The State, which had invested $33 million into the development of the pan, also called the electronic pan, had sued Copeland as well as Marcel Byron, Keith Maynard and Earle Phillip, on the basis that the rights to the invention (as well as another invention called the “G-pan”) had been vested solely in a company tied to Copeland.
Ramlogan held a press conference at his ministry’s offices at Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, and announced that the lawsuit would be withdrawn, as the parties had agreed to a settlement in mediation which would be to the benefit of all.
Under the terms of the mediation agreement, the ownership of the pan will be vested in the University of the West Indies, the regional university. The UWI is to set up a private company to exploit the patent in order to make profits. The State will be entitled to one third of the profits, with UWI enjoying one third and Copeland enjoying the remainder.
The State – through the Ministry of the Attorney General, UWI and Copeland will each be entitled to appoint two directors. The directors will have a duty to optimise profits, and to act in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
The UWI company will also be mandated to enter into a consultancy agreement with Copeland and the defendants, “to complete the design of the PHI, and to assist in the manufacture and marketing of the PHI.”
“This is a resounding success and an excellent victory for the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Ramlogan said of the mediation agreement signed on October 4 last. He said the State had moved from a situation where the rights had been vested in one private individual, to a situation where the State and UWI now have interests. UWI, he said, had employed Copeland as he developed the pan.
“There was no written agreement to protect the State’s interest in this matter,” Ramlogan said. “The pan cannot be owned by any one individual because the pan is the national instrument. It is not the invention of one man, but of the people.”
Ramlogan said more than $33 million was disbursed by the PNM administration to facilitate research in the enhancement of the steel-pan musical instrument. Of this, $12 million was spent on the development of the PI under the Steel Pan Initiatives Project (SIP) at UWI.
Ramlogan said Copeland’s defence in the lawsuit the State brought in 2011 after a State enterprise audit was, “that the monies advanced by the Government was done so gratuitously and hence the State should not acquire any interest, title or right in the PHI, or its patent.”
The Attorney General said he considered the need to acknowledge Copeland’s “creative genius” in relation to the pan.
When asked what was the status of the separate “G-pan”, Ramlogan told Newsday, that the state has an agreement with Copeland over the rights to that instrument. “That was dealt with earlier in the litigation. There is an arrangement with that, but the PHI pan is where the big bucks lie.”
In relation to several ongoing lawsuits against former directors of State enterprises, Ramlogan expressed the “quiet hope” that the judiciary would give these cases urgent attention and priority. He also once more hailed a ruling which this week found that the statutory limitation of four years, did not apply to such lawsuits.
In relation to legal action around a complaint linking the family of Independent Liberal Party (ILP) interim deputy political leader Anna Deonarine to a million-dollar Clico land transaction, Ramlogan said he has referred that matter to Senior Counsel, Russell Martineau, for advice.