Projects Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa

Washington, DC. The International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI), an intellectual property development organization and think tank, released today details of two new collaborative projects with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Both projects will focus on the Sub-Saharan countries of Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland and will provide multiple phases of intellectual property analysis and training.

The first project will provide an assessment of law enforcement and judicial systems in the region and their effectiveness in the area of intellectual property enforcement, and will provide training and technical assistance addressing any needs found in the assessment. Depending on what needs are identified, subsequent technical assistance may consist of judicial and prosecutorial training, a series of workshops on border enforcement for customs authorities in the region, legislative drafting, or enforcement training related to the likely IP requirements of the U.S.-SACU FTA currently under negotiation.

The second project will provide technical assistance and training to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in using intellectual property to help them protect unique products and sell them in the global market place. The project will be rolled out in three seperate phases: Phase one will identify products with IP components and potential for global export, phase two will deliver training to SMEs in how to leverage their intellectual property and the intangible value of their products, and phase three will assist these SMEs in developing strategies for marketing products internationally through the effective exploitation of intellectual property. Training in this last area could include specifics in the development of e-commerce sites.

“This year’s collaborative projects with the USPTO are going to be some of most comprehensive and exciting projects we’ve undertaken to date,” stated Brad Huther, IIPI’s President and CEO. Senior Project Attorney Eric Garduño added, “intellectual property, if understood and properly used, can be a very effective economic tool for all developing countries; the successful completeion of these projects will help us further prove this point.”

The IIPI-USPTO cooperative projects will likely begin in the Fall after IIPI has had the opportunity secure support for the projects from local governments. The IIPI and the USPTO have cooperated on joint technical assistance programs since 2002, under support from the United States Congress.