On 5 November, main African IP actors met EU counterparts to discuss and assess current situation of Intellectual Property in Africa, future prospects and cooperation opportunities under the AfrIPI project and collaboration with European. Among others, IP regional organisations ARIPO and OAPI, as well as European national IP offices contributed to a meaningful dialogue, which also engaged the African Union Commission and the European Union.
The conference, organized by the European Commission and EUIPO (EU Intellectual Property Office), covered a wide range of IP topics, such as current support of ARIPO and OAPI to their Member States, or the European Trade Mark and Design Network, which supports EU countries. Challenges and successful stories in Africa were also raised.
This meeting was also an excellent opportunity to introduce the afrIPI project to African and European stakeholders. AfrIPI, which focuses on Intellectual Property and Innovation in Africa, will contribute to:
- Promote IPR international agreements and facilitate fact-based AfCFTA negotiations;
- Contribute to the strengthening of national and regional IP institutions, networks and tools, as well as protection and enforcement systems;
- Strengthen the awareness of Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs)/ productive sector on the importance and value of IP (including geographical indications) in African society;
- Support priority actions under the AU Continental Strategy for Geographical Indications.
As Phase 2 of AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) negotiations advance, a Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) is foreseen. Having a special focus on IPRs, AfrIPI will facilitate intra-African trade and African and European investment.
Why are IPRs important for Africa?
- Intellectual Property Rights, such as trade marks, designs, patents, geographical indications and plant variety rights, are one of the cornerstones of modern economic policy and are a catalyst for development. They are an important tool for the sustainable development of emerging economies.
- Through their ability to create and sustain exclusivity in the marketplace, IPRs are recognised all over the world as an important commercial asset and a driving force for technological innovation and progress.
- Moreover, IPR, including geographic indications (GIs), are key in achieving a comprehensive integrated market. Countries with high standards of IPR protection and GIs systems tend to attract more investment, increase trade volumes, stimulate more innovation and, as a result, develop more rapidly at national and regional levels, bringing IPRs to the forefront of the development agenda to accomplishing regional economic integration. GIs are also a powerful tool for rural development.