The Chair (see more information here) represents a “new horizon” for the University, namely a dedicated focus on IP and in particular IP in the digital environment and also its conflict with human rights. The goals for his position as Chair were to help create:
· a centre of excellence for IP,
· an IP diploma for lay people,
· an international role for the University as a recognised IP centre,
· a centre that could assist in drafting legislation, provide government assistance and "champion" IP in RSA
Dean’s talk (which included mention of his big bugbear – the Traditional Knowledge legislation) was followed by opening speeches by Prof Lubbe (who gave us more information on the reasons why it is called the Anton Mostert Chair in honour of the late Judge and jurist, and that its existence was because of Dr Johann Rupert) and Prof Van Zyl (who explained the University’s need to “add value” to the community, have a "balanced engagement with the knowledge network" and the considerable benefit of the University’s IP to date eg in satellites, drug discovery and wine biotechnology).
Interestingly Van Zyl described the role of the University as important in ensuring the recent legislation on IP created by public funds does “not push potential partners away”.
Afro Leo will post more information on the conference content and speakers when he has an opportunity. Right now he is combing his mane in anticipation of Judge Harms’ address entitled “The Ossification of IP Law in South Africa" followed by SAIIPL President's (Ms Tshepo Shabangu) view on "Future Challenges for Intellectual Property Law and its Practice in South Africa".