Tuesday, 30 August 2011

“No Right, No Music” in Nigeria, declares COSON

From the ever-fertile pen of Afro Leo's good friend Kingsley Egbuonu comes this little gem (thanks, Kingsley, for all your hard work for my blog, says the little lion, I do wish there were more like you around!):

No Music Day 2009 (peace fm)

"The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has declared Thursday 1 September 2011 as a ‘No Music Day’ throughout Nigeria. The declaration was made in a statement issued by COSON president Chief Tony Okoroji on Friday, 26 August 2011. Okoroji says the day ‘will be dedicated to drawing national attention to the widespread infringement of the rights of composers, song writers, performers, music publishers and other stakeholders in the music industry in Nigeria’.
 Similarly, the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition have requested that all broadcasting stations dedicate time on the same day to granting and airing interviews, debates or any other program related to artistes rights as a way of supporting the cause.
 This isn’t the first time a protest of this sort would hold as it was first staged throughout the country two years ago on Tuesday, 1 September 2009, albeit with a low level of compliance.
 Source: Nigerian Entertainment Today
 While on the subject of COSON, its Acting General Manager Chinedu Angus Chukwuji, has embarked on a postgraduate programme in Intellectual Property Law at the African University Mutare, Zimbabwe.
 COSON expects the programme – which is sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization - to equip Mr. Chukwuji “with every skill and knowledge necessary for effective management of intellectual property rights in the digital age and to bring him up-to-date with intellectual property administration from the global perspective.”
 Source: www.cosonng.com
Kingsley comments:

The Nigerian film industry is arguably the second largest in the world, while the music industry is not far off; both are rumoured to be worth $1bn in annual net revenue. Intellectual property infringement is a problem in every jurisdiction; but it plagues some on an unimaginable scale, leaving one bewildered as to the state of economic activity in such an environment. Although infringers tend to have higher profit margins, many IPR proprietors/holders still reap their rewards in these jurisdictions using various commercialisation strategies.

Let us all (IP enthusiasts) hope that this action by COSON, and its efforts, will bear fruit in the near future, at least, in the area of copyright in Nigeria.

Monday, 29 August 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites: no. 11: Comoros

Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states is getting even more depressing.  On behalf of Afro-IP, Kingsley Egbuonu has now directed his attention to the Comoros, an archepelago off the east coast of Africa which constitutes one of the smallest jurisdictions in the continent, both by size and by population:

Overview

Comoros is a contracting party to most international agreements on intellectual property, these include: the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Copyright Office

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs, Information and Press is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Comoros.
  • Currently, this office has no web presence.
Industrial Property Office

  • The Ministry of Energy, Mines, Industry and Handicrafts is responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Comoros.
  • Currently, this office has no web presence.
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Digital Africa: a big event ... and future prospects

Walta Info reports ("Addis to host 10th Annual Innovation Africa Digital Summit") that Ethiopia's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCTI) is to partner with Extensia Limited to bring the 10th Annual Innovation Africa Digital Summit to Ethiopia. This event, scheduled for 27 to 27 March next year, expects to bring together up to 350 leaders covering the African Information Communication Technology industry "including ministers, regulators, service providers and leading international solution providers".

The report talks excitedly about the prospects of a connected Africa, but makes no mention of intellectual property rights at all. Afro Leo adds that, if Ethiopia and other African countries want to attract Information Communication Technology (ICT) investment, they might start by making sure that their own intellectual property offices are accessible online, so that prospective exporters of technology and investors in African digital technologies can discover more easily what sort of legal protection exists for their investments and how it can be obtained.  Anyone who has been following Kingsley Egbuonu's A to Z of intellectual property offices in Africa cannot fail to be disappointed in the fact that investment in patent and trade mark office websites has been so shamefully neglected, even though foreign filings of IP rights are a good way of attracting investment into any country.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites: no. 10: Chad

Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states has now reached double figures, as cyber-sleuth Kingsley Egbuonu takes the journey from the land-locked Central African Republic to its equally land-locked norther neighbour, the Republic of Chad. As Kingsley reports, despite its warm climate Chad is not exactly a hot-spot for online IP information:
Overview

Chad is a contracting party to most international agreements on intellectual property; these include: the Bangui Agreement administered by the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI).

