Tuesday, 19 April 2011

OCIPE - more than a rebrand but doubts remain

The new Companies and Intellectual Property Commission was official launched in Midrand yesterday by the Trade and Industry Department spearheaded by Minister Rob Davies, who described the move as a milestone in the regulation of companies and business entities in South Africa according to a press release from the Government Communication and Information System, which goes on to say:

With significantly expanded functions and powers, the new commission will combine the Office of Companies and Intellectual Property Enforcement (OCIPE) and Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO). It is expected to guide the implementation of the new Companies Act, which comes into effect in May.


Administrative functions currently assigned to the minister under the Companies Act, are to be placed within the jurisdiction of the commission and it will act as an autonomous statutory body outside the public service.


"I'm satisfied that the commission is in a state of readiness ... [I] am convinced it is a better step for South Africa ... When we bring into force this legislation, we will be bringing to South Africans top notch legislation," Davies said.


He said the commission and the Act will simplify the process of company registration, as well as mordenise business administration.


"We need to move from where we are in the interest of good governance and this piece of legislation will help us in this regard. As we implement, we will sort out any problems that may arise. We will learn by doing," said the minister.


The Act also introduces a number of new responsibilities, which CIPRO currently does not perform, but will be performed by the new commission. These include pro-active enforcement measures by way of compliance notices served on defaulting companies, investigations of all complaints and contraventions of the Act and investigating the affairs of companies.


Davies denounced criticism that the new commission would be CIPRO - just under a new name. "Our intention is to actually ease processes so it won't be business as usual. We are aware that there will be challenges at first but what we can assure businesspeople is that things will be totally different from now on."


The process of reorganising CIPRO and retraining of staff had taken more than a year of intensive work, according to the department's Deputy Director General, Zodwa Ntuli.


The department's former Deputy Director General Astrid Ludin has been appointed to lead the commission and will be assisted by several deputy commissioners.


Ludin said: "The challenge for the commission will be to make sure that we have systems in place that will ensure that we deliver on the simplicity that we promise to companies. Together, we will work hard to achieve an institution that will be a vehicle for business enterprises in this country."

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Coincidentally, yesterday Afro Leo spent an hour with colleagues discussing the effect of the new legislation and Commission on the company name objection process, a crucial part of a company's IP policy. Until this legislation was in place CIPRO did not cross-check against the trade mark register when company names were requested. This is set to change but there are questions on whether OCIPE has the manpower and resource to do this effectively. Companies are expected to maintain their name objection watches.

Other changes include the scrapping of time limits to company name objection procedures, an update on the grounds of cancellation and a change to process for reserving and approving names. Click here for more information. Perhaps a reader could tell us whether OCIPE is itself a registered trade mark.

1 comment:

Charles said...

OCIPE's distinctive mark may be seen at http://www.OCIPE.info, which of course belongs to the 'Office Catholique d'Informations et d'Initiatives pour l'Europe':-)