In the past, the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) was not that active; but things appear to be changing gradually since Roosevelt Gould took over as director general of the agency.
Under his leadership, in less than five months, staff capacities have been built to meet up with today’s demand for Intellectual Property (IP) knowledge, which is necessary for LIPO staff to deliver an improved quality of service.
And the kickstart of a 12-day stakeholder field trip to develop a national intellectual property strategic plan that will be integrated into government development agenda is also one of Gould’s initiatives to put LIPO on track.
This plan is necessary to encourage and facilitate useful creations, critical developments and management and protection of IP at the national level to benefit creative persons.
Not stopping there, Director Gould has started to expand the organization’s priorities in three main areas that had not been done before. These three areas are – creating awareness, providing effective protection support for artist and innovators, and engaging into a public–private partnership.
The essence of the awareness, which is currently ongoing with the various artistic unions and inventors that is expected to be made public as soon as possible, is meant to make the Intellectual Property Law impactful, since most Liberian artists and inventors don’t protect their creations.
It is also geared towards educating artists and inventors about the numerous benefits when one’s IP is protected in this rapidly changing world that is characterized by major shifts in the use of technology. It is very important for Liberian inventors and artists to benefit from their inventions and creations.
This awareness is particularly important among artists and inventors since the general lack of IP knowledge among them has led pirates – who mostly pose as distributors or marketers – to create a booming illegal trade in pirated CDs, DVDs and the like.
These inventors and artists are aware that their rights have been infringed on but don’t have the knowledge on what to do to reap monetary benefits from the people that are stealing their creativity.
So with the coming of this awareness, artists and inventors now have knowledge about the country’s IP Law and the benefits it provides to them when their works are registered and lots more.
And as for providing effective protection for artists and innovators, the Gould led administration through this 12-day field trip has begun training security personnel on IP.
The training for the security personnel, the first of its kind in five years, covered topics ranging from basic IP concepts to the IP Law.
The coming of this training is essential because it will give security agents knowledge on IP to provide protection for inventions and innovations and artistic works – which will create an enabling market environment for creators to benefit economically from their crafts.
Moreover, the training will enhance their expertise of online investigation, by teaching them specific techniques on identifying online platforms that sell duplicated material.
At the end of the training, a network will be created to crack down on all forms of illegal distributions, most especially the visible ones.
Lastly, the private-public partnership the Gould administration has started to initiate offers an opportunity for the organization to boost its capacity to protect and to fully recognize and celebrate the talents of their innovators and creators.
This partnership is very critical to the success of building a sustainable knowledge-based economy, since it provides access to both intellectual resource and financial capital to creators.
Additionally, public-private partnerships can stir up artistic creations and innovations at a high speed.
Roosevelt Gould, the new LIPO boss who served as a lawyer for the National Investment Commission and Ministry of Commerce, helped to draft the new IP Law of Liberia. He is a graduate of the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law and the World Intellectual Property Organization Academy in Geneva, Switzerland, with an advance degree in IP.