“Does that “thing” work in Ghana? I mean that Intellectual Property thing”, my friend Dzifa asked me innocently. I smiled. It was not an unusual question.
Intellectual property generally refers to creations of the mind or intellect. We are all naturally creative, finding solutions to our day-to-day problems. There are some exceptional people among us who have made our lives healthier and more comfortable with creative solutions to regular problems of society.
Edison invented commercially viable incandescent light, so today we can see, even when the sun goes down; Mensah, an artisan, has developed energy saving cooking apparatus; a Kantanka vehicle that alerts pedestrians in a local dialect, any time the reverse gear is deployed. All these are examples of people’s Intellectual Property (IP).
States grant Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) to protect IP. There are two traditional types of IPRs. These are Industrial Property and Copyright & Related Rights. Copyright protects literary and artistic works such as books, audiovisuals, music etc.
There is automatic protection the moment a copyrightable work is made. However, for purposes of documentation and prima facie evidence of ownership, the creator of the work may apply to the relevant institution for a certificate of ownership. In Ghana, the relevant State institution is the Copyright Office.
Industrial Property Rights (Patents, Trademarks, Industrial Designs etc.) protect inventions, brands, aesthetic value of products etc. The Industrial Property Rights are directly or indirectly linked to industry. The inventions may be new products or processes.
Unlike Copyright, Industrial Properties are protected only after registration with the relevant State institution otherwise the work goes into public domain. In Ghana, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) administers Industrial Property Rights.
The IP system requires an inventor or owner of a creative work, to disclose his works in exchange for protection by the State. This means that the IPRs are territorial in nature. Protection is provided on a State-by-State basis. This arrangement creates a win-win situation for both sides.
The inventor gains monopoly over his works for a limited period of time, while the public benefits from the invention and also creates an opportunity for others to build on the inventor’s information when his protection period expires. This process helps society to build on the bulk of existing knowledge. IP owners may permit others to exploit the rights through licensing or assignment.
Let us briefly analyze the IP system in Ghana. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an IP System includes: the legal quality of IP; IP Operations and Procedures; IP Law; IP Enforcement and Litigation; International Dimension; and IP Skills and Training (see www.oecd.org/innovation/inno/ip-studies.htm).
Legal Quality of IP & IP Law
The National Intellectual Property Policy and Strategy (2016) revealed that the IP laws of Ghana have tried to keep abreast with global trends, however there are some shortfalls, which are being addressed. For example, the Industrial Property laws need updated Regulations to facilitate implementation.
IP Operations and Procedures & IP Skills and Training
The two State Institutions have semi – automated systems and need to be fully automated. There are delays at RGD mainly due to understaffing and inadequate understanding of the users of the system. There is a need to train all users of the IP system and general creation of IP awareness.
IP Enforcement and Litigation
The relevant enforcement institutions are the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), the Police Service and the Judiciary.
CEPS is responsible for border measures, to prevent infringing goods from entering the country. This is an international obligation. Businesses in Ghana are encouraged to utilize this facility.
The Police Service is responsible for enforcing IPRs, which have entered the channels of trade. They investigate and where necessary prosecute infringers on behalf of the Attorney – General. They focus mainly on Piracy and Counterfeits.
The High Court, particularly, the Commercial Court adjudicates all matters relating to IPRs. However, one must have a protected IPR to effectively utilize the IP enforcement system.
Ghana is party to relevant international IP treaties. Consequently, users of the system, have access to international facilities within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).
In my view, the IP system generally needs improvement. Copyright appears to be better utilized than the Industrial Properties Rights. We need more IP awareness. I urge businesses and researchers to place value on their IPRs, take steps to protect and exploit such rights, for better enforcement of the rights. Again, I encourage Ghanaians to utilize the IP System to reap maximum benefits from the system.
It is my considered position that Intellectual Property Rights generally work in Ghana despite the challenges of the IP system.
AUTHOR: MRS. SARAH NORKOR ANKU, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW EXPERT, REGISTRAR – GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT, ACCRA
Senegal's President Macky Sall dismissed his energy minister on Tuesday, the president's office said in a statement that gave no reason for the sudden move.
