Tuesday, 31 May 2011

South Africa: Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill discussions continue

Are they listening? Yesterday the Business Day reported that, as protracted discussions over the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill are about to re-commence, MP Tim Harris pushed for a stand alone piece of legislation to deal with traditional knowledge. This blog is not alone in criticizing the bill for trying to deal with traditional knowledge under existing IP laws. Other changes are also discussed in the report.


- Posted by Darren

Monday, 30 May 2011

SOUTH AFRICA: Naledi Pandor's budget motivation

"Honourable Chairperson: Honourable Members and guests in the gallery: Our debate today will report on the progress we are making with our key strategic priorities, signal new directions and hopefully persuade Parliament and South Africa that Science and Technology sectors hold great promise for our development ambitions and need to be given far more attention and support than they currently receive." Naledi Pandor opening the debate in budget talks for the Department of Science and Technology.

'Our biggest hurdle is vacancies due to the lack of appropriate skills'
 In a country that has significant other challenges, obtaining a budget for innovation projects is difficult because of the lead time before results are achieved - the speech is therefore an insight into the thinking and process for obtaining cash to fund innovation projects in RSA. It also demonstrates accountability and a degree of success to date.

Afro Leo is curious why, despite the obvious dearth of skills in the IP sector, there has not been a single mention of the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law in any recent links on key initiatives. The SAIIPL run a number of training courses and has several committees that focus on specific IP related issues, organised mostly by practicing lawyers and largely on a pro bono basis.

For IOL and PolityOrg comments click here and here.

Comments welcome.

- Posted by Darren

Friday, 27 May 2011

NIPMO picking up a head of steam

Anyone wondering how newly formed NIPMO (National Intellectual Property Management Office) is getting along? Quite well it seems from this Business Day article:

"The agency is now fully operational and has begun to add value to several investment opportunities," she [Naledi Pandor] said.



"At present 26 investments have been identified.


"Eleven have a very strong likelihood of enhancing job creation and socioeconomic development. Eleven others have proceeded beyond proof of concept stage and four are ready for commercialisation."

Quoted speakers highlight that two main problems hamper innovation in RSA: ignorance and cost. [Not sure I entirely agree here. I see innovation everyday. It's the conversion to cash and the related protection that's missing and yes, cost and ignorance are significant barriers to that. Of course, innovation would be increased in the cycle too.]

According to the article, NIPMO are offering a 50% rebate on the costs incurred by institutions in patenting their products and have teamed up with Oxford Uni, WIPO and Waikato Uni to address the ignorance aspect, through training. [Nice.]

Other news is that NIPMO's dispute panel is likely to be announced soon. Nominations closed on 6 May, according to their advert.

Afro Leo has marvelled at the ideals of NIPMO and not without some degree of cynicism. But there is no problem in aiming high and it's good to read about positive developments, even if the quoted entry cost of getting a patent registered in RSA R35000 ($5000) is probably a little high. Simple patents can cost much less. But only 91 patents registered last year in RSA by RSA inventors - hell that's poor - and for this NIPMO deserves all the support this blog can give.

Posted by Darren

Thursday, 26 May 2011

No prayers for the unregistered

A report today in the South Africna daily newspaper the Times (available here at http://http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article1086328.ece/Shembe-sect-wins-name ) deals with church trade marks. The usual lawyerly stuff about bona fide applicants, class specifications etc are missing, so it is difficult to assess the merits of the story.
The report states that one faction of a South African church, the Nazareth Baptist Church founded in 1910 by Isiah Shembe and with over a million members in total, has registered trade marks that will prevent the other four factions from preaching the religion 'in any form' and by any means, including on TV, radio stations (and in trains). Singing the church hymns (and dancing to them), using church prayers or literature, attending annual pilgrimages and wearing the distinctive robes and attire of church members are also forbidden.
The report also states that this faction is so serious about protecting its trade marks that it intends to hire a firm of auditors to tackle infringements. This is possibly a better idea that hiring a firm of lawyers, who might just point out that any trade mark that can achieve all the above is of a higher order than those available to mere mortals.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Rwanda: IP Workshop

News from East Africa is that the U.S. Department of Commerce, through CLDP and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ), will work with the Rwandan Judiciary to host a three-day workshop on the Role of the Judiciary in the Enforcement of Intellectual Property from June 7-9, 2010 in Kigali, Rwanda.

"This workshop will seek to further develop the quality of IP protection in Rwanda and the East African Community (EAC) by improving the skill and knowledge level necessary to provide fair, efficient, and consistent adjudication of IP cases based upon the standards of protection afforded by the EAC, its member countries and international law."

Readers will recall  that Rwanda recently enacted new laws on IP and is widely regarded as a rejunevated state following its turbulent recent past.

According the CLDP website, approximately 70 Rwandan and East African judges from EAC member countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and IP enforcement officials will be exposed to the importance of intellectual property protection, and its impact on stakeholders. In addition to the Department of Commerce expertise, CLDP will utilize the expertise of a U.S. Federal Court judge and an intellectual property attorney to provide practical exercises, case studies, and IP scenarios. The workshop will also benefit from the contributions of private sector stakeholders in the consumer goods and creative industries.


Paul Asiimwe gets his views across

Afro Leo is encouraged by interest from the US in developing IP on the continent. He recently met up with a number of African IP professionals, Jeremy and Aurelia at the INTA meeting in San Francisco at a meeting chaired by the eminent Dr Bankole Sodipo about an African Summit to be organised next year in conjunction with the CLDP. More on that later. Meantime, Afro-IP author, Paul Assimwe pictured alongside shares his views at the meeting.

