Wednesday, 29 April 2009
A group in Nigeria may be responsible for producing superior quality counterfeit $100 notes for circulation in Vermont (US), according to German officials in Berlin. (Source: here). If the source of the superior bills is correct then how can the Nigerian government persuade the counterfeiters to exploit their technology in a lawful, more meaningful and more profitable way?
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
A note on IPKAT has informed Afro-IP of The 1709 Blog, a blog dedicated to the discussion of copyright. 1709 was apparently the date copyright was "invented" ... or was it? The comment provides The 1709 Blog's first topic of debate. Afro-IP wishes them well.
The Nation reports that Kenya lost more than Sh70bn’ as a result of counterfeiting activities last year, which include fake medicines. One wonders what India's anti-counterfeit legislation campaigners have to say about this statistic? Read more about India's protest over Kenya's counterfeit legislation here and more recently here?
Finally, voting has been completed in South Africa with a landslide win for the ANC. Zuma will appoint his new cabinet and one wonders what implications his choices may have on the intellectual property regime in South Africa. A number of Mbeki supporters still hold key roles in government. Would any changes reflect changing attitudes towards IP or changes in legislation? Zuma is touted as a man of the people - is TK high on his agenda? Comments welcome.
Monday, 27 April 2009
The campaign is scheduled to run from April to September 2009 through billboards, posters and pamphlets, talks in schools and radio and television programmes.
Friday, 24 April 2009
To those new to the discussion, the Servier judgment is an interim relief (no pun intended) decision that has been pending since the first week of February and promised to the public the first week following the hearing. You can catch up through the links posted here.
Now, the story gets more disturbing because practitioners are predicting that the judgment may not even be handed down at all or, if delivered, only very close to the trial date! What use would that be??
One assumes that the judge had every intention of delivering the judgment in the week that he promised and so the delay is mysterious. Is it because the case is a particularly difficult or specialist case in the hands of an acting judge? Is the acting judge overloaded with work or cannot get the support he needs? Is the decision ready but someone else blocking its release?
All comments, which may be posted anonymously, are welcome. And, if the Black Forest tea (right) has managed to ease the passage of the judgment, please send us a copy.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
The regulations will operationalise funding and development of Intellectual property from public resources, such as at Universities and public research institutions. A copy can be downloaded here.
These regulations are timely in that they will clarify for researchers and other employees in Public funded institutions what their entitlements are when they develop any innovations. To this extent, this also reflects on how influential in terms of spreading licensing in the manner set out in the 'Bayh-Dole Act '., Ac 51 of 2008.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
This is a suggestion to readers who feel that this blog or one of its community has got it wrong, please feel free to either write to us or post the comment, correction or clarification yourself through the blog, anonymously if you like. Samro have published their own version of events on their site here albeit that the links to "SAMRO puts facts on record on the Brenda Fassie matter", "Fassie Royalty Matter to be resolved Out of Court" and others are not currently working at the time of this posting. Graeme, thanks for your input and we await news of the outcome of your case.
It is a pity that this case went undefended though. For example, readers may recall that Afro-IP's first poll, reported again here, result was that the SA trade mark registrations were invalidly registered, following a Board of Appeal decision in Europe so it would have been interesting to see the scrap. Passing off, one suspects would have been very difficult to prove too. On the other in FIFA will argue that they have obtained registrations and protected their proprietary rights (from an IP point of view), both of which could have been contested by the public at the appropriate stages.
"As FE reported yesterday, India has called an extraordinary meeting of ambassadors of all African countries to register its strong protest against a Kenyan anti-counterfeit Act that could severely restrict the market for Indian generic drugs into Africa. Why is this legislation of supreme importance to both Africa and India? When HAART—a combination therapy for delaying the onset of AIDS—became available in rich countries in 1996, it took only four years before death rates for people with HIV/AIDS there dropped by 84%. But, at $10,000-15,000 per person per year, these antiretroviral drugs were far too expensive for most HIV-infected people in poor countries. It was only when Indian pharmaceutical companies started producing generic (and, therefore, cheaper) versions of these antiretrovirals that prices came down significantly in developing countries as well. By 2001, Indian generic manufacturers (like Cipla) were offering triple combination therapy for around $300. According to the Unaids 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic, India is the largest supplier of generic antiretrovirals to low- and middle-income countries. Speaking of India’s interests, 14% of Indian pharmaceutical exports are to Africa, with Kenya being the third largest African market for Indian drugs. Now, since the global pharmaceutical market is likely to see $123-billion worth of products lose patents by 2012, there is good reason to believe that the Kenyan legislation has been influenced by vested interests.