Thierno Alassane Sall, an aeronautical engineer by training who is not related to the president but is among his longtime collaborators, had been in the post since 2015.
Senegal is on the verge of a potential oil and gas boom, as newly discovered fields off its Atlantic coastline are expected to begin production within the next decade.
Companies including British-based Cairn Energy and Dallas-based Kosmos Energy have reported a string of successful finds in recent years that could transform Senegal's agricultural economy.
The energy portfolio will now be managed by Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, the statement said.
(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Catherine Evans) - Reuters
Hot weather and insufficient rainfall last week in top grower Ivory Coast's eastern cocoa regions are feeding concerns of a poor April-to-September mid-crop harvest there, farmers said on Tuesday.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the high quality of its beans, farmers were frustrated.
"It's hot and it's not raining. When it rains it's not much," said Lambert Yao, who farms in the outskirts of Abengourou. "The mid-crop is lost for us, because there isn't much on the trees."
Overall, however, the weather appeared to bolster predictions of a bumper crop that exporters say could reach a record 2 million tonnes and which has already contributed to a supply glut that has sent prices plummeting since last year.
July London cocoa fell 2 pounds, or 0.1 percent, on Tuesday to 1,433 pounds a tonne. July New York cocoa rose $27, or 1.5 percent, to $1,839 a tonne after ending 1.6 percent lower on Monday.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of national output, farmers reported two abundant showers.
"Harvesting is still weak and the beans are very small," said Daloa farmer Albert N'Zue. "With good rainfall and plenty of sunshine, the quality can improve in July."
Similar growing conditions were reported in the western region of Bouafle.
In the western region of Duekoue, farmers reported several heavy showers.
"We have a lot of pods on the trees. We now need plenty of sunshine to avoid disease because there will be even more rains in the weeks to come," farmer and cooperative manager Amara Kone said.
In the Soubre region, in the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported four rain showers during the week.
"There's a good bit of harvesting right now. But the problem is the drying, which is a bit slow," said Koffi Kouame, who farms in Soubre. "We think that the harvesting will taper off a lot after July, but it won't stop."
(Reporting by Loucoumane; Editing by Joe Bavier and Susan Thomas)- Reuters
MTN Ghana continues to occupy the top spot in mobile voice subscriptions for the period ending February 2017 recording in excess of 20.26 million subscribers representing an increase of more than two percent from January 2017’s figure of 19.8 million.
The current total mobile subscribers of MTN’s represents a market share for the month under review of 51.65 percent. Vodafone ranks second in mobile voice subscription by increasing its subscriber base from 8.4 million as at the end of January to 8.4 million as at the end of February this year.
This represents an increase of 0.32 percent in Vodafone’s market share which currently stands at 21.48 percent. Ironically, the two mobile companies Tigo and Airtel who are currently waiting regulators’ approval in other to merge to become the second biggest mobile telecom company in the country, all saw a decrease in their subscriber base in the month under review.
Tigo, according to the National Communications Authority (NCA) data lost 94,145 subscribers as at the end of February representing a decrease of 1.85 percent. Their market share for the month under review was 13.15%. Airtel, which occupied the fourth position, also lost 36,303 subscribers as at the end of February 2017.
This represents a decrease of 0.80 percent, leaving their total market share for the month under review at 11.54 percent. Glo Ghana came fifth recording an additional 113, 884 subscribers to end February with 784,283 subscribers leaving its total market share for the month at 2 percent.
Meanwhile Expresso continues to occupy the bottom spot by seeing a further drop in its voice subscription figures by about 24.88 percent. The subscriber base decreased from 88,993 as at the end of January 2017 to 66,852 making them the biggest loser at the end of February 2017. Their total market share for the month under review was 0.17%.
According to the NCA, at the end of February 2017, the total number of mobile voice subscriptions had reached 39.23 million representing a percentage increase of 1.05 percent from January 2017’s figure of 38.24 million.
The total mobile telephony penetration rate for the month under review was 139.09 percent.
There are two operators providing fixed line services in Ghana being Vodafone and Airtel. As at February 2017, the total subscriptions for both fixed operators were 266,885 representing an increase of 5.35% from the previous month.
Vodafone recorded a total subscription of 259,863 while Airtel ended the month with 7,022 subscriptions.