The 2017 edition of ARIPO’s flagship programme of roving seminars kicked off with two seminars being organized by the Organization, jointly with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Malawi in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe from 20 – 21 and 23 – 24 March 2017 respectively. The year’s series of the seminars is running under the general theme “Fostering creativity and innovation for economic growth and development in Africa”.
The Blantyre leg of the roving seminars focused on the protection and promotion of patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks and computer software through the ARIPO system, while that of Lilongwe focused on economic benefits of copyright and related rights, and also on the benefits of protection and utilization of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and expressions of folklore to the people of Malawi and Africa in general.
Each of the two roving seminars attracted more than 70 participants from a diverse cross-section of IP users and potential users in Malawi. The presenters were also people of diverse backgrounds. Amongst them, were some experts from the local universities, the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), ARIPO, and Department of the Registrar General of Malawi.
The Honorable Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of Malawi Mr. Samuel Tembenu, officially opened the Lilongwe seminar with a call on ARIPO and the national IP office of Malawi to add value on traditional knowledge and genetic resources for the benefit of the knowledge and rights holders. The national offices were also urged to take leading roles in the establishment of the enabling legislation to adequately govern these new areas of IP.
The Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, in his remarks expressed appreciation to Malawi for her support of ARIPO’s initiatives, which have seen the country ratifying the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs, the Banjul Protocol on Marks and the Swakopmund Protocol for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore. He however urged Malawian innovators, entrepreneurs and all other IP rights holders to take full advantage of the country’s membership to ARIPO to protect their rights through the ARIPO regional system.
The main purpose of the roving seminars is to promote the use of IP in the ARIPO Member States. Since the programme started in 2013, the Roving Seminars have been organized in 14 Member States and have since benefited more than 2000 participants who went on to share the information with their respective constituencies.