Towards intellectual property rights harmonization in Africa:
Introductory remarks by Mr. Denis L. BOHOUSSOU, Director General of OAPI, speaker.
An important webinar was held yesterday, July 02, 2020 at 3 p.m., with a panel of experts facing an audience of a hundred connected participants from all over the word. The Director General of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), in his introductory remarks drew the attention to the need for a comprehensive approach to the issue of harmonization of intellectual property in Africa.
“The harmonization of intellectual property rights in Africa is an interesting issue in the context of the creation of a common economic zone for Africa. However, we must beware of reinventing the wheel. To do this, it is important to ask the right questions and above all to clarify concepts.
Indeed, the question of harmonization of intellectual property rights arises in our view at two levels. First at the level of the substantive rules and then at the level of the authorities or administrations in charge of intellectual property.
Regarding substantive rules, the issue of harmonization is largely settled by the international conventions to which African states are parties. These include the Paris Convention, the Bern Convention and the TRIPS Agreement. These international conventions prescribe minimum standards that national or regional legislation must meet. For example, under the national treatment rule, foreigners benefit of the same protection as nationals. The question that arises at this level, is whether African legislation comply with the standards of international conventions or not.
Important issues such as the exhaustion of rights must be considered. As it stands, this is what is urgent to do.
About the authorities or administrations responsible for the management of the IP system in Africa, the question is whether a single authority or a plurality of authorities is required. The answer to this question varies depending on whether a designation system is chosen as is the case with ARIPO or a unitary system as is the case with OAPI.”