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November 1, 2013 Vol. 68 No. 20 Back to Bulletin Main Page

THE BAHAMAS: New Trademarks Bill Allows for Protection of Service Marks

The Bahamas government has introduced a trademarks bill that would update the country’s trademark law for the first time in over a century. One of the last countries in the Caribbean to update its trademark laws, The Bahamas has long relied on its current statute, the Trade Marks Act 1906, which employs the old British classification system and does not provide protection for service marks—a serious shortcoming for a nation driven by the service industries.

To join the World Trade Organization (WTO), The Bahamas must ensure its intellectual property protection regime is in compliance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). Thus, the country has drafted a sweeping new set of IP laws covering copyrights, patents, industrial designs, geographic indications and integrated circuits, in addition to trademarks. The new laws must be enacted by the beginning of 2014 to meet the country’s obligations under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries and the European Union. The EPA, which was signed by The Bahamas in 2008, requires implementation of new laws in accordance with the TRIPS Agreement before January 1, 2014.

As currently drafted, the new Trade Marks Bill, 2013 will provide for the protection of service marks and adopt the International Classification system. New registrations would be protected for a term of ten years, with like periods of renewal. Existing registrations would be treated as marks registered under the new Act and remain in force for the unexpired portion of the period of protection provided under the old Act. Actions for passing off are specifically preserved under the new bill.

The local trademarks registry has been working closely with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to become fully certified by the end of the year, in anticipation of the enactment of the new bill. In particular, the registry is working to decrease the large backlog of applications and increase the speed for processing new ones.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2013 International Trademark Association