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Ghana establishes a new IP office to embrace the knowledge-based economy

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Megan Dinnie of Spoor & Fisher Jersey reports on the creation of a body designed to adapt to the rapid evolution of IP and harness its potential to drive economic growth

The Ghanaian authorities have published an important bill, the Ghana Industrial Property Office Bill, 2023 (the Bill).

Overview of the Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to establish a new IP office, the Ghana Industrial Property Office (GHIPO).

The GHIPO will administer the use and protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and plant varieties in Ghana. Copyright is, however, excluded from the GHIPO’s ambit and is administered by a separate entity, the Copyright Office.

Why create a new IP office?

As the memorandum to the Bill points out, we live in interesting times. Ghana now operates in a “knowledge-based economy”, one in which “innovation will be a key driving force in creating wealth and economic growth for Ghanaians.”

In this brave new world, “the intellectual property system plays a role in facilitating the effective exploitation of innovative knowledge.” This system enhances “Ghana’s climate of innovation to the benefit of the Ghanaian economy and society.” There is a “constant challenge to modernise intellectual property offices as the needs of their clients are evolving rapidly.”

The Bill in more detail

The Bill deals with issues that are administrative in nature. Here is a very brief summary of the provisions:

  • IP office – the Bill establishes the GHIPO as a body corporate.

  • Board – the Bill creates a governing body, the Board, with representatives from various ministries. The Board can establish committees and it must meet at least every three months.

  • A director-general – the GHIPO will be led by a director-general with at least 15 years’ experience in IP. Other staff can be appointed as required.

  • Finances – the GHIPO’s finances will be managed as per the Public Financial Management Act, 2016. The GHIPO must keep proper books and records.

  • Regulations – there is provision for regulations governing IP rights.

  • Rights, assets and liabilities – the rights, assets and liabilities of the present Registrar General’s Department relating to industrial property will be transferred to the GHIPO.

  • Employees – employees of the present Industrial Property Section of the Registrar-General’s Department will be transferred to the GHIPO.

A positive development

The changes brought about by the Bill flow from a very clear recognition that the world in which IP operates is changing rapidly. That recognition is welcome.

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