Tuesday, 29 January 2013


PAIPO is dead! Long live PAIPO!

"PAIPO is dead! Long live PAIPO!" Thus exclaims Afro Leo's friend and PAIPO-watcher Caroline Ncube, who has just sent us the latest news on this very sensitive, potentially valuable proposal:
"Afro-IP carried an impassioned discussion on the Draft PAIPO Statute last year and a petition on PAIPO was hosted on change.org. In a recent paper in the Journal of Intellectual Property and Practice (JIPLP -- abstract here) I outlined the gist of the debate over the Pan-Africa Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) and shared some thoughts on how to improve the statute. The keenly-watched Brazzaville 5th African Union Conference of Ministers of Science and Technology (AMCOST V ) has come and gone. PAIPO was discussed on 15 November 2012.  The documentation and presentations prepared for the meeting are available here.  It is not exactly clear what the Council of Ministers decided about PAIPO. The only publicly available official document on the results of the meeting is a press release that does not mention PAIPO.

Some accounts state that they have shelved the statute and the organisation (see W New). Others indicate that they decided to proceed with PAIPO (D Ndhlovu ‘Pan African IP body survives a high level attack’, here). The AU’S STRC, which is the custodian of the drafting process, does not provide any details on its website, beyond describing the project and hosting the text of the statute. I have not received a reply to my email requesting details of the outcome of the November meeting.

So what did the Ministers decide? I believe it there is accuracy in both accounts of the outcome. It is probable that the Council of Ministers decided to proceed with PAIPO in principle (in keeping with their earlier 2007 decision) but postponed adopting the text until it has been further consulted upon and reworked. In that case, the (current) PAIPO Statute is dead. Long live PAIPO as we are likely to see another attempt at creating it in the future. If this does eventuate, it is hoped that the input provided by various academics, practitioners and other commentators will be taken on board.

If anyone has documentation pertaining to the decisions made at AMCOST V, please send it to Afro-IP".
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Kingsley Egbuonu

Copyright reform in Nigeria & a reader's comment on private copying levy

On 7 December 2012, this blog reported that a private copying levy system is set to be introduced in Nigeria (see Nigeria to impose copyright levies on "everything under the sun"). The post received the second highest views in that month; but more important was the comment by Jeremy de Beer who directed the rest of us to further research - some of which he authored - on this topic. So, for the benefit of our readers with research interests in this area, this is what he said:
"Thanks to Afro Leo for the great reporting on this important development. 

About the system in Ghana, and the potential impact on access to educational resources, Afro-IP readers might be interested in Access to Knowledge in Africa: The Role of Copyright http://bit.ly/qbxpw9During fieldwork research to produce this book, the authors conducted interviews with key stakeholders about the origins and impacts of Ghana's levy system.

It is interesting that Nigeria is moving in the opposite direction of countries that are phasing out experimentation with levies over the past 10-15 years, such as Canada. See http://bit.ly/Vcuydp. For more on the practical and conceptual incompatibilities between levies and digital rights management systems, readers might be interested in De Beer, J., 2006. Locks & Levies. Denver University Law Review, 84(1), pp.143–180 http://ssrn.com/abstract=952128

And on the impact of levies on the market for digital content, albeit in a much different socio-economic and cultural context, readers might be interested in De Beer, J., 2005. The Role of Levies in Canada’s Digital Music Marketplace. Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, 4(3), pp.153–168. http://ssrn.com/abstract=877191."

Still on Nigeria, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) invites you:
This Leo loves the notion of public consultations (Looking at Europe, Afro Leo is quick to tell me that public consultations help policymakers decide whether they should press ahead with a ready-made decision or change course). Hopefully your voice will count for something if you join the NCC on 19th and/or 20th February 2013 for a round table discussion on how to reform the copyright regime in Nigeria. For more details, click here (If you  will be attending, Afro-IP would like to receive a brief from you -anonymously or otherwise - on what was discussed)
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Monday, 28 January 2013

Kingsley Egbuonu

A review of African official IP websites: no. 29: Madagascar

Everything about Madagascar seems to be a delight to watch: from its beautiful tourist attractions to the tidy and resourced intellectual property office website. The island country has maintained and enhanced what we discovered last year. Afro Leo is impressed.
#1 of Tourist Attractions In Madagascar

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Sunday, 27 January 2013


Trade mark infringement in Kenya: is PIIPA backing an undeserving cause?

