Sunday, 6 July 2014

Afro-IP news bulletin: Granted patents in South Africa, calls for IP review in Nigeria etc

(1) Pluristem holds two patents in South Africa
First, via MarketWatch, Afro-IP understands that Pluristem Therapeutics Inc, a leading developer of placenta-based cell therapies, has received Patent No. 261087 from India's Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks for a patent titled, "Methods for Cell Expansion and Conditioned Media Produced Thereby for Therapy." 

The report states that the patent covers the company's key technology platform; its method for 3-dimensional expansion of placental and adipose (fat) derived cells, and the composition of cells derived using this method. 

The second patent, as reported by WSJ, covers methods for treating ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease using placenta-derived cells. [Afro-IP is not sure if both patents are related

(2) Firma Holdings Corp and CollPlant also hold South African patents
Staying with South Africa is the news that Tara Minerals (now known as Firma Holdings Corp) have acquired a number of “…patents, trademarks and other intellectual property in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Japan, and Chile regarding systems and methods for packaging of bulk quantities of fresh produce and flowers incorporating modified atmosphere packaging. The acquisition also includes pending applications throughout the world regarding the active treatment of modified atmosphere packaging.”

CollPlant's patent is said to cover the processing methods for human collagen from plants.

Well, we already know that South Africa currently flies the flag for the continent in the area of IP. Hopefully, this is a good sign for more foreign direct investment.

(3) A call for IP law review in Nigeria, among others
The Vanguard Nigeria recaps on last month’s conference on ICT development in Nigeria which featured stakeholders such as NOTAP, EFCC [this anti-graft agency is getting more involved in IP enforcement work than ever before] and ISPON

In summary, representatives of these organisations, particularly NOTAP, spoke about the need to: (a) review Nigeria’s colonial trade mark and patent laws; (b) revamp the IP offices; (c) foster knowledge transfer between industry and universities, and (d) reduce Nigeria’s dependency on foreign IP. Obviously, a conference like this one won’t be complete without addressing or emphasising the importance of IP protection and enforcement. [Afro-IP commends the work of NOTAP, under the leadership of Engr. Umar Buba Bindir

This Leo assumes that the relevant government ministries or agencies are also reaching out to experts like Professor Adewopo.

(4) Hotels warned on payment of royalties
Nigeria's collecting society, COSON, talks tough to get hotels to pay up, according to This Day Live. [Afro Leo can imagine how extremely difficult it is for COSON to identify business premises without appropriate music licences across the vast 36 States of Nigeria. Equally, he understands how business owners might be worried about potentially handing over hard-earned money to the wrong outfit] Lessons from other developing nations (also here, here and here) or even developed ones, will indeed help COSON deliver for copyright owners.

(5) The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) publishes the 12th edition of the IP Roadmap

Last but not least, trust the ICC to have their finger on the pulse of global innovation and IP issues (previously noted by Afro-IP here). Its “popular” IP report, targeting policymakers and business leaders worldwide, is out! The accompanying press release states: “…Containing contributions from experts around the world, the report has this year been restructured to better reflect the way businesses consider intellectual property (IP) as an asset that can be used to create value for their companies, for consumers and for society as a whole. Each section explains the background and the current landscape as well as provides perspectives for the future.” 

2 comments:

Isaac said...

Great article Kingsley! Just a few point for me to make.
You say "South Africa currently flies the flag for the continent in the area of IP". This is probably true but note the following:
1. The news item says Tara Minerals has patents in many countries including South Africa, and such patents are directed to flower packaging. I noticed that Kenya is not on that list, nor am I aware of any Kenyan issued patents to Tara Minerals (see the growing database of issued patents at www.cipit.org).
2. Data from 2004 (the latest I could find) shows that Kenya out-exports South Africa in cut flowers by an order of magnitude! So one would think that Tara Minerals should have sought patent protection in Kenya.
3. I know from experience that many foreign firms file in SA simply because a patent there is guaranteed, given the registration-style (as opposed to examination-style) system.
4. All the above notwithstanding, I completely agree with your conclusion that this may be a good sign of increased FDI.

Kingsley Egbuonu said...

Hi Isaac,

Thank you. I'm not aware if they have any in other countries save for those listed. However, I get/share your general sentiment.

The problem might be that some or a few of these companies (from outside the continent) prefer to just name South Africa (SA) - even where they've also got IPR coverage in others.

I think it's safe to say or for us to agree that most foreign companies still see SA as the hub; thus, mentioning SA in a global press release denotes a continental foothold for the company. It's similar to what Simon Anholt describes as "continental brand effect".

The sad thing is that this unfortunate state of play might be perpetuating the obscurity of others. However, some countries (e.g. China) are available to mop up those left behind.

At present, the continent has to live with this, and hope that SA will spread (or continue to spread) its "FDI hub for Africa" brand benefits through their own FDI into other African countries.

The last time I saw another African country included in a press release on IPR coverage was the World Moto Inc news, reported here last April (See http://afro-ip.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/world-moto-inc-looking-forward-to.html)

In that post, my point (and as you rightly said) was pretty much that World Moto Inc went to SA and Nigeria due to the deposit system. This may well be a good or bad thing depending on which side of the "IP administration regime fence" one sits on. We also know that there have been recent calls for SA to be like Kenya.

Currently, it would be very difficult to knock SA off its perch :-)