In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Caribbean islands have shown their resilience and ability to return to normal as they clean up, restore, and make plans to build stronger than before. The islands that were affected have made great strides in cleaning up and the islands that were not affected have rallied behind their neighboring islands, providing support and relief to facilitate a speedy recovery.
Below is an update on the islands that were affected and the status of their IP offices.
Anguilla: In Anguilla, there has been significant progress towards recovery from the recent hurricanes. The airport is open and cargo boats have arrived to the island with supplies. Numerous neighborhoods had electricity restored ahead of the projected timeline. Resorts and villas are reporting that guests are requesting accommodations and have confirmed bookings. Schools have reopened, government offices have resumed regular business hours, and restaurants are open for service. The post office, gas stations, supermarkets, and bakeries are fully operational. The Anguilla Commercial Registry resumed full operations the week of September 25, 2017.
Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua was not adversely affected by either hurricane. The island continues to operate as normal. The airport in Antigua is open for all flights and utility services are fully operational. The Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office (ABIPCO) is located in Antigua and has not reported any damage and is fully operational. The island of Barbuda was heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma. There are steps towards a recovery plan but it will take time to restore the infrastructure.
British Virgin Islands: The British Virgin Islands (BVI) were in the direct path of Hurricane Irma and were also affected by Hurricane Maria. The islands have been engaged in huge cleanup efforts. Government offices and some businesses resumed business the week of September 25, 2017. The BVI Financial Services Commission, Registry of Corporate Affairs Division, administers the laws relating to trademark practice in the BVI. The BVI Financial Services Commission indicated that efforts are being made to return operations to normal. It was reported that the Commission is operating under limited hours, from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm daily.
Cuba: Cuba’s trademark office was not affected by Hurricanes Irma or Maria. Following Hurricane Irma, it was reported that Cuba sent hundreds of doctors to the Caribbean islands that were affected by the storm. More than 750 health care workers were sent to several islands. The medical workers were bound by the guidelines of the Ministry of Health on each island to collaborate with the resident medical providers on the ground. This relief effort by Cuba contributed in a significant way to providing interim medical care during the recovery and restoration of normal medical services.
Dominica: Dominica experienced a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. The Prime Minister of Dominica has described the efforts for restoration and building by saying that it is in the spirit of the people to help themselves and therefore he anticipates a full recovery and rebuilding. He describes efforts already on the way to restore water and engage in cleanup efforts to rebuild the island. As of October 10, 2017, Dominica indicated that the Companies & Intellectual Property Offices are not yet operational. Likely, the Offices will need to relocate due to the loss of the roof and resulting water damage.
Haiti: Haiti received minimal damage from Hurricane Irma. The Registrar’s office is fully operational.
Montserrat: The island of Montserrat was not in the path of Hurricane Irma and was not affected by the storm. The island did however experience effects of the outer winds from Hurricane Maria. Damage was minimal and there has been an extensive effort to clean up the damage, which was mainly to trees and other vegetation. Government offices are open and schools resumed on Monday, September 25, 2017.
Puerto Rico: Hurricane Maria made direct landfall on the island on Wednesday September 20, 2017, and left major damage to buildings, vegetation, and infrastructure throughout the island. A recent update from Puerto Rico reported that the Puerto Rico Trademark Office is partially operational and filings are being accepted online.
St. Maarten: St. Maarten has engaged in widespread cleanup with the plan of rebuilding the island following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The bridges have been repaired, efforts to restore electricity have intensified as the electricity company receives assistance, and businesses are opening to conduct business. The Princess Juliana International Airport and the Grand Case Airport are open for commercial flights. The ferry service between Anguilla and St. Maarten has resumed. The local office for the Bureau for Intellectual Property St. Maarten remains closed. However, filings and inquiries for St. Maarten will be handled by The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP). It was officially reported that in accordance with the National Trademark Decree and the National Trademark Ordinance, the BOIP will temporarily take over trademark registrations for St. Maarten.
St. Kitts and Nevis: Both St. Kitts and Nevis were not severely affected by Hurricane Irma. The eye of Hurricane Maria passed to the south of St. Kitts. The damage sustained to the islands was minimal. Immediately following the storm an islandwide cleanup effort removed the fallen debris and residents cleaned up their communities thereby returning the island to a state of normalcy. The airport is open and fully operational. The government offices, including the Intellectual Properties office, are fully operational.
Turks and Caicos Islands: This territory was hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Turks and Caicos Islands Financial Services Commission, Trademarks and Patents Department is located on Grand Turk Island. Recent communication from Turks and Caicos report that telephone lines and Internet service in the Grand Turk office are not fully restored. The trademark office is partially operational with limited hours.
U.S. Virgin Islands: The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) were in the path of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The island of St. Thomas suffered damage to buildings and vegetation from Hurricane Irma. It has been reported that the airport is open and that electricity was restored in some neighborhoods. There are cleanup efforts being carried out and significant advancement toward the recovery process has been made. St. Croix experienced more of a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. The hospital and airports have electricity and other areas on the island received power restoration the week of October 2. As of October 10, 2017, the Administrative Office states that the Trademark Department in the USVI is still closed. They do not have a predicted date of resuming office hours.
We are pleased and proud to report that the islands that have not been affected by the hurricanes continue to extend support to the affected islands in the form of personnel, monetary grants, loaning of equipment for cleanup and rebuilding, general supplies, and medical care and medical supplies.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was not in the path of either Hurricane Irma or Maria. It has been reported that the island state will make its contribution to the restoration of the BVI by providing space within its secondary schools to allow children from the BVI to attend school there. The Prime Minster also committed to sending technical personnel to assist with the restoration of electricity and water and general repairs.
Immediately following Hurricane Maria, monetary donations were allocated to affected islands from Antigua and Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In addition, Trinidad and Tobago mobilized assistance to Anguilla and Dominica following the hurricanes. Trinidad and Tobago sent its Defense Force personnel with supplies to Dominica and also sent its Coast Guard with a vessel filled with supplies to Dominica.
Cayman Islands stepped up immediately following Hurricane Irma, sending water, food, medical supplies and other essential supplies, along with a delegation from the islands to assist Anguilla with its recovery process. This type of recovery and assessment help made a tremendous contribution to the recovery process whereby teams were able to prevent further breakdown in the health condition and facilitate the restoration of hospital services.
In the week following Hurricane Irma, Dominica donated supplies to Anguilla and sent workers from the Dominican Electricity Services Ltd. to Anguilla to work. Anguilla gives credit to the team from Dominica for the speedy restoration of electricity to parts of the island. This gesture was returned to Dominica by many islands, including Anguilla, which have committed to helping with its rebuilding process following Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Dominica. The island of Barbados contributed to the islands’ initial recovery by sending food and supplies following the storm.
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.
© 2017 International Trademark Association