Enhancing use of IP for Development
WIPO hosted an international conference on November 5 and 6 to help improve understanding among the donor community of the key developmental role of intellectual property (IP), to encourage their support for IP-related development projects and improve access by developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in Africa, to donor funding for such projects.
The Conference demonstrated to donor agencies the relevance of IP to development and explained how developing countries can use IP to facilitate their economic, social and cultural development, in particular in relation to the Millennium Development Goals. The three main conference themes – aid for trade; science, technology and innovation for development; and the digital divide – were discussed in a series of high level roundtables with senior policymakers that were interspersed with presentations of real life examples of IP in action in developing countries from a diverse set of presenters.
The increased earnings of the OCFCU since the creation of fair trade marks and the registration of Ethiopian coffee
trademarks – Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe – have permitted them to build schools and a health post.
(Photos: Tadesse Meskela)
Amongst those real life presentations, Tadesse Meskela, General Manager, Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (OCFCU) in Ethiopia talked about how IP had been used to alleviate poverty addressing issues such lack of decent living conditions, and access to social services, such as schools and health clinics. Since the creation of fair trade trademarks and registration of Ethiopian coffee trademarks – Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe (see WIPO Magazine 5/2007, Making the Origin Count: Two Coffees) – the OCFCU sales value per year has increased from US$180 thousand in 2001 to over US$20 million in 2008. This premium has permitted the OCFCU to build schools and a health post, to provide clean water to coffee farmers as well as a warehouse with machinery for cleaning coffee.
Cans and other materials collected by Cheick Diallo’s team around Bamako, which are recycled in his workshop into
award winning furniture designs. (Photos: Cheick Diallo)
Cheick Diallo (Diallo Design) from Mali, impressed the audience with images of his award-winning furniture made from recycled materials gleaned from the streets of Bamako. This self-taught furniture designer set up his workshop 12 years ago. He now has 12 people in his employ and exports furniture to France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. Convinced that there is place on the international market for good quality products from Africa, he used the media to promote his designs. One of the challenges of his success has been that counterfeit copies of his unique designs have started to appear in European markets and, somewhat ironically, he was the one accused of copying European originals. He was shocked to realize that though he could prove the designs were his, he had no recourse as his works were not protected. He strongly believed that IP protection was indispensable and there was a great need to raise awareness of its importance in Africa.
The conference was organized as one of the projects designed to implement WIPO Development Agenda Recommendation 2. It was a first and important step in building a relationship between WIPO, its Member States and the donor community and offering an opportunity for developing countries to engage with the bilateral and multilateral development agencies on IP-related issues and for WIPO to foster partnerships in support of improved access to funding for developing countries. By bringing together representatives of developing countries and organizations such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the U.K.’s Department for International Development, USAID, as well as WIPO’s existing donors, it created an ideal opportunity to begin that dialogue and partnership building.
The final review session of the Conference began to map out some of the next steps in terms of how WIPO can support its developing country Member States to develop partnerships and mobilize resources for IP and development. Work is now underway to build on the momentum given by the Conference and WIPO will be engaging with its current donors, potential donors and developing country Member States to take this work forward.
While implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda is provided for under the Organization’s regular budget, developing partnerships and access to extra-budgetary resources is seen as a means of broadening the impact of WIPO’s development work in general and speeding up implementation of recommendations under the WIPO Development Agenda in particular.
Photos: Cheick Diallo