Intellectual property holds the key

Intellectual Property is the solution to many different things, says Head, Academy at the World Intellectual Property organisation (W.I.P.O.), Karen Lee Rata. 

“I hope that Samoans will learn a little bit more about intellectual property (I.P.) because this is driving the forces,” she told Sunday Samoan.

“It is the solution to many different things, for all businesses, for education, we need more of it, it’s not a difficult concept, it’s easy to know what it is and I hope the Samoans will use it.”

Ms. Rata was part of a delegation from W.I.P.O. that was present for the three-day sub-regional workshop on brands and designs for industry and medium and small enterprises (M.S.M.Es) in the Pacific Islands earlier held in Samoa earlier this week. 

“It (I.P.) needs to be done through the legislation and the Samoa Government is already doing that, and they’re also making it easy for you to go abroad through W.I.P.O., which makes it easy and cost effective with one fee, you can designate all the countries you wish to protect your design for example. 

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“So the Samoa Government is ready to exceed to this international agreement, so you are in very good hands.” 

Ms. Rata said I.P. can be done in any country, whether it’s a small or large island. 

“It needs to provide the environment that is conducive to developing ideas, innovation, different designs that are particular to the islands and being able to market it,” she said. 

“And that means you should be able to also protect your property so that the other people will not copy and these are important things that everyone needs to know, whether they are small enterprise, micro size or medium size. 

“This is what we are trying to get to everyone who is involved, from the Government, to the businesses, to the associations, everyone who can help, those who are trying to make this work, so that was basically what we were talking about yesterday.” 

Referring to the use of the Fijian word “Bula” as a trademark for a business in the United States as an example, Ms. Rata said she is not aware of the situation, but if there is a case then the Fijian Government can contest, which is the same for any country. 

“If the Fijian Government feels that it is definitely their own, they can contest it, everyone can use it. What they cannot do is if somebody has registered it is to use it in the same business, and name it the same thing.

“But if the term itself is very much associated with the country, the country can contest on moral ground and on national interest and pride. And they can reverse the assignment of this term to a company, and they can say this is a Fijian term and it is associated with our national pride or interest then they can contest it,” Ms. Rata said. 

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