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IP-Watch interns Brittany Ngo (Yale Graduate School of Public Health) and Caitlin McGivern (University of Law, London) talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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    Move Toward New Pan-African IP Organisation Alarms Observers

    Published on 27 September 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A seemingly remote African Union proposal to create a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization appears to have gained momentum and will come before African science and technology ministers for review in early November, according to sources. A copy of the final draft statutes shows how the new body would operate, and for some observers, how it would elevate African IP standards well above current levels, with “disastrous consequences” for access, development, and human rights.

    The final draft text of the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) is available here [doc].

    The proposed legislation will be presented to a meeting of the African ministers on 12-16 November in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, sources said.

    “The draft statute is clearly driven by proponents of IP maximalist ideology with little understanding of the development challenges facing the region” – Sangeeta Shashikant, Third World Network

    The draft emerged from the African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, which was charged by heads of state in 2007 with coming up with a draft legal instrument. It consulted with AU member states, existing regional IP offices, and collective management organisations, with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), according to sources.

    Under the draft, a new specialised agency of the African Union would be created in addition to the two existing regional IP offices in Africa (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization [ARIPO] and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle [OAPI]).

    The new body would consist of a Council of Ministers and its bureau, an Experts Committee and its bureau; a Board of Appeal; and the Office, led by the director general.

    The PAIPO would have the legal authority to:

    (i)              Enter into contracts and conclude agreements, except agreements and contracts for the collective management of copyright and related rights;

    (ii)             Acquire and dispose of movable and immovable property; and

    (iii)           Be a party to a judicial and other legal or other administrative proceedings.

    The functions of the organisation would be:

    (i)            Set intellectual property standards that reflect the needs of both the African Union and its Member States and Regional Economic Communities  of the Organization;

    (ii)           To grant and register industrial property titles;

    (iii)          Facilitate the realization and harmonization of national legislation and regional
    treaties and intellectual property standards in all the AU levels;

    (iv)         Facilitate the use of intellectual property to promote creativity and innovativeness on the continent;

    (v)          Assist its Member States in formulating policies and addressing current and
    emerging Intellectual Property issues in conformity with the Objectives of the
    Organization;

    (vi)          Initiate strategies that will promote and develop the Intellectual Property system;

    (vii)     Strengthen the existing regional organizations or such other organizations as may be necessary;

    (vii)        Strengthen the existing collective management organizations and facilitate their establishment in the Member States which have no collective management organization in the field of copyright and related rights ;

    (viii)      Take deliberate measures to promote the protection and exploitation of Intellectual Property rights within the Member States, including conclusion of bilateral and
    multilateral agreements;

    (ix)         Collect, process and disseminate relevant information on Intellectual Property to
    Member States and support the establishment of databases on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions and folklore in order for Member States to derive regular and maximum benefit;

    (x)          To develop updated policy guide lines and training modules to support Member States to achieve a world-class IP systems; and

    (xi)         Do such other things as may be necessary for the achievement of the Objectives of the Organization.

    The draft states the basis for the need to create this new entity. For instance, it states that: “Intellectual Property rights are tools for economic growth and dissemination of knowledge.”

    And says there is an “urgent and requisite need to provide a broad-based Intellectual Property platform that would provide a forum for policy based discussions and formulation of common African position on global and emerging Intellectual Property issues; and the valuable benefits that the Member States would derive from an effective, continuous and well-coordinated stock of specialized Intellectual Property information, knowledge and services that would be instrumental in promoting and protecting creativity, invention, innovation, facilitating technology transfer, techno-industrial competitiveness and economic growth in Africa.”

    It also mentions the need to raise awareness of IP rights toward a knowledge-based economy, to “promote, protect and exploit” IP rights in Africa, and to “formulate and implement strategies for the effective combating piracy and counterfeit in Africa.”

    Draft Provokes Strong Concern

    The circulation of the draft to members has met with strong reactions from some public interest observers.

    “As a stunning example of policy incoherence given the AU’s goals of maximizing access to affordable medicines, educational resources, and other public goods, reversing the scourges of AIDS, TB, and malaria, and making full use of TRIPS flexibilities so as to promote local producers, the AU Scientific, Technical and Research Commission has drafted a proposed legislation to establish a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization whose stated purpose is to harmonize intellectual property protections and enforcement at a heightened ‘world class’ standard and liberally grant IP monopolies throughout the region,” said Brook Baker of Health GAP (Global Access Project), a law professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

    “Rather than allowing least developed country members to use and further extend their TRIPS transition periods and cooperating to ensure a balance between the interests of rightholders and users,” Baker said, “this misguided IP-maximalist policy initiative would shackle efforts in the AU to promote human and economic development so as to allow copying and adoption of existing technologies to serve the interests of Africans.”

    A fuller critique by Baker was posted today to the Knowledge Ecology International ip-health listserv, available here.

    Sangeeta Shashikant of the Third World Network said: “The intellectual property vision set out in the draft statute to establish PAIPO is extremely worrying.”

    “It is inconsistent with the Development Agenda principles championed by the African Group in Geneva as well as Africa Group’s push in WIPO for development-oriented initiatives such as establishing minimum standards on copyright exceptions and limitations for education, archives and libraries, focusing on flexibilities relevant to public health,” Shashikant said. “The draft statute is clearly driven by proponents of IP maximalist ideology with little understanding of the development challenges facing the region, the importance of using available flexibilities to address development and public policy issues or the relationship between IP and development.

    “The AU and member states must overhaul the draft statute in its entirety and reflect a development oriented vision of the intellectual property system,” she said. “As it currently stands, the draft statute will have disastrous consequences for critical development issues such as access to seeds, medicines, knowledge and technologies.”

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Petition Urges Delay, Discussion Of Pan-African IP Organization | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The PAIPO proposal, developed with support from the World Intellectual Property Organization, only recently came to light and quickly raised alarm among public interest observers (IPW, Developing Country Policy, 27 September 2012). [...]

    2. ATSALI STANLEY says:

      A good initiative,however, it should highlight and address gaps that have been observed in the current framework of IP protection in Africa


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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