By Bemanya Twebaze, Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization
The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), with support of the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) is organizing a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Draft Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights to take place at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, in Kampala, Uganda from the 23rd to the 24th of July 2021.
The Protocol will establish a regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights, create and maintain a Regional Database for Copyright and Related Rights. The protocol is the first of its kind in Africa and will help protect the ARIPO Member States and Africa’s creative industry by ensuring that the creators benefit from their creative works. According to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) Global Collection Report 2020, based on data collected for 2019, €10bn Euros were collected globally, and 37 Collective Management Organizations from 32 African countries reported €79.3million in total collections. This is evidence that exploitation of copyrighted works is a source of revenue for creators and contributes to growth of the economy.
Copyright has a competitive advantage in Africa. However, it is yet to realize its full potential. ARIPO, in cooperation with strategic partners, is working hard to ensure this changes. Having a regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights in Africa will create a conducive environment to ensure respect for the copyrighted works. The rights holders -will be incentivized to create more and explore new markets, thereby increasing their income.
It is worth noting that the creative industry contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment in countries, as evidenced from the WIPO Studies on the Economic Contribution of the Copyright Based Industries in Africa. According to the WIPO Study data from 2016, Botswana’s contribution to GDP was 5.46%, which is the highest, followed by Kenya’s 2007 data at 5.32%. South Africa is the highest on employment at 4% in 2008, followed by Malawi at 3.35% in 2009. In Tanzania, the creative industry contribution was higher than the mining and quarrying sector in 2009 and 2010 at 3.2% and 2.8%, respectively. In Malawi, the creative industry contribution was higher than that of the mining and quarrying, human health, education, construction and transport and storage sectors. Botswana’s 2018 creative industry surpassed other essential sectors such as water and electricity (0.3%), agriculture (2%), and manufacturing (5.20%). The statistics above show a great need to harness the sector and intellectual property protection in Africa by pooling our resources and cooperating with strategic partners.
The regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights will enhance ARIPO’s cooperation with the national offices responsible for copyright to achieve the Protocol’s purpose. The national registration systems often hold valuable information on creativity from legal and economic perspectives and provide statistics on authors, performers, right holders, and their works, recordings, and productions in their countries.
Benefits of Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights
The voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights will also enable an author to have a registration certificate that can be a prima facie evidence on owning that property (Copyright and Related Rights works, recordings and productions). He may approach the financial institutions for loans, collaterals or engage foreign direct investors or enter into partnership or use the different means to commercialize the property such as licensing, merchandising, selling, etc. Furthermore, in case of any disputes regarding the property, the certificate may be used as a prima facie evidence of ownership. The onus lies with the parties to prove otherwise during the settlement, and this will assist in the management and enforcement of the owner’s and rights holder’s rights. If known, the owner’s information is easier to link with a prospective investor or business person who wants to have legal access to the property. ARIPO will contribute to preserving information on creative content in the continent.
ARIPO sees the need to nurture, promote and protect Copyright and Related Rights, which is vital to the growth of Intellectual Property (IP) and has enormous cultural, economic, and social implications for the community we live in. The voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights reassures business communities and opens doors for rights holders. The system will enable effective coordination between Copyright Offices (COs), Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), rights holders, and users worldwide.
Ministers from ARIPO Member States will attend the Diplomatic Conference. ARIPO has 20 Member States, Botswana, The Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Tenth Session of the Working Group on the Improvement of ARIPO Protocols Relating to Industrial Property was held virtually from 13th to 14th May 2021.
The Working Group was established in 2013 after recognizing the need to improve the ARIPO Protocols continually. It provides a platform to discuss and propose improvements to the ARIPO Protocols related to Industrial Property and improve the implementation of these Protocols.
The two-day event attracted 74 participants, delegates from the following Member States attended the Session: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda; also represented were the IP law firms from Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
The Chairperson of the Working Group, Ms. Brenda Matanga, in her opening remarks, called upon users of the ARIPO system to continuously interrogate the Protocols and contribute towards “shaping the IP landscape in Africa.” She also thanked ARIPO for being fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and effectively serving its customers through its online system.
