Tuesday, 5 February 2019


Congrats to our own Leo, a new IPKat

It appears to have so far gone unrecognised on this blog, but one of our very own is the first African correspondent over on the insanely busy extraordinary IPKat blog. See the announcement, here. Fittingly, Chijioke Okorie blogs on Afro IP as a lady leo, and is now perhaps the biggest cat on the block in Europe?


We look forward to reading more great posts on IPKat, now with more of an African perspective. 
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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Afro Leo

Read all about it! IP Briefs latest

The South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law's 6th issue of its IP Briefs edited and compiled by Dr Madelein Kleyn is out. You can read it all here. In this issue:

Vanessa Ferguson, the SAIIPL president for 2019, outlines the focus of SAIIPL for the current year, having take the reigns from Debbie Marriott who presided over the Institute in 2018. Morne Barradas' piece then assesses how and why patent assets can become valuable to a business. 

There is an interesting article from Nordely Wright on the steps that one can take to protect confidential information when dealing with the Competition Commission. This is followed by Amanda Lotheringen's holistic approach to training law enforcement agencies that are so vital to protecting IP rights. 

The issue goes abroad and obtains a view from Professor Charles Gielen, former partner of the eminent firm NautaDutilh NV, on the Court of Justice decision of the EU on the technical function exclusion in design law, reviewing the Doceram decision (the first case to deal with it). 

Getting local again, Thapelo Montong, the bright patent lawyer at Adams & Adams, contemplates inventorship in the age of artificial intelligence and concludes that under current patent laws, all inventions from superhuman AI machines could well be free and open to the public, at least until antiquated patent laws undergo reform.

There is news too that Wend Wendland, the respected policy strategist and capacity builder, and trainer, has gone online to share his experience and advice in a new blog "Multilateral Matters" which is featured on the IP Unit website of the University of Cape Town. 

This post brought to you by Afro Leo.
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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Darren Olivier

Update: Brexit implications for Africa

Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
The UKIPO has been helpful in providing regular updates on what would happen to intellectual property rights of those with interests in the UK post Brexit, in the event of a no-deal. The latest update published recently sets out the various rights and explains what would happen to each:

  1. - Continued protection of registered trade marks and designs in the UK
  2. - Continued protection of unregistered Community designs
  3. - Correspondence addresses and confidentiality for UK trade marks and designs

The implications are, generally, that existing EU rights would remain in force and that provisions for a separate right covering the UK would be created, with minimal administrative burden. Despite these assurances though, many EU rights holders have already seen fit to re-file or at least reconsider their portfolio as it applies to the UK. The uptick in national UK national filings shows the trend and African rights holders would do well to consider the same approach.

The debate and uncertainty over Brexit is tedious yet remains captivating and crucially important for anyone with trade, business or personal interests in Great Britain. Most countries and many citizens of Africa fall into that category, and even on the continent's most southern tip it is also a potentially very emotive topic.  Only the bold or mischievous raise the topic at dinner tables. It is treated with the same trepidation as religion, abortion and politics for the topic has the same capacity to interrogate fundamentals.

When Great Britain catches a cold, Africa gets pneumonia, as the saying goes. GB is one of Africa's most important trading partners. Any slight, let alone momentous (even if temporary), change to the economic climate in GB affects Africa.

This truth underlines the concerns raised by South Africa's trade minister Rob Davies in a recent BusinessReport news article in which he warns of the potential devastating impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the South African economy. Highlighting the wine industry which produces 40% of its export for the UK market, he explains that the European Partnership Agreement reached with Europe in 2016 saw South Africa's duty free quota to Europe increase from 48 to 110 million litres. The implication, it appears, is that this progress in trade for South Africa would be jeopardised. This is despite, British High Commissioner Nigel Casey's assurances in late November last year.

In the same article Dawie Roodt and Mike Schussler, both leading economists, warn that if Brexit is disruptive, even a small contraction in the British economy would be hard felt in South Africa, citing exchange rate fluctuations and trade implications. However, Schussler admits admits that the effect if difficult to predict, and impossible to influence.

For earlier posts and commentary on Brexit implications for IP owners in Africa, click Afro-IP posts herehere and commentary on CNBC Africa here.

Posted by Darren Olivier

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Thursday, 24 January 2019

Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie

A trip around Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and its governance issues

Afroleopa has been rather busy of late, but is still very committed to fulfilling her promise to keep readers abreast of events in COSONIA. So, here is a miscellany with a brief round-up of the current events and issues.

Account frozen but spending continues
Afroleopa has heard that despite the freezing order, it appears to be that COSON continues to have access to its bank accounts as the Okoroji-led Board continues to disburse funds for its expenses.

