-Says dos Santos, ARIPO Director General; hold IP roving seminar for academic, research institutions
Fernando dos Santos, director general of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), has said that Intellectual Property (IP) creators in Liberia are not taking full advantage of the membership of the country to the ARIPO system.
Mr. dos Santos said statistics show that only six Liberian trademarks are protected through the ARIPO, and this is a matter of great concern to them.
He further said Liberia joined the ARIPO Harare Protocol for the protection of patents, utility models, and industrial designs.
Mr. dos Santos said under that banner, at least 2903 patents, 561 industrial designs and 20 utility models from all over the world are enjoying protection in Liberia through the regional system.
Liberia also joined the Banjul Protocol for the protection of marks and as a result, 1008 marks are protected in the country. These numbers are rising exponentially every year.
“We have no marks, patents or industrial designs filed by Liberian institutions and we believe we can reverse this situation. This is the objective of this seminar, which is intended to enhance IP awareness in academic and research institutions, with a view to promoting the creation, protection, and utilization of research results using IUP tools for the economic and technological development in member states,” he said.
He made these remarks on Monday, April 7, at the start of a two-day IP roving seminar for academic and research institutions, held at the conference room of the University of Liberia (UL) under the theme: “Fostering Creativity and Innovation for Economic Growth and Development in Africa.”
As ARIPO, Mr. dos Santos said they are aware that there is a lot of creativity and innovation going on in academic and research institutions in Liberia. Yet the benefits of creativity, innovation, and inventiveness may not be fully realized or adequately rewarded. He said this happens due to the lack of awareness of the important role that IP protection plays in rewarding and promoting creativity and innovation.
Commerce Minister Wilson K. Tarpeh, who officially opened the seminar, expressed gratitude to Mr. dos Santos and the decision of ARIPO administrative council to choose Liberia to host the seminar, describing it as important and a timely decision.
Minister Tarpeh expressed the hope that they will continue to work with the council in moving ahead with the roving seminar.
He told the participants that because of the numerous interruptions in Liberia’s development efforts as a result of the civil conflict and the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Liberia is working hard to reconstruct and rehabilitate its basic infrastructure.
“There is already a sign that the art industry has the potential to boom based on market research done relative to this issue through the arts and craft sector as well as various writers who are contributing textbooks to the reading public,” he said.
President of the University of Liberia Dr. Ophelia Weeks said it is important for Liberians to pay attention to IP and the right associated with it.
“I say this because there was a memorandum of understanding [MOU] that was written between the UL and another organization. In that MOU there is a language placed there where UL will be giving out its rights to findings from a research that the university has actually paid for.
“I refused to sign it because I knew the language there could affect the university in the future. So it is important that we pay attention to IP,” she urged.
Dr. Weeks admonished her colleagues that as they develop research activities at the University and in other organizations and agencies in Liberia, it will be important that “we know our rights as far as intellectual property is concerned.
“So, I am very happy that we are now getting up and making this an important part and how we do research on the study and how we can protect our rights,” she concluded.