IP and Carnival

Feb 21, 2014


An Industrial Design is the ornamental aspect of a useful article.  This ornamental aspect may be constituted by elements, which are three-dimensional (the shape of the article) or two-dimensional (lines, designs, patterns and colours) but must not be dictated solely or essentially by technical or functional considerations.  It is the right to protect the ornamental, non-functional features of an Industrial Article or Product that arise from Design Activity.


Protection of an industrial design means that third parties not having the consent of the owner of the protected Industrial Design are not permitted to produce copies, or what is substantially a copy, of the protected design. When such acts are undertaken for commercial purposes these acts can be considered as infringing on the rights of the owner of the industrial design. Legal action can then be taken against the infringer. Industrial design protection as mentioned before provides protection basically for the appearance of an article. In relation to matters concerned with infringement, the size with which the copied article is reproduced or material used in making the copy is irrelevant. Once the copied article looks the same or is similar to the protected design infringement occurs.

How do I obtain protection for my design?

The Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago is solely responsible for the granting of intellectual property rights in Trinidad and Tobago. Industrial Design protection can be obtained by filing an industrial design application at the Intellectual Property Office. When this is done the design will be examined and if it meets the criteria for Industrial Design it will be protected in Trinidad and Tobago. This gives the owner sole rights over the design to use however they deem fit for a maximum period of fifteen (15) years.

Why bother?

Why bother protecting a design? This question has been asked over and over again. Industrial design protection allows an individual to:
•    Prohibit others from using the protected design without consent from the owner.
•    Earn significant revenue from the design created. (Contractual engagements etc.)
•    Ascertain ownership of the design, which allows innovators to be acknowledged for their work.


Carnival has been for many years, an avenue for those full of imagination, creativity and a passion for crafts to express themselves through costume design. Every year on Carnival Sunday, a competition known as Dimanche Gras is held to award the King and Queen of Carnival title to the best male and female masqueraders. Each band submits a King and Queen for this competition who usually dons a costume more elaborate and complex than the other masqueraders in the band.  These costumes are huge and visually stunning and as such, designers compete against one another for the most innovative costumes. Whether you have designed a costume that is stronger or easier to manoeuvre, your imaginative design gives you a competitive advantage over other designers and is worth protecting.
Industrial Design protection is crucial for creators to protect their innovative designs and add commercial value to their product, thus increasing its marketability as third parties cannot produce copies of the protected design without authorization. In the post Carnival season many people collect miniatures and/or trinkets of the King and Queen of Carnival winners; Industrial Design protection can prevent these miniatures from being reproduced without the designer’s consent. This spurs economic growth as more designers would be to and the designer reaps the rewards of time and money invested in creating a design.





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All rights reserved.

Criminal penalties for Intellectual Property Rights Infringement


Maximum Penalty (TT Dollars)

Copyright and Related Rights incl. databases

$250,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Topography of Integrated Circuits

$10,000.00 or 5 years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Trade Mark (incl. company names represented in a special or particular manner)

$10,000.00 or 6 months imprisonment (summary conviction); $40,000.00 or 10 years imprisonment (indictment)

Industrial Design

$10,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Patent and Utility Model

$10,000.00 (summary conviction).

Falsification of patent register: $20,000.00 (summary conviction) or $40,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (indictment)

Geographical Indications

$8,000.00 or three years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Plant Variety

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)

Unauthorised claim of patent rights

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)

Unauthorised claim that a patent has been applied for

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)


The Copyright Infringement Ship

Piracy Ship

Click here to download image.



Piracy occurs when any of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights are violated.

Note 14 of the TRIPS Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) provides the following interpretation:

(a) “counterfeit trademark goods” shall mean any goods, including packaging, bearing without authorization a trademark which is identical to the trademark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark, and which thereby infringes the rights of the owner of the trademark in question under the law of the country of importation;

(b) “pirated copyright goods” shall mean any goods which are copies made without the consent of the right holder or person duly authorized by the right holder in the country of production and which are made directly or indirectly from an article where the making of that copy would have constituted an infringement of a copyright or a related right under the law of the country of importation.

The maximum penalty for copyright infringement is $250,000 or ten years imprisonment. The above pirate ship illustrates some common examples of piracy.