Sunday, 25 January 2015

IP and Legacy Projects - Indians Can't Fly and others

The world of IP is fascinating because it is omnipresent. Whether it is your coffee in the morning, your transport to work, the phone you communicate with, the doctor’s prescription, your daily work or read, there are intellectual property rights, obligations and issues that affect them. Working with IP can therefore expose you to just about anything which is why I, like many others, enjoy it.

IP is also a useful analysis of trends. For example, IP filings stats are useful indicators of innovation, growth and economic well-being. A trade mark by J.K. Rowling could be the title of her next Harry Potter blockbuster and a patent filed or bought by a competitor, a strong indicator of their business strategy or maybe, a bluff. It is therefore relevant, interesting and potentially useful.

Over the past two years, I have noticed that the preservation, control and commercialisation of legacies has become a popular query in my day-to-day work. The focus on traditional knowledge is an example of this on a state level and the tension over the Mandela legacy illustrate it on a private level. There are many others. Africa is also slowly starting to understand its own value and IP has a part to play in the nurturing it. WIPO call it IP for developmental countries or economies in transition.

Moreover, in places like South Africa there is a growing need to preserve a recent past so that it is never forgotten. This is because of the importance of the time period and the struggle, the passing of time and all that goes with it and concerns over moral values in the country. Again IP has role to play and this is partly how I met Imtiaz Cajee, the author of “Timol A Quest for Justice” the story of Ahmed Timol (Imtiaz’s uncle) a 29-year-old Roodepoort teacher and anti-apartheid activist who “fell” from the 10th Floor of the security police building in Johannesburg in 1971, the year that I was born. The actual events that caused his death are still a mystery.

The interaction with Imtiaz and others has lead me to the State Archives to read previously secret documents of surveillance (those that evaded destruction) by the Security Police in South Africa in the 70s and 80s. It’s like reading a spy novel, only the events are devastatingly true and clinically captured. So it is with some anticipation that I await the debut screening of Indians Can’t Fly  which is described as an important milestone in preserving his legacy.

From a legal perspective, legacy projects typically require the following consideration:
·         IP protection – mainly trade marks and copyright
·         Legacy legislation such as heritage, archive, heraldry or traditional knowledge laws
·         International agreements eg those that protect national symbols or places of geographic significance
·         Ownership vehicles, structuring and licensing
·         Image, format, personal or constitutional rights to the extent that they may be relevant

·         Vigilance and public relations

If you are reading this on the blog you can wait for the documentary trailor to download below or you can click here.


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