18 African Countries To Automate Online Intellectual Property Registration

By Staff Published: October 2, 2016, 4:45 am
automating online IP registrationentrepreneur.com

From Vanguard. Story by By Emeka Aginam.

Following the successful trial in Kenya, the software giant Microsoft handed over the source code for an online intellectual property (IP) registration system to IP authorities across Africa, including the Kenya Copyright Board.

The online registration system replaces the traditional manual process of submitting paper-based forms, making the registration of IP fast, accessible and more efficient.

Microsoft 4Afrika is handing over the source code to an online automated IP registration system to help IP authorities across Africa drive a culture of IP protection.

The system was first developed and tested by Microsoft 4Afrika through their IP Hub initiative and Kenya Copyright Board in June 2015. The ready-to-scale and proven model will now be shared with authorities in 18 countries across Africa, in collaboration with COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), to support their commitments towards IP protection.

“The … pilot worked well during the trial. Kenya Copyright Board saw over a 100 percent jump in registrations in the June-to-October period when the system was running,” said Edward Kipsigei, CEO of Kenya Copyright Board. “As a result of the test, Kenya Copyright Board will shortly commission a fully online registration system based on the prototype.”

The countries within COMESA whose IP authorities will receive the source code from Microsoft include: Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“Every country in Africa is committed to accelerating its economic growth and becoming globally competitive,” said Louis Otieno, corporate affairs director of Microsoft 4Afrika. “Because we live in the information age, a critical aspect of achieving this is the monetisation of intellectual property. We created the online registration system as a way to jumpstart this process and help close the structural gap.”

“When the registration process becomes more accessible, fast and reliable, it also becomes more attractive. With the online system, we hope to see the number of copyright and other IP applications rise in the coming years.”

Many innovations in Africa do not come to fruition due to of lack of knowledge about, and red tape around, registering IP. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), resident applications for patents in various African countries are still low.

In 2014, there were 752 patent applications in Egypt, 132 in Kenya, 14 in Zambia and only 5 in Rwanda, compared to over 280,000 in the U.S. and 19,000 in the U.K. At the same time the registration of copyright in many African states has not taken off and this data is not taken into account in economic surveys.

Read more at Vanguard.

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