The World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the body responsible for administering the TRIPS Agreement, which is one of the multiple WTO Agreements, dealing specifically with Intellectual Property matters. The Council particularly monitors the operation of the TRIPS Agreement.
At its meeting of 8 to 9 June 2010, the WTO Council for TRIPS granted to ARIPO and OAPI an ad-hoc observer status on a meeting-by-meeting basis. The WTO Council for TRIPS has from then been inviting ARIPO to attend its meetings.
Discussions have been going on in order to grant a permanent observer status to ARIPO and its sister Organization OAPI.
On 20 October 2017, a new move has been registered because the TRIPS Council, at its ordinary session that took place in Geneva from 19 to 20 October 2017, decided to grant a permanent observer status to ARIPO and OAPI.
The Head of the ARIPO Academy conducted a benchmarking exercise with the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia, USA from 25 to 28 September, 2017.
Mr Outule Rapuleng met with Ms Miriam DeChant, the Director of GIPA, to deliberate how ARIPO could leverage its advantage/position as a regional center of excellence for Africa to coordinate training for its Member States as well as how to manage growth and track quality of training.
Other items discussed were the programs and target groups to be trained, including ARIPO Members States and non-Member States, and the impact and outcome of the training interventions.
The meeting also talked about the bilateral cooperation between the ARIPO Academy and GIPA within the broader context of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by ARIPO and USPTO in 2015.
Mr Rapuleng also got a chance to meet the Patent Attorney for USPTO, Africa Team of Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA) at USPTO, Senior Trade Counsel, Senior Attorneys/Advisors for the respective departments of the office namely Copyright, Trademarks, the Academy, Enforcement and Patents as well as the GIPA Distance Learning Team.
GIPA is managed by OPIA and provides intellectual property training in a variety of different topics primarily that focus on enforcement, patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
Ms Janet Tomkow, an Attorney from Hahn & Hahn Inc based in South Africa, visited the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) on 27 September, 2017 to familiarise herself with the office practices on Intellectual Property mandates.
She met with ARIPO's IP Operations Executive, Mr John Kabare, and the Head of Formality Examination, Mr Charles Pundo. The meeting focused on the process and requirements of restoring lapsed patents, the fees applicable as well as the processing of assignments at ARIPO and Designated State level.
Hahn & Hahn Inc is a boutique firm of Intellectual Property practitioners specializing in obtaining and protecting Patent, Design and Trademark rights in South Africa and the entire African Continent.
Since South Africa is not an ARIPO Member State, Hahn & Hahn Inc file their applications through a third party, B.W. Kahari, based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Under the ARIPO system, South Africa has the status of a potential member state.
Officials from B.W. KAHARI namely Mrs Brenda Kahari, Mr Tanaka Kunaka and Ms Mariata Sithole accompanied Ms Tomkow during the visit.
Three Administrative Committees of the ARIPO Administrative Council are meeting at the ARIPO Secretariat starting 20 to 22 September 2017. The Committees for Audit, Finance and Human Capital are meeting separately to discuss and come up with key decisions to assist the Secretariat in fulfilling its mandate as enshrined in the Lusaka Agreement.
The Ninth session of the Audit Committee will consider among others the report on the Internal Audit activities undertaken in the period ending 30 June 2017 and the External Auditors' report for 2016.
The Twenty-Fourth session of the Finance Committee will deliberate on the Audited Financial Statements for the year 2016, the report of ARIPO's Financial Performance for the period ending August 31, 2017 and the proposed budget and programme of activities for 2018 which are part of the ongoing Value and Growth Strategic Transformation process for the period 2016-2020.
The Sixteenth session of the Human Capital Committee will look at a number of documents including the Human Capital Report for the year to 31 August 2017; draft Performance Management Manual; proposals to address geographical representation and gender balance at the Secretariat as well as proposed amendments to the staff rules and procedures.
A joint committee of the Human Capital and Finance Committee will be convened during this period to consider budget implications of the proposed travel management guidelines. Similarly, a joint meeting of the Human Capital and Audit Committees will be held to consider the proposals to harmonize the draft investigations manual as well as the staff rules and procedures.
After these considerations the committees will then make recommendations to the Forty-first session of the Administrative Council for possible adoption of the proposals and other technical matters under discussion. The 2017 Administrative Council will be held in November in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The ARIPO Director General, Mr. Fernando dos Santos officially opened the sessions of the Administrative Committees.
A 5-days sub-regional workshop on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) on National Phase Examination and Utilizing Work Products from Other National Phases organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and with the assistance of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) is being held at the ARIPO Secretariat in Harare, Zimbabwe from 18-22 September, 2017.
“This workshop is essential for further promoting innovations and developing industries in Africa, to establish and improve intellectual property systems,” said Mr. Masao Goto, Director (Intellectual Property Rights), Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) based in Dubai, U.A.E, and is the liaison for Japan Patent Office in Middle East and Africa.
“Appropriate protection of intellectual property in Africa will lead not only to encouraging investments in Africa by foreign countries including Japan, but also bringing out the distinctive potential of Africa. And this will also lead to driving sustainable economic growth in African countries,” He added.
He gave the objectives of the workshop as to enhance skills for work sharing on PCT; raise awareness so that such work products can be easily accessible through various platforms and tools and; to enhance confidence and readiness for using external examination work products with a view to improving efficiency and quality of national phase examination.
According to Mr. Ken-Ichiro Natsume, Director, PCT International Cooperation Division, Patents and Technology Sector at WIPO, everyone is looking at doing business in Africa.
He said that from 2005 to 2015 there was an increase of 3.1% of patents applications in Africa. This is much higher than the increasing ratio in Europe at 1% and the Oceania countries at 1.3%.
“This workshop is significant as the Examiners here will learn to tackle these patent applications,” added Mr Natsume.
The Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos thanked WIPO for sending a high level delegation of resource persons to lecture at the workshop. He added that the workshop is of paramount importance to ARIPO to help the organization and those being trained to understand the PCT system.
The other speakers at the worshop are Mr. Barnaby Hoyal, Senior Examiner, European Patent Organization and Mr. Lutz Mailander, Head, Cooperation on Examination and Training Section (PCT ICD) at WIPO.
There are 14 workshop participants from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.
Uwa Ohiku, a partner in Jackson, Etti & Edu law Firm based in Lagos Nigeria, paid a courtesy visit to the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) on 07 September, 2017.
Jackson, Etti & Edu is one of the largest law firms in West Africa who file applications with ARIPO. Since Nigeria is not an ARIPO member state, they file the applications through a third party from any of the ARIPO member states. Nigeria is one of the potential member states for ARIPO.
Uwa is a Partner and Head of the Intellectual Property Department (IP) of the Firm. She met with ARIPO’s Director General, Mr Fernando dos Santos, Mr John Kabare, IP Operations Executive and Mr Charles Pundo, Head of Formality Examination.
In the meeting both parties expressed the need to forge better relationships that will be beneficial to users and both institutions. Although Jackson, Etti & Edu is from a non-member state, it was listed on the ARIPO Booth at the 2017 INTA Annual Meeting in May held in Barcelona, Spain as one of the ARIPO Agents. It took this step because of its interest in the ARIPO System.
This was her maiden visit to ARIPO. She was accompanied by Mr Keith Magorimbo of Clairwood Chamber Law Chambers based in Zimbabwe. The visitors took a guided tour of the new ARIPO state-of-the-art building during which time they had an opportunity to meet and chart with some of ARIPO’s officers.