BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Caribbean rum producers met in Barbados recently to discuss how best to protect the intellectual property behind regional rums.
The attending members of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) heard from several experts, including Francis Fay, head of geographical indications in the European Union Commission and Bernard O’Connor, a well-respected international attorney on intellectual property and author on geographical indications.
The half-day panel discussion examined the establishment of geographical indications (GIs) for rums from individual countries. Several in the grouping — Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Guyana – are close to or have already established national GIs for their products. Participants also discussed ways to protect and advance the reputation of the authentic Caribbean rums produced by WIRSPA members.
Speaking at a reception and tasting of member brands, Komal Samaroo, chairman of the grouping and head of the Demerara Distillers conglomerate, observed that while the industry was one of the oldest in the region, its future potential was considerable. Already the largest agro-based export earner after minerals for CARICOM/CARIFORUM states, it is also its premier export product with an international reputation for quality.
Protecting this heritage and developing the opportunity, said Samaroo, called for careful management of the intellectual property intrinsic to the value of the product. The panel discussion and the view of the international experts were that a participatory approach based on broad consensus was a key factor in successfully realising the potential of the industry in the global market.
Also speaking at the event, minister for agriculture and food security for Barbados, Indar A. Weir, gave his government’s commitment to supporting the industry, to achieve its full potential in the international market.
The Caribbean is widely regarded as the ‘home’ of rum and where the word ‘rum’ was first coined. Its countries have long been famed for their products and many have historical records showing rum being produced here since the 17th century.