Friday, 29 March 2013

A Guide to Fair Use and Fair Dealing Laws

Introduced earlier this week by InfoJustice, the new Fair Use/Fair Dealing Handbook is certain to prove useful to attorneys around the world.  Africa is no exception.  As Jonathan Band remarks, “More than 40 countries with over one-third of the world’s population have fair use or fair dealing provisions in their copyright laws.” 

The handbook presents the relevant statutes from each country with the references to fair use or fair dealing highlighted.  Fair use is highlighted in green; fair dealing in turquoise.  It’s extremely simple in concept, but also extremely handy in practice.  It must have taken a great deal of work to assemble.  [“Believe me!” says this Little Leo who in a previous incarnation had to look for exception and limitation provisions in every single copyright act she could find.] It’s important to note that the handbook covers only fair dealing and fair use, not exceptions and limitations to copyright generally.  Many African countries who do not have fair dealing or fair use do have specific lists of exceptions to copyright.

The handbook, by Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi, is available in pdf format here.

African countries included in the handbook are:

  • Gambia
  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe,

all fair dealing countries.  And,

  • Uganda,

the lone fair use country included for Africa.

Little Leo would like to add that she believes Liberia should be added to the list for fair use (Section 2.7 in Copyright Law of the Republic of Liberia).

Photo: Frankfurt book fair 2008 cc-by Marco Braun available on Flickr

Monday, 25 March 2013

A review of African official IP websites: no. 37: Niger


Unfortunately, this Leo could not find any IP-related news on Niger to share. It seems things are as we left it last year. However, he hopes to be reporting live from Nigeria - where a lot appear to be happening - in next week's post. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

MDGs and IP featuring UNDESA, WIPO, ECOSOC and...... African Ministers

Afro-IP has just come across a joint post-event press release by UNDESA and WIPO on a recent but important series of meetings (see Aurelia's post here) in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania which emphasised on the role of innovation, science and technology in the development of African countries and the support needed to attain the MDGs. (Afro Leo notes that meetings/discussions on intellectual property (IP) titled, for example, 'Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa', tend to raise eyebrows in some quarters). 


WIPO HomeSo, the main, and perhaps last, meeting (on the 14th of March) is said to have convened "over twenty African ministers" and, together with others, were held in preparation for the Annual Ministerial Review of the UN Economic and Social Council to take place in July 2013. (Participating Ministers from over twenty African countries; over twenty participating Ministers from a handful of African countries; or even better, Ministers who just came to listen to what "others" have to say? Afro Leo is puzzled). Are you? 

WIPO Director General and United Republic of Tanzania’s President
open the Conference on Innovation and IP in Dar es Salaam 
(Photo: Zainul A. Mzige).
In search for Ministers in the programme document for 14th March meeting, this Leo could only find government representatives (Ministers as it were) from the following countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. (Afro Leo counts four (4) Ministers and asks if they all have IP in their portfolios unlike their counterpart in the UK  in charge of IP as highlighted below). 

Digging deeper in search of more Ministerial touch, the programme document (for meetings held on 12th and 13th March) can only reveal international/regional organisations (including AMCOST, the supranational entity involved in the stricken PAIPO, ARIPO and OAPI) and government representatives from the following African countries: Tanzania (sorry, represented by the President) and...........


Anyway, this Leo must say that he is quite impressed with the opening statement made by H.E. Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania - part of which (soundbite) was picked out by the joint press release mentioned above. This Leo cannot remember David Cameron speaking about IP in this manner; no wonder the IP community in the UK (see herehere and here) feel that they are yet to see a "real" and dedicated IP Minister to champion the IP cause (Perhaps, an EU price to pay). In that case, African countries may not be doing that bad after all. [Afro Leo is wondering whether there is now any need or benefit for African countries to create a Ministerial position for IP and innovation when: (a) they are still net importers of IP;  (b) some, if not most, still have obsolete IP laws in desperate need for reform; and (c) based on what we have seen, they might as well have Presidents somewhat versed in IP - at least it is better than what is currently seen in the UK

Readers should note that Tanzania did score well, last year, in the Afro-IP's marathon tour across the African continent. Afro Leo says, well done to the Tanzanian President for ensuring that his country's IP office has an online presence in the age of innovation, science and technology.

