Legal Framework

Patent Law

For a more detailed treatment of the intellectual property regime in Jamaica see Jamaica: Intellectual Property by Foga Daley Partner, Dianne Daley in International Encyclopaedia of Laws, Kluwer Law International, Intellectual Property – Suppl. 47 (September 2008)

Brief background

The Patent Act of 1857 is the oldest domestic statute conferring intellectual property rights which is still in operation in Jamaica.

Under the Patent Act, Letters Patent are granted by the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth the Second through Her representative the Governor General of Jamaica. In case of doubts with regard to its construction, the Patent Act may be construed by analogy to the laws in force in England relating to the granting of Letters Patent for inventions, in so far as the provisions of such laws are applicable.

Existing Legislation On Patent Law

  • The Patent Act No. 30 of 1857,
  • The Patent (Amendment) Act No. 42-74, October 1974
  • The Patent (Amendment) Act No. 8-75, March 1975.

Patentable subject matter includes an invention, discovery or improvements of some new and useful art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter. The person applying for a patent (The Petitioner) must declare that the invention, discovery or improvement has not been known or used in the Island before to the best of his/her knowledge, information and belief. Therefore the requirement that the patentable subject matter must be novel is restricted to local novelty as opposed to universal novelty.

Where products have already been patented in a foreign country they can still be patented in Jamaica so long as the period of patent protection in the foreign country has not expired. In this case the Jamaican Patent would last as long as the foreign Patent remains valid.

The Patent Law grants the Patent Holder the full and exclusive right and liberty to make, construct, use and sell the new invention, discovery or improvement. These rights extend to the inventor or assignee, his executors and administrators. During the term of the patent no person shall without the consent, licence or agreement, of the patentee within Jamaica “directly or indirectly make use of or put in practice the said invention, or any part of the same or in anywise imitate the same, or make or cause to be made any addition thereto or subtraction therefrom whereby to pretend themselves the inventors thereof.”

Letters Patent are granted for a period of 14 years. An extended term of a further 7 years may be granted.  There are no renewal periods or annuities for patents.

Since its enactment the Act has only had administrative amendments in 1974 and 1975. The scope and nature of protection provided to the patent holder falls below the minimum requirements of the TRIPS Agreement.

The current Act does not recognize priority claims notwithstanding Jamaica’s membership to the Paris Convention. Hence all Patent Applications are assigned the Jamaican filing date and not the first filing date elsewhere.

A Draft Bill on Patents and Designs currently under consideration will repeal the existing Patent Legislation and will incorporate provisions for compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. It is also expected to provide for the implementation of the Patent Corporation Treaty.

The Patent Law is administered by the Patent Directorate of The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).

For more information visit JIPO’s official website

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