Categorized | National News

Minister Wants More Education on Intellectual Property

Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder believes there’s more that can be done to spread knowledge of ‘intellectual property’ and its importance to cultural creativity.

The minister, while at the Traditional Knowledge Consultation yesterday, said The Bahamas is sitting on a wealth of opportunity, but before putting the ‘horse before the cart’, officials must ensure that the creative work of Bahamians are protected.

He told attendees that three topics do not fit squarely in any one area or ministry, but rather touch on multiple spheres, and they are traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions.

“Traditional knowledge includes practices and traditions which are passed down through generations,” he said.

“In The Bahamas this could include bush medicine, boat building techniques or straw plaiting. Genetic Resources, on the other hand, are physical properties which are found naturally and have inherent value. Think of cascarilla which is a key input to liquor Campari. Traditional cultural expressions include music, dances, storytelling and handicrafts that are unique to a community. In our case this would be Junkanoo, Rake n’ Scrape and tales about the Chickcharney in Andros,” Minister Pinder said.

He added that these items are crucial to Bahamian culture and it is imperative that they be preserved.

However, they are important not only culturally but also economically.

To break things down for the attendees, he gave the example of straw vendors losing out if someone were to ever patent the idea.

“Imagine if a designer from Kate Spade came to The Bahamas for vacation and, while visiting the Straw Market, stumbled across a unique plait, buys that bag and figures out a way to mimic it for their production,” he said.

“The Bahamian artisan or community who developed that plait would likely never receive credit for their product.”
He added that the same applies to genetic resources.

“Although researchers are required to obtain approval before engaging in research in The Bahamas, there is more that can be done to ensure that Bahamian genetic resources are not being harvested for economic benefit without the expressed consent from the government or local communities in which the research took place,” he said.

The minister said that after recognising that no country in the Caribbean was providing holistic protection to these matters, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) requested assistance from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for a regional framework to be developed, to which WIPO “graciously” agreed.

The Ministry of Financial Services, along with the Office of the Attorney General, invited artisans, culturists, bush medicine practitioners, researchers, historians and other interested people to the public consultation on the protection of Bahamian Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Genetic Resources, which was held at the British Colonial Hilton.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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