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
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.
There is no doubt that solving this pandemic is the most pressing challenge of our time. This is not a zero sum game. Below, I elaborate on the four points for effective global solidarity to tackle the pandemic.
In the webinar, the panelists brilliantly discussed salient subjects pertinent to global intellectual property (IP) rights rules and relevant implementation mechanisms at regional and national levels. In quintessential Afronomicslaw.org fashion, the discussions underscored Global South interests and reinforced the importance of fostering development-oriented IP systems.
As part of research, ILRSC introduced a booklet series on international law and Nepal in the beginning of 2020. The first booklet is on the significance of international law. Others are on Customary International Law, TWAIL, and Treaties. These are yet to be published. Student interns work as research assistants for these booklets. This is a small attempt to keep afloat the interest in PIL despite the paucity of resources.