IP Policy Implementation Process Underway
By Halimatou Ceesay
The implementation process of The Gambia Intellectual Property (IP) Policy and Strategy 2018-2023, under the auspices of the Office of Registrar General, Ministry of Justice, is ongoing.
The National Intellectual Property Council (NIPC) comprising of the key Intellectual Property stakeholders in The Gambia; namely, the Ministry of Justice, National Centre for Arts and Culture, Judiciary of The Gambia, Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency, Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Gambia Technical Training Institute, Gambia Police Force, Gambia Armed Forces etc. is tasked with the implementation and monitoring of the five-year policy. The NIPC is supported by World Intellectual Property Organisation WIPO and ARIPO in this endeavour.
Spearheading the implementation process, Abdoulie Colley, acting and deputy Registrar General at the Ministry of Justice, said the policy is something that all member states of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) are required to have, in order to serve as a road map for the development of Intellectual Property.
“It is believed that now we are in a knowledge-based economy; and as a result, it is the ideas of the Intellectual Properties of people that will move the economy to the next level,” he said.
He said developing countries are supported by WIPO in developing policies.
Explaining how it came about, Mr. Colley said the process started sometime in 2012 but the field work started in 2015, when WIPO sent a consultant, who did the field work before the stakeholders finalised it in 2018. He added that cabinet approved it in 2019.
The acting and deputy registrar further highlighted the objectives of the NIPC as: to create awareness, build capacity, establish an office and help inventors in The Gambia so that they will know the importance of intellectual property and how to go about registering it.
Colley explained that the Council has a 6-month work plan (June to December) and that after December they will devise another work plan for 2021 after reviewing the previous work plan. “The essence is we need to reflect on the number of applications that The Gambia is able to have both at national and international levels”.
He informed that they will embark on an awareness creation on different social media platforms and the mainstream media. “We also want to establish strong relationship with the stakeholders because intellectual property involves different stakeholders who have their own roles. When the efforts are concerted the work becomes easy,” he said.
He went on: “We believe that everybody is an owner of Intellectual Property; the fact that you draw or design something etc, makes you an owner of Intellectual Property. We will prioritise SMEs because we want to work on activities that will enhance and promote our economy and we know that the SMEs contribute more than 60% to the employer and the GDP. So, we believe when they are mainly involved in our activities it will have positive impact on our economy”.
Further in his commentary on the value of IP, Mr. Colley pointed out that it deals with law and that the role of the Judiciary is to interpret the law. “The role of the Ministry of Justice is to implement the policy and for the Judiciary to understand, their capacity needs to be built; and that is part of our work plan,” he asserted.
He stressed that magistrates do not have the mandate; that it is the judges that will be trained to understand IP, “so that when the matters are before them, they will understand the issues and make a decision on them according to the law”.