Efforts Underway to Increase Collaboration in Various Regions

Published: March 1, 2019

INTA met with government and private sector officials from various regions in Africa during February and solidified efforts to increase collaboration as part of the Association’s commitment to further its ties with the continent to advance intellectual property (IP) rights. Tremendous efforts by the local authorities in enforcing IP rights, promoting IP, and combating counterfeits were among the key topics under discussion.

INTA Representatives Raise Awareness of IP in Tanzania
INTA representatives had the opportunity in late February to raise awareness of IP in meetings with officials and in an interview with local media in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania. Tat Louembe, INTA Representative, Africa, Middle East, and Inter Governmental Organizations, traveled to the region February 25‒27.

Thanks to the tremendous support of INTA member Dr. Saudin Mwakaje, Partner at NexLaw Advocates, Patent and Trademark Attorneys (Tanzania), INTA had discussions with officials at the country’s IP office, the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA); officials at the Fair Competition Commission; and private sector delegates.

In addition, in an interview with local media, Mr. Louembe had the opportunity to raise awareness of IP and the importance of trademarks for Tanzania’s economic development, as well as to speak about INTA’s activities and local members in the country.

Kenyan and Nigerian Delegations Attend the Europe Conference
In alignment with INTA’s growing presence in Africa, delegates from Kenya and Nigeria attended the Association’s 2019 Europe Conference: Embracing Change, February 18-19 in Paris, France, and seized the opportunity to engage with INTA’s leadership, in addition to attending educational sessions.

The Kenyan delegation was comprised of Elema Halake, Executive Director, and Agnes Karingu, Manager Education and Public Awareness, both of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), Nairobi, Kenya. The ACA was established under the Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008 as a state corporation to enlighten and inform the public on matters relating to counterfeiting, and to combat counterfeiting.

The ACA representatives met with INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo to discuss current and future areas of cooperation. During the meeting, the two parties reviewed the ongoing relationship between their organizations, including INTA’s input into various legislative proposals, and how they can further work together to educate customs officials and the public about counterfeit goods and services.

The Nigerian delegation was led by Muhammed Babandede, Head of IPR Unit and Deputy Comptroller, General Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). He met with Mr. Sanz de Acedo and briefed him on NCS’s significant progress in the fight against counterfeiting, including various arrests of counterfeiters and workshops organized by brand owners to help customs officials detect fake goods.

On the margins of the Conference, Mr. Louembe interacted with members from Cameroon, Palestine, and other jurisdictions.

INTA and Uganda Officials Agree on Strengthening IP
Mr. Louembe took a fact finding trip to Kampala, Uganda, February 13‒15 to obtain a greater understanding of the IP landscape from government officials, practitioners, and the private sector.

At a meeting with Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Mr. Louembe was briefed on the bureau’s various activities such as the brand owners’ summit on brand protection and brand valuation through various means provided under the Trademarks Act 2010, including assignments and licensing. The two parties also discussed proposed legislative and regulatory initiatives, the importance of a national IP policy, and ways to further harmonization. URSB and INTA agreed on the importance of trademarks in achieving sustainable and economic development.

Next, INTA met with Fred Muwema, Director Legal and Corporate Affairs of the Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa (ACN), at ACN’s offices in Kampala. ACN is a private sector organization which aims to bridge the intervention gaps between the multiple stakeholders that affect and are affected by counterfeits and parallel importation.

INTA and ACN agreed to strengthen cooperation at different levels toward stopping counterfeits and illicit trade in Africa. In light of INTA’s expertise in this area, especially through its Anticounterfeiting Committee, it was agreed to increase knowledge sharing. In this regard, INTA will share its Online Counterfeiting Guide for Enforcement Officials, which provides an overview of how infringers use the Internet, ways to identify the types of infringement that exist on the Web, and guidelines for detecting and mitigating such infringement.

On February 15, INTA and SIPI Law Associates (Uganda), a local INTA member, hosted a Meet and Greet breakfast at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel to inform potential INTA members about INTA’s advocacy priorities and activities in Africa, and to engage with government officials and IP lawyers on a wide range of issues. Sixteen members of the Uganda Law Society’s IP Law Cluster and notably, the director and two former directors of URSB’s Department of Intellectual Property attended the meeting.

Paul Asiimwe, Managing Partner of Sipi Law Associates, a member of INTA’s Trademark Practice Committee, and outgoing chairperson of the IP Cluster, made brief remarks. Key issues that were discussed included proposals for legal and policy changes; support to URSB in setting up an examination manual and a register of agents; a proposed workshop for judges; and counterfeits and border measures. They also reviewed INTA membership and benefits.

Also discussed were some of the proposed administrative changes that URSB can put in place to reduce bottlenecks in protecting IP, especially trademarks. Specifically, there was consensus on the tremendous efforts made by the IP office in streamlining procedures, such as a lean gazette for purposes of publishing trademarks.

Prior to his visit to Uganda, Mr. Louembe participated in the U.S.-Africa Trade Investment Forum held on February 12 to coincide with the African Union Head of States Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forum gave INTA a platform to interact with high-level officials and to reiterate the Association’s strong commitment to further ties with the continent of Africa, especially in light of the upcoming negotiations related to IP in the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

In addition, Mr, Louembe met with Jamel Beker Abedula, Ethiopian State Minister of Innovation and Technology; Lelise Neme, CEO, Industrial Development Parks Corporation; and Bezabih Tigu Tadesse, Trade Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

INTA Representative Tat-Tienne Louembe supports the Association’s 510 members across Africa and the Middle East. In collaboration with the staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City and Representatives Offices around the world, Mr. Louembe works on the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives in these regions. To learn more about INTA’s activities in Africa and the Middle East, please contact Tat-Tienne Louembe at [email protected].

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.

© 2019 International Trademark Association