Monday, 24 October 2011

A to Z of African official IP websites no.19: Ethiopia

Afro-IP's A-to-Z series of visits to the official IP websites of African states visits Ethiopia -- a country whose policy regarding the protection and exploitation of rights in the reputation of its coffee may be regarded by some as a template for other producing countries to copy.  Kingsley Egbuonu writes:.

Overview
Ethiopia is a contracting party to the convention establishing the world intellectual property organization. It is signatory to most IP-related multilateral treaties and regional economic integration treaties.
Copyright Office

  • The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) is the competent office responsible for copyright and related rights in Ethiopia.
  • This office was formed in 2003.
  • The office website is www.eipo.gov.et.
Industrial Property Office

  • The EIPO is also responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights in Ethiopia.
  • The office website is www.eipo.gov.et.
  • The EIPO’s website appears useful but there is room for improvement.
  • Key sections of the website lack content and among other things, a section dedicated to EIPO’s rules and procedures would be a great enhancement.
Social Media Presence
None
Comments and conclusion
Intellectual property might not be considered a priority for most African countries, especially those in the horn of Africa; however, Ethiopia has embraced IP and made effective use of it. This is indeed significant that intellectual property can become a vital tool for growth and sustainable development for African countries. 
Established in 2004, the Ethiopian Coffee Trademarking and Licensing Initiative (ECTLI) is a fantastic commercialisation project aimed at ensuring a win-win solution for all stakeholders -- including Ethiopian coffee farmers. Although funding is a necessity, without dedicated legal technical assistance, projects like these often fail. Therefore, it is crucial that law and IP-oriented organisations firms (as part of their pro bono and/or CSR schemes) emulate the likes of Arnold & Porter LLP and Light Years IP in supporting beneficial intellectual property regimes in Africa. 
For more details on the ECTLI, visit www.ethiopiancoffeenetwork.com
Kingsley tweets as @IPinAfrica

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