Ghana recently published its National IP Policy and Strategy. The aim is to bring Ghana's IP system "in line with its international commitments and international best practices".
The document identifies nine strategic issues. It points out that Ghana now has a rare opportunity to link its IP strategy with various national plans, including a general development plan. The issues are:
Legal framework: Ghana needs to review and develop its IP laws, and accede to international treaties. There's specific mention of integrated circuit layouts, unfair competition, plant varieties, traditional knowledge and genetic resources.
Institutional framework: Ghana has a weak IP framework. This will be addressed by establishing an autonomous national IP office, and through better staffing and automation. The issue of substantive examination will be considered.
Creativity: Creativity and innovation will be encouraged in universities, research institutions and industry, and the use of IP will be promoted. A National Centre for Creative Industries is envisaged.
IP generation and commercialisation: Ghanaians will be educated on the benefits of commercialisation, firstly through an information unit at the IP Office, and subsequently through the creation of technology transfer offices at universities.
Enforcement of rights: IP enforcement laws will be strengthened, and the staffing at the relevant agencies will be improved.
IP profession: The IP profession will be regulated and formalised, and there will be a system of certification.
Public awareness: The low level of IP awareness will be addressed by a public awareness outreach programme. The aim is to promote a culture of IP.
IP service industry: There's a weak IP service industry. Issues to be addressed include creating collective management organisations and creating associations of IP stakeholders.
IP research: Research on IP-related issues will be promoted. There will, for example, be a study on the impact of the Madrid Protocol on the economy.
The policy will be implemented over the period September 2016 to 2020. This policy suggests that the authorities in Ghana understand the importance of IP. Its publication is a welcome development.
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