Attorney General (AG) Dale Marshall has emphasised the importance of this region having strong intellectual property protection, especially now with the push for young people to become innovators.
Marshall made the comments recently, as he addressed a three-day practical workshop on Intellectual Property Crime, hosted by INTERPOL, USPTO and CARICOM IMPACS, at the Radisson Hotel.
The Attorney General said Barbados had invested significant funds to promote innovation among young people in an effort to assist in providing a next generation of world-class innovators and thinkers.
“If as a country we invest in our young people, in their training and help them to become the next generation of innovators, we will be failing them, if, as states, we did not ensure that we have strong intellectual property protection for the things they are going to be creating.
“I am hoping that a new generation of Barbadians will become producers of things such as robotics; that they will become famous in animation, and that they will become famous … in producing computer programmes or things of the sort. As countries, we are bound to do all that we can to encourage and to protect the products of these very fertile minds,” the Attorney General stated.
He noted that 30 years ago, the talk of intellectual property was an academic exercise when the issue of protecting intellectual property rights in the region revolved around musicians and the music industry.
Marshall continued: “We were producing music that was our cultural gift to the world … but for the most part, the musicians never made any money because of intellectual property infringement. But those were the early days, and I’m proud to say that I think we’ve come a long way since then.”
He pointed out that nearly 20 years ago, prosecuting intellectual property cases was a huge challenge because the police needed to have expert evidence to demonstrate the goods in hand were counterfeit.
He added that the pushback came because a lot of the companies whose goods were being infringed, felt it was not commercially viable for them to send employees to Barbados multiple times to give evidence.
“When they did the cost benefit analysis, they recognised that they were likely to be spending thousands of dollars to pursue a prosecution for someone who may have 50 counterfeit videotapes, CDs, or something like that. And that has always been our practical reality, and it is compounded now because we’re dealing with intellectual property infringement in the online environment.
“All of these make the job of law enforcement in a small society like ours immeasurably difficult. But I believe it is fair to say that in the international community, the owners of the intellectual property have begun to pay attention to small countries like ours, and they are providing us with the kinds of resources that we need,” he proffered.
AG Marshall told the gathering that Barbados prosecuted its first intellectual property crime in 2017.