The role of South-South cooperation in the field of intellectual property (IP) took centre stage at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting recently, ahead of the UN agency’s General Assemblies gathering, according to Bridges Weekly Trade Digest.
"The project seeks to share information and experiences about the practical initiatives that developing and least developed countries (LDCs) are taking in using IP for promoting innovation, while also ensuring that it is supportive of broader public policies and development goals."
This meeting is timely given the recent outcry over attempts to organise the African IP Forum, pass traditional knowledge legislation in South Africa and establish a Pan African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO).
"The [WIPO] August meeting [in Brazil last year] also considered three potential areas for South-South cooperation: genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and folklore; copyright; and IP governance."
The ill fated attempt to organise an African IP Forum in Cape Town earlier this year and the more recent discussions over an AU policy objective to establish PAIPO - Pan African Intellectual Property Organisation - as an umbrella organisation to both ARIPO and OAPI overseeing IP on the Africa continent were both met with strong opposition by groups favouring a more developmental approach. The result was that the African IP forum (Cape Town) was canned and the PAIPO initiative is currently in the dock and receiving some fierce cross examination by interest groups.
"The next Inter-Regional Meeting on South-South Cooperation is expected to focus on patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications. Egypt has offered to host the upcoming gathering, which is tentatively slated to take place in May 2013."
PAIPO objectives are summarised here as follows:
"[An] African head of heads of states summit adopted a resolution to establish a single Pan African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) in January, 2007. They requested AUC in collaboration with RECs, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and in coordination with African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) to submit the texts relevant to the establishment of a single Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). Indeed, the Africa-wide IP organization will serve as a cost-effective entity to streamline IP management in Africa. As a public-service organization, the entity will thus benefit from increasing economies of scale as it seeks to serve the IP needs of the whole continent."