The African continent is going through an exciting economic transformation and this Leo is pleased to see  WIPO (as usual) doing what it can to ensure that an adequate IP regime is not left out in the cold in this phenomenon. However, a great majority would agree that one would like to see more action than words on the basic needs of the national IP offices and agencies across Africa (including technical assistance and public sensitisation programmes on IP) and wider involvement of stakeholders (including all African countries and their suitable representatives and/or IP communities to ensure that development needs are tailored). Further, is it not also the case that the continent require more private investment into other sectors and not just in natural resources?

Well, let us just agree that all African Ministers appreciate the importance of science, technology and innovation (plus IP) in the development of their respective countries.
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For the background research paper presented at this meeting, see here
Japan's support for IP across Africa, see here, here, and here,
Again, see Aurelia's comments on these meetings here
For IP Tzar or Czar in the United States, see here

A review of African official IP websites: no. 36: Namibia


Despite lacking a dedicated website for its intellectual property (IP) office, we were  happy to discover that Namibia was making progress in ensuring that IP is not pushed way behind other national issues. Regrettably, nothing has changed; but here are some IP-related news or information on Namibia:


Conference in Namibia on Intellectual Property and Cultural Industries:
The International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) recently held a conference at the Windhoek Country Club and Resort from November 15 to 17; (year not stated) which hosted guests including Namibian Government officials, Police and Customs officers, Namibian museum and theater managers and SMEs. The conference was staged to discuss the benefits of IP. To read more, see here

Namibia plans for a Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA)
The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s plans for a Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), to complement the operations of the Registrar of Companies, is making good progress, Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein has said. To read more, see here

Microsoft and Ministry of Information and Communication Technology recognise the need to protect IP
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa said at an IP awareness event “that all stakeholders discuss in earnest the need to reconfigure the entire legal regime governing copyright”. Whilst Warren La Fleur, Senior Business Development Manager for Microsoft in East and Southern Africa, said that, “IP infringement has a real effect on any company’s decision to move into a new market or region. To read more, see here and here

Beyond Tariffs: EU-EPA Negotiations for Namibia

Bridget Dundee (Namibian Competition Commission) talks about the implications of the EU-EPA on a developing country such as Namibia including the obligation to protect or have a development agenda which protects IP. She argues that "...at present, Namibia benefits from duty-free quota-free access to the EU. If Namibia does not finalise a new EPA by 2016, it would fall under one of the schemes of the new Generalised System of Preference (GSP) that affords it fewer trade concessions." To read more, see here

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For IP protection in Namibia, see the excellent Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC) here

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Update in Nigeria: Trade mark oppositions and design applications

Thanks to this news update by Aluko & Oyebode (one of the leading intellectual property (IP) law firms  in Africa according to Managing IP), Afro-IP has learned, with interest, that the IP Registry in Nigeria will no longer tolerate delays in responding to trade mark registration oppositions. 


According to this circular, the Registry will not grant an extension of time more than once and where granted, it will not exceed 30 days. Further, in respect of registered designs, the Registry now requires applicants to describe the novelty in their design applications; and, as one would expect, the name(s) of the signatory on FORM 2.


Afro Leo welcomes comments from his Nigerian friends and/or all readers on following:

(a) Is 30 days sufficient time for trade mark owners and/or their representatives to put something together?

