Petition Urges Delay, Discussion Of Pan-African IP Organization

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A new petition circulating worldwide urges the delay of a suddenly fast-moving proposal to create a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). The delay effort – which seeks an open discussion of the proposal to make it more tailored to local African needs – comes just weeks before African Union representatives meet to consider its adoption.

The petition is available here. It will be up for signatures until 10 November and then will be delivered to officials.

The draft proposal is scheduled to be addressed at the 5th African Union Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology meeting in Brazzaville, Congo from 12-16 November.

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).

“The draft statute as it stands raises many concerns both procedurally and substantively,” says the petition. “The draft PAIPO statute is the result of a non-transparent process without open consultations with relevant stakeholders including civil society.”

“The draft statute reflects a narrow vision of intellectual property that runs contrary to the aspirations of Africans to devise more balanced intellectual property regimes that effectively promote innovation while also being supportive of public policy objectives in areas such as public health and access to knowledge,” it says.

It also says the PAIPO proposal “undercuts” efforts by African countries in international organisations such as WIPO and the World Trade Organization.

The petition calls on officials to “defer the consideration” of the draft statute, and to:

“Use the November meeting to … start an open and inclusive consultative process on the nature, scope and objectives of this new body. Moreover, the consultations should be structured to enable various stakeholders , civil society in particular, to contribute to the discussions with a view towards revising the current draft statute and making any resultant IP organization in tune with Africa’s development goals and the positions taken by the African countries at the multilateral level.”

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