Adams & Adams hosted its 5th annual IP network seminar, the largest of its kind on the continent, for partners and IP officials from across Africa. The meeting brought together close to 100 leading IP practitioners and administrators, representing 42 out of 54 jurisdictions on the continent, as well as regional and global organisations such as ARIPO, OAPI, EPO and WIPO.

The annual IP showpiece event was only briefly interrupted in 2014 over concerns of the threat posed by the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. On the continued growth and success of the Meeting, Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Mr Fernando do Santos said, “ARIPO has attended this meeting for all five years. The quality of the discussions and topics at the Network Meeting has improved significantly, and it is good to see more and more registry and government officials joining the event.”

In her keynote address, Ms. Nicky Weimar, Senior Economist at Nedbank, delivered a valuable analysis of the current outlook and performance of Africa’s economies, highlighting challenges that the continent faces in pursuing growth – challenges such as legislative and political uncertainty. Meeting chair, and Partner at Adams & Adams, Mr Simon Brown, agreed that while legislative uncertainty hampered development, it was encouraging to note from discussions at the Africa Patent Summit, held the day before, a number of jurisdictions are actively addressing their IP laws in order to encourage efficiency in processing of applications, providing better enforcement mechanisms and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

Breakaway sessions focussed on current IP matters such as the Madrid Protocol, performance of the Banjul Protocol, design litigation, franchising agreements and patent prosecution across Africa. Many Africa Network delegates highlighted the fact that the Meeting affords them a unique opportunity to address concerns and queries directly with Registrars and IP administrators, in an environment that encourages robust discussion. The meeting also serves as the only platform in Africa for African IP practitioners to meet and engage on topics of mutual interest in the IP arena and provides them with access to the combined skills and knowledge of the partners and professionals at Adams & Adams as well as a large group of IP professionals who often face similar capacity challenges in their respective jurisdictions.

In celebration of the success of the Africa Network event, Adams & Adams launched the Africa Good Business Project, a social responsibility initiative that encourages active participation of IP partners from all over the continent. “The Adams & Adams  Africa Network is committed to being a responsible entity, both in the way that we deliver service to our clients but also in delivering positive outcomes for our colleagues, clients, profession, environment and our local communities,” said Nicky Garnett, Partner and Head of Africa Patents at Adams & Adams.

Delegates at the 5th Annual Adams & Adams Africa IP Network Meeting, held in Pretoria.
Nicky Weimar, Senior Economist at Nedbank
Debbie Roenning, Director of the Madrid Legal Division at WIPO
The IP Network Meeting was attended by Network partners and officials from jurisdictions and regional organisations across Africa.
Gérard du Plessis
Partner | Trade Mark Attorney
Simon Brown
Partner | Trade Mark Attorney
Nicky Garnett
Partner | Head of Africa Patents