ARIPO Copyright Office Publishes Survey Findings on Status of African Collective Management Organizations

aripo member states map africa intellectual property regional organization copyright CMO survey

On the eve of its 40th anniversary, the Harare-based African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has recently published the findings of a survey on collective management organisations (CMOs) conducted among its member states. A copy of the survey is available here. In the foreword, ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando Dos Santos explains that:

“The findings [of the survey] indicate that CMOs in the ARIPO Member States are growing in numbers. It was also found that there is growth in collections of royalties and distributions. However, CMOs are also facing challenges which include insufficient or lack of awareness of copyright laws by users and the general public, users’ unwillingness to pay royalties, piracy of the copyrighted works, inadequate resources and manpower within the CMOs and inadequate availability of technologies that can be used by the CMOs.”

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UPOV 1991 Enters into Force in Kenya: Farmers’ vs Plant Breeders’ Rights

Stephen Ndungu Karau Ambassador and Permanent Representative accession 1991 UPOV Convention Kenya Francis Gurry Director-General World Intellectual Property United Nations Geneva Switzerland 2016

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.

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OAPI Suspends Agents: IP Community Across Africa is Watching

OAPI NEW LOGO ORGANISATION AFRICAINE DE LA PROPRIETE INTELLECTUELLE

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?

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Quick Recap from the 39th Session of ARIPO Administrative Council and 15th Session of ARIPO Council of Ministers in Lusaka, Zambia

ARIPO Kahinda Otafiire Chair Council of Ministers Margaret Mwanakatwe Nov 2015 Lusaka Zambia

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.

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ARIPO Roving Seminars 2015: Copyright and Industrial Property Rights in Kenya

ARIPO Roving Seminar 2015 Kenya Director-General Fernando Dos Santos ARIPO Chief Examiner Emmanuel Sackey KECOBO Director Marisella Ouma Victor Nzomo IP Kenya

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.

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Tunisia to Host Pan African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO)

AU Assembly 23 Ordinary Session June 2014 Malabo Equatorial Guinea

Two separate media reports here and here indicate that Tunisia will host the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI). These reports are indeed confusing since the francophone African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon – atleast according to the contacts page of OAPI’s official website available here.

This blogger believes that the news reports were referring to PAIPO and not OAPI. As many readers may know, PAIPO was established as a specialized agency of the African Union (AU) that would be responsible for intellectual property (IP) and other emerging issues related to IP in Africa. At the Twenty-Third Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on 26-27 June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the Assembly made the following decision on PAIPO:

Assembly/AU/Dec.522(XXIII)
Doc. EX.CL/839(XXV)

The Assembly,

1. TAKES NOTE of the Report and the recommendations of the Extra Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST V) held from 16 to 18 April 2014 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo;

2. RECALLS Assembly Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.453(XX) on the Creation of the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO);

3. TAKES NOTE of the Draft Statute of the Pan African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) and REQUESTS the Commission to submit it to the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for consideration and appropriate recommendations;

4. RECOGNIZES ARIPO and OAPI as building blocks for the creation of a single Pan African Intellectual Property Organization and WELCOMES their support in the implementation of the Heads of State and Government decisions on PAIPO;

5. INVITES Member States, WIPO as well as development organizations and partners to lend support for implementation of the decision;

6. WELCOMES AND ENDORSES the offer by the Republic of Tunisia to host the Headquarter and Secretariat of PAIPO;

7. REQUESTS the Commission to prepare road map for implementation of PAIPO in coordination with the host country and to report progress in this regard to the Summit.

In light of these recent media reports, it may be interesting to consider some of the comments made by IP professionals on PAIPO’s founding statute and intended raison d’etre:

” The news that PAIPO is about to be launched (….) after being in the works for such a long time is alarming for two other reasons. The first of these is that although the draft statute has been long in the making, this has not been through an open or participatory process. There has been no public consultation on the continent nor have civil society, academics and public interest advocates been afforded an opportunity to engage with the proposal or participate in the crafting of the statute. (….) Secondly, the AU has not provided detailed information about its deliberations and decisions pertaining to the establishment of PAIPO. It is ironic that African states have been chastising WIPO for not being transparent enough (….) when the same can be said of them with regard to the establishment of PAIPO.

Is it asking too much of the AU to request that it defer the establishment of PAIPO until a more inclusive and transparent consultative process is carried out? Certainly not, these are the same demands African states make of WIPO. Are the calls for a more nuanced PAIPO statute with a preamble that resounds with developmental goals, public interest concerns and an emphasis on the appropriate balancing of stakeholder interests unreasonable or unachievable?” – Prof. Caroline Ncube, Associate Professor at University of Cape Town, Faculty of Law.

