All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Managing IP is part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC group.

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 our site

The patent office report found that stakeholders were still divided over subject matter eligibility but broadly wanted clarity
The UKIPO published the results of its consultation on AI and IP today, June 28, and plans to shake up the rules on copyright and data
IP consultancy Brandit is the first European intellectual property firm to announce plans for an augmented-reality presence
Patent owners and implementers weigh in on the PTAB Reform Act – its provisions, what it missed and its likelihood of success
Counsel from Blackbird, Unified Patents, two other companies and a law firm debate what new ways to avoid Fintiv mean for petitioners and patent owners
Counsel at six companies say experience, technical expertise and persuasion are some of the most important skills at the board
Nokia beats Oppo in Germany; Australia and EPO to continue PPH; Ed Sheeran nets nearly £1m in legal fees; Google backs down in €500m French appeal
Brand owners say Amazon’s new anti-counterfeit team up is welcome but warn that such partnerships are often made on the e-commerce platform’s terms
12th annual awards announces winners
Counsel say the government's policy drop and the result of Philips v Thales at the ITC or Federal Circuit could change the power balance in SEP matters
We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree