ARIPO Collaborations with the EUIPO and USPTO

ARIPO has actively been engaging with Registries across the globe over the past couple of months, as well as embarking on new projects and training sessions with others. In particular, there have recently been active projects between ARIPO and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), as well as ARIPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

EUIPO and ARIPO

ARIPO’s new Director General, Mr Bemanya Twebaze and the Executive Director of the EUIPO, Mr Christian Archambeau recently had a virtual meeting to discuss the current status of activities in both Offices and future steps on collaboration between the Offices.

One of the discussion points was the international cooperation project, AfrIPI, funded and directed by the European Union, and co-funded and implemented by the EUIPO. This project has a duration of 4 years, and commenced in February 2020.

AfrIPI’s objective is to facilitate African and European investment and intra-African trade. The project aims to align Intellectual Property (IP) rights across Africa with international and European practices, specifically focusing on the creation, protection, utilization, administration and enforceability of IP rights.  According to AfrIPI’s website, the project has four main objectives:

  1. Promotion of International Intellectual Property Agreements for reinforced cooperation between EU and Africa;
  2. Strengthening of national and regional Intellectual Property institutions, networks, and tools, to increase a user- friendly and efficient protected IP systems;
  3. Raising awareness of Intellectual Property Rights (including Geographical Indications) in the African society for Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  4. Implementation of the work plan activities linked to the African Union (AU) Continental Strategy for Geographical Indications.

This project is a step towards regional integration between African Registries to facilitate trade and investment in the continent, and will encourage development and improvement of IP rights across the continent.

USPTO and ARIPO

The USPTO in cooperation with ARIPO, recently organized a webinar series: IP Discussions for ARIPO member states and observers. This webinar series consisted out of three webinars held in March 2021. During the first session Customs and Boarder Protection was discussed with refence to the USPTO and South Africa’s approach and how cross-border collaboration can assist with challenges of IP enforcement in Africa. The second session dealt with the rights implicated, as well as the money flow for digital uses of copyrighted music and recordings. Lastly the training of trademark examiners for IP offices was discussed. This webinar series have encouraged and facilitated collaboration between the two Offices and has provided some valuable insights for IP Offices in Africa.

These collaborations and projects by ARIPO are in line with the new Director General, Mr Bemanya Twbaze’s vision for the future of ARIPO, which is to strengthen the ARIPO legal framework and to communicate and demonstrate the value of ARIPO to its member states and users.

Christine Strauss
Associate | Attorney
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