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“(….)the lack of consultation and transparency in the process leading up to the production (and potential adoption) of the Draft Statute is something that should be condemned. Intellectual property has become a highly politicised issue, and it is imperative that there be an inclusive and transparent process when initiatives of this nature are embarked upon.

My principal concern at this point in time is of a more pragmatic nature. One has to question the wisdom of trying to establish an African centralised registration system. Would the resources which are to be spent in such an endeavour not be better utilised in ensuring that the intellectual property registries and laws of the various African states are improved in order for them to participate in existing international registration systems such as the Madrid Agreement and Protocol, administered by WIPO, for trade marks? There is no cogent argument for proliferating registration systems, and for focusing on, comparatively, parochial initiatives in an era of ever-expanding cross-border trade.

The fact that I spent about 20 minutes on the African Union’s website attempting to find the Draft Statute (and failed to locate it via that route), and that the ARIPO website was unavailable when I attempted to access it, convinces me that this is an ill-conceived initiative, built on structures that have proven to be dysfunctional (and largely ignored), and, therefore, unsuited to warrant the extra resources which would be dedicated to them.” – Dr. Sadulla Karjiker, Member of the IP Unit at Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Law.

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“I do not see how Member States of the AU, African IP agents and other stakeholders can be expected to make a rational decision on the benefits of establishing a new continental IP body within the AU, and especially a continental registration Office, if the constitutive Protocol for such registration Office and the implementing regulations have not been formulated. (…) In my view Article 20 of the draft Statute appears problematic as some Member States of the AU do not provide for automatic ratification or accession to a convention or treaty or agreement, or automatic recognition of the legal status of an international body, without approval by the national Parliaments of Member States. (…)

Apart from the fact that the draft Statute does not define what such industrial property titles will be called (African patent, PAIPO trademark, etc.), the establishment of a supranational registration Office would appear to be a costly duplication of the registration function of current national and regional IP Offices” – Ms. Sara Moyo, President, Zimbabwe Institute of Patent and Trademark Agents (ZIPTA)

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“The truth of the matter is that the proposal to establish PAIPO is a misinformed and misguided effort by a small subset of policy makers at the AU that undermines other policy initiatives at the AU and by Member States that seek to: (1) minimize the impact of patent monopolies on access to medicines and other public goods technologies, (2) minimize the impact of copyright monopolies on access to educational and cultural resources, (3) preserve the livelihoods and agricultural vitality of small-scale farmers that still make up the bulk of the Africa economy, and (4) retain policy space for other more creative mechanisms that promote both knowledge creation and cultural expression while preserving affordable access to the same.

This wrongheaded proposal must be stopped. Normative agency like UNAIDS and UNDP and WHO must immediately engage AU stakeholders and issue statements cautioning against adoption of the imbalanced PAIPO proposal in its current form. Other AU bodies must demand a review of the proposed legislation and determine its consistency or inconsistency with other AU policy objectives in the IP, health, education, and development arena. African civil society organizations and their allies must insist that the proposal be euthanized and that policy space be preserved for innovation and access measures that better meet human development needs.” – Prof. Brook K. Baker, Honorary Research Fellow, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, S. Africa.

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The PAIPO saga continues…

50th Anniversary of Francophone African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI)

OAPI LOGO OLD ORGANISATION AFRICAINE DE LA PROPRIETE INTELLECTUELLE

On the 13th of September each year, we celebrate the anniversary of L’Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI). However, this is a special year because OAPI is turning 50!

Founded on September 13th 1962, OAPI (which in English translates to African Organization for Intellectual Property) is the main organization that ensures the protection of intellectual property rights in most African French-speaking countries. OAPI comprises: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.

In 1999, the African Union’s predecessor Organization for African Unity (OAU) declared OAPI’s anniversary date would be commemorated everywhere as the “African Day of Technology and Intellectual Property.”

IPKenya wishes to congratulate the African Organisation for Intellectual Property (OAPI) as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary! The details of this event are available on OAPI’s site here.

IPKenya souhaiterait féliciter l’Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) lors de son cinquantième anniversaire! Toutes informations sur cet évènement sont disponsible sur le site de l’OAPI ici.

PS: Some will recall that in July 2012, OAPI’s Director General Dr. Paulin Edou Edou was named Managing IP Top 50 individuals shaping the IP industry worldwide. The only African to receive this recognition.