 822-1381.

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