Finding appropriate IP policies for Africa
Intellectual Property Watchreports on the efforts made by several countries in Africa to find appropriate intellectual property policies and discussed at the Africa IP conference (February 2013). The issue of applying intellectual property rights to indigenous knowledge, in order to protect holders of this knowledge from exploitation, while at the same time leveraging it for development was a vibrant thread of debate throughout the conference.
IP-Watch.org also reports on the March 2013 workshop 'Practical Approaches to IP Utilization and Protection in Africa' co-organised by the US Commerce Department and the African Intellectual Property Group (AIPG), a new pro-IP association of stakeholders. Participants there emphasised the need to set an Africa IP agenda, more research on the impact of strong IPR protection, and to debunk the idea of a 'one-size-fits-all' IP policy for Africa.
More recently, IP-Watch.org wrote about the draft protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants proposed by an inter-governmental African regional economic community, the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It reported that the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) draft protocol is provoking the ire of civil society concerned about its potential impact on small farmers, and the lack of consultation of farmers. According to the draft protocol, plant breeders' rights 'in the region will allow farmers access to a wide range of improved varieties to contribute to the attainment of the regional goal of economic development and food security'. The civil society groups said that the protocol would not develop a suitable regime to the needs of SADC member states and their farmers. The latter rely heavily on farm saved seed, exchanges with relatives and neighbours, bartering with other farmers or local markets to access seeds.
(Intellectual Property Watch, March/April 2013)
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