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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05KINGSTON1327
2005-05-24 17:22:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Kingston
Cable title:  

STATUS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN JAMAICA

Tags:   ECON  ETRD  JM  EIPR 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINGSTON 001327 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (WBENT), EB/TRD (MATTINGLEY), WHA/EPSC
(JSLATTERY), EB/IPC, AND EB/CBA

SANTO DOMINGO FOR FCS AND FAS

E.O. 12958: NA
TAGS: ECON ETRD JM EIPR
SUBJECT: STATUS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN JAMAICA

REF: A) 03 KINGSTON 002669 B) STATE 0079084

-------
SUMMARY
-------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINGSTON 001327

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (WBENT), EB/TRD (MATTINGLEY), WHA/EPSC
(JSLATTERY), EB/IPC, AND EB/CBA

SANTO DOMINGO FOR FCS AND FAS

E.O. 12958: NA
TAGS: ECON ETRD JM EIPR
SUBJECT: STATUS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN JAMAICA

REF: A) 03 KINGSTON 002669 B) STATE 0079084

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (U) The issue of intellectual property rights (IPR)
continues to be a challenge for the GOJ. Following the
announcement that Jamaica has been retained on the Special
301 watch list and expressions of concern from members of
the business community, Econoff met with the Jamaica
Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) on April 25 to discuss
the country's progress with IPR legislation and enforcement.
The agency itself has been aggressively working to update
the legal framework and enhance enforcement efforts, but
have been hampered by a lack of training and resources, and
a low priority on the legislative agenda. The potential
exists, however, for the enforcement situation to improve
through training and technical assistance from the private
sector. End Summary.

--------------
CURRENT IPR ISSUES
--------------


2. (U) The issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) has
been a vexing problem for Jamaica over the past several
decades. Due to their inexperience in this area after
independence, the GOJ failed to protect the musical and
artistic creations of native performers and other IP makers.
One notable result is that Japan presently earns more than
Jamaica from merchandising based on the works of Bob Marley.
Since 2001, the GOJ has taken a more organized approach to
improving the country's IPR infrastructure, passing new laws
and creating a new agency to coordinate IPR education,
legislation and enforcement activities (Ref A). These
efforts have had some success, but the country is still
lacking in several key areas. Jamaica was retained on the
Special 301 watch list (ref B) due to its failure to pass
updated patent protection legislation in a timely manner,
and weak enforcement of the new laws (due to a lack of
resources and training) has generated complaints from the
business community and statements of concern from
intellectual property creators.


3. (SBU) On April 25, Econoff met with Douglas Graham,
president of Palace Amusement Co., which operates all of
Jamaica's movie theatres. Graham complained that his

business was being substantially damaged by the flood of
pirate DVDs entering Jamaica from the United States, many
containing first-run movies that are still playing in
theaters. According to the statistics he presented,
attendance at Jamaican movie houses is down 40 percent since

2000. Graham blames the drop on the pirated DVDs, since his
former customers are now viewing the movies his theaters are
showing on DVDs either purchased from an unlicensed vendor,
rented, or on television, courtesy of their local cable
provider. Graham says that he has brought his complaints to
the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), but that
they have been unable to help him thus far.


4. (SBU) On April 29, Jane Saunders, Vice President for
International Commercial Affairs at the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA), contacted Econoff, inquiring
as to the validity of rumors that the GOJ was considering
enacting compulsory licenses for satellite television
transmissions. Saunders stated that the MPAA was currently
fighting similar laws in the Bahamas and Trinidad and
Tobago, and wanted to know if they needed to start
proceedings in Jamaica. Saunders also suggested that the
MPAA would be willing to provide technical experts to train
law enforcement officials in IPR issues if the GOJ would
host a conference for the English-speaking Caribbean.

--------------
MEETING WITH JIPO
--------------


5. (SBU) On May 3, Econoff, ECON FSN and FCS FSN met with
Loreen Walker, Executive Director of JIPO, and Carol
Simpson, Senior Program Manager at JIPO, to discuss JIPO's
track record since its formation in 2001. JIPO is four
years old, having come into existence in 2001 as the GOJ
attempted to bring all IPR authority under one roof to more
efficiently work on TRIPS implementation. Their mandate is
to improve enforcement of IPR in Jamaica and to protect
Jamaica IPR in other countries.