Afro Leo would love to link to the Kigali program if anyone knows its wherebaouts? CLDP's efforts in sub saharan Africa can be located here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Electronics race in Africa

News 24 reports that Samsung is targeting Africa as a growth market for the South Korean company and is betting that the consumer market for electronics will drive expansion:

""Through our Samsung Blue Project, we intend to become a $10bn region by 2015, growing the market to the size of China's. To achieve this, we will start by more than doubling our 2010 growth to 63% in 2011," said Kwang Kee Park, president of Samsung Electronics Africa.



"Samsung aims to develop the local industry further by establishing further knock-down plants - where currently there are such plants in Sudan, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Senegal," the company said in a statement.



Samsung is currently embroiled in legal spat with Apple Inc over the style and interface of some of its devices. Apple claims that Samsung violated its intellectual property, but the South Korean giant has hit back saying that it developed products independently."

google search for "Samsung Electronics Africa" is awash with news of the African foray. It's no surprise really. Following the mobile telecoms dash, we have seen much African expansion from the banks in particular. IPAD2s are selling like hot cakes, as are Kindles. From an IP perspective we have some catching up to do. Copyright legislation, in particular, in most African countries is several generations off the pace. But the companies are prepared to take that risk (and use other methods eg Apple's superior consumer experience) to secure this potential new consumer base.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Comparative use of trade marks: Morocco's new law

A short note from Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) informs Afro Leo that Morocco (which was featured on this blog yesterday following its recent international moves) has adopted a Law for the Protection of Consumers.  Article 22 of this Law, which came into force on 7 April 2011, states:
“Any publication comparing characteristics, prices or identification of goods, products or services whether by reference to or representation of a third party’s manufacturing mark, trade mark or service mark, or by reference to or representation of a third party’s trade address, company’s name, trade name or logo, shall be deemed a comparative publication. 
Such publication shall not be allowed unless it is decent and true and may not cause public confusion. 
The comparative publication for characteristics shall be concerned with essential, significant and useful characteristics of goods and services of the same nature available in market, which can be verified. 
Any comparative publication for prices or identifications shall be related to similar goods, products or services sold under the same terms and shall refer to the duration through which prices or identifications determined by the publisher are kept by the same being associated therewith.”
These new provisions confirm and complement those of Law 77.03 on Audiovisual Communication.

Source: "Morocco Addresses Trademarks in Comparative Publication", AGIP Bulletin, 26 April 2011

Monday, 9 May 2011

Morocco bound for IP treaty accessions

While much of North Africa has been embroiled in political turmoil and military action, Morocco has been quietly but effectively enhancing its international intellectual property commitments. According to a media release from the World Intellectual Property Organizarion (WIPO) today,
* Budapest Notification No. 273 announces the accession by the Kingdom of Morocco to the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure with effect from 20 July 2011.

* WCT Notification No. 77 confirms Morocco's accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty, also with effect from 20 July 2011.

* WPPT Notification No. 80 proclaims Morocco's accession to the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, again from the same date.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Kenya IP system to come under WIPO scrutiny

Via William New ("WIPO Audit Division Seeks Consultants To Assess IP In Kenya", Intellectual Property Watch, 2 May 2011) comes news that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internal Oversight and Audit Division is seeking expressions of interest from consultants to conduct an evaluation and analysis of Kenya’s performance with intellectual property rights during the years 2005 to 2010. The study aims to help WIPO members to assess the effect of the UN agency’s work in the country during that time, and to boost accountability.

The full text of William's article is accessible to subscribers only.

If any readers have some insights into this, or inside knowledge which they can share, Afro Leo will be delighted to hear from them.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

CIPC gets underway

1 May was a public holiday in RSA and in other countries too but not for CIPRO. It was the day of the merger of OCIPE with CIPRO, to form the CIPC and the implementation of the new Companies legislation said to have a profound impact on the way in which companies operate in South Africa.


The new look website is located here and a summary of its goals here.

The majority of the changes are not directly related to IP legislation. As reported earlier, there are changes to the way in which way in which company names may be objected to and the Commission boasts of new enforcement powers which, when one reads the relevant legislation, appear to be quite limited as far as IP rights (as opposed to Companies legislation) enforcement is concerned. The website has specific headings dedicated to Enforcement and Remedies and Intellectual Property Enforcement that both promote ADR but are otherwise fairly generic.

Posted by Darren

Monday, 2 May 2011

China & Africa - OAPI/BRICS and more

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) signed a memorandum of cooperation and understanding in Cameroon's capital Yaounde on to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the field of intellectual property. People's Daily Online.

"Now South Africa has joined BRIC, turning it into BRICS, adding enormous opportunities for intra-BRICS and Africa trade and investment. Africa’s growth is now getting its due — as it should — as the continent’s GDP has doubled in a decade. Proof of this growth is the fact that trade between Africa and BRIC, which has been double the global average, is on the increase and all pundits predict an even greater growth trajectory." Nice summary of the development and its link to good IP policies here.

Click here, here, here and here for more information on Afro-China developments.

Posted by Darren

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Looking for an IP case study?

If Afro Leo was an IP lecturer he would start the semester with a screening of “The Social Network” – the story about the origin and success of Facebook – the idea. The award winning film touches on almost every aspect of commercialising intellectual property without so much as a mention of a statute or law, which makes it so easy to understand. It is an excellent basis for then getting to grips with the laws that regulate its protection and also for illustrating how an idea on its own (now matter how it is protected) is rather useless.  The inspirational film is not only good at getting one to understand the basics but may also test seasoned campaigners eg the evolution of “facebooking” as a trade mark and how the film itself uses the trade mark. It covers the dynamics involved in, protecting, litigating and settling over IP rights, PR nuances (including the film itself), raising capital, open innovation, corporate governance, business ethics, greed and trust. The good thing is that when the film is finished, it hasn’t.

Posted by Darren