Conference Preview: Respect For IP – Growing From The Tip of Africa 04/10/2018 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 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 World Intellectual Property Organization is partnering with a range of other organisations and the government of South Africa to hold an international conference on “respect for intellectual property.” The conference will take place from 23-25 October in Sandton, South Africa. Intellectual Property Watch conducted an interview with Louise Van Greunen, Director, Building Respect for IP Division, about the upcoming conference. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WATCH (IPW): Thank you for taking time to talk about this upcoming conference. Could you start by telling us what is meant by “respect for IP”, and what is the purpose of the conference, what need or problem does it seek to address? LOUISE VAN GREUNEN: Intellectual property (IP) exists to stimulate innovation and creativity. In simple terms, building respect means creating an environment in which IP can fulfill this key function. To do so, we need effective and balanced enforcement structures that can address counterfeiting, piracy and other activities which prevent IP from realizing its potential. But beyond sanctions and remedies, it is also important to prevent IP infringements. That can involve studying and understanding consumer behavior and the factors that lead to IP infringements, designing campaigns with a view to changing such behavior as well as supporting partners from the public and the private sector in joint prevention and enforcement efforts. This international conference will cover the multiple facets of building respect for IP. We will consider the potential and value of IP as a tool for development as well as the socio-economic risks associated with counterfeiting and piracy. We will bring together the full spectrum of relevant stakeholders and facilitate an exchange of ideas and experiences, strengthen existing partnerships and provide networking opportunities that can lead to new alliances. IPW: Can you talk about the agenda and expected speakers, and tell us who the conference is aimed at, who should attend this conference? VAN GREUNEN: The program reflects the diversity of interest and disciplines in the question of building respect for IP. WIPO’s conference partners are the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa, the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL and the World Trade Organization. Each partner has put together a panel exploring recent developments, challenges and opportunities for building respect for IP from the perspective of their particular area of expertise. In addition, some panels highlight the benefits of cooperation between the different stakeholders. We have balanced the composition of the panels in terms of geographical representation, gender and the representation of different stakeholder groups, to ensure that the discussions give a voice to diverse perspectives that are relevant to both developing and developed countries. The different themes are relevant to policymakers, enforcement authorities, including prosecutors, the police and customs, lawyers, academics and businesses, large and small. We also have a dedicated topic of great relevance to the judiciary. These summarize our target audiences whom we feel will benefit from the conference. IPW: What is the expected outcome of the event, and how can its success be measured? VAN GREUNEN: The main objective of the Conference is to promote an understanding of the positive links between IP and development, as well as concrete mechanisms through which IP can support businesses and foster trade and innovation. In addition, we hope the Conference will offer insights on how to shape present and future IP enforcement policies and strategies and how to adequately balance public and private interests. The Conference will also provide a forum for participants to explore avenues for collaboration and synergies in addressing the challenges associated with counterfeiting and piracy. The convening of such a high level Conference, bringing together the diversity of stakeholders in the enforcement arena, is already one measure of success. This event will create unique networking and information sharing opportunities. An experience shared, a comment made, a question asked, an interaction between two participants could all be the starting point of a project, a collaboration or a business idea that may greatly advance our efforts to curb the risks associated with IP infringements in the future. We are hoping that knowledge exchange through the sessions may lead to partnerships and policies that ultimately lead to the development of more balanced and effective IP enforcement systems. What is already indicative of the importance and timeliness of this conference is the desire of several WIPO Member States to host another such event in 2020, as well as an expressed interest by a leading South African academic and legal publisher to publish a book on the conference, its approach and topics. IPW: The issue of respect for IP has been building for some years. How is the progress going, what are some achievements of the movement, and what are some challenges, especially in light of rapidly changing technologies? VAN GREUNEN: Indeed, it has and we are delighted to see these developments. This conference itself follows in the footsteps of the International Conference on Building Respect for IP – Stimulating Innovation and Creativity which WIPO organized together with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government in 2016. We are also observing a growing interest in the sessions and topics of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE). Over the years, the number of contributions made to the ACE sessions has increased significantly. We have also seen an increase in the number of Member States and participants that attend these sessions. Such trends are evidence that globally, across all geographical regions, there is a heightened interest and level of activity in relation to building respect for IP. Of course, you are right to point out that new technologies, such as 3D printing, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, present new challenges to IP enforcement. In light of these developments, some of our Member States have called for a discussion of the role of new technologies in IP enforcement at the next session of the ACE in 2019. This topic will most certainly provoke interesting discussions. IPW: WIPO has led the way on this issue. What is the mandate for WIPO on this, and how does it carry out its work in this area? Why is it important to lead on this issue from the UN level? VAN GREUNEN: The issue of building respect for IP, including IP enforcement, involves a careful balance between relevant public and private interests. WIPO provides neutral and reliable leadership to achieve this objective. One of our Strategic Goals is to promote international cooperation on building respect for IP. In addition, one of the recommendations of the WIPO Development Agenda encourages WIPO and its Member States to approach IP enforcement in the context of broader societal interests and development-oriented concerns, so as to ensure that IP rights protection and enforcement are to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge. The Advisory Committee on Enforcement is one of the main vehicles for WIPO’s work in this area; it does not have a norm-setting mandate but can be seen as a marketplace of ideas on this issue. IPW: IP enforcement issues are very wide-ranging, and WIPO is one organisation working on these issues. What are some other organisations and how does WIPO coordinate with them, either at the international or more regional or national level? VAN GREUNEN: Given the wide-ranging nature of IP enforcement, it is important to foster cooperation and coordination among various actors. These include numerous enforcement authorities, such as the police, customs, prosecutors, IP officers, the judiciary but also right holders, and, in the online environment, increasingly other intermediaries. Consequently, some of the other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) active in this area are those with whom we have partnered for this conference: the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL and the World Trade Organization. WIPO cooperates with a range of organizations active in the area of building respect for IP, for instance through jointly organized roundtables, conferences and capacity-building activities, as well as through joint publications. WIPO also hosts a yearly IGO coordination meeting which provides an opportunity for organizations active in the area of building respect for IP to brief one another on their ongoing projects and priorities. This allows them to work towards policy cohesion, to join forces where appropriate and to ensure an efficient allocation of resources for activities in the area. IPW: This year’s meeting is being held in South Africa. What is the reason for holding it there this time around and how will this year’s event compare with past ones? VAN GREUNEN: We are delighted at the South African Government’s commitment to host this conference, as well as the recognition that this event has gained at the highest political level. Having South Africa host this conference bears great symbolic significance because of the strides that the country has taken in building respect for IP. Since the entry into force of the Counterfeit Goods Act of 1997, South Africa has demonstrated its commitment towards IP enforcement through systematic training of national enforcement authorities and the organization of numerous awareness-raising initiatives. In light of this, we see South Africa as being well placed to help grow respect for IP – from the tip of Africa and beyond. IPW: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? VAN GREUNEN: I’d like to conclude by underlining that what particularly adds value to this conference is the collaboration with our three partner IGOs, the local host, CIPC, in South Africa and the private sector. It is thanks to this cooperative approach that we are able to bring together the full range of relevant stakeholders and thus maximize the impact of the conference. What we hope to see is this approach being taken forward and replicated on a national level with different governmental entities and enforcement coordination points working together with relevant private sector actors to jointly, cooperatively and effectively address the challenges we face in building respect for IP. [Conference details are available here: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2018/respectip_africa_conference.html] Image Credits: WIPO 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 William New may be reached at email@example.com."Conference Preview: Respect For IP – Growing From The Tip of Africa" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.