After a long time since we've heard concrete news about PAIPO, this Leo learnt this morning via Prof Yousuf Vadwa that ARIPO and OAPI held a consultative meeting in Harare last week, following which they released a communique on the establishment of PAIPO (available in full here).
The meeting attendees are pictured on the left. They were:
(i) Honourable (Retired) Major General Kahinda Otafiire, who is the Chairman of Council of Ministers of ARIPO and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of Uganda;
(ii) Honourable Anacleto Olo Mibuy, who is the President of the Administrative Council of OAPI and President of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Equatorial Guinea;
(iii) Honourable Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Zimbabwe;
(iv) Honourable Fortune Chasi, who is the Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairsof Zimbabwe;
(v) Dr. G. Gandawa, who is the Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, Higher and Tertiary Education of Zimbabwe;
(vi) Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, who is the Chairman of the Administrative Council of ARIPO and Registrar General, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB);
(vii) Mr. Fernando Dos Santos, who is the Director General of ARIPO; and
(viii) Dr. Paulin Edou Edou, who is the Director General of OAPI.
The meeting addressed the following requests to the AU (verbatim text of the communique in blue] :
(a) to convene the Stakeholders Meeting as a matter of urgency to enable the participation of all stakeholders including ARIPO, OAPI and WIPO, [this resonates with various calls for a more transparent and inclusive approach to discussing PAIPO] and
(b) for the Ministries/competent authorities responsible for IP to play a leading role in the process of establishing PAIPO [to date PAIPO has been the province of ministers of Science and Technology] .
The communiques also highlights the following issues, as being amongst those that must be discusses at the Stakeholders Meeting:
a) development of a roadmap for the implementation of the decisions of the Heads of State and Government on the establishment of PAIPO; [this Leo has found that the lack of detail surrounding the establishment of PAIPO very frustrating as it makes it difficult to engage with the process and to make contributions]
b) review of the Final Draft Statute of PAIPO [a number of concerns have been raised about the wording of the statute and its review is essential] .
Finally, the communique ends with the following recommendations:
i.That Ministers responsible for IP in the various African countries should form the political organ that will provide political and policy orientation to PAIPO and oversee the gradual and systematic implementation of the decisions taken by the Heads of State and Government regarding the implementation of PAIPO [what would be the role of Ministers for Science and Technology, this Leo asks? Not to mention Trade & Industry and Arts & Culture?].
ii.In view of the fact that ARIPO and OAPI have gained enormous experience in the registration and granting of industrial property titles, the Heads of State and Government should create a unit [with OAPI and ARIPO representation and/or leadership?] within the African Union Commission whose mandate should be policy and political direction and orientation on intellectual property matters for Africa.
iii.That unit should also oversee and coordinate the harmonization process between ARIPO and OAPI [this harmonisation process is one to watch. What will it entail?] .
iv.That since both Organizations have a total of 35 member states out of 54 African countries, a united African Intellectual Property Office could emanate from the amalgamation of both Organizations [confirmation of the merger rumours?].
v.The joint committee recommended that ARIPO and OAPI should continue to be the two organizations to register IP in Africa.
vi.That the Heads of State and Government should be sensitized on the role ARIPO and OAPI play in the management and coordination of IP in Africa.
Certainly lots of food for thought for this Leo and Afro-IP readers! further thoughts or comments, anyone?