ARIPO urges roping in tertiary students in intellectual property development

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HARARE – The African Regional  Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo) said on Wednesday Africa can  derive massive economic benefits from development and use of  intellectual property (IP) as well as protection of IP rights through  the involvement of students and research institutions in the process.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) defines  intellectual property as creations of the mind, such as inventions,  literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images that  are used in business.

In line with the objective of roping in young people in the IP  movement, the Harare-based Aripo, with the backing of WIPO and the Japan  Patent Office (JPO) is hosting a two-day regional workshop on the  importance of IP management in universities as well as research and  development institutions in Africa.

Aripo director general Fernando Dos Santos said IP had become a global  tool that countries were harnessing for their economic development and  growth.

“Only societies where such rights are effectively protected and  exploited witness cultural advancement and economic progress,” he said  while officiating at the opening of the workshop.

“One of the most effective ways of making use of IPs is through  universities and research and development institutions where a great  number of our youths are pursuing different academic goals and interests  with a view to developing their capacities and talents to support  national development efforts.”

Dos Santos said an approach to education and development with a bias  towards IPs in Africa would “enable us to accelerate the transformation  of our economies as demonstrated in other emerging and advanced  countries.”

The JPO, which committed to train over 1 000 Africans between 2016 and 2018 on IP issues, said protection of industrial property such as  trademarks and patents was critical in Africa’s bid to attract foreign  direct investment.

“This will lead not only to encourage investment from abroad but also  to bringing out the economic potential of Africa, thereby driving  sustainable economic growth in African countries,” the JPO said in a  statement.

WIPO representative Joyce Banya said the organisation had, since the  90s, been involved in IP awareness in universities.

“At that time the objective was to create a solid focal point in the  legal faculty which could teach IP as a legal discipline,” she said.

“The reality today is that there is need to move beyond the purely  legalistic approach.”

Banya said it had been recognised that universities were the main  knowledge production centres and the institutions should rise up to the  crucial role and make greater contributions to national economic growth  and prosperity on the continent, by effectively using IP systems for  their research and innovation.

Africa University Vice Chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa said IP  management was central to the success of African development efforts.

“IP management is a key driver of new knowledge generation and transfer  which are crucial for building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful  Africa, an African underpinned by science, technology and innovation,” he said, lauding involvement of higher and tertiary educational  institutions in the process.

Furusa said African governments should create enabling policy  frameworks that encourage new products, cultivation of new innovations  as well as protect originality of such creative works.

The two-day workshop will discuss the findings of a research on the  development of guidelines for elaboration of Intellectual Property  Policy and Strategy for effective use of the IP System by universities  and research and development institutions in Africa.

The research took place in Cameroon, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

The guidelines aim to assist countries in ensuring that they have the  right IP policies and strategies which are consistent with national laws  and related regulations and policies, take into account the specific  public research environment and the socio-economic status of the country  and can be implemented within the context of each individual  institution’s mandate. – New Ziana

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