2018 Middle East and Africa Conference Highlights the Impact of ‘Innovation’ on Intellectual Property and Economic Growth

Published: January 15, 2019

Junaid Daudpota Daudpota International Karachi, Pakistan

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a global hub for investment and a world leader among hyper-innovation-driven cities and the harmonization of cultures, was aptly selected as the location for INTA’s 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference: Innovation, Investment, and IP, held December 10‒11, 2018.

Given this, the Conference covered pressing intellectual property (IP) issues faced by rights holders in developing areas across the Middle East and Africa, and highlighted “innovation” from various vantage points, including its role in IP and economic growth.

The Project Team, led by Co-Chairs Bassel El Turk (Rouse, United Arab Emirates) and Vanessa Ferguson (KISCH IP, South Africa), assembled a varied and impressive group of speakers, and attendees came from more than 40 countries.

During the welcome address, INTA’s 2018 President Tish Berard (Velcro Group Corporation, USA), highlighted the importance of sustainability, innovation, and growth as drivers in IP and economic progress. “Innovation is necessary to overcome challenges, to transform ideas into actions and actions into results,” she said. Ms. Berard suggested incorporating innovation into our work and lives by “playing together,” being realistic about failures, reflecting on our progress-and repeating this approach!

In his remarks, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo noted that the Middle East and Africa, following only Asia, are leading globally in terms of economic growth. He emphasized that this steady growth in commercial activity and innovation have led to an increased need for harmonization of trademark protection and effective strategies to protect consumers and brand owners.

Returning to the innovation theme, Ms. Ferguson noted that it is important to focus more on the way things have failed and then progress toward success through innovative process, rather than focus solely on our success. Mr. El Turk commented that innovation is an integral part of the United Arab Emirate’s lifestyle and culture, and emphasized that this was one of the main reasons INTA chose Dubai as the host city for this Conference.

How to Make the ‘Impossible Possible’

The keynote speaker, Michael Haddad, an athlete paralyzed from the chest down, holder of three world records, social entrepreneur, and climate change advocate, gave an inspiring speech on “making the impossible possible.”

“I was a person faced with impossibility. I took my choices and through determination and believing, I reformed my mindset to believe that nothing is impossible,” he said. “It is our responsibility to pave the pathway for a better future for the coming generations and it can only be possible through determination and innovation of thoughts and practices.”

Throughout the two days, speakers gave invaluable advice for growing businesses in today’s marketplace, as well as provided an in-depth understanding of how innovation affects the IP industry and, vice versa, the effect that IP has on innovation. Sessions included online marketplaces, data privacy and protection, and cross-border enforcement. Other compelling presentations were on the dangers of counterfeit products, which demonstrated just how life threatening counterfeit goods could be to the general public, and the role of IP in climate change and how we as IP professionals can help shape the future in this regard.

Anticounterfeiting Efforts Must Include Hyper-Innovation Mindset

Government officials from various countries in the region reported on their respective government’s successful efforts to adopt a mindset of hyper-innovation in order to compete and stay at the forefront of the world’s leading economies. Specifically, they emphasized the need to be constantly innovative in their methods and planning in order to stay ahead of counterfeiters, who are constantly evolving their tactics as well. They agreed that the region’s successful anticounterfeiting actions would not have been possible without constantly learning from failures, implementing newer and bolder strategies, and creating more harmonious relationships between government departments and rights holders.

Overall, the 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference was an enlightening experience. The attendees were provided with an opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge and to gain a better understanding of the growing challenges and opportunities in the region.

INTA organized a delegation visit to coincide with the 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference. Read about the delegation here.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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