Monday, 20 June 2016

What would BREXIT likely mean for IP in Africa?

On a limb .. pondering Brexit
Britain ranks very high on the trading partner lists of most African countries (especially Commonwealth influenced countries) as does the EU so how could a Brexit affect the continent from an IP perspective? A few thoughts.
  • The uncertainty caused by an exit is estimated to result in bureaucratic constipation and a slowing of trade as new agreements are forged between the EU and Britain, and Britain and the rest of its trading partners. This will not be good for African exports, possibly raising costs or restricting the market.
  • An expected initial depreciation of the pound will not be good for export prices but may increase demand and would likely decrease the cost of expensive British imports. The result could see a Africa becoming a greater market for more British brands resulting in more IP filings, and at the same time reducing the profit gap for potential counterfeiters or perhaps opening a counterfeit market for more goods.
  • It would become more expensive to trade with Europe (including Britain) from an IP perspective because ultimately Africa would need to treat them as two different national areas and hence add additional cost eg to protective filings or additional regulatory requirements such as customs recordals or regulatory mandates.
  • Europe trade agreements with Africa would need to be reconsidered and renegotiated with Britain. This would also raise cost and uncertainty. For example, trade agreements that give reciprocal protection for IP eg geographical indications within Europe would likely take time to renegotiate with Britain resulting in higher IP filings in the UK to obtain the additional protection.
  • The influence of the UK courts would also like increase again. For many years prior to Britain forming part of the EU common market these court decisions were highly influential in Africa but eventually gave way to European interpretation (though they are still highly influential). A Brexit would give the UK courts more freedom and African jurisdictions would either find themselves gravitating to them or away. Both options would create more uncertainty for interpretation of IP laws within Africa where there is still a dearth of jurisprudence.
  • Britain is the home of many African businesses wanting to trade in Europe. This would begin to change, resulting in new know how transfer exchanges between Africa and Europe.For example, Africans with British passports may now be restricted to work in Britain whilst businesses may be incentivised to relocate employees (including  Africans) to work in other parts of Europe.
  • The nationalistic fervour that seems to be making the polls as tight as as they currently are would, it seem (possibly as self justification even), perpetuate into  policy decisions and possibly law possibly making it far more difficult to trade freely with Britain or to live there. This could have an effect on everyone seeking a career opportunity including African sport stars. The transfer of knowhow would be affected.

1 comment:

Ann Dark said...

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