Intellectual Property Rights

Book Review Symposium: ‘The Right to Research in Africa: Exploring the Copyright and Human Rights Interface’

In many African countries, the protection and promotion of human rights is enshrined in national laws including domestic constitutions, policies, and guidelines. Many African countries are signatories to a plethora of conventions on human rights including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. However, in several African countries, ordinarily, socio-economic rights are not enforceable because socio-economic rights are not explicitly provided in many national constitutions. Furthermore, right to research as an evolutive and burgeoning framework in the African copyright system adds to this mix. Scholars including Okorie have advocated for the development of the right to research as a complete or explicit defence to copyright infractions or as user rights. However, the development of an explicit right to research in the African copyright context is afflicted with a plethora of obstacles. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has further restricted access to information and academic materials especially in digital formats and furthermore, many African libraries and institutions are ill-equipped to perform their role of enabling access to information. Hence, this recent book – The Right to Research in Africa: Exploring the Copyright and Human Rights Interface by Desmond Oriakhogba is an important and innovative addition to this debate. Oriakhogba argues for a reconceptualization of the African copyright system from explicit human rights law perspectives as means of localising the right to research in the African context.

Book Review Symposium: Uni-World, Universalisms, Uniformity, and the Right to Research in Africa: Reading Rahmatian into Oriakhogba

In different epochs of our world, the idea of copyright has been thought about and debated by different scholars and philosophers. Most commonly, such debates find resonance in scholarly interlocutory about intellectual property law justificatory theories. On limited occasions, copyright scholarship ventures into studying the jurisprudence of copyright, that is the consciousness and the conscience of the discipline. In his offering, The Right to Research in Africa: Exploring the Copyright and Human Rights Interface, Oriakhogba remarkably studies copyright in the context of Human Rights. From the onset, it is refreshing that Oriakhogba takes the task of engaging copyright outside of the strict positivist and largely mercantilist strictures that often insist on thinking about copyright purely within the ambit of trade. The book’s argument is propounded in five chapters. Following the introduction, the second chapter examines the state of research in Africa, and the challenge that copyright poses to the question of access to information. The third chapter places its focus on international and regional human rights framework. The fourth chapter, which is the focus of this essay, discusses the national constitutions and frameworks for the protection of human rights to ascertain whether they support the development of the right to research. The fifth chapter, which concludes the book, summarily uses the insights from prior chapter’s to substantively respond to the question whether the right to research is justifiable in the context of Africa.

Call for Papers: The African Renaissance and International Cultural Heritage Law

The special issue aims to spot the incommensurable potential of African heritage and encourage its local protection for the benefit of local communities and sustainable development. It also aims to highlight the promises and pitfalls of current international cultural heritage law in safeguarding African cultural heritage and harnessing its potential for promoting sustainable development. International cultural heritage law has developed using European conceptions of cultural property protection. As a result, it rarely reflects current African realities. Are there ways to adapt or use the existing legal frameworks to promote cultural protection and sustainable development in Africa? Discussions on alternatives for protecting African cultural heritage at the regional and continental levels, or reviews of any such extant mechanisms, are encouraged. Good practices that African countries can learn from or export to other countries are also welcome. Pertinent case studies are welcome too.

Call for Papers (International Conference): The African Renaissance in the Age of Globalization - What Role for International Investment Law?

Can the ambitious dream of the African Renaissance be brought to fruition? Can peace and prosperity be fulfilled? What role can international investment law play in helping African peoples tackle the challenges to Africa’s growth and prosperity? The conference aims to address these questions seeing Africa as a continent of hope and emancipation. It constitutes a platform to critically assess the promises and pitfalls of existing investment treaties and build momentum for dialogue on the future of Africa.

Book Review: Patents, Human Rights, and Access to Medicines

The book discusses the manner in which patent rights adversely affect access to medicines by developing countries and proposes ways to mitigate this. From the author’s point of view, the current international patent rights system as embodied in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) is too concerned with protecting the interests of innovators at the expense of all other users. In this way, the TRIPS Agreement, by introducing mandatory minimum and stronger standards for the protection of patent rights, has provided an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to charge inflated prices while concentrating their investments mainly towards diseases that affect developed countries. Further, the TRIPS Agreement has diminished the policy space available for developing countries to design patent regimes that are suitable for their developmental and technological needs and circumstances.

The Repatriation of Benin Bronze and Decolonisation of Museums: Views from the University of Aberdeen

The handover agreement signed by the University of Aberdeen and the Nigerian stakeholders transferred copyright in images of the Benin bronze to the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments. However, the University of Aberdeen was granted a non-exclusive licence to use the images for any non-commercial purpose. Similarly, the agreement provides that all images and information relating to the Benin bronze held by the University of Aberdeen will be supplied on request by the Nigerian stakeholders at no cost and with no restrictions on their use. In this interview, Dr Titilayo Adebola, Editor, and Associate Director, Centre for Commercial Law, University of Aberdeen discusses the University’s repatriation of the Benin bronze alongside the role of museums in the co-production of knowledge with Mr Curtis. Mr Curtis initiated and facilitated the negotiations for the repatriation of the Benin bronze with the Nigerian stakeholders (the Oba of Benin’s palace, Edo State Government and the Nigerian Government) on behalf of the University of Aberdeen.

The Return of Looted Benin Bronzes: Art, History and the Law

Following the University of Cambridge and University of Aberdeen’s recent return of bronzes looted by British soldiers from Benin City, Southern Nigeria, in 1897, Dr. Titilayo Adebola is pleased to present this fireside chat with Professor Bankole Soidipo SAN. The University of Cambridge relinquished possession of a bronze cockerel “Okukor” after students campaign inspired the decision for it to be returned in November 2019. While the University of Aberdeen relinquished possession of a bronze depicting the head of an Oba of Benin after its approved repatriation in March 2021. Professor Sodipo was actively involved in facilitating the discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian stakeholders and British universities that culminated in the return of these Benin bronzes. Professor Sodipo was recently nominated (in October 2021) to be conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, of which official investiture will be in December 2021. He received his LLM from the University of Lagos and Ph.D from Queen Mary, University of London. He is a Professor of Law at Babcock University, where he has previously served as the Dean, Faculty of Law. He is the Senior Partner at G. O. Sodipo & Co.

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Africa: Book Promotion in the Time of COVID

Enforcement of intellectual property rights in Africa is not always a straightforward task. Plans crafted with reference only to enforcement in developed countries will not be a perfect fit to the African situation. Still, there are possible solutions to the issue of counterfeiting and piracy in Africa. Protective mechanisms are a reality. Passionate professionals both within the government and among law practitioners are eager to learn and for the current system to evolve into one which is efficient, and which adequately protect the African consumer from the dangers of counterfeiting. Our final word of advice to right holders would therefore be to surround yourself with professionals who know the continent and who will be able to craft the best possible strategy aligned with expectations and budget.