Since the birth of this blog three years ago, Afro-IP bloggers and readers have attended the African regional focus at the annual INTA conference (see here, here, here, here and here for reports). The session has gradually grown over the three years with last year's session attracting some healthy debate and relatively decent numbers. Although most INTA focus sessions receive paltry attendance in comparison to the large number of people who attend the conference, they are an opportunity to place a region or interest in the program and give the significant membership access to presentations which have benefit after the event. It is, without doubt, an opportunity to promote African IP on the biggest stage in our IP community and it is an indictment that it is no longer on the program (thanks to Aurelia who noticed it and contacted INTA).
Afro Leo does not know the reason why the African regional focus has been scrapped for 2011. The session always appeared to be hanging on a by a thread. It had been relegated to a Wednesday slot some time back which made it difficult to generate attendance, as most attendees are tired after five days of networking and thinking about their trip home. But one cannot escape a strong feeling that we - the African IP community - really only have ourselves to blame. We know that there is no right to a slot in a program nor that a slot is a benevolent allocation, just because the region happens to be Africa. The fact is that we have failed to show INTA that there are pressing, interesting and internationally important IP issues on the continent of Africa that demand discussion. The question should not be whether there ought to be an African session at INTA but on how long that session should be. We need to put INTA and its members back in that mindset.
Afro-IP intends ensuring that there IS a gathering of those interested in IP on the continent at INTA in 2011 even if the only topic of discussion is how to get African IP back onto the program. This is a call to anyone (including firms, institutes, organisations, publications) who wishes to help to arrange, sponsor or promote such a gathering to please get in touch. Afro-IP will be using all of its resources and contacts to help promote the rendezvous. We need a venue, some drinks and your attendance! Please contact us by email here or on Twitter - Afro-IP @afroip, Jeremy @IPKAT or Aurelia @ivoryblossom.