Trinidad and Tobago IP Development

  Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory to most major international intellectual property (IP) treaties and its IP laws are all TRIPs compliant. They include protection for patents and utility certificates, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights, geographical indications, integrated circuits, new plant varieties and unfair competitions.
  
 
Patent & Utility Certificate
  The Patents Act 1996 came into force on December 1, 1997 with the accompanying rules. The new law repealed the former legislation which was a simple registration system inherited from the British. It introduced a full search and examination system and created the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), headed by a Controller, who is responsible for the administration of all IP laws in the country.
  There are 3 criteria for the grant of a patent: novelty, inventive step and industrial application, and novelty is universal novelty. It is a first-to-file system and a patent may only be granted to the inventor or his successor-in-title. A grace period of one year is allowed for public disclosure. The patent is granted after a formalities examination followed by a substantive examination, with no provision for opposition.
  The term of a patent is 20 years from the date of filing application and protection commences from the date of publication. As Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the priority of an earlier patent application filed in member countries can be claimed.
  Annuities are payable in advance, starting from the first anniversary of the filing date. A 6-month grace period for payment of annuities is provided and non-payment of annuities will result in the patent or application being deemed lapsed or withdrawn. Provision is made for voluntary and non-voluntary licenses.
  The law also makes provision for the grant of utility certificates (UC) with the same criteria for a patent except for inventive step. The term of a UC is 10 years from date of filing and protection commences on publication.
  At any time before grant of an application for a patent, an application may be converted into a UC application or vice versa. No annuities are payable for UCs.
  
 
Trade & Service Mark
  The current trademark law is based on the 1938 UK trademark legislation, with radical changes made in 1996, in order to comply with obligations under various international treaties, mainly TRIPs and the Trademark Law Treaty.
  Registrable trade and service marks include words, devices, names, signatures, letters, numerals, packaging of goods or their shape. Marks must be distinctive or capable, through use, of becoming distinctive. Use is not a requirement for filing application or on renewal, but non use for a continuous period of three or more years from registration may make the mark vulnerable to removal from the Register on application by a third party. The law provides for registration of well-known marks, and in order to determine whether a mark is well known, account must be taken of knowledge of the mark in the trade in Trinidad and Tobago, including knowledge obtained through advertising.
  Multiclass applications are allowed and the 7th edition of the international classification is currently in use in Trinidad &Tobago. The initial term of a mark is 10 years from date of application and the mark can be renewed indefinitely for additional 10-year periods.
  A new Trademark Law will come into force in 2016 which is similar to the updated UK Law of 1994.
  
 
Industrial Design
  The current law repeals the antiquated design law inherited from the British and gives a broad definition of what constitutes a registrable industrial design, provided that it is new and not contrary to public order on morality.
  Novelty is universal novelty. A grace period of twelve months is allowed for public disclosure. The law applies a first-to-file system and the right to registration belongs to the creator. Multiple designs may be filed in one application provided they are restricted to the same class or to the same set or composition of articles. Examination is basically for compliance with formal requirements and the design is registered with no provision for opposition proceedings.
  The term of registration is for an initial period of 5 years from the date of application, and protection commences from date of registration. Renewals can be affected for two further consecutive 5-year periods.
Provide by Ariane Ramnath, Partner of J.D. Sellier & Co.
 
 
Source: International IP Law Firms 2015
 
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