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Africa urged on intellectual property

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th November 2013 06:48 PM

Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire has challenged African countries to wake up to the central role that Intellectual Property (IP) plays as a tool of development and seize it to spur economic growth.

Africa urged on intellectual property

Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire has challenged African countries to wake up to the central role that Intellectual Property (IP) plays as a tool of development and seize it to spur economic growth.

By Steven Candia                              

Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire has challenged African countries to wake up to the central role that Intellectual Property (IP) plays as a tool of development and seize it to spur economic growth.


Speaking at the opening of a five day continental meeting on IP, Otafiire said many African countries have not seized the full potential that IP has to offer and thus have not gained from it, blaming it largely on lack of awareness.

The conference organized under the auspices of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), a body that brings together 18 member states. “Further, Intellectual Property has taken center stage in the global arena such that ARIPO member states and Africa in general have to adopt it for economic and social development,” Otafiire said at the Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday.

The conference got underway with the meeting of the ARIPO Administrative Council to be followed by the Council of Ministers meeting on Thursday that will bring together ministers from 18 countries.   

Intellectual property (IP) is a legal concept which refers to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognized and takes the form of trademarks, patents, copy rights, industrial design rights, trade dress and Geographical Indications (GI), among others.

  Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, trade dress, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.

The conference jointly organized by the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) and seeks to enhance the role of IP in development has also drawn delegates from other international IP bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the National Industrial IT Promotion Agency(NIPA), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the European Union (EU).  

Both Otafiire and the ARIPO Director General, Fernando Dos Santos urged African countries to embrace IP and particularly GI’s so as to fully benefit from the marketing on the international scene items that are unique to Africa such as agricultural produce.

 GIs protect IP rights in a specific product that owes its attributes or reputation to its production is a specific area. It protects the interests of a group of producers in a region, paying specific attention to quality standards for products with a reputation.

  “Agriculture is one of the areas where Africa has comparative advantage and we could brand our products after value addition and tap on the benefits,” Fernando Dos Santos said.

John Clarke who spoke on behalf of the EU said the European Commission was working closely with ARIPO with the view of developing a GI framework through which many African countries can benefit.

Jemimah Oware, the Chairperson of the ARIPO Administrative Council yesterday called for greater awareness of IP within the masses if Africa is to benefit from it.

 

Africa urged on intellectual property

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