Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Africa IP Summit short a Development Dimension?

The Africa IP Summit - what is it?

In short: "The first-ever, continent-wide Africa Intellectual Property Forum: Intellectual Property, Regional Integration and Economic Growth in Africa!" according to the

Commmericial Law Development Program (CLDP) of the Office of General Counsel United States Department of Commerce.

Some meat: "[a] ministerial level Forum will focus on the Dynamic Role of Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement in Promoting Knowledge-Based Economies Through Innovation, Trade and Investment. In a truly international effort, the governments of the France, Japan, South Africa, and the United States, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in collaboration with the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and the international private sector, will bring together 600-800 public officials and private IP stakeholders to discuss the integral and critical role of IP in African economic growth through the incentivizing of creation, innovation, trade, and investment."

Sounds really good (I mean really really good- Africa needs IP attention) so far so what is all the fuss about? According to the critics (100 NGOs) and a number of others, some of whom have written in to Afro-IP:

In short: the April 2012 agenda is lacking a Development Dimension

Some meat: here is the letter addressed to WIPO with signatures of 100 NGOs summarised as follows:

* there is a conflict of interest created by pro TRIPS plus agenda/standards countries - US, France and Japan - who support the controversial ACTA and EPAs to the detriment of developing countries, and the involvement of private sector sponsorship "who have a strong stake in IP enforcement."
* important development issues such as flexibility eg compulsory licensing; access to medicines and access to knowledge appear to be disregarded.
* The agenda is too heavily focussed on anti-counterfeit legislation in dealing with counterfeit medicine (which apparently is not in WIPO's mandate).
* Lack of transparency and information.
* No guarantee of participation at the event, even if you register.

The call is for a postponement of the meeting to address the criticisms.

Some more meat: more comment on the criticism is available here, here and here.

Afro Leo has a call scheduled with the conference organisers tomorrow evening GMT and expects to report on developments after that.



No comments: