African intellectual property law, practice and policies. This weblog provides news, information and comment on IP law, practice and business deals right across Africa. Ce blog propose des actualités, informations, et commentaires sur la législation et la pratique en matière de propriété intellectuelle et de droit des contrats d'affaires en Afrique. For some insight into the origins of this blog click here.
Friday, 1 August 2014
Should we consider Western Sahara in IP discourse or practice?
What can one learn via Twitter? Well, sometimes you can learn about the meal your follower is about to have, or more importantly, a thing or two about geopolitics on the African continent. This Leo has been musing on the latter for quite some time.
According to Africa
Check, “...there are 55 states that are internationally recognised and members
of either the AU or the UN or both. Fifty-three of these belong to both the AU
and UN lists. Morocco is not part of the AU but is a member of the UN. The Saharan
Arab Democratic Republic is part of
Skimming through the basic web information found, the widely held view is that Morocco claims and exercises sovereignty or jurisdiction (here
over a substantial part of this territory. To see what some say, click here.
For the sake of TRIPS, this Leo discovered that Western Sahara isn't a WTO member. He understands that a state or customs territory needs to have 'full autonomy' over its trade policies to be considered for membership.
According to Smit & Van Wyk, the administration or adjudication of IP rights covering this territory is handled by Morocco's IP office or court, respectively. Other firms such as Adams & Adams and Hahn & Hahn Inc also tell us that prior to December 2004, Morocco had more than one zone which meant that separate IP applications had to be made to cover the entire Kingdom.
Going by the AU, one could be forgiven for thinking that Western Sahara is a separate territory to consider for IP protection. This Leo couldn't find any current and credible information to prove, or even suggest, that Western Sahara has its own IP regime. Rather, the finding is that IP rights granted by (or designating) Morocco covers all territories or regions to which it claims jurisdiction or sovereignty over.
Till September, enjoy the weekend and school holidays.
------------------ Further reading ------------------
UK Government’s advice on business risks in Morocco
(including Western Sahara) is here
For a historical context of Western Sahara, see here
For the split within the EU Parliament over Morocco-EU trade deal, is here,
Some UK Parliamentarians not happy over EU's trade deal
with Morocco here