Improvements to Industrial/Intellectual Property Systems as an aid to an expanding economy
1. Who Are We?
2. Purpose of an Intellectual Property System
A modern IP system, comprising a set of laws and administrative regulations, plus a working IP Office, is an essential part of modern economic and government apparatus. Normally, it reinforces the more general laws of the country which control commercial activities and restrain unlawful acts. An up-to-date working system should provide simple and clear means for local and foreign persons, claiming such rights, to establish their ownership. Machinery for resolving disputes may often be included.
3. A Tool of Development
The establishment or modernisation of a working IP system is a powerful weapon in developing and diversifying the economy. First it shows the country to be a responsible member of the world community, which carries out its treaty obligations. Secondly, it encourages investment in other ways such as:
a) Patents – a country which needs modern technical equipment systems and know-how will be best able to attract them, by proving to their owners (potential investors and joint venture partners) that the rights will not be copied or stolen when entrusted to local enterprises.
b) Trade Marks –
- Brand names do not apply only to imported consumer goods; although profitable development and import substitution can be achieved, by controlled local production of such brands.
- Local manufacturers and service industries are assisted by the availability of trade mark protection, against counterfeits and confusingly similar marks.
- Specialised equipment and services, of the sort essential for economic development, are distinguished by their trade marks. The suppliers of those goods and services are more likely to supply them and to provide the proper backup, if the trade marks are protected against infringement.
c) Designs are important to suppliers of manufactured goods and copyright protection is essential for technical literature, computer programs, etc.
4. Early Establishment
The above factors show that setting up or improvement of an IP system should not be delayed until other development is at an advanced stage. The IP system should have high priority because it speeds up other areas of progress.
5. False Ideas
a) Protection – it is not true that an IP system gives large, foreign corporations an unfair advantage over local enterprises. It is equally available to everybody.
b) Cost (to government and to local businesses) – the IP system is not an expensive luxury, nor does it take away money from important projects like water, communications, etc. It will be a magnet attracting help with those projects and it will itself be an investment.
a) The funds devoted to an IP project are not poured away, it is an investment. It is not just an indirect investment in the future like a school, its benefits are more immediate than that. Reasonable official fees are routinely charged by all Government IP Offices, on each registration. There should be a flood of applications immediately on introduction of every new IP law, (especially such an important one as introduction of service marks), and there will be a continuing stream after that. Later, the completed registrations will earn regular income by way of annuities on patents and renewal fees on trade marks and designs.
b) So establishment costs are recoverable in a short time. In the long term, the Office will pay its way and should produce useful revenue.
c) It can, however, be a mistake to set unduly high fees, in the hope of generating big profits. The owners of IP rights are business people. If costs are excessive they will stay away.
7. Why Do We Offer These Ideas?
Experience shows that our many clients wish to register IP rights wherever this becomes possible, but particularly where there is an expanding economy. So it is good for our business to encourage the establishment of IP Systems. Further, we take pride in our position as leaders in this field, and in our practical knowledge of how different systems work in a variety of places. It a privilege for us to share our know-how and co-operate in new developments.