This is the third annual AAANM. It is not normally covered by this blog because it is an internal meeting of Adams & Adams’ network of agents across Africa. With permission and because the meeting has evolved, I now blog on this rare and perhaps even unique occasion that gets people from across Africa networking and speaking on African IP issues.
The meeting, chaired by Simon Brown and arranged by Menzi Maboyi, is held over two days. The first day (yesterday) brings together thoughts, ideas and updates from the various regions and countries in Africa. The full agenda and list of speakers can be obtained here and here. This is a short summary of some of the interesting aspects that came out of the meeting. You can gain some other insights through those that tweeted. Look out for @AfroIP, @AdamsAdamsLaw, @DarrenTOlivier, @LitaQamata and @BrendaMatanga.
John Kani, a well known African playwright, director and author, kicked off proceedings with a rousing call to action for Africans to stand up and be counted, and for those in the audience to direct their thoughts into ensuring that intellectual property preserves the cultural heritage of Africa. There were a number of impressive aspects of John’s address. Notable for me was that it addressed all African countries, ethnicities, cultures, colours, races, genders, religions, political aversions as one – this is where we stand, this is what is happening … now do something. And, use IP to help us. Far from the usual divisive bickering and anti-IP rhetoric that is so depressing. His address thoroughly deserved its standing ovation.
Break-out sessions followed. For obvious reasons I can only comment on the one I moderated which was on GIs, effectively served up on a plate by the keynote speaker. If there is one current form of IP in use that is particularly framed to, amongst others, preserve heritage, it would be GIs. Dr Saudin Mwajake (Tanzania) and Chris Kiige (ARIPO) delivered excellent mini presentations to start conversations (reps from Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe) aimed at educating about GIs, analysing motivators (which are more than cultural heritage), the different models, the challenges and the disputes. An hour crunched in no time at all.
The annual case law review was articulately delivered by Lita Miti-Qamata. Readers may recall her from #SandtonDiscussion fame and her half hour session covered cases in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. Her final slide summed it up:
Stephen Hollis and Gregory Sadyalunda took to the stage on WIPO’s efforts to automate Africa’s Registries. By 2015 WIPO had successfully helped automate Registries in 22 countries in Africa. Highlighting some of the challenges to future automation, Gregory noted Social and Culture barriers as the most significant – “linguistic barriers, lack of service orientation, lack of awareness, lack of external pressure, lack of popularity for e-commerce and online services in general”. Stephen focussed on the availability searches through IPAS warning to pay attention to the search algorithms for more accurate results.
Part 2 covers Registry and Regional Updates.