The Director General of ARIPO, Bemanya Twebaze, officially opened the 10th Session of the Working Group. In his speech, he expressed his gratitude for the continued support and invaluable contributions made during the previous Working Group Sessions, which had allowed ARIPO to align its Protocols with international standards whilst responding to the needs of Member States and users of the ARIPO system.
Bemanya also highlighted that COVID-19 had a negative impact with regard to new applications filed in 2020. There was a decrease in the number of applications compared to the year 2019. However, the Office’s operations were not disrupted, as the eService platform proved very effective during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns as it ensured business continuity.
The ARIPO Secretariat delivered several presentations to the Working Group.
The presentation “Operations and Status of the Banjul, Harare and Swakopmund Protocols” highlighted the performance of the Protocols in 2020 and also reflected on performance in the last five years.
A total of 754 patent applications were filed in 2020 compared to 868 filed in 2019, a 13% decrease in filings. The average monthly filings in 2020 stood at 62.8 applications.
With respect to marks, 342 applications containing 662 classes were filed. The 2020 filings decreased by 16.7% compared to 2019.
The Working Group discussed and made improvements to the proposals on Harare and Banjul Protocols and identified modifications to be made to the eService platform to improve the implementation of the Protocols.
The presentation “Report on the Regional ICT projects for IP Business Processing” highlighted eService platform proved very effective during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns as it ensured business continuity. There was an increase in the uptake of the online services with 85% of all new applications received in 2020 filed online compared to 77% in 2019. Individually, patents recorded the highest percentage, with 97% of the applications filed online.
The proposals on improvement of Harare and Banjul Protocols from the Working Group will be discussed further by the Technical Committee on Industrial Property which will make the final proposals to be discussed and approved by the Administrative Council.
The event concluded with the adoption of the Report. The Chairperson thanked all participants, delegates, the Secretariat and all those who were involved in making the 10th Session of the Working Group a success.
The Government of the Republic of The Gambia deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the Banjul Protocol on Marks with the Director General of ARIPO on 3 May 2021. In accordance with the provisions of the Protocol, the latter will enter into force, with respect to the Republic of The Gambia, on 3 August, 2021.
Pursuant to the above, with effect from 3 August 2021, The Gambia will be eligible for designation for applicants under the Banjul Protocol.
The Ratification of the Banjul Protocol by the Republic of The Gambia brings the number of Member States party to the Protocol to twelve (12).
The World Intellectual Property Day Kickoff Event in Africa was held on 22 April 2021. The webinar titled “Growing Brands: Evolving Opportunities – African SMEs Reflect” discussed pertinent issues vital to ensuring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) know about intellectual property (IP) rights and how to protect their businesses.
Every 26 April, World IP Day is celebrated to learn about the role that IP rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year’s theme, IP and SMEs: Taking your ideas to market – shines a light on the critical role of SMEs in the economy and how they can use IP rights to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.
The webinar was of interest that the Entrepreneurs were the Panellists. At the same time, the partner organizations interviewed them about their experience with their businesses and the difference having their IP registered made. Ms. Joyce Chimanye from Zimbabwe, Founder Zuvva Fashion and Co-founder, and Trainer Zuvva Fashion School represented one of the SMEs who has registered a trademark with ARIPO and was interviewed by Mr. John Kabare, Intellectual Property Executive, ARIPO.
According to Ms. Chimanye, when she started Zuvva, she didn’t register it. She only realized that someone was also using the same brand name in a different country, making it difficult for her to sell in that country. She did not know what her IP rights were at that time.
The other entrepreneurs included Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Health Biotech (Pty) Ltd. The company has developed a natural anti-inflammatory ointment named La-Africa Soother (LAS) from medicinal plants, which helps relieve muscle and joint aches, thus offering athletes, sportsmen, and women an alternative natural anti-inflammatory ointment. This is the first product of its kind aimed at preventative care, meaning it is applied ahead before and after physical activity to prevent anticipated muscle aches and after the act.