(b) What is the practice of other IP Registries across Africa?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Economist's View

The Economist's March edition contains an interesting synopsis of what is happening on the continent under the title "The world's fastest growing continent: Aspiring Africa". Congratulations and excitement are mixed with concern and urgency. It calls on Africans to liberate themselves, this time not from colonial masters but from civil servants, and embrace pan-Africanism by breaking down borders and seeking a common market from Cape to Cairo. In our little space, this is the thinking  behind PAIPO. A heady thought indeed, not unlike that of the beloved giraffe that accompanies the article.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tanzania hosts as Japan, WIPO and Africa talk IP and Development

File:Jakaya Kikwete.jpg“Intellectual property is development!”  It’s a refrain heard often around the continent.  And one that is likely to only increase in ubiquitousness as the rest of the world is recognizing Africa’s economic potential; see Kingsley’s post on the African Creative Industries Investment Summit.  Today, that sentiment was hoisted up by Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania, Toshihiro Kose of the Japan Patent Office and Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO at a conference in Dar es Salaam.

The African Conference on the Strategic Importance of Intellectual Property Policies to Foster Innovation, Value Creation and Competiveness – boy, that’s a mouthful that surely needs some sort of clever acronym – is a cosponsored program brought to Africa by WIPO and Japan’s special funds-in-trust for Africa program.  Japan has a number of funds-in-trust programs in conjunction with various inter-governmental organizations.  The funds-in-trust for Africa program was established 5 years ago to support activities that strengthen frameworks for IP protection.  (More on Japan’s Funds-in-Trust for Africa here.)

Today’s program included opening remarks by President Kikwete, available in full here, Mr. Gurry, Mr. Kose and several others.  The program then continued to look specifically at Development Challenges and the role of IP law in innovation.  The afternoon focused on IP education. The second day program will focus on turning those innovations and laws into marketable opportunities.  The program lists a delightful array of speakers, including many from across Africa, representatives evident of South-South collaboration, as well as speakers from the sponsors, WIPO and Japan. (PDF of full program here.)

While the President’s opening remarks are encouraging of increasing collaboration and IP protections, he seems to have confused several areas of the field, combining industrial design, bio-patents, geographical indicators and trademarks in a single breath.  Sadly, this Little Leo sees in this speech more regurgitation of WIPO- and Western-pushed ideas than a real understanding of the effects of intellectual property law. 

But there is a bright spot.  The President announced the formation of a new Masters program in IP law at the University of Dar es Salaam, being organized in conjunction with ARIPO and the Tanzanian agency in charge of administering the country’s industrial property laws (Business Registrations and Licensing Agency or BRELA).  Little Leo hopes that education about IP, especially at the masters level, will include many different perspectives.

The conference continues tomorrow.  If any Afro-IP readers have been able to attend and would like to share summaries, they would be most welcome.

Photo: Jakaya Kikwete – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011, CC-BY-SA Copyright World Economic Forum and Matthew Jordaan, cropped version available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jakaya_Kikwete.jpg and full version available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/5690210115/in/photostream/

Improving Trademark Registration in Portuguese-speaking Countries

This post comes from Dr. Patricia Covarrubia of IP-Tango and was originally published there on 7 March 2013 under the title “Brazil: Marca Lusófona.”  As it deals with several countries in Africa, Afro Leo thought it would be useful to Afro-IP readers as well.  Patricia has graciously allowed us to cross-post it here for you.

Last week the Representatives of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) met to discuss the creation of the mark ‘Lusófona’. This is a proposed system that aims to simplify and modernize the registration of trade marks in Portuguese speaking countries.


In attendance were all 8 representatives of national institutions in charge of the trade mark registrations i.e. Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe ,and East Timor. The plan is to “intensify trade relations, promote modernization and strengthen the exchange of experiences and information between citizens, institutions and companies operating in the Portuguese-speaking countries.” The representatives signed a declaration reaffirming their commitment to the implementation of Lusófona.


