African political and business leaders focus on intellectual property at UN-backed forum

12 March 2013

Using intellectual property – such as patents, trademarks and copyrights – to support African innovation and identity is among the topics discussed today at two major conferences organized by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Ministers for science and technology from approximately 20 countries, research and development institutions and entrepreneurs are joining WIPO, the Japan Patent Office and the Government of Tanzania to see how intellectual property (IP) can be used to promote innovation and creativity.

“Intellectual property is an indispensable mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets – IP rights create a secure environment for investment in innovation and provide a legal framework for trading in intellectual assets,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told the opening of the African Conference on the Strategic Importance of Intellectual Property Policies to Foster Innovation, Value Creation and Competitiveness.

The two-day conference in Dar es Salaam will also address the importance of innovation to address some of today’s most pressing global challenges, such as public health, food security and climate change, and assist countries in developing national innovation strategies.

Investment in knowledge creation, and the maintenance of a robust and balanced IP system, should feature prominently in any strategy to ensure sustainable economic growth, Mr. Gurry noted.

Among its projects, WIPO oversees public databases central to the UN’s wider efforts to create an open, inter-connected and inclusive IP knowledge-sharing infrastructure. The Geneva-based agency recently enlarged its Global Brand Database, which now lists 10.9 million national data records from collections made available by Algeria, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Estonia, Morocco, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Meanwhile, ministers and senior officials taking part in the conference now underway will remain in Dar es Salaam to participate in a meeting jointly organized by WIPO and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 14 March.

ECOSOC is one of the principal bodies of the UN and is responsible for coordinating the economic and social work of the Organization, as well as the work of WIPO and 13 other UN specialized agencies, their functional commissions and five regional commissions.


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