Intellectual property said central to dev't
Addis Ababa, 10 February 2014 (WIC) - World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Dr. Francis Gurry said that the trans-boundary protection of Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Genetic Resources (GR) remains a challenge and the gap still remains wide.
Briefing journalists at the Addis Ababa University here yesterday, he noted that Ethiopia can protect using its GR and TK beyond its borders using international instruments and treaties such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
“Not only in Ethiopia but also other developing countries, globalization makes it very difficult for national laws to protect genetic resources and indigenous knowledge anymore. That is where international laws and treaties come in.”
The treaty provides opportunity for sharing the benefits of using plant genetic resources for food and agriculture through information-exchange, access to and the transfer of technology, and capacity building. It also foresees a strategy to mobilize funds for activities, plans and programmes that help, above all, small farmers in developing countries. This funding strategy also includes the share of the monetary benefits paid under the Multilateral System. While in respect of traditional knowledge, the key provision of the treaty is its recognition of ‘farmers’ rights’.
In the developed world, intellectual capital is dominating the physical one. Developing countries are rich in producing but poor in distribution, he said.
“Protection of ownership of and access to genetic resources as well as traditional knowledge, equitable benefit-sharing, intellectual property rights and traditional knowledge is becoming a central piece and at the forefront of the global environmental and sustainable development debate.”
Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) Director General Berhanu Adillo on his part said that his office is expanding the scope of its activities and organizational structure.
Currently, 130 professionals are working for the office to manage the ever increasing IP and related issues.
“What makes our office different from other countries is that IP and related issues are addressed under umbrella. We are in a stage in which over 30 films are being produced monthly in addition to checking and registering as much as 3,000 trademarks as well as industrial designs. We also are on the verge of having an IP policy.” (EH)
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