Copyright Office

• The Chadian Copyright Office (BUTDRA), Directorate of Culture in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Chad. 

• Currently, this office has no web presence.

Industrial Property Office

• The Directorate General, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Chad. 
• The Ministry has a website (www.primature-tchad.org - in French) but it is currently not useful as a source of information for IP in Chad.
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

Sunday, 21 August 2011

African Legal Resources available through FALM

Every so often, Afro-Leo stumbles upon some legal resource of which the little lion was previously unaware.  The Free Access to Law Movement is one of these.  100_1424

Originally formed in 2002, FALM members believe “Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity.”  (Full FALM declaration available here.)

These goats are much more interested in farms than FALM.

Members of FALM make an effort to ensure their country’s laws area available freely online.  There’s a surprising number of African members with resources available online.

Botswana eLaws: http://www.elaws.gov.bw/
Juri Burkina for Burkina Faso: http://www.juriburkina.org/juriburkina/ (French)
Juri Niger: http://www.juriniger.org/juriniger/ (French)
Juriste.ma for Morocco: http://www.juriste.ma/ (Arabic)
Kenya Law Reports (KLR): http://www.kenyalaw.org/klr/index.php
Liberia Legal Information Institute: http://www.liberlii.org/
Malawi Legal Information Institute: http://www.malawilii.org/
Namibia Legal Information Institute: http://www.namlii.org/
Southern African Legal Information Institute for all of Southern Africa:  http://www.saflii.org/
Swaziland Legal Information Institute: http://www.swazilii.org/
Ugandan Legal Information Institute: http://www.ulii.org/

These are not IP-specific resources, but they may be a good place to start when looking for statutes, decisions and the like.  Between these resources and the resources being posted by Kingsley as he travels across the continent alphabetically, Afro-Leo sees much hope for readers finding the information they need.  And, when those sources don’t work, you can always reach out to Afro-Leo and fellow readers.

The full list of members can be found at: http://www.falm.info/

Thursday, 18 August 2011

NCC has its knuckles rapped over raids, seizures against collecting society

In July, Afro-IP hosted this article by Nigerian IP lawyer and business consultant Ayo Solarin, "Collecting royalties in Nigeria: a confused situation?", which reviewed the impact of the decision of the Court of Appeal in Musical Copyright Society Nigeria [MCSN] v Cowpact Disc Technologies & others [CA/L/787/2008] on the controversial question of entitlement to collect music royalties on behalf of local and foreign composers, authors, songwriters and music publishers. Now, in "Nigeria Copyright Commission - Statutory Powers Whittled Down!", Ayo takes us from the gathering of royalties to being raided for the seizure of pirate copies in his review of last month's Federal High Court decision in Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria [MCSN] v Nigeria Copyright Commission [NCC]. Ayo writes:
"Nigeria Copyright Commission - Statutory Powers Whittled Down! 
The decision of the Federal High Court in Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria [MCSN] v Nigeria Copyright Commission [NCC], 25 July 2011, effectively curtailed the statutory powers of NCC to conduct anti-piracy raids and seizure of property under the Copyright Act 2004, s.38, particularly s.38(5) which states: 
“A Copyright Inspector shall have all the powers, rights and privileges of a police officer as defined under the Police Act and under any other relevant enactment pertaining to the investigation, prosecution of or defence of a civil or criminal matter under this Act”. 
The court also determined the constitutionality of NCC using statutory powers under section 39 to deter the owner, assignee or exclusive licensee of copyright from taking legal action to protect its copyrights under section 17. 

