Open AIR Research Project On African IP Presented At WIPO 04/06/2014 by MaÃ«li Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Open AIR project has gone global. The research project’s findings were presented in a recent side event at the World Intellectual Property Organization. The findings, published in two books, assess how people from different African countries and sectors consider and use intellectual property and present three possible scenarios about how people will innovate in the next two decades. The Open AIR project – Open African Innovation Research and Training on the role of intellectual property in open development – is an international network of experts launched in 2004, “working with African innovators, creators and entrepreneurs to turn knowledge into concrete practices that can transform economies and drive equitable development,” according to their website. The side event was held on 22 May during the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which took place from 19-23 May. Jeremy de Beer, associate professor in the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law and co-principal investigator of the project, said their work started at the same time as the Development Agenda. When it became evident that there was a lack of research, several experts (including lawyers, economists, and practitioners) decided to start research in Africa. “The goal of today’s side event was to bring our empirical research findings collected on the ground from people working in the real world to the international diplomatic community and inform the international policy agenda with evidence from the real world,” de Beer told Intellectual Property Watch afterward. Main outputs of the project are two publications presented during the side event. “Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa” outlines findings of on-the-ground research in nine countries on how IP is used now (video of presentation here). It gathers thirteen studies on different sectors across nine countries. The book covers six main themes: collaborative intellectual property in the informal sector; collaborative IP and place-based branding; collaborative IP and a traditional knowledge commons; collaborative creativity and copyrights; IP from publicly funded research; and patents and collaborative innovation. “IP is important, but not necessarily in the way that is discussed at the international level,” de Beer told Intellectual Property Watch. “People in the informal sector, for example, think about informal mechanisms of branding, and they use IP in the form of trade secrets as opposed to patents or even utility models.” “Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future” exposes three possible scenarios on innovation and the role of IP systems in Africa in the next two decades (video of presentation here). “The context in which people use knowledge and the way in which they innovate now won’t be the same in the future,” de Beer said. Three different scenarios that were developed are: “wireless engagement”, “informal is the new normal”, and “sincerely Africa.” They look at which kind of IP would be the priority in each scenario. Dick Kawooya, assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), said that Open AIR and its predecessor, the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge Project (ACA2K) “have also contributed tremendously to capacity-building in this research area.” “A number of Open AIR Fellowships have been awarded, some leading to doctoral studies, and some of Open AIR’s scholars currently occupy important positions in Africa’s IP institutional infrastructure,” he said. Ahmed Label Latif, of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), said that this kind of research is in conformity with recommendations of the Development Agenda and capture its spirit in looking at IP in the broader knowledge appropriation system. He also said that the process of the project, the thinking behind and the creation of a very connected network of African researchers were important achievements. Both books are published under Creative Commons licence and are freely available in the Open AIR website. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related MaÃ«li Astruc may be reached at email@example.com."Open AIR Research Project On African IP Presented At WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.