The ‘Africa IP Forum’: Doomed to Fail?

It’s now official: the proposed Africa IP Forum planned to take place in Cape Town, South Africa 3-5 April 2012 has been postponed. The US Commerce Department, on it’s website, made the announcement as follows:

“The African Intellectual Property Forum, originally slated for April 3-5, 2012 in Cape Town, will be rescheduled. Organizers are committed to ensuring that all stakeholders – in government, private business, the arts and the development community – are represented and engaged in the conference organization and agenda.”

Certainly we all saw this coming, especially after the huge uproar by NGOs and other interested parties worldwide as witnessed here.

In a poll conducted by afroIP between 15th – 22nd February 2012, respondents were asked: “is the africa ip summit short a development dimension?” and the majority number responded that the agenda of the Africa IP Forum needs to be greatly improved.

Today’s article on Techdirt minces no words in it’s condemnation of the proposed forum:

“An absolutely ridiculous “Africa IP Forum” that was being organized by WIPO and the US Department of Commerce, where it appeared the entire event was around forcing extreme IP enforcement on Africa, despite plenty of evidence that developing nations, such as most of those in Africa, are hurt by such enforcement. The whole schedule was one-sided with speakers who mainly supported extreme enforcement over looking for the most reasonable overall solutions for different economies.”

Post-mortem?

Here are some reactions to the news of the postponement of the Forum as gathered from the twitterverse:

“WIPO was co-organiser of the high-profile Africa IP Forum, now postponed. Beginning of the end of WIPO IP maximalist national progammes?” – @graysouth.

“After criticism, WIPO/USPTO Africa IP forum (co-sponsored with Pfizer, Microsoft, etc) now to be postponed, program revised. Will event still be cosponsored by Pfizer, Microsoft?” – @jamie_love.

“This is the year of IP revolutions! SOPA was held back, ACTA is under referral at the ECJ and Africa told WIPO to balance its IP Summit!” – @ThatAkinyi.

IPKenya welcomes the decision to postpone the Forum which it is hoped will allow for proper representation and engagement in coming up with the Summit’s organization and agenda.

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