Ms. Ruqayyah Muhammad Hussaini from Nigeria, Founder, and CEO of Vivido Schone Int’l Ltd, talked about her passion for natural and healthy alternatives for basic and everyday things that led her to her business of different types of flavoured tea. She is also involved in advocating for women and youth to explore their creative sides and start their businesses.
Ms. Caroline Owusu-Ansah, Born to Ghanaian parents and based in the USA, is the LUV SCRUB founder. LUV SCRUB is a company that focuses on smooth skin by way of exfoliation and markets it across North America.
Ms. Zohra Baraka is the Founder and Managing Director of Mohazo Ex-Impo Ltd, a Kenyan company which, since 1987, has achieved several milestones in the successful trading of authentic handicrafts in local and global markets.
Mr. Doumbia Boureima, Founder and Managing Director Aminata Konte Ltd. In 2008, Mr. DOUMBIA decided to register his small retail business formally. Driven by the idea of innovation, he set out to showcase local products and offer local populations the best products that meet very high-quality standards. Today the company has several industrial property assets (trademarks, trade names, industrial designs, registered with the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI).
Mr. Serge Armel Njidjou from Cameroun is the Founder Agence universitaire pour l’innovation (AUI), an association of engineers and academics passionate about innovation. It was created in 2016 to contribute to the emergence of standardized local manufacturing industry to develop local products adapted to local context and concerns through the exploitation of the results of local research. AUI has just launched its first Spin-Off. Called AUI Techno SARL it is dedicated to the manufacture and marketing of neonatal incubators and other electronically thermo-adjustable devices.
IP is a powerful tool for SMEs in all parts of the world to create economic value and advance their business goals. From licensing to enhancing the market value of your business, the benefits of registering intellectual property (IP) assets are endless.
These business ventures have taken an idea and married it with ingenuity to create a product or a service that consumers want. And each of them can use IP rights to safeguard and create value from their business assets. Yet, many are unaware that they hold IP or that it has value. This means, many are missing out on opportunities to improve their bottom line and grow. Studies show that when businesses are IP savvy and acquire and manage IP rights, they do better.
The webinar, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with the African Union (AU), the Organisation africaine de la propriété intellectuelle (OAPI), the AfrIPI Project of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO) the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Smart Africa and ARIPO is one of the many activities planned ahead of the World IP Day to be marked on Monday, 26 April 2021.
By Mrs Susan Mwiti, Documentations & Communications Officer, ARIPO
On Thursday, 15 April 2021, the ARIPO Secretariat conducted a training for The Gambia Intellectual Property Office Staff members on how to set up and fully utilize the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) environment.
The training held via the Zoom platform was officially opened by the ARIPO Director General, Bemanya Twebaze, and the Registrar General of The Gambia, Mr Abdoulie Colley.
“ICT is indispensable in the administration of Intellectual Property. This training is timely. I want to thank the ARIPO Director General for responding in a timely manner to The Gambia’s request for this training. Continuous capacity building is fundamental if we really want to make progress in the field of IP Administration,” noted Mr Abdoulie Colley, Registrar General of The Gambia IP Office.
According to the ARIPO DG, ARIPO has embarked on a number of ICT projects taking advantage of the available tools to provide efficiency in IP business processing and improve its communication with stakeholders.
The FTP platform, which is provided by WIPO, was first setup in 2016 with the main aim of improving communication and the exchange of documents and notifications between ARIPO and its Member States. The ARIPO Secretariat worked with the nominated focal point of The Gambia in setting up the FTP platform. The FTP platform was then upgraded to a much more secure SFTP platform in 2020 to enhance security.
ARIPO is also implementing the Member States (MS) module which allows for online data exchange between POLite+ of ARIPO and IPAS of its Member States. The module allows for a paperless exchange of information and through it, ARIPO and its Member States can exchange all types of notifications, forms and documents online. The module has now been implemented in 12 ARIPO Member States.
