Friday 20 November 2015

Caroline B Ncube

African IP in November

We are only three weeks into November, but what a month it has been for IP. It began with an 'IP for an Emerging Africa' three-day conference held on November 3 – 5, 2015 in Dakar, Senegal (see Kingsley's post here and the WIPO conference page here which includes the program and technical documents). As noted by Darren (here) WIPO published a special edition of its magazine, with a focus on Africa, to coincide with the conference. Nicola Searle commented on the conference on the IPKat blog ('African Ministerial Conference in IP: The Dakar Rally' and 'Talk Talk Fashion Baby').  The twittersphere was also abuzz with commentary, some of which is curated under  the hashtag #AfricaInnovates.  There was a clear call for the conference to embrace a developmental approach to IP in close alignment with WIPO's Development Agenda. (see Ahmed Abdel-Latif , Dick Kawooya, Chidi Oguamanam 'WIPO African ministerial should embrace a pro-competitive and pro-development IP vision'). No doubt further commentary will soon be published on how the conference unfolded and whether or not it lived up to this call. WIPO's own summation of the conference and its significance and outcomes is available as a four-minute video-clip on YouTube here.

A key conference theme was innovation. The relationship between IP and innovation is one worthy of sustained study and has significant implications for how IP is regulated on the continent. It was the focus of a recently completed  research project by the Open African Innovation Research network (Open AIR).  The network has recently released a call for African case studies for a further stage of its work that will seek to shed light on the following two overarching research questions:

  1. How can open collaborative innovation help businesses scale up and seize the new opportunities of a global knowledge economy?
  2. Which knowledge governance systems will best ensure that the social and economic benefits of innovation are shared inclusively across society as a whole?
Proposals (submitted on this template) will be accepted through to 10 December 2015. It is hoped that this further research will be useful for African governments, IP policy-makers and entrepreneurs. (Disclosure: the author of this post is a member of the OpenAIR network).

Another major development this month was the WTO TRIPS Council recommendation to extend the LDC pharmaceutical patents waiver to 2033 (see the WTO's press release here and an IPWatch report here). This recommendation is expected to be endorsed by the General Council when it meets later this month. 

Caroline B Ncube

Caroline B Ncube

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)