MCSN instituted the action against NCC for breach of its fundamental constitutional rights, as owners, assignees and exclusive licensee of copyrights, by NCC which persistently conducted anti-piracy raids on its offices for six years and continue to arrest and harass members of its staff without prosecution. NCC alleged that MCSN is not an approved collecting society under s.39 and therefore deemed an illegal operator under s.39(4), which the NCC is authorised under s.38 to raid and close down. NCC also claimed it received a petition from the International Federation of Phonograph Industry [IFPI] complaining that MCSN infringed the rights of its members by authorizing the reproduction of musical works belonging to them without permission which NCC acted upon in raiding MCSN offices. 
The court held the NCC raids on MCSN offices, arrests of its officers, and seizure of documents were arbitrary and heavy-handed. Commenting on the evidence before the court. the judge said 
“the actions were those of an agency determined to bring to heal an offensive rather than an offending body corporate and its executive officers”. 
NCC was found in breach of its statutory powers in conducting the raids having effected arrests without obtaining an arrest warrant in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act. In respect of s.38(5) the court held: 
“The phrase ‘the rights and privileges of a police officer’ is a peculiar one. Not all acts of infringement amount to piracy and charging unwarranted into premises on the complaint of a supposed owner or licensee of copyright [IFPI] is illegal and unconstitutional... NCC responded to a complaint of infringement by a party whose alleged rights are supposedly infringed but have not been adjudicated upon, the particulars of the complaint are undisclosed and the infringed works over which they claimed rights are not detailed. NCC acted at the instance of a complainant who declined to pursue civil remedies for whatever reasons”. 

In response to NCC’s allegation that MCSN is an illegal collecting society the court referred to the decision of the Court of Appeal in MCSN v Adeokin Records [2004] where it was established that MCSN is the owner, assignee and exclusive licensee of a large repertoire of musical works through international reciprocal representation agreements entered into with 118 collecting societies worldwide. The court held: 
“NCC has failed to acknowledge, appreciate or welcome the notion and reality that owners and assignees of copyright can enforce property rights without necessarily being registered as collecting societies by the Commission. Registration as a collecting society is not a prerequisite for the enjoyment and exercise of the rights of an owner or exclusive licensee of copyright. Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the protection of the appellant’s [MCSN] Property and the offence of purporting to perform the duties of a collecting society without approval of the Commission created by section 39 of the Copyright Act cannot and does not relate to the activities of owners, assignees and exclusive licensees of copyright. Any provision of any statute that in any way seeks to curb the enjoyment of property rights, to subjugate or detract from same without any discernable purpose other than the registration and monitoring of same is unconstitutional and any statutory provision that seeks to criminalise the purposeful protection of property rights by those in whom such rights are vested is unconstitutional, null and void. Whatever else it seeks to do, the provision of section 39 does not seek to hinder, encumber or restrict the private enforcement of property rights by the owners, assignees or exclusive licensees of copyright; nor does it intend to criminalise such private enforcement and to that extent the provision of section 39 is unconstitutional, null and void”. 

In conclusion the court reprimanded NCC, stating: 
“The Copyright Commission was established to reinforce the rights of copyright owners, assignees and exclusive licensees, not to be an institutional hurdle with arbitrary power to restrict the private enjoyment and enforcement of such rights. Copyright owners do not exist at the pleasure of the Commission; or merely to validate its establishment and most definitely the Commission was not established to undermine, denigrate or exert obedience from copyright owners which I find to be the tone and purpose of the 1st respondent’s [NCC] many interventions in the affairs of the applicant [MCSN]. It is for the NCC to justify the denial of an owner, assignee or exclusive licensee of its approval as a collecting society in the light of the constitutional prerogatives attached to the enjoyment of property rights. It is not for the Commission to hound persons, corporate or otherwise, that are legitimately and constitutionally protecting their proprietary interests. The Commission and its principal officers should not be in the business of subverting the property rights of copyright owners. I am persuaded that they have been doing exactly that in their dealings with the applicant herein”. 
The court awarded substantial damages to MCSN. 
The interesting point is how to reconcile the decision of the Federal High Court, a trial court, with that of the Court of Appeal in Compact Disc Technologies Ltd v Musical Copyright Society [MCSN] [2010] where it was held that MCSN has no locus standi to institute the action as owner, assignee and exclusive licensee unless it is registered as a collecting society in compliance with s.17 of the Copyright Act 2004. The appellate court stated in page 15 of its judgment that 
“...by way of an exception to the general rule in question, the court has the liberty (discretion), in some very exceptional deserving cases, to consider circumstances surrounding the case as a whole, including the need to take some evidence before determining the vexed question of locus standi vis-a-vis jurisdiction”. 
But in this case the appellate court did not deem it necessary to exercise that discretion despite the plethora of documentary evidence before the court that MCSN is legitimately protecting its exclusive proprietary rights against infringers based on the undisputed fact that it is the only body corporate, whether a collecting society or not, legally capable to do so. The stringent and restrictive interpretation of s.17 by the appellate court deprived MCSN’s assignees and also millions of exclusive licensees of their inalienable proprietary rights protected by section 44 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. The Federal High Court, on the other hand, took into consideration this most important constitutional issue on property rights vis-a-vis section 39 of the Copyright Act 2004 in coming to its decision. The appellate court was in a position to grant MCSN a right of exemption under s.17(b) but it failed to seize the opportunity to do justice in the spirit of protecting copyright owners against infringers, which is the clear intention and purpose of the Copyright Act, instead the appellate court stuck to the letter of the law turning a blind eye to the resultant injustice".