I wonder whether the mark ‘Lusófona’ is to be registered, and if so, will it have opposition from the group Lusófona? This international group administers universities and colleges in some of the Portuguese speaking areas. Moreover, looking at the dictionary we understand that the word means "of the Portuguese language" or "Portuguese-speaking”; thus, it will lack of distinctiveness. But I guess I am outside the box and we should concentrate on the system as such and the aim of it – for now.

Source INPI.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Are you in London on 10th April? African Creative Industries Investment Summit (ACIIS)


Type 'fastest growing economies' in any search engine and you will find a list which includes, at least, two African countries. Aside from this growth trend, many are now becoming aware of the creative sectors across Africa as its economies seek to diversify. Thanks to digital technology and new business models, the evolution is rapid.

It is a momentous task to squeeze these sectors, in various parts of Africa, into a blog post but this Leo would attempt to paint a picture - one which many would see as focused on a few countries (so it seems, says Afro Leo). 


Internationally, there is now a recognition of the potentials within the creative sectors of certain African countries: Nigeria and its entertainment sector arguably stands out. But generally speaking across Africa, these sectors are growing: advertising (also see here); contemporary artsfashion (also see here and here); digital technology (also see here, here here); publishing (lifestyle publishing has grown tremendously across Africa; just search online for 'lifestyle magazines in Africa' and see the results); media and entertainment (film also see various African film festivals, gaming,  animation, and music). 


Some of these sectors support each other; for example, the entertainment sector sustains other sub-sectors such as lifestyle publishing and global brands are pouncing on celebrity branding opportunities across Africa. Also, with digital technology to hand, we have seen the rise of e-publishing across Africa with blogs such as Linka IkejiBella Naija, and Ameyaw Debrah.(Afro Leo can see that these blogs all have enviable readership and advertising prowess and amazed to see more bloggers advertised here - just in one country). The legal services sector is also a winner too: the players within these sectors (e.g. entertainment) will require their creativity, reputation and hard work to be protected and commercialised. 


This Leo's faint knowledge of recent export of African creativity, at least to the UK, include: (a) this lovely Kellogg's TV advert, created by the London ad agency, Leo Burnett, which synchronised "Rain Rain Beautiful Rain" by South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo; (b)  D'banj's Oliver Twist song making its way into the British television soap opera, EastEnders; (c) Africa Express (and here); and (d) 'Tango with Me', a Nollywood movie screened at the Odeon cinema. Further, the stage musical, Fela!, based on the legendary African artist in the United States of America and the UK and the rise of TV format programming across the African continent are also encouraging signs of commercialisation going both ways. 

Nonetheless, there is still some way to go for these sectors to realise their full potential and contribute more to the growth figures in their respective economies. Sound distribution infrastructure, more private and public investment, conducive legal and regulatory framework such as an efficient ntellectual property rights regime (including an effective collecting society), and wider research into some of these sectors appear imperative.


The high growth creative sectors will continue to help rebrand the continent's image globally, diversify economies and create much-needed employment. This was the inspiration for the upcoming event staged by Amoo Venture Capital Advisory  (Amoo) in London on 10th of April 2013 which is titled, ' Business models and investment in Africa's creative industries'. 

So, why this post and why bother you with this event? Well, the event is this Leo's brainchild during his stint at Amoo (where he learned a thing or two about the world of venture capital and technology start-ups). As a result, Afro-IP is delighted to have secured the discount code, AFROIPACIIS, for readers who might be interested and available to attend. To purchase a ticket with the code, please visit www.aciis2013.eventbrite.com.


For further information including on speaking opportunities, partnership and/or sponsorship, please send an email to Sandy Sah sandy@place4brics.com or Nzube Ufodike nzube@amoo.co.uk or call +44 (0) 78 3014 3489.

