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Stakeholders discuss intellectual property

Jan 20, 2012, 11:38 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Stakeholders from the legal profession, research institutions, as well as copyright experts, on Wednesday convened a two-day forum to, among others, discuss and debate on intellectual property rights and the importance of patents and patents cooperation treaty for research institutions and universities.

It was organized by the Registrar General’s department of the ministry of Justice in Banjul in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).

The forum was geared towards looking at Africa’s reception on patent and patents cooperation, with a view to bolster corporate competition and fortify the products of the continent’s inventive brains.

Addressing the forum at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, Edward Gomez, Attorney General and Minister of Justice underscored the importance of intellectual property, which he said cannot be overemphasized in the modern age of the knowledge-based economy.

“In this day and age, the progress of a society is no longer solely dependent on the favours of nature such as the amount of gold, silver or crude oil found within a state’s territorial jurisdiction,” he said.

Instead, Gomez added, the development of societies and states are increasingly driven by the knowledge and skills of its people, and the ability to invent and generate new technologies.

He noted that the willingness to engage in efforts geared towards invention is underpinned by the existence of two factors, namely the investment in research and the guarantee that economic benefits will accrue from research through an efficient intellectual property protection system.

Speaking on behalf of the Director General of WIPO, Ms Nyallenge Pll said the seminar sought to focus on how best to utilize the patent system, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in commercializing research undertaken in research institutions and universities. 

She noted that the aim is not to make profits, but rather to promote the objectives of the institution and the broader national interest and public good.

“The patent system encourages innovation by granting inventors protection for their inventions for a limited period,” she said, adding that protection gives the potential for generating a return on investment in research and development.

She stated that by allowing innovative individuals, institutions and enterprises to benefit in this way from their creative activities, research and development is encouraged, so that more and more expensive research projects can be undertaken.

Through its capacity-building programs, she explained, WIPO seeks to make intellectual property relevant and beneficial to all countries, and all sectors of society. 

“In cooperation with our member states, we continue to analyze and reflect on how to adapt the IP system to ensure that it works in the common good, and that it meets the changing needs of evolving societies,” she explained.

WIPO, she said, has put in place various measures aimed at promoting utilization of the patent system nationally and internationally. 

Other speakers included Christopher Kiigi, representative of ARIPO, who urged countries to formulate policies to safeguard the intellectual property rights of citizens.

Henry Carrol, chairman of the Law Reform Commission, moderated the forum, which brought together senior staff of the Ministry of Justice, National Centre for Arts and Culture, and experts in intellectual property.