Sudan - Utility Models and efficiencies

courtesy: xyxtoday.com
Two pieces of news just in from NJQ & Associates about IP developments in Sudan:
"As you may know, there were no provisions in the Law to protect Utility Models in Sudan, however and after negotiations with the Register, it will now be accepted and treated as patent application until amending the Law."
---------------------------

"The Sudan Intellectual property Office (SIPO) is now taking measurements in order to speed up the prosecution of the applications, and it is now taking 4 months from the date of filing to submit all required documents.

...any application filed at SIPO will be transferred to examination after all needed documents are submitted in the file. However the maximum time given to submit the required documents for all types of applications is 9 months from the date of filing the application, failing to comply with this will lead to cancellation of the application.

Upon acceptance and payment of publication fees, the application will be published in the next coming issue of official Gazette. Needless to say that the Gazette is issued every 3- 4 months, subject for opposition period of 8 months."
NJQ & Associates invite anyone seeking further clarification to email them at sudan@qumsieh.com.

Monday, 15 August 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites: no. 9: Central African Republic

In this, the ninth in Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states, Kingsley Egbuonu takes to the tropics and visits the Central African Republic. This country is difficult to get to by sea, since it's land-locked. It's even more difficult to get to by internet, though, if you're involved in IP. As Kingsley reports:
"Overview
The Agreement which led to the creation of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) was adopted on March 2, 1977 at Bangui, Central African Republic. Among other IP-related Treaties, she is also a contracting party to the TRIPS Agreement and one of OAPI’s member states.
Copyright Office
  • The Central African Copyright Office (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture) is the competent office responsible for Copyright and related rights.
  • There is currently no website for this office.
Industrial Property Office
  • The National Industrial Property Service, Directorate of Industrial Development and Handicraft (Ministry of Industry, Commerce, SME-SMI) is the competent office responsible for the administration of Intellectual Property.
  • There is currently no website for this office".
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

Monday, 8 August 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites: no. 8: Cape Verde

In this, the eighth in Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states, Kingsley Egbuonu goes offshore to visit the lovely archipelago of Cape Verde, 570 kilometers off the West Africa cost. Kingsley brings some hope for the future here, but not much news of the present:
"Overview 
Cape Verde became the WTO's 153rd member on 23 July 2008, and as a result, it will need to introduce TRIPS-compliant intellectual property laws. 
Among others, Resolution No. 25/2010 of May 24 2010 created an IP Regulatory Body - the Institute of Intellectual Property in Cape Verde (IPICV).

Copyright Office

• The National Institute of Culture is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Cape Verde. 

• There is currently no website for this office.

Industrial Property Office

• The General Directorate of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy is the competent office responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Cape Verde. 
• There is currently no website for this office".
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

AfricanColours: can it, will it, make an IP impact?


