Respect for IP - Growing from the Tip of Africa
(Image: WIPO/Przybylowicz)

Respect for IP – Growing from the Tip of Africa

International Conference

The International Conference on Respect for IP – Growing from the Tip of Africa aims to serve as an incubator of ideas that can support an effective and balanced intellectual property (IP) enforcement system.

By bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, the Conference will create opportunities for collaborations and strengthen existing partnerships between countries, (inter)governmental entities, the private sector and other sections of society.

Discussions will cover a broad spectrum of topics linked to the overarching theme of the Conference – from the economic value of IP and its public interest rationale to specific challenges facing different actors involved in IP enforcement and options for their effective handling.


An incomplete public understanding of the benefits of IP as well as the socio-economic risks associated with counterfeit goods and piracy compromises the potential of the global IP system in driving sustainable economic growth, advancing cultural and social development and contributing to a higher level of consumer protection.

October 23 – 25, 2018

Location: Sandton, South Africa

Registration coming soon


Welcome and gala dinner

The Conference will be opened by a gala dinner on October 23, 2018.


  • President of South Africa
  • Director General, WIPO
  • Secretary General, INTERPOL
  • Secretary General, WCO
  • Director General, WTO

Day one – October 24, 2018

Welcome addresses

  • Director General, WIPO
  • Secretary General, INTERPOL
  • Secretary General, WCO
  • Director General, WTO

Keynote Speech

  • Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa

Session 1 – The Value of IP for Economic Growth, Small Businesses, Investment, Job Creation and Development

IP is a key tool for capturing the value and extracting the benefits of technological advancements for businesses as well as for society at large.

A respected, balanced and functioning IP ecosystem can draw investment, thereby turning the wheel of job creation and generating opportunities for businesses, large and small, to flourish in their creative and innovative endeavors.

Creating the right conditions for the success of such businesses through the appropriate use of IP is essential for the promotion and achievement of sustainable economic growth and development.

(Panel organized by CIPC)

Discussion points

  • How to identify growth industries and support them through IP (considering the example of the music and gaming creative industries)?
  • Linking IP strategies to the National Development Plan 2030; the value of IP for small businesses; the role of IP compliance in sustainable development.
  • Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship by supporting IP-driven innovation.

Session 2 – Placing the Public Interest at the Heart of IP Enforcement

The fundamental purpose of IP lies in safeguarding and furthering a range of public interests, including social and cultural development and global economic growth.

Respecting IP means embracing the incentives that drive innovators and creators to devise solutions to the diverse challenges that communities at different levels of development encounter on their path to sustainable progress.

This session identifies concrete ways to ensure that the public interest is at the heart of IP enforcement.

(Panel organized by WIPO)

Discussion points

  • Using preventive measures and awareness-raising strategies to build respect for IP.
  • Targeting the socio-economic dynamics that underlie counterfeiting and piracy.
  • Finding a balanced approach through international dialogue and information exchange.

Session 3 – IP as a Priority for a Safer World

IP crime represents a growing threat but its harmful effects on public health, safety and the economy remain underestimated.  Counterfeiting and piracy affect every actor in the supply chain, from the producers and distributors to the transporters, retailers and, finally, the consumers.

Governments lose billions of dollars in tax revenue and foreign investment and must dedicate considerable resources to the fight against this organized crime.

Industry, too, suffers considerable losses in sales and diminished consumer confidence in the validity of the affected brands.

What is more, there are confirmed links between IP crime and other forms of criminal activity: huge profits generated through the sale of illicit goods are used to fund other forms of organized crime.

In light of this, IP enforcement can play an important role in making the world a safer place.

(Panel organized by INTERPOL)

Discussion points

  • How IP crime has developed over the last decade and how it is being assessed by law enforcement.
  • Law enforcement’s current approach to IP enforcement and the challenges faced in the fight against IP crime.
  • How IP crime can be treated with higher priority by police authorities to ensure the safety of the public.

Session 4 – Respect for IP Through Collaborative Enforcement

Recognizing the importance of respect for IP at a country’s political level is the foundation for more effective awareness raising and closer collaboration between customs authorities, police authorities and the private sector in carrying out enforcement actions. 

International cooperation on IP enforcement is essential considering the global nature and socio-economic effects of manufacturing and trading in counterfeit goods. The circulation of IP infringing goods not only reduces legal employment opportunities but seriously affects other vital areas like public health and safety. Often, the production of illicit goods neither complies with labor regulations nor with regulatory specifications and quality standards applicable to the genuine items.

