Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pan-African progress

The 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit recently wrapped up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 28 January 2013.

In my earlier post Out of Africa I observe that one of the items on the table in an earlier meeting in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo was a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO).

On one hand there are already two regional intellectual property offices in Africa. These are the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI). This would suggest there is no need for a third.

On the other hand there are some stated objectives set out in Article 5 of the draft text, which presumably the two existing regimes do not achieve. The objectives are as follows:
  • promotion of harmonisation of intellectual property laws of its [African Union] member states;
  • common administration and management services of intellectual property; and
  • vehicle for addressing political issues and developing African common positions relating to intellectual property matters.

It seems that PAIPO is still on the table. According to a press release from the recent Summit, the Heads of State of the African Union (AU) have decided to proceed with the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is requested to convene a meeting of all stakeholders dealing with intellectual property in the implementation of the Decision by May 2013 Summit.

It will be interesting to see whether non-African stakeholders are involved in the process.

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