What about the gesture’s impact outside of Jamaica, and how does a gesture brand work around the world?
The paradox of making a gesture a trademark is that the more often the gesture is reproduced, the more its financial value grows. Recently, Olympic legend Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, registered his famous signature gesture, the ‘Lightning Bolt’ with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office. The ‘Lightning Bolt’ became very popular when he set world records at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin with a time of 9.58 seconds in the 100-metre dash and 19.19 seconds in the 200-metre dash.
Historically speaking, a trademark represents a valuable product or service to be protected and retained. Marketing professionals often associate a trademark with a universe or a community. A gesture (e.g., Usain Bolt’s ‘Lightning Bolt’ or Michael Jordan’s ‘Jumpman’) can identify a person and product and can circumnavigate the globe by being replicated millions of times each minute while creating a new universe and community. The legal definition of a trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the ‘goods’ or ‘services’ produced or provided by one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
At international level, an important step towards a strengthened international intellectual property protection was The World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement). It was signed in Marrakesh in 1994. The TRIPS Agreement is a trade-related agreement since it was adopted as part of the outcome of the Uruguay GATT round of trade negotiations and it is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Its aim was to impose worldwide minimum terms for the protection of intellectual property. This system does not replace the existing Conventions, but it works in addition to them. It obliges those countries, which do not yet protect intellectual property to introduce that protection if they want to be included in the world free trading system and be a member of the WTO.
All the WTO agreements, including TRIPS, apply to all WTO members. The members each accepted all the agreements as a single package with a single signature. Jamaica has been a member of WTO since 9 March 1995 and chose to implement a trademark law which gives more extensive protection than is required in the agreement.
Henceforward, in Jamaica, any distinctive word, letter, numeral, drawing, picture, shape, colour, logotype, label, or gesture used to distinguish goods or services may be considered a trademark.
What's the global impact of gesture trademark recognition? The impact for the future relates to the TRIPS agreement, which states that, with regard to the protection of intellectual property, any advantage, favour, privilege, or immunity granted by a member to the nationals of any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the nationals of all other members (MFN principle).
We are convinced that there will be soon an international recognition of the trademark gesture. In conclusion, for us a gesture reproduced by millions of people can become an international gesture protected by a trademark.