Africa: IP in Africa: A little different
Managing IP is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Africa: IP in Africa: A little different

An article that recently appeared in the South African news publication Daily Maverick, Intellectual property for the 21st century economy, reminds us that, notwithstanding the increasing homogenisation of IP laws, parts of the developing world are yet to be totally convinced that IP is the best way of ensuring innovation and progress.

The article was written by renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz. He comes right to the point when he says this: 'Developing countries are increasingly pushing back against the intellectual property regime foisted on them by advanced economies over the last 30 years… they are right to do so because what matters is not only the production of knowledge, but also that it is used in ways that put the health and well-being of people ahead of corporate profits.'

According to Stiglitz, the pushback is being led by South Africa, India and Brazil, and the focus is medicines. Although South Africa has in the past felt the 'full legal might of the global pharmaceutical industry', it is in the process of finalising an IP policy that expands access to medicines. The South African government 'is right, and other developing and emerging economies should follow in its footsteps.'

Stiglitz is critical of IP: it was wrong to impose a 'one-size-fits-all' policy; the standards imposed by the developed world are not designed to maximise progress and innovation, but rather corporate profits; the institutions and laws protecting knowledge are increasingly inadequate to govern global economic activity, and poorly suited to the needs of developing countries; patents may encourage research, but the sheer number of patents now stifles innovation; much of the research that is taking place is aimed at extending protection rather than creating new products. The IP regime has, says Stiglitz, erected barriers to the use of knowledge, and this is not sustainable.

Stiglitz says that the 21st century economy will differ from that of the 20th century in two major ways – the economic weight of countries like South Africa, Brazil and India will increase, and the economy of ideas, knowledge and information will become increasingly important. Developing countries should be looking at alternatives to patents for financing research, including centralised bodies like national health institutes, tax credits and prizes.

IP owners in the developed world, as well as their advisors, would do well to bear these philosophical differences in mind

Wayne Meiring


Spoor & Fisher Jersey Africa House, Castle Street St Helier, Jersey JE4 9TW Channel Islands Tel: +44 1534 838000 Fax: +44 1534 838001

info@spoor.co.uk

www.spoor.com

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Dario Pietrantonio of Robic discusses growth opportunities for the firm and shares insights from his journey to managing director
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Law firms that pay close attention to their client relationships are more likely to win repeat work, according to a survey of nearly 29,000 in-house counsel
The EMEA research period is open until May 31
Practitioners analyse a survey on how law firms prove value to their clients and reflect on why the concept can be hard to pin down
The winner of Managing IP’s Life Achievement Award discusses 50 years in IP law and how even he can’t avoid imposter syndrome
Saya Choudhary of Singh & Singh explains how her team navigated nine years of litigation to secure record damages of $29 million and the lessons learned along the way
The full list of finalists has been revealed and the winners will be presented on June 20 at the Metropolitan Club in New York
A team of IP and media law specialists has joined from SKW Schwarz alongside a former counsel at Sky
The Irish government has delayed a planned referendum on whether Ireland should join the Unified Patent Court, prompting concern about when a vote may take place
Gift this article