Given that the expiry timeline for drug patents differs across countries, it’s really problematic that the Kenyan legislation protects the intellectual property rights of drugs that are registered even outside Kenya. As the FE story explains, this would mean that if patent rights of a drug exported from India to Kenya are not registered in India but, say, in Jordan, Kenya will have the right to take legal action against the Indian drug company by labelling the Indian product as counterfeit. In a parallel development, the Indian patent office has rejected Swiss drug multinational Novartis’s application to secure a patent for an alfa crystal form of its blockbuster cancer medicine, Glivec. However, this decision, while not uncontroversial, at least has some grounds: a) withholding patents from earlier inventions; and b) protecting rights of patients to access life-saving drugs at affordable prices. In the Kenyan case, on the other hand, it appears more likely that the proposed protection is aimed at allowing big pharma to protect their monopolies by strong-arming weaker governments via their own. "
Monday, 20 April 2009
World Intellectual Property Day is fast approaching on the 26th of April, 2009. As we contemplate its importance in Africa, I have found it important to reproduce some of the remarks of the WIPO Director General below...
"On World IP Day 2009, the World Intellectual Property Organization highlights the contribution of a balanced intellectual property system to stimulating the creation, diffusion and application of clean technologies; to promoting green design, aimed at creating products that are eco-friendly from conception to disposal; to green branding, helping consumers make informed choices and giving companies a competitive edge.
The power of human ingenuity is our best hope for restoring the delicate balance between ourselves and our environment. It is our greatest asset in finding solutions to this global challenge, enabling us to move forward from the carbon-based, grey technologies of the past to the carbon-neutral, green innovation of the future."
Managing the pressure to industrialize is particularly important for Africa as the challenge for most countries in Sub Saharan Africa is to post high economic growth numbers at all costs! However, it must also be noted that some 'green' sources of energy such as bio-fuels have un-intended effects such as increase in food prices. Hopefully we will all make our individual efforts to ensure that our engagements strike a healthy balance between development and exploitation of IP in Africa.
Happy IP day!
CIPRO has been bold enough to provide guidelines on filing Three-Dimensional Marks, Colour Marks, Holograms, Motion/Multimedia Marks, Position Marks, Gesture Marks, Olfactory (Smell/Scent) Marks, Taste Marks and Texture Marks. The Guidelines and a number of comments (in italics) can be found at this link.
From a brand owner's point of view these guidelines serve as a reminder of the vast array of distinctive features that are registrable as trade marks (at least in theory). For the practitioner, these will be useful guidelines for preparing applications to register marks (although clarification from CIPRO is required on some of the guidelines as indicated by the comments) as well as providing ideas for challenging marks which already exist but may not be sufficiently described. These Guidelines are not part of the law but an aide to interpreting it.
Afro Leo asks if practitioners were invited to discuss the guidelines (as The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property did in 2005 when changing their guidelines) and whether the Patent Journal is the best place for publishing such information? A news feed from the CIPRO website alerting practitioners may prove more effective than the patent journal. Afro Leo could not locate the news on the CIPRO website under the Latest News Sections.
Friday, 17 April 2009
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Members of the creative industries in Nigeria have often bemoaned the lack of experienced intellectual property attorneys in Nigeria. Partly, this lack is because intellectual property is not a subject covered in the Nigerian universities. The Copyright Institute of the Nigerian Copyright Commission has been working to address this problem.
The Institute developed a course pack for an Intellectual Property class that can be taught in any Nigerian University. The materials include a detailed syllabus as well as compiled reading materials. Afro-Leo has learned from a friend at the Institute that copies of the syllabus recently went out to every Nigerian University. The Institute has also received funds to produce 260 copies of the course materials.
The hope is that professors at some of the universities will be willing to teach the new IP class and future graduates will enter the legal field with enough background knowledge of intellectual property to work in the field.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
- Sars (South African Revenue Services) will not allow a tax deduction relating to the use of "Tainted IP" if the corresponding receipt or accrual does not make up "income" for SA tax purposes
- where a taxpayer concludes on licence in respect of various items of IP, the royalty payable for the bundle of IP must be apportioned between the relevant items of IP for separate analysis by Sars.
tainted intellectual property' means intellectual property—
a) which was the property of the end user or a person that is or was a connected person, as defined in section 31(1A), in relation to the end user;
b) which is the property of a taxable person;
c) a material part of which was used by a taxable person in carrying on a business while that property was the property of a taxable person and the end user of that property acquired that business or a material part thereof as a going concern; or
d) which was discovered, devised, developed, created or produced by the end user of that property, or by a taxable person that is a connected person, as defined in section 31(1A), in relation to the end user, if that end user, together with any taxable person that is a connected person in relation to that end user, holds at least 20 per cent of the participation rights, as defined in section 9D, in a person by or to whom an amount is received or accrues—
i) by virtue of the grant of use, right of use or permission to use that property; or
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
And congratulations to the University of Botswana too. For an insight into Botswana's IP policy click here.