The Member States module works much more efficiently than the SFTP platform and once it has been implemented in all Member States the exchange of information through the SFTP platform will be phased out. “It is my hope that the MS module will be implemented in The Gambia very soon, so that you may also start benefitting from this tool,” noted ARIPO DG.
The Director General of the Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV), Mr Peter Stromback,
The Representative of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr Daren Tang,
Representative of the Diplomatic Corps (from Beneficiary Country – TBD)
Deputy Director, Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), Mr. Matthew Fielding,
The Director of International Capacity Development and Senior Adviser for International Affairs for PRV, Mr Patrick Andersson
Senior Program Officer, CapDev, SIDA, Ms. Michelle Bouchard,
Participants of this ITP313c International Training Programme,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed a great honor and privilege for me on behalf of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and indeed on my own behalf to address this important virtual gathering marking the official launch of the Swedish flagship ITP313c International Training Programme, titled “Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources – in Support of Innovation.” ARIPO remains encouraged and inspired to supporting the ITP program and would like to join PRV, SIDA, WIPO and the other equally important partners in welcoming you, the participants of this program.
ARIPO has noted how this program continued to be routinely rolled out over the years to empower many participants who would go back to their countries to drive necessary change in socio-economic development. We are thus pleased with all the efforts being made by PRV and SIDA in partnership with WIPO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences towards ensuring that Africa’s critical needs in human resource development in the fields of innovation and intellectual property are addressed, as far as genetic resources are concerned. Infusing innovation into farming through national policies and strategies will have tremendous benefits even to the small holder farmers.
I, therefore, express ARIPO’s sincere gratitude to the Director General of PRV, Mr Peter Stromback for the commendable support PRV is providing for this program. I further note with delight that African countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia are part of this important training. Incidentally, these and other African countries that participated in this program before, are Member States of ARIPO. I would not be so remiss as not to mention that ARIPO has also actually benefited from this training.
Your commitment in this noble enterprise is clearly evidenced by your tireless efforts to ensure that the program continues to be delivered even as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. These are indeed difficult and unprecedented times. Notwithstanding that, your resolve to ensure that the program continues is something we do not take for granted.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The content of the training itself is so contemporary as it is engaging and exacting. It clearly moves from the familiar to the esoteric, while laying solid foundations for later learning. It is timely, it meets the needs of the participants at their respective offices, the needs of our countries and inevitably the needs of the global south. Essentially, it is more profound that this training is directed to policymakers with a mandate to implement changes relevant for intellectual property and innovation in genetic resources, back in their respective countries. The program structure and the full panoply of the modules, topics, case studies and site visits present us a model to learn from as we also deliver programs of a similar nature through ARIPO Academy.
Most of the countries represented here, and indeed the ARIPO region are looking for solutions towards improving economic growth, food security, poverty eradication and finding effective responses to stem climate change. These interventions are not only enshrined in Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, but they also form part of the tenets of Agenda 2063 as espoused by the African Union at a continental level. We therefore need all hands on-deck.
To a remarkable degree, the documented successes of this program speak volumes about the selection of its instructors. These are some of the finest minds in the industry. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience which they are willing to share. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that these experts represent different stakeholders [which you will have direct dialogue with] in intellectual property and genetic resources as well as traditional knowledge. They will deliver lectures and participate in discussions and case studies as well as assist the participants with the research phase of the training – the country project. It is however noteworthy that in trainings such as this, sharing of experiences is what enriches the program. You are therefore requested to actively participate by sharing your experiences as they are equally valuable.
Allow me to conclude my remarks with a word of encouragement. We are in the age where networks are everything, let alone networks at an international level. It is our desire that once you have completed this training, you continue to network and interact with each other so that you remain relevant to the IP development processes in your respective countries. You should play an active role in IP related activities. This includes providing sound advice to your countries on IP issues, to your farming communities, assisting with national IP audits, and as well as bringing about general awareness on the benefits of protecting and respecting IP Rights.
