Sunday, 14 April 2013

MIP International Patent Forum 2013 - Africa Focus

When I left the UK five years ago a mentor reminded me that Ghana and Malaysia achieved independence in the same year. His view was that Africa was beset with problems that were endemic and the relative progress of the two countries illustrated the hopeless state of the continent.

Another confidante of mine put it like this: in the context of shoe salesmen she explained, there two types of people, those that walk into a town where nobody is wearing shoes and then walk out in despair, and there are others who just see opportunity. You can decide which one you want to be.
The truth is that Africa is a contradiction of challenges and tremendous opportunity. It is also true that the stereotypical view of the continent being one of disease, famine, poverty and war is outdated. In case you have any doubts, take a peak at this Mckinsey report profiling the African consumer.

There are businesses who are forced to trade with Africa because there is little growth or resource elsewhere or because their competitors have taken them there and they risk losing out if they do not engage. There are others that see significant opportunity and there are firms who chose not to, or are precluded by regulation from doing business on the continent.
Being aware of how to use and protect IP and knowledge transfer in the Africa environment has become absolutely crucial. This week I have been invited by my firm to team up with Adams & Adam's recent outgoing Chairman and patent specialist, Dario Tanziani, to present at the MIP International Patent Forum 2013 in London, on this very topic.

With luck I will be able to share the slides but I am also hoping for an opportunity to interview Dario on what it is like to Chair a firm that has been operating in IP on the continent for over a century, at a time when there is unprecedented interest in Africa, including from competitors. 

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