-Focuses On IP Policies, Laws To Establish Institutional Framework
By R Joyclyn Wea
The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) is expected to on today May 8, 2018 concludes a two-day Intellectual Property (IP) roving seminar for academic and research institutions in Liberia.
ARIPO which constitutes 19 members states of which Liberia is no exception is committed towards ensuring the development of IP in all member states for sustain economic growth.
Speaking at the start of the two-day ARIPO meeting on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, the Director General of ARIPO, Fernando Dos Santos said the Government of Liberia has put in placed appropriate IP policies and laws and established institutional framework to promote the use of IP in the country.
“Liberia has also taking wise decision to join the ARIPO to ratify its main legal instruments for the regional administration of intellectual property rights,” he added.
Santos further narrated that Liberia joined the ARIPO Harare Protocol for the protection of patents, utility models and industrial designs. Under that banner, at least 2903 patents, 561 industrial designs and 20 utility models from all over the world are enjoying protection in Liberia through the regional system.
The Country also joined the Banjul protocol for the protection of marks and as a result, 1008 marks are protected in Liberia however, Liberian innovators and entrepreneurs are not yet taking full advantage of the membership of the country to the ARIPO system. Statistic shows that only 6 Liberian trademarks are protected through the ARIPO, and this is a matter of great concern.
Santos believes it would also be necessary to assess contributions of the Liberian universities and research institutions into these statistics noting foreign universities are already using the ARIPO route to protect their endeavors in the region.
He also pointed out the University of California filed 20 patents with ARIPO; three South African universities also filed applications with ARIPO, namely university of Witwatersrand, 19 patents; 14 patents from university of Stellenbosch, and the University of Pretoria (12 patents). What wrong with the Liberian universities and research institutions.”
Liberia has no marks, patents or industrial designs filed by Liberian institutions something he believes can be reversed as it is the objective of the seminar which is intended to enhance intellectual property awareness in academic and research institutions with a view to promoting the creation, protection and utilization of research results using intellectual property tools for the economic and technological development in member states; that according to the ARIPO head.
According to him, they are aware there is a lot of creativity and innovation going on in the academic and research institutions in Liberia; yet the benefits of creativity, innovation and inventiveness may not be fully realized or adequately rewarded something he links to the lack of awareness on the important role intellectual property protection plays in rewarding and promoting creativity and innovation.
Santos hopes the meeting come up with recommendations that aim at creating a conducive environment for promoting creativity and innovation on our richly resourced continent within the context of intellectual property.
Also making statement, the Officer In-Charge of the Liberia Intellectual Property Office, Prince Decker noted that intellectual property rights enhance competition in trade, guarantees economic and moral incentives for universities and research institutions; as well as guarantees the evolution of a productive society from one generation to another without having a knowledge gap.
Decker further noted that the presence of ARIPO in Liberia is to promote the development of intellectual property in Africa particularly Liberia by exposing researchers and universities, the generators of IP to new dimensions and opportunities for collective and individual growth.
“The huge potential of our creative sector can only be realized if we respect the principles and laws of intellectual property in the creative sector and justly reward members of the creative sector the economic benefit for their labor as well are rewarded for our eight hours or so daily labors.”
Accordingly, Decker added that “the rules of trade mean respecting intellectual property rights, going beyond the enforcement of expired products, but also implementing the appropriate laws against counterfeit, piracy and infringement.