You may also have heard of its world-famous liquor, Blue Curaçao, made from the dried peel of the Laraha citrus fruit, which grows on the island.
But beyond its welcoming climate and heady liquor, Curaçao also enjoys a long tradition of trademark protection. This year, it is celebrating 125 years of trademark history, and the fact that it was one of the first in the region to establish a fully operational trademark registration system.
Curaçao’s first trademark
Curaçao’s first trademark application is dated January 20, 1893. It was submitted by Mr. Abraham Mendez Chumaceiro on behalf of Mignot & De Block, a Dutch producer of tobacco products, based in Eindhoven, Netherlands which sought to register the “Maria Cristina” mark for cigars. As Curaçao fell under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at that time, the application was processed in line with Dutch trademark law, which first came into effect in the Netherlands on January 1, 1881, and was amended on September 30, 1893. This first trademark application was based on the first legal instrument on trademarks of Curaçao, an ordinance dated February 12, 1881.
Just months after the submission of its first trademark application, a new Royal Decree dated November 9, 1893, established the entry into force of a new trademark law for Curaçao.
While the first trademark registration has lapsed, Curaçao’s trademark register still features the trademark “Vinolia”. It was first registered by the Vinolia Company Limited of London, on December 30, 1901 and is still valid today, highlighting the enduring commercial value of trademark rights. The products covered by the trademark registration included among others, soap and candles. Vinolia soap was used by first class passengers on the RMS Titanic and the RMS Queen Mary. The trademark has been managed on behalf of its owner by the same Curaçao-based company, G.A. Winkel Sr. Inc., since its initial registration in 1901. The mark is currently owned by Unilever.
How is it, then, that trademark protection took hold in such a small and remote, albeit beautiful, island?
International trade and intellectual property
The answer lies in the twists and turns of Curaçao’s colonial history. Trade has played an important role on the island since it was conquered by the Dutch West India Company in 1634. For more than a century, the island served as a transit hub for seafarers from all corners of the globe. And following the abolition of slavery in 1863...