I say this with the conviction because I know that from this training, you will never be the same again. You will be able to learn that intellectual property is a cross-cutting discipline which spans the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders. It further broadens to delve into issues relating to public health, agriculture, biodiversity, trade and innovation, to mention but a few. As you can already imagine, all these issues come with international obligations by way of accessions and ratifications. As policymakers from your countries, you will be able to see that the insights derived from this training will be of tremendous application back in your respective places.
From the standpoint of ARIPO, I want to inform you that this program has encouraged many of its participants to contact us with the aim to enroll in our 3 Masters programs in Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania to deepen their IP knowledge and specialize in different IP areas. You are therefore encouraged to do the same and take advantage of the scholarships that WIPO and ARIPO avail in the bid to develop IP for the continent of Africa. As I recognize our brothers and sisters from the Asian continent here present, may they know that our programs attract applications from their region as well. Africa and Asia have many things in common. Please we welcome you any time.
Finally, I wish to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the institutions and organizations that continue to make this initiative a success. SIDA is very well known in almost all African countries. This is due to its bilateral development assistance and capacity development activities in areas of strategic importance to social, environmental and economic development. We cannot thank them enough. Through the PRV we hope to engage them further and point them in the direction of our IP training.
With these few remarks Director General Peter Stromback, I affirm ARIPO’s support to this training and wish for more fruitful engagements with PRV.
Given the recent relaxation of the COVID-19 national lockdown measures by the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the ARIPO Office has resumed full normal working arrangements with effect from Monday 22 March 2021.
Walk-in consultations are allowed at the office in full compliance with COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures. However, our clients are strongly advised to use theOffice’s 24-hour online services to file applications and make online payments.
Please be advised that all staff are working from the Office in strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols including compulsory mask-wearing, social distancing and regular hand washing and sanitization.
For any enquiries, please feel free to contact the following officers through e-mail or telephone:
The ARIPO Director General (DG), Mr Bemanya Twebaze, had a successful meeting with the WIPO Director General, Mr Daren Tang, on Wednesday, 27 January 2021. The meeting’s overall objective was for the two Director Generals to exchange on the ongoing cooperation activities and future plans.
The WIPO DG, Mr Tang underscored how important the WIPO Development Agenda is, especially for Developing Countries, and expressed his commitment to the Agenda and stressed that there is no one-size-fits-all for its implementation.
Mr Tang highlighted that it was important to understand the needs in the ARIPO Region in order to customize interventions, especially the support to the development of entrepreneurship .
In that regard, Mr Tang indicated that WIPO would continue supporting ARIPO and Intellectual Property Organizations (IPOs) in its Member States in their drive to use technology for IP management and registration. WIPO will also continue supporting Training and Education (MIP programme and the Patent Drafting Course), the development of IP and Innovation Ecosystems (IP Financing and Commercialization).
WIPO is also willing to work with ARIPO, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI), and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that was launched in January 2021. ARIPO and OAPI are to engage on the second phase of the AfCFTA negotiations that will cover IP, Competition and Investment. WIPO also intends to support ARIPO to reach out to the youth, who form 65% of the African population through the WIPO Global Challenges and Partnerships Sector.
The ARIPO DG, Mr Bemanya Twebaze, expressed gratitude to WIPO for continued support and highlighted that the support expected in 2021 should cover, among others, the maintenance of the ARIPO Regional IP Database; The rollout of the ARIPO Member States Module; The participation in the PCT Seminars; Training and capacity building; Copyright activities including the Diplomatic Conference on Copyright to be held in July 2021; and other activities that were discussed in the WAO Consultations meeting of 25 January 2021.
The two Directors General were informed of the planned Biennial Review Meeting of the WAO Representatives. They encouraged the discussions of their respective teams under WAO and pledged their full support. They further agreed that the cooperation should identify activities that create value; Impact lives; Bring difference in people’s lives; and help youth leverage technological advancements.