Click here for the press release for ACIIS.
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South African government's creative industries development framework, see here
Ghana to build a massive IT hub, see here Nigerian government to invest in Nollywood, see here, here, here and here
The growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry and piracy, see here
Firms invest N500m each year on Nigerian celebrity brands, see here 
Ghana to boost creative arts sector with the launch of music week festival, see here
Algerian film hits top spot at Pan-Africa film festival, see here
Various Pan-African film festivals see here, here , here and here 
IBM's plan for Kenya's creative industries, see here
South Africa's answer to Disney, see here, here and for funding animation in South Africa, see here
See global brands landing in Nigeria here

A review of African official IP websites: no. 35: Mozambique

Last year we were pleased to find a live and useful website for the intellectual property (IP) office in  Mozambique. It was better than seeing nothing at all. On review, this Leo noticed that the website is actually kept up-to-date with relevant news and events. 

Readers may want to note that the current DG of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando Dos Santos, was once the Registrar at Mozambique's IP office (It seems to Afro Leo that Mr. Dos Santos values digital technology and the dissemination of information wherever he goes - if he was the one who brought about ARIPO's face-lift. In any case, with more resources at his disposal, Afro Leo can foresee what Mr Dos Santos may well do to turn ARIPO into a 21st century IP registry)

Afro Leo would be pleased to know if Mr Dos Santos is still (as advertised by WIPO) the Registrar of the Mozambique Industrial Property Institute (IPI).

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For Mozambique's 2008 - 2018 IP strategy, see here

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Africa IP - what would you like to know?

Over on the INTA 2013 Meeting Linkedin Group there is a discussion "Africa: what do you want to know?" calling for your questions on the most common Africa IP concerns? This year the regional update is moderated by the experienced Adams & Adams' Simon Brown and yours truly is in the dock, hoping to make it as relevant as possible.

Several years ago, the Africa session was scrapped from the agenda. With your help and some exposure on this blog, we got it re-inserted and it is now in a more favourable time slot. Please attend, question and heckle. But most importantly, please take a few seconds to ask your questions on the Linkedin Group or send us an email here.


RT50 Regional Update: Africa - Tuesday 15h30 - 16h45
Intermediate Level
Over the past 10 years, Africa has experienced rapid and significant development, on both economic and legislative fronts, but challenges still remain.  Panelists will discuss issues of importance such as the development of various IP laws, the organization of IP Offices, Madrid Protocol and developments in case law, as well as counterfeiting, enforcement and brand protection issues in Africa.

Moderator:
Simon Brown, Adams & Adams (South Africa)

Speakers:
William I. Maema, Iseme, Kamau & Maema Advocates (Kenya)
Uche Nwokocha, Aluko & Oyebode (Nigeria)
Darren Olivier, Adams & Adams (South Africa)

Africa IP Forum 2013 - Reflections - Denise Nicholson

Denise

Afro-IP continues its coverage of the inaugural Africa IP Forum with a guest post from Denise Nicholson who are argues, using research, that copyright impedes access to information and also that RSA's laws need an urgent update to comply with developments in the digital age. Do you agree with her? For previous posts on the Forum click here, here and here.

Overview of Plenary 3 Session Paper by Denise R. Nicholson, Copyright Services Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and member of the IFLA TLIB Workgroup.

The title of this paper was Bridging the knowledge gap in Africa: Role of Copyright Exceptions and Limitations” and the panel members were Mr. Simphiwe Ncwana, Director, DTI, and Ms. Lucy Mahlangu, Department of Arts & Culture.

My paper discussed the importance of copyright exceptions and limitations in the context of developing countries and in the digital era.  By way of introduction, I discussed the ‘Knowledge Hierarchy’ and how knowledge is analogous to a coral reef system.  Each coral attaches itself to another and develops into something bigger and different, yet maintaining parts of its original makeup. Similarly, knowledge grows by the inclusion of many other sources, resulting in the creation of something new and different, yet still maintaining links with its original sources.  In essence, no work is totally original, yet the copyright system gives authors and creators a statutory monopoly over each piece of work along the knowledge chain, even though it may include extracts from other copyright sources or from the public domain.  I suggested that “were rights owners to have total control over their works, information would be ‘locked up’ and totally inaccessible to others, making the goals of copyright intangible”.  I stressed that authors and creators themselves need a rich and vibrant public domain to inspire innovation and new creations.  Researchers and scholarly authors rely on the public domain as a building block to the creation of new knowledge; education is promoted through a spread of ideas and information; access to cultural heritage is enabled through symphonies, ancient texts, amongst others ...[1]

