Author: Dr. Marsha Simone Cadogan, PhD (Intellectual Property Rights)
As we approach the mid-twenty first century, fostering sustainable linkages between the oceans and neighboring communities will increase in importance. This is especially relevant in coastal communities where the impact of climate change is affecting many aspects of every day life, and the health of marine resources. The Blue economy refers to sustainable uses of ocean resources to promote the social and economic welfare of communities and peoples, while at the same time, preserving and promoting the oceans’ health. There are a few international conventions and treaties that deal with the governance of the seas, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. However, in the context of IP, what role can IP play in supporting a progressive blue economy in emerging and developed countries?
Three linkages are briefly covered below:
Some territories are home to fisheries that are mostly found in specific lakes or regions of the sea or lake, such as the Caribbean (Nassau Grouper), British Columbia (sturgeon) and in Japan (pufferfish). If registrable under domestic legislation, GI aquaculture may help to create and diversify jobs in coastal communities, organize collective bodies to oversee responsible fishing in the industry, and build productive liaison between fishing communities, environmental regulatory agencies, processors and distributors, and development-oriented initiatives.
Clean technologies use the most energy efficient processes, or products that are environmentally sustainable, to produce results that have minimal adverse impacts on the environment, while still benefiting sectors and economies. . Patents, industrial designs and/or trade secrets and confidential information are all forms of intellectual property that can be used to protect inventions, source codes, or processes used in the development of clean technologies. Policymakers can also offer, as an aspect of a national intellectual property strategy, incentives to inventors and entrepreneurs to develop advanced research and development in market-ready clean technologies. In the context of the blue economy, clean technologies (research, development and market-ready technologies) is useful in ocean clean up activities and in supporting innovative renewable energy projects.
Intellectual Property can be a useful mechanism in promoting tourism endeavors in coastal communities. This linkage can happen in two ways. One: A small business operator in a coastal community may benefit from branding their business through trademark registration and use. This strategy is especially important if the entrepreneur makes products that embody aspects of the characteristics or aesthetics of the coastal community such as paintings, designs, or local processed food (with commercial value in foreign markets such as spices, kelps, seaweed or fishes). In this context, both trademark and copyright legal frameworks are useful in building and maintaining coastal brands.
Two: Advertising is relevant in driving tourism initiatives in the blue economy, just as how heat is relevant to hot water. Intellectual property rights play a role in building strong advertising in blue economy projects. Some tourist destination advertisements are more distinct than others, and may have more IP content than others. When a coastal community is revered by travelers based on its peoples and aesthetics, policy makers or entrepreneurs can carve out strong spaces to their destinations in the minds of consumers by using catchy original content in advertising, such as music, that may become protectable as copyright. It is also possible to create linkages between coastal destinations as a place, and the musical culture of its peoples (such as through copyright and possibly traditional cultural expressions), thereby promoting an entrepreneurial spirit among individuals.
Forming workable linkages between the blue economy and intellectual property will take collaboration and strong partnerships with various stakeholders. It is not an impossible project, but will take work.