Some corporate members of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) approached the court and claim to have secured an order freezing the accounts of COSON. This is in a bid to stop the allegedly ousted Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji and his board members from spending the society’s monies while the suspension of COSON licence remains in place. Afroleopa had wondered about the possibility of the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) procuring a freezing order on COSON’s bank accounts in order to lend (more) efficacy to its suspension order.

Extra-ordinary General Meeting held
Back in November 2018, COSON announced that it would be holding an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) in December 2018. Special resolution proposed to be passed the meeting were to distribute the sum of N81,520,000 (approximately $224,000) amongst members and to ratify  “legal and security measures taken by the Board and Management in the last one year to protect the society from instability and disintegration”.

If COSON’s tweets are anything to go by, the meeting held as scheduled and the proposed resolutions were passed despite calls that the meeting was illegal given the suspension of COSON’s licence.

No revocation of license despite fears
Back in June 2018, AfroLeopa attended a press conference co-convened by the president of the Association of Music Business Professionals (AM.B-Pro), Mr. Edi Lawani under the auspices of Concerned Stakeholders’ Forum. The majority of the music artists and COSON members, who spoke at the event, expressed fears that the suspension of COSON’s licence may be commuted to a revocation based on Regulation 20 of the CMO Regulations. Regulation 20 (2) of the CMO Regulations stipulates that a suspension order from the NCC may be commuted to a revocation of licence if the collecting society fails to comply with the directives that led to its suspension in the first place.  

COSON’s license has not been revoked.

New Director-General appointed for the Nigerian Copyright Commission
Last week, newspapers reported that Mr. John Asein has been appointed the Director-general of the NCC. Prior to his appointment, Mr Asein was the director of the Nigerian Copyright Institute, the training and capacity building arm of the NCC. He takes over from the previous Director-General, Mr. Afam Ezekude.

With a change in leadership of the NCC, there may be a change in direction towards ensuring adherence to good corporate governance principles within COSON and in other collecting societies in Nigeria. Mr. Asein will be the first in-house Director-General at the NCC in decades.

Some thoughts
It seems to Afroleopa that the NCC’s regulation of COSON lacks compellability. COSON has repeatedly flouted NCC’s orders with no apparent consequence. As Afroleopa has repeatedly stated on this blog, this affects not only COSON; it also affects its members, other collecting societies and the general copyright community. A situation where a sector regulatory authority cannot compel compliance from regulated entities cannot bode well for the sector.
Scouting collecting societies...

Just last week, the Federal Government unveiled the Corporate Governance Code applicable to all public companies. This would include collecting societies where they are public companies. The Code notes that several industry regulators such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (for telecommunication sector), the Central Bank of Nigeria (for the banking sector), and the National Insurance Commission (for the insurance sector) had developed corporate governance codes for companies operating in their sectors, in response to challenges in their respective sectors. The Code further states that the Financial Reporting Council will monitor implementation through the sector regulators.

In the circumstances, it would be helpful for the NCC to be primed to ensure the implementation of the Code by collecting societies. Also, the NCC may either develop an appropriate code of corporate governance for collecting societies or formally adopt the Code of Corporate Governance unveiled by the Federal Government.
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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Caroline Ncube

New year, new (blog) kid on the block - AfronomicsLaw

I heard from Prof James Gathii about Afronomicslaw.org, a blog launching today on African international economic law. I know AfroIP readers will be keen to follow this blog, particularly where it comments on IP matters. IP and trade are major considerations within the context of AfCFTA which I have commented on here. Interestingly, the first posts on the blog pertain to AfCFTA. Head over to Afronomicslaw and thank me later!

Here's some more info on the blog from Prof Gathii:

"The blog will complement the growing and important voice of scholars interested in international economic law with a focus on Africa. It will also offer policy makers, practitioners and others interested in these issues a forum to insightfully engage and reflect on developments on international economic law more contemporaneously.

The blog will host featured symposiums on topical themes and on books. It will also highlight relevant news and forthcoming events.

The first feature symposium on the blog is on a new trade treaty in Africa - the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The inaugural contributor to the AfCFTA symposium is Dr. David Luke, the Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Center of the Economic Commission, (ECA), in Addis Ababa. The ECA provides support for AfCFTA negotiations at the request of the African Union Summit. David Luke’s post makes the case for the AfCFTA.

With the launch today, two additional blog posts have been posted. One relates to the implications of AfCFTA on ongoing reforms of international investment law in the SADC region. The other examines the extent to which the AfCFTA addresses informal cross border trade. Informal cross border trade comprises a large proportion of intra-African trade. Every day for the next week and a half a new blog post on the AfCFTA symposium covering a discrete issue will be posted.

Our social media handles are:
Twitter: @afronomicslaw
Facebook: Afronomics Law
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