I discussed the international trend in copyright and how it is shrinking the public domain, restricting access to knowledge and strengthening protection, particularly in the digital arena.  International treaties, EU directives and national laws have eroded information users’ rights, swinging the pendulum too far in favour of rights owners.  Restrictive copyright laws are hampering resource sharing of libraries, and negatively affecting access for research purposes and for persons with sensory-disabilities, as well as education and training in African countries.  I stressed that a balance is necessary between the rights of authors/creators and the rights of users of information.  This is achievable by adopting appropriate limitations and exceptions to the exclusive rights of authors/creators.

In a nutshell, I presented the research findings of the African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project (2007-11), conducted in 8 African countries, including South Africa.  These findings show that the stronger the copyright laws, the higher the levels of non-compliance in these countries. The research shows that access is primarily obtained through copyright infringing activities rather than through copyright law.  This is neither appropriate nor sustainable which indicates that the ‘disconnect’ between copyright laws and practical realities in the study countries must be narrowed in order to sustain or build respect for the concept of copyright.  The research suggests that softening copyright law by increasing flexibilities, such as limitations and exceptions, will more closely align laws and practices. This will bring stakeholders whose behaviours currently fall outside the copyright licensing, administrative and enforcement frameworks, into constructive engages with rightsholders.[2]

Limitations and exceptions are not just a ‘wish list’ for information users. They are very necessary and are indeed grounded in several international IP agreements, as well as promoted in many IP policy documents, projects, initiatives and research reports.  WIPO Studies on Limitations and Exceptions also provide excellent examples of the use of limitations and exceptions, mainly in developed countries, as well as the shortfalls in the system for most developing countries.

As a qualified librarian and a member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)’s Workgroup on the Treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives (TLIB) at WIPO, I focused my last few slides on libraries and archives. In response to a rather naïve objection to the focus on libraries from a delegate in the audience, I explained that no one can create new works or advance knowledge without accessing a library at some stage.  Libraries play a crucial role in providing access to information and in the dissemination of knowledge.  Authors, creators, publishers, educators, researchers, doctors, lawyers, IP practitioners, engineers and others all need information from libraries to do their work.   I explained the genesis and progress of the TLIB at WIPO and the hope that it will provide minimum exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives around the world, at the same time recognizing the rights of authors.

My concluding recommendations were that South Africa should do some serious introspection about the state of its national copyright law which dates back to 1978. The IP Policy addressing a developing country in the digital age has been on the agenda of the DTI for more than a decade and needs to be published urgently.   I pointed out that there is no shortage of empirical evidence, research papers and other documentation to assist the Department of Industry in amending the Copyright Act and its Regulations appropriately.  I reminded the DTI and audience of the lobby efforts by the educational and library sectors, going back to 1998 and 2000, when they successfully challenged more restrictive proposals to amend the Regulations (1998) and the Act (2000).Since then, they have been campaigning for more balanced copyright laws, but without success. 

South Africa strongly supports the WIPO Development Agenda and the Africa Group’s Treaty for the visually impaired, for educational and research institutions and libraries and archives at WIPO, so why is it not doing anything to change its copyright laws back home? 


This article is the personal view of the author, Denise Rosemary Nicholson and does not purport to be the view/opinion of her institution or any other organisation or individual.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bio-technology developments in Uganda: Should we be jubilating?


