African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Member States last week held a meeting at the Speke Resort Munyonyo as part of the sessions leading up to the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Draft Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights to be held on 27th and 28th August 2021.
The Copyright Experts were joined by the ARIPO potential Member States and cooperating partners and will review the draft Protocol that took into account the inputs of the Member States and cooperating partners.
The participants to the Experts’ meeting have also benefited from presentations on experience and successes of the voluntary registration system in Hungary and Spain. These presentations were made by Dr Peter Labody, Director of the Copyright Department at the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office and Raquel Xalabarder, Professor of Intellectual Property at the University of Catalunya, respectively.
The reviewed and improved draft Protocol will be presented to the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Administrative Council for endorsement from 23rd to 26th August 2021. Afterward, the final draft Protocol will be presented to the Council of Ministers during the Diplomatic Conference on 27th and 28th for adoption.
The Protocol will establish a Regional Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights and create and maintain a Regional Database for Copyright and Related Rights. The system will integrate with that of the respective Member States. It will also play a significant role in capacity building for the Member States, enhancing the National Copyright Offices institutional infrastructures, facilitating, and encouraging shaping of the Member States Copyright and Related Rights landscape while observing the international standards. It will provide an effective presumption as to authorship and/ or ownership; it can facilitate commercialization, more creativity, expansion of markets, and the enforcement of rights.
The Experts Meeting is supported by the Intellectual Property Rights & Innovation in Africa project (AfrIPI) whose objective is to facilitate economic growth in Africa. The AfrIPI project aims to promote, enhance and protect Intellectual Property Rights across Africa, in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force in May 2019 and unleashed the potential of integrating the economies of the 54 countries that signed the Agreement and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
AfrIPI will also strengthen intellectual property protection in Africa and raise awareness of the importance and value of intellectual property (such as geographical indications, patents or trademarks) among African micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the productive sector and society. The project is funded by the European Union and will be accomplished by 2025.
The 40th Session of the Administrative Council that took place in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 5th to 7th December 2016, identified the need to adopt a Protocol on voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights under the ARIPO framework and hence approved a roadmap for the establishment of a voluntary copyright registration and notification system at ARIPO.
The roadmap required ARIPO to undertake a Feasibility Study and develop a Policy Framework for the registration and notification system in the Member States. The Feasibility Study and Policy Framework were adopted by the 41st Session of the Administrative Council held in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 20 th to 22nd November 2017. During this session, the Council also adopted the recommendation to develop a Legal Framework to implement the voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights and approved the roadmap.
At the 17 th Session of the Council of Ministers that took place in Charlesville, Margibi County, Republic of Liberia, from 21st to 22 nd November 2019, the Council gave approval for the Legal Framework on the establishment of a regional voluntary copyright registration and notification system to be formulated into a Draft Protocol for adoption at a Diplomatic Conference that was to be held in Kampala, Uganda in July 2020. However, the Conference was re-scheduled due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
Further to the decision of the Council of Ministers, the ARIPO Secretariat reformulated the Legal Framework into a Draft Protocol taking into account the inputs of the Member States and cooperating Partners.
The ARIPO 20 Member States are Botswana, The Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.