African Regional Intellectual Property Organization at 40 years.

On 9 December 2016, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) inaugurated its new state-of-the-art headquarters building that has been designed to generate an exceptionally warm and congenial atmosphere for work.

The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Honourable Emmerson Mnangagwa was the Guest of Honour at the ceremony. Other dignitaries and guests who witnessed the event were members of the Council of Ministers of ARIPO, Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Zimbabwe, heads of international and regional cooperating partners, senior government officials from Zimbabwe and the Member States, members of the Administrative Council of ARIPO and intellectual property practitioners.

The inauguration was also done concurrently with the 40th anniversary celebrations. The new headquarters building offers adequate office space, meeting rooms and modern conference facilities.

Among the members of the Council of Ministers of ARIPO who attended, was its Vice-Chairman, who is also Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Liberia, Honourable Axel M. Addy.

The 40th anniversary celebrations and inauguration of the new headquarters was graced by several of ARIPO’s co-operating partners who delivered their congratulatory messages. These included; the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the Republic of China, Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences et Plants (GNIS), European Patent Office (EPO), European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), Africa University, African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI-Mexico).

ARIPO celebrates 40 years of existence (1976-2016) and Inauguration of the new ARIPO Headquarters on the 9th of December 2016.

The Fortieth Session of the Administrative Council of ARIPO has begun in Harare, Zimbabwe. The Session is scheduled to consider, from 5 – 7 December 2016, several documents on the administrative aspects of the Organization including the proposed budget and programme of activities for the year 2017, proposals to amend some of the ARIPO treaties to continually keep them in line with international trends.

Mrs. Virginia Mabhiza, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe officially opened the 40th session. In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary applauded the council members for having taken the organization this far.

The Administrative Council session preludes other events that are coming in the week namely; the ARIPO-WIPO IP Conference and 40th Anniversary celebrations which will culminate in the inauguration of the new ARIPO headquarters building on Friday, 9 December, 2016.

The Republic of Liberia became party to the Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore within the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) on October 25, 2016 (the date on which the Instrument of Ratification was deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe).

The ratification of the Swakopmund Protocol by the Republic of Liberia brings the number of Member States party to the Protocol to eight (8).

The Protocol was adopted in Swakopmund, Republic of Namibia by a Diplomatic Conference on August 9, 2010, and came into force on May 11, 2015.

The Protocol aims to protect the overall traditional knowledge and folklore of Africa to ensure that it is properly utilized for the welfare of its people.

In its continuous efforts to promote the use of the ARIPO route in the protection of intellectual property rights in Africa through direct engagements with the users, on October 10, 2016, the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos met representatives of Italian IP firm Praxi Intellectual Property, SPA. With its headquarters in Turin, the IP firm has other offices in Genoa, Milan, Padua, Rome and Venice. Its activities are focused on all facets of intellectual property – patents, trademarks, designs, utility models and copyrights – including search procedures, registration and granting of rights, management of cases or actions aimed at preventing counterfeiting as well as economic and asset-related valuation of intangible assets.

During the meeting, Mr. Fernando dos Santos apprised Praxi Intellectual Property of the current trends of sustained economic growth and development in Africa and the opportunities this offers in terms of the need for protection of IPRs in that region. Bemoaning, the low numbers of applications originating from the Italian companies, Mr. dos Santos highlighted and explained the benefits of using the ARIPO route for the protection of IPRs in its Member States.

The parties explored the possibility of using the ARIPO route, the designation of ARIPO in the Patent Cooperation Treaty files and how they can promote the ARIPO system in Italy and Europe in general.

Praxi Intellectual Property, S.p.A was represented in the meeting by Giulio Crosetto, Partner and Chairman, Praxi Board; Mara Crosetto and Cesare Testore (partners); Marco Andreoletti, Managing Director; Elisabetta Lisa, IP specialist and Davide Cerrano, a senior officer.