Adams & Adams drives major patent initiative in Africa

9 Oct 2017 , 6:17pm

The law firm hosted a joint event with the European Patent Office to encourage co-operation across the continent.

Adams & Adams hosts inaugural patent summit

Luxury Alliance member Adams & Adams has been involved in efforts to encourage co-operation between Africa and Europe on patents. The law firm recently co-hosted the inaugural Africa Patent Examination Summit with the European Patent Office (EPO) in South Africa as part of its annual Africa IP Network Week. It hosted registrars, officials and patent examiners from 20 African jurisdictions and representatives from regional bodies such as the EPO, ARIPO and OAPI met to discuss patent examination options, experiences and challenges. The event, held in Pretoria, looked at how countries could co-operate on patent registration. With few countries in Africa conducting any form of substantive patent examination at present, mainly due to a lack of capacities and resources, discussions focused on how resources could be shared.

Sharing resources

In an article discussing the event, Adams & Adams said South Africa had a depository system and has begun training patent examiners as it intends to introduce substantive examination in the near future. Work-sharing and pooling of examination resources in the form of regional institutions such as the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) is an effective way for addressing these common challenges. In addition, Morocco, and soon Tunisia, allow holders of EP patents to validate granted European patents in their jurisdictions via so-called validation agreements. 

More connected

Adams & Adams partner and co-chair of the summit, Mr Danie Dohmen, described the meeting as a platform for an 'honest and open discussion between the Registrars, regional organisations and the EPO' in assessing the status of patent examination in Africa and prospects for future co-operation. Mr François-Régis Hannart, Principal Director for European and International Co-operation at the EPO, added: 'It is evident that the worldwide patent system is becoming more connected and integrated as a result of globalisation, and that Africa will play an important role in this system. This meeting offered a valuable platform for forging new partnerships in the region, both bilateral and multilateral, thereby strengthening the ties between Europe and Africa even further.'