Welcome from the OAPI DG

Denis Bohoussou
Director General of OAPI

The strategic challenges of the intellectual property system are highlighted, more than ever, by the global context in general and the African context in particular.

In fact, when properly used, the intellectual property system is a tool for the development of technological innovation. This is clearly evident in the current race for the development and supply of vaccines and treatments to effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, the patents system for inventions is of invaluable support.

Furthermore, faced with border closures, many companies have had to reinvent their production and marketing methods, thus emphasising the value of trademarks and other distinctive signs. These intellectual property tools therefore allow for protected goods and services to cross borders and reach other territories in complete security.

Despite this, in Africa, the intellectual property system is not yet considered to be a tool for business and state development. On the contrary, there is a tendency for the intellectual property system to be regarded as an obstacle, a hindrance, and wrongfully so. Therefore, regional intellectual property offices like the African Intellectual Property Organization must make a concerted effort to promote the strategic use of intellectual property by both businesses and states.

In accordance with its 2018-2022 strategic plan, which describes its vision to be a “modern and efficient Intellectual Property Office at the service of the development of its Member States”, OAPI has established a legal framework and technical tools to adapt to teleworking, to support the development of innovative indigenous solutions in member states and to facilitate the electronic filing of intellectual property applications. These facilities have enabled companies operating in an unfavourable environment to develop their industrial property assets and seen the increase in intellectual property applications in OAPI by residents in the area of trademarks and designs.

Despite the unfavourable environment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020 OAPI was able to fully invest in its mission to support development. Its focus is on supporting Member States in the strategic use of intellectual property tools to create added value. These include, among others, the project for the protection and promotion of plant varieties, which promotes the development of quality plant varieties to strengthen agricultural productivity, and the project in support of the registration of geographical indications, which enables States to assign a higher commercial value to the quality products they have available.

The year 2021 will consolidate the dynamics that have been set in motion, with an emphasis on support for the production and enhancement of quality institutional patents by universities and SMEs. This process will be supported by a master’s degree course for patent engineers, which seeks to develop quality human resources, and by the implementation of a mechanism for financing of invention and innovation.

Considering the implementation of the continental free trade area and the challenges involved, the firm Adams & Adams, which has extensive experience in the territorial protection of intellectual property rights, has emerged as a major partner for creators and innovators. OAPI appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with Adams & Adams in disseminating intellectual property culture in Africa.

It is a great pleasure for me to introduce this magazine, and I urge you to explore its pages, which provide in-depth information of recent developments in intellectual property in Africa.