is the flagship electronic trade newsletter of the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN), formerly the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery(CRNM). Published in English, it is a rich source of probing research on and detailed analyses of international trade policy issues and developmentsgermane to the Caribbean. Prepared by the Information Unit of the OTN, the newsletter focuses on the OTN, trade negotiation issues within its mandateand related activities. Its intention is to provide impetus for feedback by and awareness amongst a variety of stakeholders, as regards trade policydevelopments of currency and importance to the Caribbean.
Chubby. But as noted earlier, there are far fewer examplesthan might be expected from a region that has demonstratedsuch globally appreciated creativity.Good industrial designs, like other innovations, can be, andoften are, copied by other competitors, thus losing thecompetitive advantage that they provide. Intellectual propertylaws provide the creators or owners of a design with the legalright to exclude others from using the design without requisitepermission. Intellectual property rights therefore broaden thescope of successful commercial possibility for industrialdesigns from their exclusive use by Caribbean manufacturersto include the licensing of designs to manufacturers globally.The question to address then is how can the Caribbeanexpand the creation of unique and successful industrialdesigns for use by either Caribbean or global manufacturers.There are four or five issues that will need to be addressed inorder to improve the use of industrial design by Caribbeanfirms, both as a competitive tool by manufacturers, and as aweightless
product by designers; and, in terms of implementation, they can perhaps be addressedsimultaneously. Many are already being addressed.
What can be done?
The first issue, although the one that requires the longest toprovide returns, is training industrial designers. This subjectshould, and can easily, be integrated into the existingcurriculae of both the Arts and the Sciences teachingprogrammes at all levels of the education system.Nevertheless, if one accepts that there is a high level of creativity generally, its introduction at the post-secondary levelmight bring the fastest returns. The establishment of NationalDesign Centres would serve many needs and should includean Industrial Design component.In the context of small economies relatively advanced in their integration process, it is tempting to consider the establishmentof a regional Caribbean Design Centre. The challenge or riskthat this would pose, however, is that the work of the Centrethen becomes too distant from the regional manufacturers thatare its key target clients. One approach to overcome theconundrum that smaller economies might not have the scale or resources for a national Centre would be to use a regionalOpen Campus to provide this training virtually. Such Centres,whether national or regional, in addition to striving for eventualrecognition as Centres of Excellence, should themselves havesome distinguishing advantage over others. This will requirerecognition of, and acceptance of, a unique national or Caribbean sensibility in design, first and foremost by theCaribbean itself. A second issue that needs to be addressed also within thecontext of education and training is working withenterprises, particularly micro-, small and mediumenterprises (MSMEs), on the use of design as a part of their competitive strategy. Business support organizations mustthemselves obviously become acquainted with the use of design as part of such strategy in order to include it in their service offering to MSMEs. This understanding of the useand valuation of industrial design by MSMEs will drive thedemand for the skills eventually expected to be availablefrom the education effort. But it can nevertheless takeadvantage of the existing talent. A third issue pertains to the establishment of an appropriatelegal framework for the protection of intellectual propertyand an understanding of how it should be used in theenforcement of intellectual property rights. In the context of industrial design, as with other innovations, it must berecognized that several intellectual property rights can beused, depending on different aspects of the industrialdesign. For the purely aesthetic aspect of original industrialdesigns, in other words designs not dictated by technical or functional considerations, industrial design rights provideprotection. Copyright can also be used to protect this typeof aesthetic design, but industrial design generally alsoincludes aspects related to utility that, if they meet therequired criteria, can be protected by either utilitycertificates or patents.Ensuring effective enforcement of industrial design rights, afourth issue to be considered, requires three components tobe in place. One is awareness of how intellectual propertyrights are used competitively and the demonstratedcapacity to use these rights in the internal market. A secondis awareness by border agencies and measures that allowfor action to be taken by them. The third is to have externalmarket arrangements that allow for easy acquisition of therights and similar scope of protection to ensure that similar action can be taken in those markets. This harmonisation of legal frameworks and decision-making is already takingplace both within regional integration arrangements andmultilaterally.Other issues that need to be addressed include havingsufficient information and communications capacity to trade