6. (SBU) Walker told Emboffs that JIPO's primary focus is on
educational efforts. These include the creation of a public
education campaign about intellectual property rights and
piracy, as well as coordination with law enforcement
efforts. JIPO works closely with the IPR unit of the
Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which consists of five
officers. They also serve as consultants for court cases
involving intellectual property issues, as Jamaican law
schools do not presently include IPR law as part of the
curriculum. They have also been working to get modernized
language drafted for a new law that will bring Jamaica's
patent protections up to international standards. (Note:
The lengthy delay in getting this key piece of legislation
passed directly resulted in Jamaica's retention on the
Special 301 watch list for 2005 (Ref B). End note.)


7. (SBU) Walker described some of the successes of JIPO to
date. They have spearheaded a GOJ effort to reduce illegal
photocopying at universities by strictly enforcing copyright
laws, and have assisted two local copyright societies become
sufficiently established to attract an increasing number of
Jamaican musicians, who had previously belonged to foreign
copyright unions. Of the thirty-six copyright criminal
cases submitted to resident magistrate courts since 2001,
fourteen have resulted in convictions and fines. Since
2003, there has been a significant increase in criminal
prosecutions, as the JCF unit is continuing to go after
smaller players in the underground industry. Walker said
she felt it was quite a feat to have the Justice Ministry
create the IPR taskforce in the first place, given the
surging violent crime that makes headlines daily, and draws
greater demands for resources.


8. (SBU) Regarding the MPAA query, Walker stated that, while
compulsory licenses for rebroadcast of proprietary signals
had been discussed by the GOJ for several years, the final
decision had been made not to proceed with it, due to JIPO's
understanding that it would have been in contravention of
international accords to which Jamaica is a party. She
admitted being unsure of the specifics of the laws and
treaties involved, and happily received MPAA-provided
informational packets regarding problems with the Bahamian
and Trinidadian compulsory licensing laws.


9. (SBU) When asked about the problem of pirate DVDs
impacting on the Palace Amusement theatres, Walker responded
that JIPO has worked with the JCF on numerous cases
involving counterfeit DVDs, but that with only five officers
and limited equipment, much of the criminal activity goes by
without being challenged. She said that the enforcement
infrastructure in Jamaica was lacking, and that law
enforcement officials throughout the system needed
additional training in how to deal with IPR issues. Customs
agents needed training in how to spot pirated products at
the ports of entry. The JCF unit requires more personnel,
equipment and training. Judges and prosecutors also require
more education in how to adjudicate IPR cases. Also, under
Jamaican law, only the original holder of the copyright (the
maker of the movie) can sue for damages with much chance of
success. According to Walker, JIPO has contacted the MPAA
to assist with the prosecution of several cases, but it was
largely unsuccessful in convincing its members file to legal
claims in the Jamaican court system.


10. (SBU) Emboffs related Saunders' suggestion of a regional
IPR seminar, wherein the MPAA would provide speakers for law-
enforcement agent training if the host governments could
fund the overall conference. Walker and her staff were very
enthusiastic about the idea. (Note: Subsequently, the
Kingston-based American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)
expressed interest in helping to facilitate such a
conference, and Emboff has put representatives of all three
organizations (MPAA, AMCHAM, JIPO) in contact with each
other. End note.)

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


11. (U) JIPO is sincerely committed to establishing a
regulatory framework for the protection of intellectual
property rights. However, the Parliament and other
ministries do not share JIPO's enthusiasm. Judging by the
lengthy delay in the preparation of the new Patents Act, the
issue is not a high priority for the GOJ as a whole. Also,
though the legislative framework is nearly complete,
resources are sorely lacking on the enforcement front,
leaving the JCF's IP unit with a mere five officers and no
equipment (not even a single computer) to aid them in their
duties. Without additional resources and training, the
JCF's enforcement efforts will amount to no more than a drop
in the bucket against the burgeoning flood of pirated media
now entering the country. Post will encourage MPAA, JIPO
and AMCHAM to work together to organize the conference
proposed by the MPAA, and to better coordinate their IPR
efforts. End Comment.

ROBINSON