INTA Promotes Collaboration on Anticounterfeiting Activities Between Curaçao and Jamaica

Published: April 15, 2019

INTA’s Anticounterfeiting-Latin America and Caribbean Subcommittee, in cooperation with the Anti-Counterfeiting and Enforcement Committee of the Intellectual Property Caribbean Association, held a policy dialogue on March 19 to promote collaboration on anticounterfeiting activities between Curaçao and Jamaica. The event, which took place at the Jamaica Customs Building in Kingston, Jamaica, drew a robust audience, principally from the enforcement and legal fields.

Interestingly, the policy dialogue proved very timely, as it came on the heels of a major raid by the Jamaica Customs Agency and police of counterfeit products worth more than 20 million Jamaican dollars. The raid took place in downtown Kingston on March 18.

Key takeaways included the need to hold more of such policy dialogues, and to educate consumers on the dangers of counterfeit goods-especially everyday items other than health and food products. Participants also noted that of prime importance is fostering a stronger regional collaboration between enforcement officers and other stakeholders, as well as the organization of regular training and educational sessions for enforcement officers with the involvement of brand owners, to help identify counterfeit merchandise. Overall, participants agreed that effective action against counterfeiting requires team work, and applauded the dialogue for facilitating discussion between enforcement officers and stakeholders in the Caribbean.

After opening remarks from Dianne Daley McClure (Foga Daley, Jamaica), Karyl Bertrand (Bertrand Legal, Curaçao) gave a brief description of the projects undertaken by INTA’s Anticounterfeiting-Latin America and Caribbean Subcommittee, and the legal trademark landscape of Curaçao. Ms. Bertrand also discussed recent counterfeit trends, awareness campaigns aimed at air travelers, and administrative tools available to brand owners to combat counterfeiting.

Howard Harris (Foga Daley, Jamaica) emphasized the key role that legal practitioners play in enforcing intellectual property (IP) rights-from guiding brand owners in the enforcement process, to facilitating assistance to enforcement officers. Mr. Harris recommended amending the Jamaica Trade Marks Act to include regulations that would prescribe the form of notice that brand owners should give to Jamaica Customs, alerting them to shipments of counterfeit products.

Deputy Director and Legal Counsel for the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Marcus Goffe, provided a summary of IP rights in Jamaica. His talk focused on the assistance JIPO offers in brand protection, and the various ways in which JIPO collaborates with interest groups and enforcement authorities.

Joining the dialogue via telephone conference, Curaçao Customs Officer Luthsel Lourens emphasized the importance of joint collaboration efforts between local, regional, and international enforcement authorities (including the coast guard and INTERPOL) on the one hand-and brand owners and attorneys on the other. Such collaboration, he pointed out, is essential in order to act effectively against counterfeiting and illicit financial gain from such activities. Discussing strategies for tackling counterfeiting based on anti-piracy rules, illicit trade regulations, and money laundering laws, Jaime Angeles (Angeles Pons, Dominican Republic), explained the recordal system of IP rights with customs in the Dominican Republic, noting that the system had contributed to 85 percent of seizures in the Dominican Republic in 2016.

Jamaica Customs Deputy Commissioner Border Protection Division Alwyn Nicely explained Jamaica Custom’s multifaceted approach for combating counterfeiting-including integrated databases, cargo targeting systems, the formation of specialized units such as global container control programs, and a 24-hour help line. Mr. Nicely remarked that the lack of timely responses from brand owners can lead to increased storage costs or the release of confiscated counterfeit merchandise. He urged brand owners to respond promptly to customs notifications.

Victor Barrett, Assistant Superintendent of Police in Jamaica, noted that investigations concerning counterfeiting involve the IP unit and intelligence team of the police, among others. Mr. Barret explained that these teams work closely with stakeholders such as brand owners, attorneys, JIPO, customs, and international partners. He went on to describe specific actions taken toward asset recovery pursuant to the Jamaica Proceeds of Crime Act.

Next, an interactive panel held an open dialogue with registrants on topics covered during the presentations. Mr. Harris moderated the panel, which included Mikhail Jackson (Levingston Alexander & Levy, Jamaica), Patrick Hely (Caribbean IP, Miami), Ashleigh-Ann Arnold (Carreras Limited, Jamaica), and Shawn Smith (Palace Amusement, Jamaica), along with Ms. Bertrand and Ms. Angeles.

Ms. Arnold and Mr. Smith shared insights on counterfeit issues facing their respective organizations. Ms. Arnold spoke on the increased importation and distribution in Jamaica of illicit cigarettes that display the trademarks and packaging of legitimate brands. Mr. Jackson discussed challenges and lessons learned in pursuing enforcement in counterfeit matters, and Mr. Hely shared his experience working on enforcement matters with foreign brand owners and local counsel in the Caribbean. Ms. Daley McClure also recommended the implementation of a formal registry for trademarks at Jamaica Customs that brand owners could use to augment enforcement efforts.

Important Dates to Remember:

At INTA’s 2019 Annual Meeting, which will take place in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, May 18-22, 2019, in-house practitioners and government officials will have the opportunity to work together in a closed-door environment, sharing their perspectives, discussing lessons learned and best practices, and exploring ways to enhance collaboration and cooperation. Find out more about the Anticounterfeiting Workshop: Combating Counterfeiting: Online and Offline, and register here.

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.

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