Tony Kakooza reports on the new Biotech Bill in Uganda and questions its viability for local farmers:

"There is a new Bill in Uganda called the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill that is soon to be discussed in Parliament. The hope is that this Bill, when enacted, will offer guidance in the production of genetically modified crops in Uganda. However, there are mixed concerns over this Bill. Regardless of the fact that the Bill was drafted eight years ago and has undergone various changes, it’s having been introduced into Parliament as a Private members Bill is enough to show that consultations and research on the Bill were not adequate enough. Some view it as an Intellectual property development with on-going R&D in the patenting of life forms and experiments on plant variety. Proponents of the Bill also argue that it is an international requirement for all countries carrying out research on genetically modified organisms to have a regulation in place to guide the practice.

Others are more skeptical and are concerned about the impact this may have on food security and the nature of the relationship amongst Farmers’ co-operative societies – not to mention the health concerns upon consumers of genetically modified crops. In the United States, for instance, there are a number of petitions going around (In States such as Illinois) with demands that producers of genetically modified foods should label them as such to enable consumers exercise a better purchasing option. These petitions are mainly derived from fears over the health-associated risks. The Ugandan Daily Monitor newspaper also reports about the detrimental effect that some genetically engineered products have on farm crops and on soil fertility (See: Ugandan farmers do not need GMOs, By Vivian Asedri – March 1, 2013).

Uganda is generally well endowed with fertile soils and good weather conditions for farming. Nonetheless, there is a lot of rhetoric where genetically modified crops are involved: Rather than push for modification and boosting agricultural production through biotechnological means, wouldn’t farmers be served better through improvements in the transportation system; a supply of fertilizers; and, better farming material? Ugandan Farmers also face bad seasons and poor productions every year. Don’t we therefore envisage cases of unfair competition where farmers with genetically modified products will out-compete organic products in the market? Will consumers be able to tell the difference between these products? 

Looking at this issue in context, biotechnology sprung up from developed economies that are more industrial than agro-based. The likes of U.S big companies, such as Monsato, derive their commercial benefits on the Constitutional mandate to “promote the progress of Science . . . by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”. It is all purely business to them and the patenting system supports this. Developing countries like Uganda on the other hand are - to a great extent - Agro-based, with a large part of the population depending on subsistence farming. As such, bringing in biotechnological developments in their back yards is likely to ultimately destroy their means of survival."

A review of African official IP websites: no. 34: Morocco

This Leo is delighted to report that Morocco has immensely improved on what we saw last year with a refreshed website incorporating a searchable database for its intellectual property office. Have a look here.




Around the web for Africa IP-related news
Kenya: The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has been kept busy with its lobbying efforts to curb counterfeits in the country. This Leo has learned that, among other issues, KAM urges manufacturers to obtain registered IP rights for their products from the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) so as to help in the fight against counterfeits. (Brilliant advert for KIPI and IP practitioners in Kenya, says Afro Leo). 

The same KAM is mentioned in this article which reports on a proposal by the Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency to introduce a 15-year prison sentence for IP infringement in the Anti-Counterfeit Act No.13 of 2008. (Afro Leo cordially invites his Kenyan friends to enlighten us further on this news)

WIPO HomeWIPO makes life a whole lot easier: Conducting due diligence on that client's proposed mark? Why not try WIPO’s Global Brand Database  - now with over 10 Million trade marks after the addition of data collections from countries including: Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. This Leo is not surprised because these three African countries all have their houses in order (i.e. online presence) as we have seen in our review since July 2012. (Afro Leo wants to know what can be done about those African countries, with significant economic potentials, who are yet to get their IP offices online and/or equipped with a searchable database.)


Egypt: If you happen to be in Egypt on the 23rd - 24th of March 2013 and have an interest in the publishing industry, you may want to attend the Second Arab Publishers’ Conference in Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt. The theme of the conference is 'Knowledge Enablement & The Challenges Facing Arab Publishing' and as you rightly guessed, IP issues will be discussed. For more details and how to register, see here