Three-way collaborations between customs, police authorities and the private sector could play a key role in addressing these issues.

(Panel organized by WCO)

Discussion points

  • How to mobilize political will to place respect for IP high on the list of priorities of enforcement agencies around the world.
  • Overview of some on-going Police-Customs initiatives.
  • How the private sector can help law enforcement.
  • Outlook for the future of IP enforcement

Day Two – October 25, 2018

Session 5 – Trade in a Borderless World: The Contribution of IP Rights to Development

The IP system, when effectively linked with related policy areas, provides an invaluable foundation for innovative activities, foreign direct investment, job creation in high-tech and creative sectors, and trade in knowledge products.

Advances in digital technology and initiatives such as free trade zones and regional trade agreements offer opportunities for enhancing the contribution of IP to sustainable economic growth, but equally risk increased exposure to infringing trade that impair those benefits.

This session considers how the multilateral IP framework can support innovation, trade and sustainable economic growth in today's interlinked global economy, and how to adapt to the changing patterns of production and trade.

(Panel organized by WTO)

Discussion points

  • How to link innovation strategies with IP rights to drive economic growth and to create sustainable employment and trading opportunities, with a focus on micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
  • How to preserve the balance between economic opportunities in the knowledge economy and the pursuit of public policy objectives.
  • How to ensure IP rights are respected in digital trade and in extended supply chains, including through blockchain technology.

Session 6 – Regional Alliances: Agents of Growth and Champions of Effective IP Systems

Regional organizations are important contributors to economic growth, social and cultural development and global stability.

Around the world, countries have grouped together, establishing trade blocs, customs unions and even common judicial systems, in the pursuit of higher living standards for their people. Many such groupings have recognized the important role of IP for achieving technological advancements, stimulating innovation and creativity, and transforming regions into dynamic and competitive landscapes.

As a result, cooperation and mutual assistance within regional organizations, including through the exchange of information, harmonization of certain policy areas and coordination of activities, also extend to building respect for IP.

(Panel organized by CIPC and WIPO)

Discussion points

  • What common services exist and what activities are undertaken by regional organizations in the area of IP? How do these fit into the organizations’ broader missions?
  • What added value can be derived from regional collaboration to ensure balanced IP enforcement?
  • The role of regional organizations in linking domestic and multilateral policies for building respect for IP.

Session 7 – Reconciling Territoriality in Cross-border IP Disputes

Judicial procedures and IP rights apply within territorial boundaries, but increasingly they are confronted with the reality of today’s commerce, where ordinary market transactions involve a host of different entities and activities that cross borders. 

This session reviews the developments affecting the nature of the work of courts around the world, as complex issues emanating from the transnational nature of IP disputes are left to domestic judicial resolution.

(Panel organized by WIPO)

Discussion points

  • Defining IP rights in the digital environment and emerging remedies.
  • Application of private international law in IP disputes.
  • Emergence of regional and international courts.

Session 8 – Harnessing the Potential of Multilateralism: Capacity Building Through Intergovernmental Actors

As a key component of their work, IGOs active in the field of building respect for IP provide technical assistance to their members. United by a common objective, these organizations equip countries with the necessary means and know-how to ensure that IP rights serve consumer protection, social and economic development and other public interests.

In line with its own mandate and area of expertise, each IGO employs a distinct set of tools and approaches in training different actors involved in the protection of IP rights and the prevention of counterfeiting and piracy. Complementarity and active partnerships between IGOs ensure efficiency and effectiveness in addressing the broad spectrum of their members’ needs.

By means of concrete examples, this session will illustrate the value that different IGOs can offer to countries seeking to strengthen national respect for IP.

(Panel organized by WIPO, INTERPOL, WCO and WTO)

Discussion points

  • Defining the focus of and approach to capacity building adopted by each IGO.
  • Success stories and challenges in the provision of technical assistance.
  • How IGOs cooperate in the area of capacity building.

Conference outcome and closing ceremony

Before the Conference comes to a close, representatives of all organizing institutions will share their reflections on the main conclusions that emerged in the preceding sessions.

With each session focusing on a specific aspect of respect for IP, this panel will recall the respective key take-away messages and formulate strategic elements on the way forward towards a respected, effective and balanced global IP system.