CIPIT -- Strathmore University's Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law -- has its own law blog. That blog hosts a boldly-expressed open letter to Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), an entity which describes itself as
" an international nonprofit organization that provides pro bono intellectual property (IP) legal counsel to governments, businesses, indigenous peoples, and public interest organizations in developing countries that seek to promote health, agriculture, biodiversity, science, culture, and the environment".
The open letter questions the propriety of PIIPA providing pro bono assistance regarding trade mark infringement in Kenya on behalf of
"a member of the Lighting Africa program sponsored by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank".
States the CIPIT open letter:
"The requesting company is clearly not short of financial resources given its affiliation with the Lighting Africa program sponsored by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank. Why would PIIPA agree to help such a non-profit company get pro bono legal assistance to fight its IP battles in Kenya? Shouldn’t PIIPA instead be advising and assisting local Kenyans to repel such IP actions, or at least helping local Kenyans acquire their own IP resources?"
Afro-IP readers are invited to read the PIIPA and CIPIT statements and to draw their own conclusions.
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Friday, 25 January 2013

Darren Olivier

First January Post

In case you did not have the opportunity to pay close attention to IP issues on the continent in 2012, this traditional First January Post below lists the some of the most popular posts and topics of discussion during last year and provides a general overview of activity on the blog during 2012. The post also bids a temporary farewell to a long standing stalwart of the Afro-IP team and introduces a new blogger to help cover the East African region.

Post-it - A successful post
Some of the most popular posts and discussions during 2012 include:
In refreshing and stark contrast to most economic indicators these days, the blog was able to report a record increase in the number of hits it received during the year. Perhaps people have more time to read, maybe it’s the mobile revolution – whatever, it’s good to know that the blog enjoyed around a 25% increase in activity and currently has a daily readership which is close to 1000 in terms of subscriber numbers or followers.

The Afro-IP Linkedin Group is also  steadily and quietly gathering members and discussion over on Linkedin. The blog is not for profit, charges nothing and licenses its content under a creative commons licence so please feel free take advantage of the community and contribute to the discussion – it does make a difference. And if you are interested in European IP, don't miss IPKat's incredible source of contemporary thought, views and information.

Paul Asiimwe
One of the stalwarts of the Afro-IP team since it started in 2008 has been Paul Asiimwe, an eminent lawyer from Uganda who runs a successful law firm - Sipi Law - out of Kampala. Paul wrote to Afro Leo a few days ago to ask for a break from the blogging team and, in doing so, introduced Tony Kakooza to cover the East African region. Afro Leo looks forward to profiling Tony next week together with his first post on the blog. If you are the next Kingsley or if you just wish to update the readers with information, please feel free to send us an email here.

Belated best wishes and happy blogging into 2013!

Afro Leo
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Monday, 21 January 2013

Kingsley Egbuonu

A review of African official IP websites: no. 28: Libya

No surprise, 12 months later, as Libya gradually gets back on its feet after the recent unrest

Around the continent in a few minutes (in no order):

Nigeria: Here is a basic news report that piracy is eating into the pockets of popular musicians in Nigeria. 

Kenya Kenya has nominated Amina Mohamed as a candidate for the office of the Director-General at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In support of her nomination,  Kenyan Foreign Minister, Sam Ongeri, said"It was during her time that substantial progress was realized in the Hong Kong ministerial Conference. These included the waiver on market access and the amendment to the Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)." 

GhanaGyedu Blay Ambolley, argues that musicians cannot earn a living from their creativity in Ghana. He further urges the Ghanaian Government to enable the right environment for creative people to flourish.

Ethiopia: A new trade mark Regulations has come into force, reports Mondaq.

Considering the "S" in BRICS, here is a report that India will be hosting a significant conference on intellectual property rights on 23rd January 2013. South Africa will be present.

Zambia: The Zambian Government is gearing up to fight counterfeits (including counterfeit condoms), reports the Zambia Daily Mail.
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Friday, 18 January 2013


A cycle of bullying

In Tyler Hamilton’s recent book, ‘The Secret Race’ the author, a fellow cyclist, accused Lance Armstrong of bullying members of his team into using banned substances. The whole of the cycling world is waiting to hear what Lance Armstrong will tell Oprah tonight – but what will he confess to doing?

