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.
Intellectual Property Rights
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, Afronomicslaw.org 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.
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 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.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) enforcement in Africa holds the power to influence the extent to which foreign and local entities and individuals will register IPRs within and across African borders. Therefore, the book entitled Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2020), is a timely publication which provides key insights pertaining to IPRs enforcement.
In Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2020), Marius Schneider and Vanessa Ferguson have not only given good exposition on the IP regime in all 54 African countries but have also taught us social studies on the nations of Africa. Some of this information seems far in history but one can blame the authors, as sourcing information and statistics on African countries can be a herculean task. They have done very well in this regard!
Earlier in November 2020, I reviewed the book, Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2020) for The IPKat Blog. In that review, I observed that as a continent with 54 countries having distinct and diverse legal systems and rules, “understanding and following developments on law and practice in Africa can be an uphill task even for a field like IP law that ‘enjoys’ the benefit of various international treaties”. To translate this observation in practical terms, my review could only engage with the broad objectives of the book and the way in which the chapters on each African country sought to achieve those objectives.
A central point highlighted in Vanni's analysis comes in the title of the chapter itself, “the Juridical State”. Brazil's social and political conflicts are for the most part moderated, and often even defined, by the role of courts. Hence, this centrality of the Judiciary in legal-political disputes is an unavoidable aspect of the analysis (and particularly as this was perhaps not always the case in the country's history). In IP and health policy, the influence of the Judiciary is crucial, where certain courts may take decisions on the validity of pharmaceutical patents - directly affecting conditions of competition and access to medicines - and superior courts may decide upon the constitutionality of aspects of laws and regulations that may either legitimize or fully impede the implementation of public health policies in IP matters.
The importance of technology transfer in holding together the links and processes of the global value chain tells us a lot about value accretion and control of the chains. The concept of the global value chain, especially as it is portrayed in documents like the Global Value Chain Development Report 2019 and in the 2020 World Bank’s Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains is non-hierarchical.
This online symposium is the outcome of a workshop on ‘GVCs, Trade and Development’ hosted by the Kent Law School and IEL collective in July 2020 and supported by the British Academy (Grant no. MD19\190020). The workshop engaged with the policy research literature produced by the World Trade Organisation and World Bank since 2013, in particular their Global Value Chain Development (GVCD) reports of 2017 and 2019.