The Intellectual Property Office was created on the 1st December, 1997 (Section 3 of the Patents Act, 1996) and is situated at 3rd Floor, Capital Plaza, 11 – 13 Frederick Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
A department within the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, the department is the local government agency responsible for handling the registration of intellectual property rights.
The present functions of the Intellectual Property Office include:
- The main statutory function of the IPO is to grant intellectual property rights in the area of industrial property
- In addition, the two other major statutory functions of the Office are:
i. The promotion of inventiveness among citizens of Trinidad and Tobago; and
ii. Making patent information services available to the public.
- Under the Berne Convention (Trinidad and Tobago has been party to it since 1988), it is not necessary to require formal procedures to obtain copyright and related rights. Therefore the IPO has no statutory responsibility for copyright and related rights. However, the Minister with responsibility for intellectual property may charge the Office with certain responsibilities relative to copyright and related rights and has been doing so over the years.
The other responsibilities of the IPO include:
- The determination of Opposition Hearings in relation to Trademarks and Geographical Indications;
- Making Intellectual Property information available to the public;
- Receiving international-applications under the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT);
- Advising the Government on Intellectual Property matters, e.g. for negotiation in the trade agreements;
- Raising public awareness, inclusive of schools and institutions of higher learning;
- Participating in the development of International Treaties in the area of intellectual property; and
- Participating in the development of International Instruments dealing with new and evolving areas of Intellectual Property.
To nurture an Intellectual Property-Savvy society, moving towards achieving global competitiveness by fostering a knowledge-based economy in Trinidad and Tobago.
To be the lead organization that stimulates creativity and innovation throughout Trinidad and Tobago, promoting appropriate mechanisms for the strategic use of the intellectual property system.
The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883).
The Paris convention is an international convention devised to facilitate protection of industrial property. This convention was first signed on March 20, 1883 and has since then been revised several times with the last revision taking place at Stockholm on July 14, 1967 and then further amended on September 28, 1979. Trinidad and Tobago became a member of this convention on August 1, 1964.
Accession to this convention enabled the protection of industrial property in Trinidad and Tobago. This includes patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks, trade names, indications of source or appellations of origin also commonly referred to as Geographical Indications.
Industrial property applies not only to industry and commerce, but to agricultural and extractive industries and all manufactured and natural products as well. One of the main benefits members of this convention enjoy is what is known as National Treatment.