We must protect intellectual property rights

26Oct 2020
The Guardian
We must protect intellectual property rights

Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognise more than others.

The most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Early precursors to some types of intellectual property existed in societies such as Ancient Rome, but the modern concept of intellectual property developed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. The term "intellectual property" began to be used in the 19th century, though it was not until the late 20th century that intellectual property became commonplace in the majority of the world's legal systems.

The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods.  To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to profit from the information and intellectual goods they create.  These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.  

The intangible nature of intellectual property presents difficulties when compared with traditional property like land or goods. Unlike traditional property, intellectual property is "indivisible", since an unlimited number of people can "consume" an intellectual good without it being depleted.

Tanzania’s  Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) has promised to continue promoting intellectual property rights (IPR) in the country but not limited on the increase of granting of patents and utility models. According to the agency, more efforts have to be done to encourage stakeholders to make sure the number of patent applications is increased from the current 30 applications per year.

The University  of Dar es Salaam has introduced Masters of Intellectual Property (MIP) studies in collaboration with BRELA, The Africa Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and World Intellectual Property (WIPO).

Nyaisa said in the next financial year the agency plans to conduct massive seminars, workshop and outreach programmes through sensitisation to research, development institutions and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“MIP will act as an eye opener to start a new chapter for more involvement on protection and promotion of IPR to our stakeholders especially from the College of Science and Technology,” he said.

“As we are all aware that the fifth government targets making Tanzania an industrialised nation, IPR has a major role to play in assuring that our products and services are well branded and crossing our boundaries to access international market,” he said.

UDSM Vice Chancellor, Prof William Anangisye said introduction of the programme is in line with the university’s vision where the college embarks on strengthening its postgraduates programmes with specific emphasis on regional and international dimensions

“As you may be aware the university has already committed significant financial and human resources in support of the MIP. We have renovated students learning facilities and accommodation at the Mikocheni campus where we will host the MIP programme,” he said.

Prof Anangisye said UDSM is fully aware of the importance of intellectual property rights in the context of the contemporary global social and economic dynamics.

“We cannot afford to ignore the importance of intellectual property rights in our domestic policies and laws. The commencement of MIP programme at UDSM could not have been timelier,” he noted.

He said for so many years UDSM has been in support of IPR initiatives both domestically and regionally adding at local level the university was the first higher learning institution to adopt the institution intellectual property policy in 2008.

He added that on regional frontiers between 2006 and 2009, the university hosted a regional intellectual property coordination office under the auspices of the association known as universities sciences humanities and engineering partnership in Africa (USHEPiA).

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