Friday 20 October 2017

Darren Olivier

Reflections on the Crammer(TM)

The Glove Initiative
Yesterday I MCed the annual Adams & Adams Crammer event. This event aims to digest a year's worth of IP and commercial legal developments into a single morning through a series of short sharp presentations. It was held at the Radisson in Sandton, part of Africa's richest business square mile. Almost 200 people attended the event, including Afro-IP.

This event showcases a number of the Adams & Adams lawyer's expertise in their respective fields as well as select key note speakers as they bid to keep things short, to the point and relevant. As Mark Twain said "I did not have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead" rings true for punchy presentations, requiring significantly more work to get right. 

I will leave my colleague to write more about the content of this event in a later post. I just wanted to highlight two aspects. 

Michael Charton's My Father's Coat, and the need to be responsible

Guest speaker and renown storyteller Michael Charton provided a moving rendition of his very popular story on the history of South Africa through the eyes of five great men. It is a story so relevant for contemporary South Africa, encapsulating the trauma of our past in an inspiring insight of what unites and divides our country. It brought many to tears and I was speechless at the end, which is not what you want if you are the MC!

The relevance of the talk to IP was what I wanted to reflect on. Yes, the idea of digesting South Africa's rich tapestry of cultures and history into a short talk is a fit for a Crammer event but it is also the responsibility that comes from monopoly power that is evident throughout, not unlike responsibility in an IP right.

Michael draws on stories about Rhodes' dream of extending British power from Cape to Cairo (in a map that looked quite similar to an ARIPO registration), the VOC (which he described as arguably the world's first commercial brand), and Smuts' remarkable international stature and unique respect for his rival Ghandi to convey his tale of sometimes noble intentions that often lead to untold misery and suffering. 

These few stories (and there were more) illustrate that with power and control comes great responsibility. This is no different from say, having a patent over a life saving drug or a trade mark right and knowledge of counterfeiting that involves drug smuggling or dangerous spare parts, or a firm that has market share and the power to employ, yet has a culture of discrimination or poor corporate governance. As Michael's tale so aptly reflects - history will judge you, not on your bottom line or material wealth but your ability to be to be responsible. You may not realise that when you register or audit your IP. 

The Glove Initiative(TM) 

George Scola also attended the event yesterday. George was a national basketball player and is a genuine all round nice guy. He lead a normal, if not enviable, life until one day in his 30s he was struck down with a stroke. The moment he became disabled is encapsulated by him in this clip here. Today he spends his life dedicated to promoting awareness of stroke. He founded South Africa's Stoke Survivor Foundation and is a Director of World Stroke Organisation.

Despite these grand titles, his noble cause and his warm personality, George has significant challenges. He is still suffering from his disability which creates a real challenge to getting around, concentrating for long periods and pursuing the cause. Coupled with that he has an annual budget that does not even reach R40k (less than $3000) and he is competing with causes in South Africa, like Aids, TB and others that get far more awareness, in a society where none of them get enough.

October is stroke awareness month and George has come up with The Glove Initiative to promote his work. This involves placing a turquoise medical glove on one's hand as a reminder not to use it, for a period of time. It will give the person some idea of what it is like to suffer the effects of a debilitating stroke. As those at the Crammer event will have understood; just trying to pin a name badge with one hand is well nigh, impossible. 

“There is urgent need for a campaign like this,” notes George Scola, “as so many misconceptions surround stroke. Some communities still believe stroke is evidence of witchcraft. Others wrongly believe women are immune.” “Awareness is low and information sparse. This must change.”

I would like to encourage everyone to support this initiative. You can do so by simply following  them on twitter @strokesurvivors or the Facebook page Pick up a glove, that is all you need to do but if you want to donate, that would really be appreciated.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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