Apparently, "Kenya will be introducing the hologram this year following the review of their copyright law. Other countries such as Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi are already using the hologram" and " South Africa's copyright law is old and like most laws it does not have the provision for the use of the hologram."
This blogger suggests that the requirement to purchase holograms is important from a communication and branding point of point of view; it sends a message that the work is authentic carrying the attitude that authenticity is value and that copying is wrong. Holograms themselves are capable of being copied and so this blogger feels that the device per se will not truly address the problem.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
"Tim Jones, London head at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said: “The decline of M&A work does highlight the areas that are doing very well – litigation, restructuring, regulatory work and IP, for example.”
"Other areas cited [for investment] were real estate (10%), intellectual property (9%), banking (8%) and capital markets (4%)."
There has been much debate over whether IP practices would suffer in a downturn and there have been strong signs that it would, with national IP filings showing marked declines across a number of key registries. However, there are good arguments that IP becomes increasingly important in recessionary times, for example, from a litigious/protection, restructuring or licensing point of view. The survey appears to support the view that strong IP departments provide a good foundation for corporate firms, along with traditional counter cyclical departments such as employment and litigation. Readers will note that in the UK, most IP filing work in law firms is outsourced to patent and trade mark filing firms so a drop in filings may not affect them, at least directly. Afro Leo would welcome commentary from IP practices in Africa.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
The situation is quite complicated. It seems that, while some of the substandard batteries are counterfeits, others are made by small companies that have difficulties in meeting manufacturing standards. An anti-counterfeit agency has been established in accordance with the recently passed Anti Counterfeits Act, but presumably this will be of little assistance in dealing with genuine but poor-quality goods.
Friday, 3 April 2009
The Commonwealth Business Council has published the report here.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
"Senator Yoine Goldstein [alongside] Tuesday tabled Bill S-232 to amend the provisions of the Patent Act that deal with the manufacture and export of drugs for humanitarian purposes. The Act was amended in 2004 to create exemptions to intellectual property rules, enabling generic drug manufacturers to produce low-cost medication to treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa."
"The senator’s private member’s bill proposes what’s known as the “one-licence solution,” allowing a generic manufacturer to send multiple shipments of the same medication to a variety of countries without having to requalify for every shipment, as is currently the case. It would also make it easier for non-governmental organizations to buy and distribute generic medications under CAMR, something only governments are allowed to do at the moment."
However, according to Russell Williams, president of Rx&D. "It is an emotional debate but I believe that targeting CAMR is a problem," said Williams. "I don't see it as a barrier."
Apotex the only company to have tested the CAMR protocol thus far, vehemently disagrees. I don’t know whether we did the developing world a favour or a disservice by getting that first shipment of Triavir out,” said Bruce Clark, vice-president of regulatory affairs for Apotex. “It seems to have appeased the conscience of the legislators and of the brand industry, and let them think we don’t need to do anything else. That’s unconscionable.”...“It was sheer effort on our part to get that first shipment out. The brands say it’s [The Act]fair, fast and functional, but by whose definition? Would the patients in Africa say it’s functional?”
Either way, it is great to see efforts by developed countries to ease the passage of life saving drugs to the continent. It is also up to African nations to ensure that those drugs find their way to the needy in an efficient way. And there is tremendous debate africaside too - which can be followed through the label "access to drugs" alongside and the search function (top left).
Afro Leo, blushing himself, hopes these posts were taken in the spirit of the day.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
And, reports emerging from Downing Street over the weekend underlined that Britain would like to get tougher on tax havens by making them "increasingly unacceptable and costly to operate". The reports focus on virtually the entire list of abuses identified in the Guardian's recent Tax Gap investigation which revealed how companies are now alleged to be shifting valuable intellectual property such as patents and consumer brands into tax havens. A key reform the government is reported to be pressing for is to tighten up the rules on transactions with tax-haven companies. Obama, before he became president, famously said that an office block in the British-controlled Cayman Islands acted as headquarters for 12,000 companies. (The Guardian)
South Africa is the only African nation in the G20 and it is a pity there is not more representation because both debates (tax havens and an international court) could significantly affect countries in the world's second most populous continent. Take for example, Mauritius which features prominently on global IP filing statistics (and flourishes as a result) primarily because it is a tax haven. And an International Court - how will specific needs of developing countries be catered for?