The eighth annual Adams & Adams Africa Intellectual Property (IP) Network Meeting was held on 9 September 2021 for the first time as a virtual event, following the cancellation of the 2020 edition due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. As the biggest IP seminar of its kind in Africa, the meeting is a unique opportunity for agents, practitioners and registrars from across the continent to share experiences, challenges, progress and learnings on pertinent issues facing the African IP community.
More than 120 attendees participated in this year’s meeting, including representatives from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) and other African Registries, such as Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa. Representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) were also in attendance.
To kick off the event, Kelly Thomson, Adams & Adams’ first female chairperson, welcomed attendees with a thought-provoking message on the developments in IP across Africa. Thereafter, a wide range of relevant topics were examined, including a highly anticipated panel discussion on the role that copyright can play in the growth of Africa’s creative and entertainment industries. This featured seasoned copyright experts Bradley Silver, Global Head of IP Policy, Netflix, and Bertrand Moullier, Senior Advisor International Affairs, International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) discussing their thoughts on the matter. Adams & Adams Partner Godfrey Budeli presented another important topic of relevance, delving deeper into the current trends related to counterfeit goods during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also a lively panel discussion on Folklore and Traditional Knowledge, moderated by Adams & Adams Partners, Mariëtte du Plessis and Nthabi Phaswana, with panellists sharing experiences from the perspective of their home countries of Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.
One of the highlights of the event were performances by the award-winning Ndlovu Youth Choir who represented South Africa in last year’s America’s Got Talent television show. Choir conductor and founder Ralf Schmitt shared how through hard work and determination, these talented young South Africans from very humble backgrounds have been able to make an impact on the world.
The success of this year’s event augurs well for its future, as it continues to grow from strength to strength.