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Written on 19-Jun-2004 by Fidel A. Captain


Knowledge is power, so the greater the knowledge base of any society or nation, the more powerful that society or nation will be. Intellectual property represents the knowledge base of a society; therefore it should be preserved and respected as the most formidable asset of any nation. Citizens of developing nations, such as those in the Caribbean, need to be made aware of the value of their knowledge and their creations, and of the power and economic wealth that lies therein.

As technology continues to propel the world, it is knowledge that drives technology, and it is this knowledge which forms the basis of intellectual property. As such, developing nations, such as those in the Caribbean, need to make their citizens aware of the economic power that lies in their knowledge and in their creations. A research paper discussing what intellectual property is, and why it needs to be protected in developing nations in the new millennium, will raise the awareness of the value of intellectual property and the wealth that can be derived from protecting it.

The intended audience of this paper is primarily Governments, or people who are responsible for shaping policy, in the Caribbean. It is hoped that the issues raised in this paper will stimulate action of some sort, at either the government level or the lower levels of society. At the very least it should stimulate discussion in the Caribbean, at the regional and governmental level, of the value of Intellectual Property. It is also hoped the following will be achieved:

  •  Governments in the Caribbean will raise awareness of the value of Intellectual Property;
  •  Governments will introduce, or enact, Intellectual Property legislation within their individual territories, maybe to even set up a patenting and trademark system at the regional level;
  •  West Indian people will recognize that there is power and economic wealth in the value of their knowledge and their creations;
  •  West Indian people will copyright their creations, and register valuable trademarks and names.

The paper is divided into five major sections, each section discussing a different aspect of intellectual property as it relates to developing nations and the new millennium. The first three sections say what intellectual property is, why it needs to be protected, and how it has been used by lesser developed nations to help then develop. The fourth section discusses the major intellectual property treaties currently in force, along with the multilateral organizations responsible for administering these treaties. The final section summarizes the foregoing sections and puts forward an argument as to why intellectual property is needed in the new millennium, especially in the developing world.

Many developing countries lose their best minds and their greatest talent to developed nations in Europe and North America. Unless this trend is quickly checked, developing nations will lose their competitive edge in an era driven by technology. It hoped that this paper will motivate the citizens of developing nations, such as those in the Caribbean, to register valuable trademarks and names, copyright their literary and artistic work, and patent their creations; and in so doing increase their wealth by increasing their knowledge base.