Intellectual Property Rights
Guyana adopted British law on patents and copyrights upon independence. Current legislation covers:
The Copyright Act, 1956 (UK) – Prevents the unlawful copying of physical material existing in the field of literature and the arts. Its object is to protect the writer and artist from the unlawful reproduction of his/her material. The Copyright Act is concerned only with the copying of physical material and not with the reproduction of ideas and it does not give a monopoly to any particular form of words or design.
The Patents and Designs Act, Cap. 90:03, 1937 – Protects holders with monopoly of an invention or design for a period of time.
The Trademarks Act, Cap. 90:01, 1953 – Protects rights of trademark holders. Trademarks are defined as a mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right either as proprietor or as registered user to use that mark.
Geographic Indications Act – This act aims to protect geographical indications which are signs used on goods that have a specific geographical origin. It was recently passed by Parliament, and is only pending the President’s signature to be formally enacted.
The Deeds Registry, under the Ministry of Legal Affairs, has direct responsibility for the implementation of Guyana’s intellectual property legislation. The Registry is responsible for processing applications, as well as other administrative work related to intellectual property protection. Guyana is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Stockholm Text), and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Paris Text).
In addition to enacting new copyright law, Guyana is seeking to improve its intellectual property enforcement through a review of the current legal framework. These efforts have been promoted with technical assistance from WIPO, the IDB, and the Commonwealth. Guyana is in the process of updating its legislation on intellectual property rights to comply with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.
Under the Guyanese legal system, and in particular the Investment Act of 2004, parties to a dispute are encouraged to first seek to settle their disputes through either consultation or mediation. Guyana is a signatory to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States. International arbitration decisions are enforceable under Guyana’s (then British Guiana) Arbitration Act of 1931. The country is also a member of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). If parties to the dispute fail to resolve the matter, they may:
Submit their dispute to arbitration under the Arbitration Act
Invoke the jurisdiction of the competent courts in Guyana
Adopt such other procedures provided for in the articles of association, or other constituent document of the investment enterprise
Submit their dispute to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of which Guyana is a member
The Government of Guyana is taking steps to improve dispute resolution mechanisms. Guyana has recently moved towards establishing a Commercial Court, and is expanding the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism.
The Government continues to take steps to improve the ease of trade, including a reduction in products requiring licenses and upgrading customs administration software. Trade procedures fall under the auspices of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) of the Ministry of Finance, and MinTIC. Currently, there is no formal appeals process for differences of opinion that arise at any step of the way in the import or export process. However, a Customs Tariff Tribunal is being established that will provide an appeals process to expeditiously decide on complaints.
All importers and exporters, regardless of their nationality, are required to register and obtain a customs registration number from the GRA’s Custom and Trade Administration department. The New GMC has a one-stop brokerage desk that prepares export documents.
Since the early 1990s, there has been a significant reduction in import restrictions, enabling the ready availability of machinery, fertilizer and pesticides, among other things. While the number of products requiring import licenses has been greatly reduced, importers need to ascertain from MinTIC whether they need a license. Information can be obtained from the MinTIC website: www.mintic.gov.gy/licences.html.
Import licenses are required and granted by the MinTIC for a very limited category of items. These include medicinal drugs; fresh, frozen and chilled meat, fresh fruits, beet sugar, wheaten flour, rice, cane sugar, organic and inorganic fertilizers, petroleum and petroleum by-products, beauty and makeup preparations, aircraft, helicopters, spacecraft including satellites, and military weapons (e.g., revolvers, pistols, bombs, grenades, torpedoes, bayonets, lances and similar arms). The licensing process is normally completed within 48 hours.
The importation of livestock/animals and plant materials into Guyana, including domestic pets, is subject to an import permit from the Animal Services Division (animals) or the Plant Quarantine Section (plant materials) of the Ministry of Agriculture. The permit specifies the conditions that must be met in the exporting country before importation to Guyana is allowed. Animals from countries affected by rabies must be quarantined for a period of 90 days before being issued a health certificate and cleared for entry.
The importation of fresh/raw meats is also subject to the Import Permit procedure. Upon arrival at the Port of Entry in Guyana, it must be inspected by qualified veterinary doctors from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the veterinary Public Health Services of the Ministry of Health.
Customs Clearance – Imports
Importers are allowed to act on their own behalf to clear goods, although competent customs brokers are recommended to save time and money. Customs must be provided with a copy of the clearance form upon importation, together with supporting documents, such as an invoice from the supplier, a bill of lading and/or a license and, when requested, a certificate of origin. Valuation is based on invoice or purchase prices. Guyana is a signatory to the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement. Taxes must be paid before delivery of the goods. Customs inspections are carried out at the port of entry before the goods are cleared for delivery. Clearance times range, but normally fall between 2 and 3.5 days.
Export Licenses are required for the following items: poultry feed, rice bran, rice chips, rice dust, rice stock feed, wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat middlings/wheat screenings, beet sugar and cane sugar in solid form, fertilizers, hides and skins, feathers, bird skins with feathers, feathers prepared, ornamental feathers and other articles of feather, gold, jewelry of precious metal or rolled precious metal, copper waste and scrap, arms and ammunition. Exporters wishing to export goods out of Guyana need to ascertain from the MinTIC whether they need a license. Information can be obtained from the MinTIC website.
Customs Clearance – Export
Exporters are allowed to act on their own behalf to clear goods, although competent customs brokers are recommended to save time and money. Most exporters will seek permission to load on-site, i.e., at their premise, which means that a Customs Officer will come to the exporter’s place of work to inspect the goods during the loading of the container. At least two-hours notice is required to schedule an on site loading inspection. After the inspection, the container is sealed and a customs form returned to the broker/exporter to deliver along with the shipment to the shipping company.