Liberia Intellectual Property (LIPO) has opened three months free registration for intellectual property (IP) creators in a pronouncement contained in a message read yesterday by Prince Decker, LIPO Acting officer-in-charge at this year’s World IP Day celebration at the YMCA on Broad Street, Monrovia.
The registration exercise is intended to protect the works of Liberia’s IP creators, who mostly don’t have the financial strength to underwrite the cost to file for protection. This leaves the IP creators without any choice but directly expose their works to pirates, thereby missing out the legal benefits that should have come with the process.
“This free registration period is the best solution we can find to encourage our local IP creators to protect their creations. It hurts to see that they are not benefiting from their creations, but we are finding solutions to the problem bit by bit. IP registration protects more than just creations – it is that genuine asset that gives you legal authority over your works which prevent competitors or anyone else from using your creations for their own profit without your consent,” Mr. Decker said.
IP includes patent, trademark, industrial designs and geographical indications (GI), literary work, films, music, and artistic works, (e.g. Drawings, paintings, photograph, sculpture, and architecture design).
World IP Day is celebrated in the global community to acknowledge the fundamental importance role of IP in promoting innovation and development throughout the world.
He added that IP registrations provide the creators an edge over the unregistered material legally and the law acknowledges that creators are the legal owners of the copyrighted material.
Mr. Decker noted that in a recent study by LIPO, 90% of the IP creations registered were non-Liberians, meaning 90% of local creators don’t register their creations, which is causing them to incur heavy financial losses compared to their foreign counterparts.
“This is because once their works are not registered it is difficult for them to exploit their IP fully. Registrations give you the legal backing, because it protects the IP against infringement by others and ultimately defend you in courts as the sole right to use, make, sell or import and to stop others using, making, selling or importing it without your permission and to earn royalties by licensing, as well as make money by selling it,” he said. “So to help local IP creators to benefit from their creations, we are announcing this three months free registrations, which we hope they take advantage of.”
Meanwhile, Wilfred Bangura, II, Deputy Minister for Administration, at the Ministry of Commerce has called for collective efforts from government ministries who have responsibilities to help protect IP, to put their feet on the ground to do so.
“The time is now for us to protect IP. This delay is hampering the growth of the creative industry and causing the government to lose needed revenue as well. However, we will do all we can from our end to make sure we create an enabling environment for IP to strive and develop,” Min. Bangura said.