One thing that he probably won’t tell Oprah is that the foundation he created, and headed until very recently, was nominated as one of the ten worst trademark bullies in America last year. You can access the full list here: http://www.trademarkia.com/opposition/opposition-brand.aspx

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Kingsley Egbuonu

A review of African official IP websites: no. 27: Liberia

Following on from Lesotho is Liberia. Last year, we found nothing to comment on and so is 2013, sadly. If you are looking for intellectual property news, then why not read about Kenyan entrepreneur Mike Macharia. According to Macharia, Tax regimes in Africa do not generally support entrepreneurship,” and “The policies around intellectual property are weak and do not protect innovation.” 

Alternatively, here is a report that "Local software production and development can spur economic growth in Africa and other developing economies...."

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Monday, 7 January 2013

Kingsley Egbuonu

A review of African official IP websites: no. 26: Lesotho

12 months later, this Leo finds that the intellectual property office in Lesotho is not yet online.Talk about ending one year on a good note and beginning another with a contrast.The fact that this Leo found nothing else, even commercially relevant, to report goes to highlight the different levels of progress and priorities across the African continent. One day, all countries in Africa will become internationally relevant and we will be swamped with commercial news and economic progress reports.

The Female Health Company holds an ARIPO patent covering Lesotho, see here
Government officials from Lesotho visited Rwanda in Dec 2012 to learn about governance, see here
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Kingsley Egbuonu

African countries and their IP offices in 2011/2012: A recap

The Afro-IP team welcomes you to 2013. We hope you had a fulfilling and well-deserved rest over Christmas.

In June 2011, this blog set out to investigate the online presence of the intellectual property offices in 54 countries of the African continent. This initiative is now in its second year running - as an annual review - and we have already seen consistency and improvement as well as disappointment. For this Leo, the whole experience has been exciting as well as educative: I have come to fully appreciate the diverse (social, political, economic, legal and so on) nature of this continent.

Hopefully in this year, we shall hear of more groundbreaking developments and/or cases on IP and allied matters and expect further participation from the wider IP community within and beyond the continent. Also worth looking forward to is the bright economic outlook of the African economies. 

Without further ado and with the help of the excellent Wikipedia, a recap of the A-Z series for 2011/12:

No.          Country (official name)

1. Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of Algeria)

2. Angola (Republic of Angola)

3. Benin (Republic of Benin)

4. Botswana (Republic of Botswana)

5. Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso)

6. Burundi (Republic of Burundi)

7. Cameroon (Republic of Cameroon)

8. Cape Verde (Republic of Cape Verde)

9. Central African Republic (Central African Republic)

10. Chad (Republic of Chad)

11. Comoros (Union of the Comoros)

12. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

13. Republic of the Congo (Republic of the Congo)

14. Côte d'Ivoire (Republic of Côte d'Ivoire)

15. Djibouti (Republic of Djibouti)

16. Egypt (Arab Republic of Egypt)

17. Equatorial Guinea (Republic of Equatorial Guinea)

18. Eritrea (State of Eritrea)

19. Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia)

20. Gabon (Gabonese Republic)

21. Gambia (Republic of The Gambia)

22. Ghana (Republic of Ghana)

23. Guinea (Republic of Guinea)

24. Guinea-Bissau (Republic of Guinea-Bissau)

25. Kenya (Republic of Kenya)

26. Lesotho (Kingdom of Lesotho)

27. Liberia (Republic of Liberia)

28. Libya (Republic of Libya)

29. Madagascar (Republic of Madagascar)

30. Malawi (Republic of Malawi)

31. Mali (Republic of Mali)

32. Mauritania (Islamic Republic of Mauritania)

33. Mauritius (Republic of Mauritius)

34. Morocco (Kingdom of Morocco)

35. Mozambique (Republic of Mozambique)

36. Namibia (Republic of Namibia)

37. Niger (Republic of Niger)

38. Nigeria (Federal Republic of Nigeria)

39. Rwanda (Republic of Rwanda)

40. São Tomé and Príncipe (Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe)

41. Senegal (Republic of Senegal)

42. Seychelles (Republic of Seychelles)

43. Sierra Leone (Republic of Sierra Leone)

44. Somalia (Somali Republic)

45. South Africa (Republic of South Africa)

46. South Sudan (Republic of South Sudan)

47. Sudan (Republic of the Sudan)

48. Swaziland (Kingdom of Swaziland)

49. Tanzania (United Republic of Tanzania)

50. Togo (Togolese Republic)

51. Tunisia (Tunisian Republic)

52. Uganda (Republic of Uganda)

53. Zambia (Republic of Zambia)

54. Zimbabwe (Republic of Zimbabwe)
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