Monday, 20 May 2013
A review of African official IP websites: no.45: South Africa
Today, we find ourselves in South Africa (SA) in search of any development since our visit back in April 2012. This Leo is pleased to report that SA's intellectual property (IP) office, CIPC, still lives online albeit experiencing difficulties with its billing system. On the face of it, the upside in this is the customer-focused manner in which CIPC has dealt with the problem i.e. by putting out an apologetic message on its website.
But, CIPC is not yet on Twitter or facebook and one wonders why, in 2013, an office with one of the best (if not the best) IP office websites seen in the A-Z series is not yet using social media. (Afro Leo tells me that the responsible government department, the DTI, can be found on Twitter under @the_dti)
Another interesting finding is the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO). NIPMO's role - like seen in other countries e.g. here and here - is to ensure that those in receipt of public funds for research and development (R&D) protect and enable knowledge transfer for the benefit of the public in SA. ("About time", says this Leo)
Around the web for Africa IP-related news
New EPO-UNEP patents study reveals huge potential for Clean Energy Technologies (CETs) in Africa: Among others, this report notes the low patent application numbers in the field of CETs despite an increase in inventive activity within this area between 1980 and 2009. (This Leo is one of those who believe that African countries are better off with the likes of wind, solar and hydro-power than nuclear. As for the EPO, it seems that the office is taking a keen interest in the African market considering that he recently saw a targeted advert during a commercial break on CNN's Inside Africa programme).
Anyway, he has picked out this paragraph from the EPO's press release on the report: "....patents can not be considered as a barrier to the access to CETs in Africa. On the contrary, the lack of these patents to protect their products also means that source companies may be reluctant to offer up their know-how to promote technology transfer." (Afro Leo welcomes readers' comments on this point)
South Africa seeks to close drug patent loophole: Reuters reports that the SA government is planning to make life difficult for big pharmaceutical companies following the footstep of India. MacDonald Netshitenzhe, head of policy at the Department of Trade and Industry is reported to have said this: "We have a policy position that says 'Let us have a strong system that will not grant easy patents. Because if you grant easy patents, a weak patent, there will be people that take it a little bit forward and claim an extension on the original patent." (Again, comments welcomed)
The DTI, apparently, reneges on its IP policy commitment, see here
Big pharmas cut price for emerging countries here and here but that would probably not be enough, see here
To see GSK's position on evergreening, click here
To debunk the myths of evergreening, try here
A view on Novartis' patent ruling in India, consult here