News Release

Valuing Intellectual Property the Focus of JIPO Project

Published on
documents and binder with words intellectual property on it

Fully understanding and leveraging the value of intellectual property (IP) to strengthen micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), are the goals of an ongoing regional project led by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).

Support to JIPO for the project, Strengthening the IP Ecosystem to Increase Innovation Competitiveness and Growth of Micro Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, targets Jamaican MSMEs. However, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-funded project of USD149,900 was extended to include participants from Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Guyana, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis.

The project was also co-financed by Compete Caribbean, a private sector development program that provides technical assistance to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and technology and innovation in Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) in the Caribbean region.

The program was jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Canada.

Project Manager and attorney-at-law Kayanne Anderson and Shantal English, JIPO’s Deputy Director and Legal Counsel, provided further insight into the programme’s objectives. They highlighted its focus on strengthening the IP ecosystem in order to support innovation and growth in IP-rich entities or those with the potential to monetise or successfully commercialise their intellectual property.

The project also focused on business support organisations across the Caribbean and especially aimed to reach key personnel in financial institutions such as commercial banks and credit unions, providing essential training in IP assets.

The JIPO team was also pleased to have representatives from Jamaica’s central bank, the Bank of Jamaica, involved in the training and supporting the initiative.

Divided into five components, the programme included IP asset valuation training, which saw 340 people participating. An IP monetisation toolkit has also been prepared for on-demand learning.

IP monetisation and capacity building through training and awareness formed another component. There was also a pilot for asset-backed financing for MSMEs involved in the technology and software industry, point of sales systems, food production and manufacturing, agro-tech companies and a mix of businesses in the hair and body care industry.

The JIPO senior officers explained the IP monetisation training targeted mainly business support organisations.

Launched in September 2019, the technical assistance was not rolled out until April 2020 around the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, English remarked how being forced to deliver the training online, proved to be a positive, as JIPO reached many more people than originally intended through in-person sessions.

On the IP valuation training, the terms of reference envisaged a maximum of 25 participants, however, over 400 people responded to the promotion and 340 participated. Those included participants from Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, The Bahamas, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis.

 The JIPO executives were especially pleased at the level of interest from financial institutions, describing it as “overwhelmingly positive”.

The JIPO Deputy Director noted: “As a result of their interest and requests, we expanded the number of persons who were trained in IP valuation.”

She added: “There were eight commercial banks who sent representatives to be trained in advanced IP valuation and we also had two from the Central Bank.

“Since that training, our conversations with the commercial banks have become much more precise because there was that understanding, and the training-of-the-trainers extended the level of knowledge transfer.

Meanwhile, Anderson disclosed: “We regarded this as one of the major successes of the programme as it bridged that knowledge gap and opened the conversation with the financial institutions where they have committed to participating in a pilot to test whether they can take IP as collateral for loans.

The JIPO team outlined some of the key steps MSMEs needed to take if they planned to use IP as part of their portfolio of collateralised assets to support their loan financing plans.

What a bank looks for when it is considering IP as an economic asset for a business is a direct connection between the asset and the business. The company must show that it owns or has a legal right to control or exercise control over that asset.

“What some founders of companies tend to do is register the trademark or IP in their personal names. What ought to be done is a transfer or assignment of that personal right over to the business. . . . You want to separate the founder or the person from the IP asset,” they explained.

The JIPO officials also advised businesses to maintain an inventory or periodic audit of their IP and intangible assets.

They also recommended: “Having realised income from the asset, it is important to be able to track that income.”

The Support to JIPO for strengthening the IP Ecosystem to Increase Innovation Competitiveness and Growth of Micro Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises project is scheduled for completion in May 2023.

We are excited about the prospects of further work in this area, to expand the role of IP as an economic asset and tool for the development of the region and all borrowing member countries of the CDB.

“The CDB support of USD149,900 was extremely valuable, however, the extent of that support went beyond the funding. We greatly appreciated the input of persons like Lisa Harding who engaged us in our meetings and various training sessions,” English emphasised.