Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us


Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.


Submit news and opinion for publication


Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.


Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin

News from the Caribbean:

Back To Today's News

Commentary: Should've, could've but didn't: Failure to protect your intellectual property
Published on December 18, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Shalisha Samuel

Demerara sugar of Guyana and the steelpan of Trinidad and Tobago are great Caribbean examples of the importance of prompt intellectual property (IP) protection.

Demerara Sugar (Guyana)

Shalisha Samuel is the songwriter-owner of Brown Mint Productions Inc. After completing a BSc. in Political Science and an MSc. in International Trade Policy, she worked at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva Switzerland. Shalisha hosts seminars for young entrepreneurs on how to incorporate Intellectual Property as a business strategy
Two well-known cases touch upon the “Demerara” name, although neither case arose as a direct result of IP infringement. In Anderson v Britcher (U.K, 1913)i sugar from Mauritius was sold as Demerara sugar originating from Demerara, Guyana. The buyer argued it was not genuine sugar from Demerara; however, the court ruled that “Demerara” is a generic term used to describe brown, crystalised sugar made from sugar cane and bears no indication to the region in Guyana.

In the second case of Bedessee Imports Ltd v Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (Canada, 2010)ii , Bedessee Imports Ltd, packaged and distributed sugar made in Mauritius under the brand “Demerara Gold”, a Bedessee’s registered trademark “since at least 1984”iii , while another sugar was packaged with the map of Guyana. When the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (Guysuco) sought to register the trademark “Demerera Gold” in Canada, Bedessee filed an opposition and then submitted an application for registration of the same name, which was later opposed by the government of Guyana. Guysuco withdrew from the application process. Following this, the government of Guyana (Minister of Agriculture, et al) then made what Bedessee considered to be defamatory statements. The case therefore is one relating to defamation and diplomatic immunity in which the court, including the appellate court, dismissed Guyana’s claim to immunity thereby allowing Bedessee to file a suit against the minister.

If steps had been taken years ago by producers in Guyana and the government for a geographical indication (GI), the more recent 2010 Canadian case may have resulted differently. There still exists hope for Guysuco, as neither of the above cases dealt directly with “Demerara” as a protected word/brand. Therefore, attempts can be made for “Demerara” to be protected as a GI, collective mark, or even a trademark by altering the name; “Demerara of Guyana”, “Guyanese Demerara”, “Demerara Sugar” or “Guyana’s Demerara Sugar” are some examples. Furthermore, Camembert de Normandie was said to be a generic term according to a French court in 1926, but is now protected in France and the EU.iv

Steelpan (Trinidad and Tobago)

A patent application was filed by, and granted in 2001 to Hydro Steel LLC for using the hydroform press to mass-produce steelpans in the United States. The patent on the process of making the steelpan was later challenged by the government of Trinidad and Tobago and revoked by the United States Patent Trademarks Office (USPTO), a success for Trinidad and Tobago. The process was previously developed by a research team at the University of the West Indies where, accordingly, the researchers claimed that an application for a patent was not submitted due to a lack of finances and concern that the patent process was too complex.v Trinidadian steelpan producers can therefore continue with innovations of the steelpan and quite possibly, someday, be granted patents on these improvements.

Black Belly Sheep (Barbados)

While the commercial use of the black belly sheep's name has not been subject to legal proceedings, protecting and promoting the name in trade would be an ideal government strategy for Barbadian businesses. Some groups have already laid claim to the black belly sheep, therefore, challenges to any form of registration / protection should not be surprising. Needless to say, IP protection of the black belly sheep would undoubtedly position entrepreneurs in the manufacturing and even service sectors to differentiate their offerings in the global market.

i Anderson v. Britcher 30 T. L. R. 78 (1913), 34 Cox’s Criminal Law Cases 60
ii Bedesse Imports Ltd v. Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc., 2010 ONSC 3388
iii Bedessee Imports Ltd. v. Guyana Sugar Corporation, Inc., 2010 ONSC 3388. para. 17.
iv Gangjee, Dev Saif, Demerara Sugar: A Bitter Pill to Swallow? (December 1, 2011). Intellectual Property Journal, Vol. 24, p. 1, 2011
v “Intellectual property issues strike at the heart of the steelpan”. July 31, 2011. Dr. Kris Rampersad, The Guardian (Trinidad and Tobago). Accessed October 11, 2012.

Originally published in Services Scoop
Reads: 9016

Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.


As a result of our comments feature being overtaken in recent weeks by spammers using fake email addresses, producing a large number of bounced verification emails each day, we have reluctantly decided to suspend the comments section until further notice.

User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Other Headlines:

Regional Sports: