Monday, 26 November 2012

A review of African official IP websites: no. 20: Gabon

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into any country is normal and often said to be good for socio-economic growth. It can also come indirectly through uncoventional means - in the case of most developing countries. Interestingly, note how wikipedia cites, among others, special investment privileges as one of the reasons behind certain FDI. (Afro Leo wishes to know if purchasing a domain name in a foreign country - even where you plan not to have a physical presence there - should be classified as FDI; and if so, should reasons for such FDI also include: "an assumed" lax law enforcement regime and the provision of safe server hosting services for all types of activities?). Well, if you wished like Afro Leo, you may well end up disappointed like Kim Dotcom, the Megaupload founder.

This Leo came across this news article which reports that Megaupload's impending website www.Me.ga has been blocked in Gabon. At the announcement, Gabon's Communication Minister, Blaise Louembe was quoted saying: "Gabon cannot serve as a platform for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people". (Afro Leo noticed that the registrar, Gabon Telecom, does not currently have a functioning website. Has it been blocked too? He also cheekily asks, "Was Megaupload planning to set up and create jobs in Gabon?")


Gabon, are you really saying "no" to me?
As you would expect, Mr Dotcom took to Twitter to lament on Gabon's decision to scupper Megaupload's relaunch, saying: "Gabon Minister used time machine to analyze legality of the future Mega. Verdict: Cyber crime! Gets 5$ award from the FBI." (Afro Leo can decipher this sort of taunt. Actually, Gabon is resource-rich (mis-management, perhaps, an issue) and its economic indicators are better than some countries in Africa)

Gabon: Real to IP?

Gabon appears to be serious about protecting intellectual property rights; if so, this Leo thinks that a look at its IP office's website (if any) would give an indication. Has Gabon maintained and/or improved upon what we saw last year? Afro Leo is happy to say, "yes it has". On visit, you will find that the website's background now has an aura that would make any visitor feel that it has come through to an entity with an interest in advancing human creativity. Further, you would find more information on the website including the recent activities of the office.

Afro Leo now knows that relocating domains to tiny, and/or lesser-known, African countries may well be out of bounds for certain "investors", or in Mr Louembe's words, "unscrupulous people", but has Gabon done this on its own initiative or was it a publicity stunt? Crucially and forward-looking, what does it say about Gabon on IPRs?

(source: www.kim.com) I understand, respect and value my IP rights, so don't you dare mess with it!

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Why you should buy a .ga domain name, see here
Rich Presidents of Poor Nations - Capital Flight From Resource-Rich Countries in Africa, see here
For what the tabloids say about Kim Dotcom's wealth, see here
Kim Dotcom's wikipedia page, see here
Kim Dotcom denies being responsible for mass copyright infringement, see here

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