Afro Leo is grateful to Maxine Horn (Creative Barcode) for drawing his attention to an African initiative, AfricanColours, which he hadn't come across before. According to its website,
"AfricanColours is the premier internet space for the promotion of contemporary African art since 2000. With a central office in Nairobi, its work is supported by representatives in Africa, Europe & America.

Our Vision & Mission:

AfricanColours works towards a viable contemporary African art scene that is internationally recognised and technologically savvy. AfricanColours does so by connecting artists and engaging the art industry through leveraging technologies, offering cultural experiences in and creating value for contemporary visual arts in Africa”.

Our Core Values:

- Creativeness/Innovation
- Quality/accuracy
- Integrity/ impartiality
- Cultural diversity

Since the mid 1980s, interest in contemporary art with roots in post colonial Africa has been growing. Events such as the Dak’art Biennial of Contemporary African Art, collections such as the Pigozzi Collection of Contemporary African Art and the Africa Now exhibition of the World Bank bear witness to the growing interest. Initiatives such as the Arterial network, ‘Art Moves Africa’ and ‘Imagine Africa’ are contributing to strengthening awareness of African Art and support to African artists and creative industries as well as advocating for appropriate policies at national and international levels.But despite this focus, contemporary African art remains a niche market and much needs to be done to bring it to a wider audience, both at home and abroad.

Information on the much wider pool of African contemporary artists remains fragmented. Only a few, mainly Western-trained African artists have reached levels of international acclaim. Many thousands of artists remain on the continent with little opportunity for exhibiting their works and exchanging with other artists across the continent. Europe and North America remain the goal for many African artists to perfect their skills and gain recognition. The wide opportunity of sharing and learning across African countries and hence stimulating creativity on the continent is frequently neglected.

Many potential artists on the continent lack stimulation from an educational system that is not equipped enough to support creativity coupled with lack of institutions for professional growth and job opportunities in an underrepresented creative industries sector. 

To date AfricanColours has been able to raise the profile of over 300 African Artists in the continent and in the Diaspora".
AfricanColours' website does not explicitly mention intellectual property issues, but Afro-IP understands that it supported an IP Rights Workshop for Visual Artists in Harare, Zimbabwe, last month, under the aegis of the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe.

If readers can add any comments concerning AfricanColours and its actual or potential role in sensitising artists to online and real-world IP issues, we'll be pleased to hear from you.

CIPC TM filings set for a record year

Finally, some really good statistics on national trade mark filings in South Africa. The single class application office (CIPC) looks set to file well over its record of 32000 odd applications filed in 2006. Like at most national offices, trade mark filings in South Africa dipped during the recession. RSA was particularly hard hit though with an 18% drop in 2009 over the 2006 high. Applications filed during the 12 month period since the World Cup in 2010 have also surpassed the 32000 number.

The trend is in line with rebound figures released from trade mark offices in the USA and in Europe with a lag of about 6-12 months. However, Afro Leo is particularly upbeat about the performance of the RSA national office which has also taken great strides in reducing its examination time of pending applications, now publishes its opposition decisions and directives online, and is waiting for final approval to appoint four hearing officers to reduce the opposition backlog.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites: no. 7: Cameroon

In this, the seventh in Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states, Kingsley Egbuonu visits Cameroon, the country which hosts OAPI (mentioned below). Kingsley reports thus:
Overview

Among others, Cameroon is a founding member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) - a regional IP system established by the Bangui Agreement. The OAPI is headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Copyright Office

• WIPOnet Coordinator Justice Section under the Ministry of Culture is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Cameroon. 

• The website (www.mincult-cameroun.com) is in French but there is an English option. Also, general information regarding protectable works in Cameroon can be found here.

Industrial Property Offices

• The OAPI serve as the national office and a central agency for documentation and information regarding patents in member states. 

• The OAPI’s website (www.oapi.int) is in French and applicants will find it very useful, though it lacks a database. 
• Cameroon’s IP office is the Directorate of Technological Development and Industrial Property (DTDIP) under the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development.
• The DTDIP does not have an official website.
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

Kingsley's earlier reviews:
Algeria 
Angola 
Benin 
Botswana 
Burkina Faso 
Burundi