Monday, 1 October 2012

A review of African official IP websites: no.12: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Last year, we learned that the DRC was still catching up on intellectual property (IP) and yet to set up a website for its IP office. Sadly, this has not changed as we still hear of other pressing matters. Interestingly, the DRC is a member of the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) and apparently, will soon adhere to it.

Since there is nothing else to report on IP development, we would like to draw to our readers' attention to this commercial law news which reports on the final adoption of  Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to SEC's summary, ...."Section 1502 added Section 13(p) to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, requires the Commission to promulgate rules requiring issuers with conflict minerals that are necessary to the functionality or production of a product manufactured by such person to disclose annually whether any of those minerals originated in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country.  If an issuer’s conflict minerals originated in those countries, Section 13(p) requires the issuer to submit a report to the Commission that includes a description of the measures it took to exercise due diligence on the conflict minerals’ source and chain of custody." Essentially, a company could be directly or indirectly caught under this disclosure rule if it deals on specified minerals from the specified region, and/or its by-product or end product.

This little Leo thinks that this landmark legislative development is a step in the right direction; but time will tell  on its implementation, and ultimately, whether it would help reduce exploitation and trade of conflict minerals. On the other hand, Afro Leo is, as usual, a bit sceptical that this would really help American consumers and investors make more informed decisions; enhance transparency in the extractive industries in that part of the world; and enjoin companies on corporate social responsibility.
For UK's approach and guide to conflict minerals, see here
SEC's official press release on Conflict Minerals rule adoption, see here
DRC's GDP growth projected at 8.2% by 2013, see here
For blood diamonds and the Kimberley Process, see here 
Recent UN report on blood diamonds, see here 

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