Commerce and Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh, has pledged the government’s full political will to support Liberia’s Intellectual Property Office, to fast track the ratification of all outstanding Intellectual Property treaties.
Minister Tarpeh’s statement, which is a bold move, comes at a time when, amid slow economic growth, the government is making frantic efforts to fully utilize Intellectual Property (IP), to spur economic growth and expand the country’s middle class.
The statement of support also comes three days after he signed an administrative regulation for the establishment of Liberia’s first-ever collective management society which, if fulfilled, will lead to Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) actively fulfilling its mandates, particularly fights against piracy and other forms of IP theft.
Minister Tarpeh, who is LIPO’s Board Chair, told delegates at the ongoing African Regional Intellectual Property Organization’s (ARIPO) 43rd administrative council meetings, which is being held at Farmington Hotel, Margibi County from November 18-20, 2019, that the government is committed to the ratification of all international IP legal instruments.
“We herewith make a solemn commitment to provide all political support to LIPO, to ratify all ARIPO and WIPO legal instruments which Liberia has not ratified. Before the end of the next calendar year, Liberia will be up to date and in compliance with all IP legal instruments.
“As a government, we are going to do everything possible for the full utilization of IP rights in Liberia and create a favorable avenue for its commercial exploitation, as well as vigorous enforcement exercise to hugely reduce IP theft across the country in order for creators to make a profit out of their creativity.
“Our decision to host these meetings, despite major economic challenges, is a clear testimony of our overall commitment to the principles and tenants of IP. It is hard to think of a global issue today that does not have a significant IP dimension. Consider public health, innovation and access to medicines. Consider climate change and the development of green technology. It is IP that is central to these issues,” Minister Tarpeh said.
Minster Tarpeh added that the government has begun strengthening policies to provide legal space for IP instruments to get commercial recognition and increase the fight against IP theft.
“As political actors, we must formulate policies so that no creator in Africa will have to provide collateral of tangible assets before acquiring a loan. IP is perhaps the only economic and financial issue that is not affected by the price of international trade or global market,” Minister Tarpeh told the meeting delegates. “It is, for this reason, we must use it to our advantage as a major source of revenue for the central government. We must put a little more investment and faith in the process.”
In remarks at the meeting, ARIPO Director General Fernando dos Santos said that the organization saw remarkable growth in trademark applications with an increase of 12% compared to last year.
“With an average rate of 37 applications per month, it is projected that approximately 443 applications will be filed by the end of 2019 and, if realized, this would be the highest number of mark applications filing per year in the history of ARIPO systems.
“Also worth noting are the tremendous developments in information and communication technologies. It is encouraging to note the increasing level of uptake of the online system that was introduced in a bid to provide efficiency in intellectual property business processing. Indeed, just for patent filings, 94% of new applications filed in 2019 were done online, compared to 83.25 % in 2018 and 58.10 in 2017,” Mr dos Santos said.
Mr. dos Santos added that ARIPO has launched another Masters in Intellectual Property at the University of Dar Es Salaam, which is intended to fast-track the creation of necessary skills for Africa to benefit more from the IP system.