12 Nov The Bahamas – Digitization of the Trademarks Office
The COVID-19 Pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the need for government institutions to adopt e-filing and e-payment platforms. During the 2020-21 budget debate, the government confirmed its commitment to digitizing the Office of the Registrar General, which includes the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Further, the urgent need to move forward with the digitization of the IPO has been underscored by the Economic Recovery Committee in its recent report.
As a practitioner in the intellectual property field, who has been advocating for electronic searches and e-filing of trademark applications, this is an exciting time for me. While, no completion date has been announced, I am keenly aware that the digitization of the trademarks section of the IPO is already underway. The digitization of the trademarks database is substantially complete and the office recently installed WIPO’s automated system. It is my informed understanding that plans are now underway for the implementation of a payment platform, and it is anticipated that once completed, e-filing by local trademark agents will be permitted.
My only concern though, is that projects in the IPO have been started and paused over the course of the last 10 years. The projects were linked to the Bahamas’ proposed accession to WTO, however, it is imperative that these projects now be addressed independently to avoid further delays. The IPO is a potential source of additional revenue for the government with trademark filing instructions emanating from all over the world. The government has already shared its proposal with respect to increased fees for trademark filings, and the move is welcomed, so long as it is accompanied by a streamlined office, that has adopted the ease of doing business mantra.
I therefore encourage the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Financial Services, together with the Department of Transformation and Digitization, to move quickly to usher the IPO into the 21st century. The time for action is now!
I remain optimistic!
Erica M. Pople-Ferreira
Erica is an attorney and a Bahamas Trademark Agent. She serves as the Managing Partner of Ferreira & Company, a full service intellectual property firm. She’s been filing trademark applications and managing clients’ portfolios for more than 25 years. E-mail her at email@example.com about protecting your brand.