Operators of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being urged to take the matter of intellectual property more seriously.
This call has come from Tamar Grant, Acting Deputy Registrar of Intellectual Property at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO).
Grant told Barbados TODAY that she was especially concerned that female business owners appeared less likely to protect their ideas and prevent copying.
“You tend to find that smaller creatives and innovators do not engage with intellectual property in that way and the primary reason for that we are finding is a lack of knowledge. It is not necessarily a lack of interest but a lack of general knowledge,” she said.
“So you could speak to the average Barbadian and they know what the copyright sign is because they have seen it on a book. They know about copyright because they listen to music and for the younger people into social media … the average Barbadian knows about logos, but if you speak about the details of intellectual property, people tend to not be so knowledgeable.
“They don’t understand how to integrate intellectual property into their business dealings and how to capitalise on their inventions and patents because they may not see the relevance of it to the growth, development and expansion of their business,” Grant explained.
Intellectual property refers to intangible creation of the human intellect. Some of the most well-known examples include copyrights, trademarks, brands, trade secrets and patents.
Grant shared her assessment on the sidelines of a Co-operatives Market on the grounds of the Baobab Towers in Warrens on Thursday.
The event, which was hosted by the Intellectual Property Department in association with the Cooperatives Department, formed part of a week of activities put on by the CAIPO office to observe World Intellectual Property Day and to raise awareness.
World Intellectual Property Day has been observed on April 26 every year since 2000. The theme for this year is Women and Intellectual Property: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity.
Other activities put on by CAIPO this week included a workshop for females across several secondary schools and a panel discussion focusing on the film industry.
Thursday’s event provided an opportunity for small business owners, creatives and innovators to display their goods and services and for members of the public to interact with officials from CAIPO and learn more about their services.
Pointing to international studies, Grant said oftentimes it was the larger companies that trade internationally that were utilising intellectual property. When it came to small and medium-sized entities including cottage industries, that was less so, she added.
“What the studies further reveal is that larger companies are predominantly dominated by men, whereas we find a larger concentration of women in your cottage industry and local sectors. What that correlates to is that women are not utilising intellectual property as much as their male counterparts,” she explained.
Noting that this was true for Barbados, Grant said “I tend to find that Barbadians are not really engaging with intellectual property at a significant level.”
She told Barbados TODAY that CAIPO had already started to do more to bring greater awareness to the importance of protecting one’s intellectual property, as she encouraged Barbadians to become more engaged by registering their logos, patents, trademarks and industrial designs, and make use of this intellectual property.
“When I say making use of it, think in terms of the contracts that you enter into as a business person. You may have an invention or creation and if you sell it to someone how are you structuring that? So intellectual property is very broad and what we would like is for a greater awareness among the Barbadian public,” she said.
“Knowledge about intellectual property right now is the most important accelerant for innovation and creativity within Barbados,” she added, while also urging local business owners to take advantage of the intellectual property courses available on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). (MM)
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