H.E. Amb. Dr. Stephen Ndungu Karau, Ambassador and Permanent Representative deposits the instruments of accession to the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention on behalf of the Republic of Kenya received by Dr. Francis Gurry Director-General World Intellectual Property Organization – April 11 2016 Geneva, Switzerland.
On May 11th 2016, the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention) of December 2, 1961, as revised on March 19, 1991 entered into force in Kenya. As readers know, Kenya was the first country in Africa to join Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales (UPOV) when it became a member on May 13th 1999 and subsequently domesticated the 1961 Act of the UPOV Convention in the Kenya Seed and Plant Varieties Act Cap 326.
Previously this blogger highlighted the recently adopted ARIPO Arusha Protocol and the draft SADC Protocol which are both modelled around UPOV 1991 standards. In this connection, the entering into force of UPOV 1991 in Kenya is a significant development for both plant breeders’ rights as well as farmers’ rights.
Last year, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) published a notice on its website stating that a group of unnamed persons calling themselves “Collectif des Conseils en propriété industrielle” were leading a public campaign opposing OAPI’s accession to the Madrid Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks. Recently, OAPI published two notices here and here informing the public that two OAPI Agents, Christian Djomga and Judith Fezeu Tchimmoe along with all other representatives from their firm, Cabinet Isis, have been provisionally suspended. In addition to several alleged violations of OAPI rules, OAPI claims that Djomga and Fezeu are involved in the Collectif’s campaign against OAPI joining Madrid.
Intellectual property (IP) observers will be keenly following this on-going matter between OAPI and the Collectif with at least three main questions in mind. Firstly, how will OAPI member states react to the Collectif’s campaign? Secondly, what will be the fate of the agents implicated in the Collectif and it’s campaign? Thirdly, how will the outcome from this saga between the Collectif and OAPI affect relations between agents and IP offices in other African countries?
Hon Kahinda Otafiire (outgoing Chair Council of Ministers) handing over to the Incoming Chair Council of Ministers Hon Margaret Mwanakatwe – Lusaka, Zambia November 2015
Readers may know that last week the 39th and the 15th Sessions of the Administrative Council and Council of Ministers of African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) respectively, took place in Lusaka, Zambia.
Zambia’s Minister of Commerce Margaret Mwanakatwe opened the 39th Session which saw Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) Chief Executive Officer Anthony Bwembya take over as Chairperson of the ARIPO Administrative Council.
The ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants has been adopted by the Diplomatic Conference that was held in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania on July 6-7, 2015. Hence the name of the adopted Protocol is: Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. A copy of the Arusha Protocol is available here.
According to ARIPO, the Arusha Protocol seeks to provide Member States with a regional plant variety protection system that recognizes the need to provide growers and farmers with improved varieties of plants in order to ensure sustainable Agricultural production. Eighteen Member States of the Organization were represented at the Diplomatic Conference namely; Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As the world prepares to mark World Intellectual Property (IP) Day this Sunday April 26th 2015, this blogger has come across several World IP Day posters from around the continent created to reflect this year’s theme: “Get Up. Stand Up. For Music”. According to the map of World Intellectual Property Day 2015 Events by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there are only sixteen (16) confirmed World IP events being held in ten (10) countries across the continent. This blogger reckons that this represents a low turn-out by IP stakeholders across Africa’s fifty four (54) states given this year’s World IP Day theme and the importance of World IP Day activities and events for awareness creation and public sensitisation.
As many readers may recall, the Member States of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) adopted the Swakopmund Protocol on the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore on August 9, 2010 at Swakopmund in the Republic of Namibia. Section 27 of the Protocol provides that it shall come into force three (3) months after six (6) states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Since the adoption of the Protocol, the following five (5) states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession: Botswana, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Rwanda and Malawi. The sixth and final ratification was deposited (fittingly one might add) by Namibia on February 11, 2015. Therefore, the Swakopmund Protocol shall enter into force on May 11, 2015.
As earlier advertised here, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) successfully executed its on-going series of Region-wide “Roving Seminars” in Kenya with the first two days (Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th of March 2015) being devoted to copyright matters under the theme: “Copyright in the Digital Environment” and last two days (Thursday 19th and Friday 20th of March 2015) being devoted to industrial property matters under the theme: “Protection and Promotion of Patents, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications”.
In his opening remarks, ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando Dos Santos brought to our attention the important role Kenya has played as a pioneer ARIPO member state. For those who may not know, when ARIPO was established, its first headquarters were hosted at the Attorney General’s Chambers (Sheria House) in Nairobi before later relocating to its present headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Therefore the DG described coming to Kenya and visiting Sheria House as “coming home” since this was his first visit to Kenya since taking office as Director General in 2013.