Barbados remains on the Watch List of the Special 301 Report in 2020. Barbados acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties on December 13, 2019 but has not proposed intellectual property legislation to implement its treaty obligations. There are also weaknesses in the enforcement of existing legislation. In the realm of copyright and related rights, the United States continues to have concerns about the unauthorized retransmission of U.S. broadcasts and cable programming by local cable operators in Barbados, including state-owned broadcasters, without adequate compensation to U.S. right holders. The United States also has continuing concerns about the refusal of Barbadian TV and radio broadcasters and cable and satellite operators to pay for public performances of music. The longstanding failure to enforce judgments and other successful outcomes for right holders and the resulting lack of deterrence are additional sources of concern. The Special 301 report is available online at
Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in Barbados. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP. Second, IP may be protected differently in Barbados than in the United States. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Barbados, under local laws. For example, your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Barbados. There is no “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works in accordance with international agreements.
Consideration should be made on how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the Barbados market. Granting patents registrations is based on whether the application satisfies the legislative requirements. It is also favorable to the applicant if the grant was issued in another jurisdiction. The registration of trademarks is based on first-to-file. For more information, please visit the CAIPO website.
It is vital companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Barbados. It is the responsibility of the rights holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Barbados law. A list of local lawyers is available at: https://bb.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/ .
While the U.S. government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce their IP in a timely fashion. Rights holders who delay enforcing their rights due to a mistaken belief that the U.S. government can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit. U.S. government advice is not a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in Barbados require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Barbados laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions. It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working with U.S.-based trade associations and organizations to learn more about IP protection and to support efforts to stop counterfeiting.
In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.
IP Attaché for Barbados
Name: Cynthia Henderson
Address: U.S. Trade Center, Liverpool No. 31, Col Juárez, México, D.F. 06600
Office Phone: +52 55-5080-2189 or +52 55-4550-0475