HARARE-(MaraviPost)-The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) member states have been encouraged to register designs and utility model also known as ‘petty patent’ in various ARIPO and European jurisdictions.

This was disclosed during a workshop hosted by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation Project in Africa (AfrIPI) on April 27, 2022.

Mrs. Lourdes Chamorro, EU Delegation, Zimbabwe, Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, Director General, ARIPO, Mr. Dennis Scheirs, Team Leader, AfrIPI 2

The organisations hosted the workshop with the aim of fostering creativity and innovation for socio-economic growth of the member states through an effective Intellectual Property System.

Speaking during the workshop, ARIPO Director General, Bemanya Twebaze, said there are over 4 million utility models across the world, with very few of them registered.

“We have a total of about 4 million utility models in the world in farms, firms, and villages with very few formally registered or protected. Utility model products are inextricably linked to our SMEs and have the capability of uplifting our communities from unemployment.

“We are a creative and problem-solving society and because of that, I see endless opportunities in utility models and industrial designs for the continent,” said Twebaze .

He added that intellectual property rights granted or registered in ARIPO under its various Protocols are subject to the national laws of member states on compulsory licences, forfeiture, cancellation, use of in the public interest, cancellation or invalidation.

According to AfrIPI project leader Dennis Scheirs, having intellectual property rights also allows innovation centres to grow and thereby contribute to African economies.

Scheirs added that there were four main components that AfrIPI  help their  partners with including promotion of international IP frameworks and the IP Chapter negotiations of AfCFTA agreement, capacity building, awareness of IP for African SMEs and one dedicated to geographical indications.

The organisations also disclosed that patent requires complicated technical requirements to secure legal rights such as the requirements to produce utility models that are new and useful and not just technical improvements of existing models.

Intellectual property rights consist of a wide range of assets including patents, trademarks, copyrights, plant varieties or geographical indications hence the need for brands to register their products ranging from furniture design, products and different creations.

The assurance of legal protection on patents encourages investments in the creation of new designs by making it unlawful for third parties that have not contributed to the design process to benefit from the creativity of others.

ARIPO started on December 9, 1976 and Malawi is a member of the organization. Other member states include Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Membership to ARIPO is open to Member States of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) or the African Union (AU).

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