The National Instrument of T&T (the steel-pan) and the Law

Tthe Foreign Ministry of Trinidad and Tobago has told the world that the steelpan is the National Instrument of the country , and that’s good enough for me.

As they say in legal terminology, this is “de facto “ not “de jure”.

That the steel pan was created in Trinidad is an historical fact.


Because after reading the laws regarding national emblems, I’m aware that such laws by their very nature must come with specifications regarding design, display , use and even availability as commercial products.
Upon further reflection I can see why this hasn’t been done by law, and for good reason.
Because with laws, there will certainly be restrictions, leading inevitably to challenges to the law and lawyers, even internationally.

The late master steel-pan tuner Bertie Marshall creating a national instrument

The pan is already in the free market and there should be no “laws “ governing it’s use, its design , or how it is marketed.
Copyright issues can be argued, though I think it may be too late for that , but that’s a different matter entirely, and a market issue.

Please think about it, and let’s leave it the way it is!

I’ve included a link to the National Emblems of T&T Act , so we can have an idea as to the type of restrictions placed on national emblems.
Restrictions would obviously be different for the National Instrument , but you can get a pretty good idea.

http://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/Laws2/Alphabetical_List/lawspdfs/19.04.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0Twf_KUrcF6iIH1tI6_KHRxd0VBYeZP6FNXmZDxLpCjyK449csPq5f7jI

More thoughts on the steel-pan as tne National Instrument of T&T by Law

I’ve got to credit the T&T government for this , because I’m reasonably sure that they must have considered a LAW , and decided on a DECLARATION instead.

Because they were aware of an even bigger law.

The Law of Unintended Consequences!

Because they couldn’t just say that the steel-pan was the National Instrument of T&T by Law.

That would have minimal effect.

They would have had to define what the pan is , it’s specifications, shape , size etc. so you couldn’t get around it by marketing the instrument under a different name- a steel idiophone, for instance.

But once you defined the pan by shape , size etc. or in any other way you would be locked in , so anything that didn’t meet those specs won’t legally be a pan, and therefore won’t be covered by the Law..

Remember , there’s no intellectual property claim on the IDEA of the pan , so you could make a pan with a different shape or size , say a wrap around pan , call it a different name and market it.

That’s where “clones” come into play.

My favorite example is IBM.

I bet nobody reading this has an IBM personal computer, since IBM created and patented it.

Other companies simply reversed engineered it , created copies that had slightly different specs , and took the market away , sinking IBM in the computer business.

I’m sorry folks , but calling the pan the National Instrument by Law isn’t some kind of magic pill that will give T&T a competitive boost on the world marketing.

Planning and hard work is the only way to do that.

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