Government moves to protect Samoan intellectual property

The Government has moved to protect Samoan intellectual property by introducing a bill, which would enable the country to sign up to an international trademark system.  

The Intellectual Property Amendment Bill 2018 seeks to amend the Intellectual Property Act 2011, which would enable Samoa to sign up to the Madrid Protocol, the primary international system for facilitating the registration of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions around the world. 

When the Bill went before the Parliament last Friday, it was considered under a “certificate of urgency” notice signed by the Leader of the House. It then proceeded to the second and third readings. The amendments to Section 55 of the Intellectual Property Act – after it is passed by Parliament – will provide for the registration of Samoan intellectual property.

Last month an American businessman trademarked the popular Fijian greeting “Bula” in the U.S., triggering widespread condemnation in Fiji and compelling the Fijian government to announce that they will fight the registration in America.

Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, made reference to Fiji’s Bula controversy last Friday, when he highlighted the importance of Parliament passing the amendments. 

“A classic example, when I was in Fiji last week, I overheard their complaints of how ‘Bula’ is being used in America, all because there is no law to protect their trademarks. Again, this is vital for us,” he said. 

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, said there were already laws in place and it is just the lack of enforcement by the Ministry responsible. 

According to the bill’s explanatory notes, the proposed amendments – if approved by the Parliament – will give effect in Samoa to the Madrid Protocol. It will include provisions that provide for any of the following: making applications for international registration by way of the Intellectual Property Registry of Samoa as office of origin; procedures to be followed where the basic application for registration ceases to be in force; procedures to be followed where the Intellectual Property Registry of Samoa receives from the International Bureau or any body specified in the regulations, a request for extension of protection to Samoa; the effects of a successful request for extension of protection to Samoa; transforming an application for an international registration, or an international registration, into a national application for registration.

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