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‘Patents critical for innovation’

Aida Galindo

PATENTS are a crucial part of intellectual property rights, particularly regarding the issue of innovation, an expert on the issue has revealed.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the African Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation (AfrIPI) in Harare this week, the institution’s project leader Aida Galindo said patents were pivotal in the innovation cycle.

“The focus on patents is deliberate. Patents play an important role in the innovation cycle,” she said. “By conferring an exclusive right to exclude others from exploiting the invention covered by the patent without the owner’s permission or approval and to prevent competitors from enjoying the same rights, the patent right holder is incentivised to become more innovative and society benefits from the public disclosure of the invention which is the trade-off that the inventor gets in return for the exclusive right to exclude others from the exploitation of the patent.”

She said the seminar aimed to promote awareness on the importance of patents and innovation in universities.

“Patents can increase profits and financial returns for universities, or provide additional income streams through licensing and technology transfer. Innovation by universities alone can provide these institutions with opportunities to create, commercialise and transfer knowledge,” she noted. “This is due to the fact that the evolution that has occurred in the knowledge economy in recent years has transformed universities into knowledge hubs beyond the mere impartation of knowledge to students that they were of old.”

She added that AfrIPI was proud to be involved in this collaboration in which universities in Africa are being given an opportunity to reinvent themselves towards modernity and best practices so that they enhance their chances of innovating and increasing their patent yield, which will benefit the rest of the communities and beyond.

AfrIPI is a pan-African intellectual property rights and innovation project that is funded and directed by the European Union and jointly funded and implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The AfrIPI project covers 54 countries in Africa and was allocated a budget of €17 million.

AfrIPI aims to boost the African economy and foster trade between Europe and Africa and its focus on patents is deliberate. And to achieve this, its work includes the promotion of international IP rights and the IP Chapter negotiations under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

AfrIPI also works to strengthen the capacities of the IP sectors and this is done by raising awareness on intellectual property and its opportunities in different sectors of society.

Some of the activities that AfrIPI did towards the growth of patents in Africa include Aripo patent examination training, promotional workshop on designs and utility models for Aripo member States and there is also going to be  further patent training for examiners in 2023 in collaboration with Epo in Munich, Germany.

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