National Intellectual Property Strategy under review

13 Apr 2016 19:40pm
WINDHOEK, 13 APR (NAMPA) – Representatives from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), the Ministry of Trade and German cooperative GIZ are scrutinising the draft National Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy for Namibia.
Speaking at a one-day workshop on the validation of the national IP strategy here on Wednesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Gabriel Sinimbo said Namibia’s approach is to have a framework that maintains a balance between protection of IP rights and safeguarding against market abuse.
He said the system should ensure a balance between promoting and rewarding innovation whilst ensuring access to affordable quality medicine.
“The system should strike a balance between creating incentives for industrial innovation whilst leaving room for ongoing progress in research and development. It should uphold and promote the value of knowledge and technology transfer, without undermining protection; one which attracts investors while promoting local innovation,” he said.
IP refers to anything created by an individual using their mind such as a symbol, formula, slogan, idea or work of art that can be used in commerce. The IP right means an individual owns that idea, formula or creation and is entitled to receiving a royalty when that is idea is used by something or someone else. IP rights are very important in the agricultural, medical and media sector.
Namibia is in the process of finding answers to the problem of misappropriation of genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK), and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), or folklore, within the intellectual property (IP) system.
The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development and Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) are responsible for administering IP and copyright laws respectively.
Sinimbo made reference to President Hage Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan, which is premised upon four pillars namely, effective governance; economic advancement; social protection; and infrastructure development. IP in its cross-cutting nature has effects on these pillars and should contribute to fight and eradicate poverty, contribute to employment creation, and economic transformation. The IP framework should facilitate access to the relevant technologies, he added.
The WIPO compiled the 68-page draft audit report along with members of the public and the private sector. Namibia has no national IP policy framework that would enable the country to use IP in order to meet development goals and objectives, ensure policy coherence and provide guidance on the registration of IP into sectoral development policies; the generation and exploitation of IP assets, and the provision and promotion of local creative, inventive and innovative activities as well as the transfer of technology; and preventing the loss of valuable assets and absence of benefit sharing such as those relating to the misappropriation of traditional or indigenous knowledge and biological resources.
The workshop’s main purpose was to give stakeholders and other interested groups an overview of the draft National IP Strategy for Namibia as well as an opportunity for them to interrogate the draft policy, seek clarifications from the international experts and give their recommendations for the strategy.