The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in collaboration with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has organized a Sub–regional seminar on the promotion and understanding of multilateral treaties in the field of patents: Paris Convention, Budapest Treaty and Patent Law Treaty (PLT) at the ARIPO Headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 11 to 13 February 2015.

Officers from 13 ARIPO Member States have converged in Harare for the seminar, which seeks to promote the use by the participating countries of some international treaties, namely Paris Convention, Budapest Treaty and Patent Law Treaty (PLT).

In his official remarks at the official opening of the seminar, WIPO Acting Director, Patent Law Division, Mr. Marco Aleman decried the reluctance by Least Developed Countries, to embrace the benefits derived from known flexibilities that come with these multilateral treaties despite the fact that the LDCs were part of the discussions that eventually brought them about. In particular, he singled out flexibilities with regard to health ─ an area he said was of great interest to most LDCs. He implored them to look at the eventual benefits arising from these in the future for their populations.

He challenged the Member States of ARIPO to engage and learn from the experiences of the member states of the European Patent Office who have fully embraced them.

He said that the purpose of the seminar was also to understand the concerns of the Member States of ARIPO, which are preventing them from taking advantages of these treaties.

Mr Aleman urged the participants to interact and discuss issues on the table openly in return for a promise to forward the views gathered to the seat of the WIPO in Geneva.

The Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, officially opened the Seminar. Mr. dos Santos lauded the role that WIPO continues to play in Africa’s intellectual property (IP) landscape. He further urged participants to take advantage of the knowledge to be acquired during this Seminar to enhance IP management in the ARIPO region.

He lamented the insignificant role that Africa is playing in global IP systems despite the fact that nearly every African state has enabling laws to facilitate its better placement in the global IP transactions and indicators. He said that, according to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2014, of the over 2 million patent lodgments made in 2013, Africa’s share was a mere 0.6% ─ with most of these 0.6% filings made in Africa emanating from the industrialized countries through the Patent Cooperation Treaty. He thus challenged African innovations to find their way into IP filings.

He urged the participants to learn from the able Resource Persons who were invited to impart their knowledge and experiences to them. Mr. dos Santos said that he would fully expect the participants, once armed with this knowledge, to initiate discussions among themselves now and in the future on how to effectively improve the prevailing status quo.

The Korean Implementation Survey Team and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) delegation, organized by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and WIPO, visited the Republic of Zimbabwe from September 17 to 21, 2012, for the purpose of working out the details of “The Project for the Upgrade and Modernization of the ICT Infrastructure of the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office (ZIPO), African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and its Member States”.

During its visit, the Team had a series of discussions with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs of the Republic

of Zimbabwe with respect to the desirable measures to be taken by the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and ARIPO for the successful implementation of the Project.

A Workshop on “Creativity and Access to Knowledge: A social and Economic Impetus for Africa” which has been organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Japan Patent Office (JPO) in cooperation with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Government of Uganda has started this morning, 27 March 2015, in Kampala, Uganda.

The meeting seeks to raise awareness among Parliamentarians from the ARIPO Member States of the importance of ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by their respective governments. The Treaty, which was developed by WIPO and adopted on 27 June 2013, facilitates access to published works by persons who are blind or otherwise print disabled.

It was made clear during the event that none of the ARIPO Member States has ratified or acceded to the Treaty. During the discussions, the Parliamentarians were however unanimous in committing themselves to working with the relevant authorities in their respective countries in order to accelerate ratification of the Treaty.

Parliamentarians were also sensitized on the importance of ratification of the Beijing Treaty on Audio-visual Performances of June 2012. Notwithstanding this development in the film industry, only Botswana among the ARIPO Member States has ratified the Treaty. The Parliamentarians participating in the event acknowledged the contribution of the creative industry in the development of their countries and concluded that accession to the Beijing Treaty is beneficial to the Member States.