For the first time in the Africa Network Meeting’s existence, brand owners Absa and AB InBev, were invited to discuss their branding strategies in Africa. Both Absa and AB InBev provided delegates with insights regarding their marketing and branding strategies in Africa. Absa, a South African based bank with offices across Africa, has recently undergone a brand relaunch. Delegates were treated to insights into the process when launching a new brand. Jenny Moore, Head of Special Projects, Marketing Corporate Relations at Absa Group Limited also shared some of the challenges faced during the process. “The timing (and confirmation) of registration when launching, or re-launching a brand is of vital importance and we need to be sure that our partners at the IP registries understand the pressures of our industries,” commented Taryn van Schalkwyk, Head of IP, Group Legal at Absa Group Limited.
Pieter van den Bulk, Global Director Intellectual Property at AB Inbev, the World’s largest brewing company, based in Leuven, Belgium, stressed the importance of the African market place. Pieter made reference to the different marketing and legal approaches to protecting and enforcing their brands on the continent. Whilst challenges certainly remained in processing cases through some Registries and the courts, the improvement on both the legislative and operational front in many African countries must be commended.
Lita-Miti Qamata, Senior Associate at Adams & Adams moderated a panel of IP practitioners from Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya who were given an opportunity highlight and discuss recent trade mark litigation matters in their countries. This was followed by a presentation by Partner, Kelly Thompson, who discussed IP issues in social media in a presentation entitled “Protecting brands in the era of Trump, Tweets and Twitter Stars”
Danie Dohmen, Partner at Adams & Adams, moderated a panel aimed to update delegates on recent changes in the patent field in ARIPO, Madagascar and Ethiopia with a particular focus on the status of substantive examination of patent applications in their jurisdictions.
Adams & Adams Partner, Werina Griffith’s closing presentation on Rapid Prototyping provided the perfect précis to the Africa Network Meeting discussions – with a warning that the disruptive technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution require an accelerated and discerning response from a legislative and administrative perspective.
The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for delegates to share experiences and ideas. It is hoped that the meeting will continue to grow and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and development of capacity in the IP field on the African continent.