Monday, 22 April 2013

African Contributions in Shaping the Worldwide Intellectual Property System: a new book

African Contributions in Shaping the Worldwide Intellectual Property System, by Tshimanga Kongolo, is a handsome and original book with a title that has the capacity to surprise: can it really be that Africa has made any contributions in shaping the worldwide IP system, one may ask -- and the answer is "yes". The author explains that Africa came late to the great debate on IP and found itself faced with a package of norms which fitted its needs quite poorly. However, by identifying and promoting its interests in areas such as traditional knowledge, folklore and biological materials, the continent has carved out a place for itself in the international negotiation table, while continuing to integrate the international norms, adapted for local use where necessary.

Publishers Ashgate have this to say about the title:
"Africa is playing an increasingly more significant role in the domain of international intellectual property law, and this book underlines the contributions made by African countries as a group to the development of the current international IP system. It examines in detail their breakthrough proposals and initiatives at the WTO, WIPO and WHO with regard to IP and public health; IP and traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources; IP and biodiversity; and exceptions and limitations to copyright. 
Using Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia as examples, it examines the systems under which these IP subject matters are protected. From a regional perspective, the book also analyses some initiatives taken by ARIPO, OAPI and the African Union to protect traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, especially in relation to protection of the rights of local farming communities and breeders, regulation of access to biological resources, genetically modified organisms and the proposed establishment of the new Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) [on which Afro-IP has taken a not inconsiderable interest: see posts here].

Demonstrating how Africa is now an active player on the international IP scene, this book will be invaluable to those interested in intellectual property law, business and commercial law, and African and international law".

The author is described as an intellectual property researcher and a former Assistant Professor, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan, whose key areas of interest are International Intellectual Property Law and global IP challenges. The publisher's web page adds: "He has published widely on these areas in books and articles in renowned international IP journals".  This would appear to be borne out by the bibliography, which consists almost entirely of the author's own writings (under the heading "Books, journal articles and chapters in books", 22 of the 26 works cited are those of the author.  Is no-one else writing on the same subjects?).

One small point: although the book has a full and helpful contents list, it is not always easy to navigate.  Perhaps more or better use could be made of headings and sub-headings, or even the introduction of numbered paragraphs, to enable the reader to recall more easily where he has got to in the author's scheme of things.

Bibliographic data: publication date, March 2013.  Hardback, xx + 319 pages. ISBNs 978-0-7546-7740-6 and Short: 9780754677406. Book's web page here.

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