Events in Botswana an Swaziland a Success

Botswana Intellectual Property Conference: Making Intellectual Property Work for Development; Swaziland Intellectual Property Conference: IP Used to Support Culture Based Industries

The International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI), in conjunction with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has just completed two conferences in southern Africa. The first, a four-day conference in Gaborone, Botswana, covered a range of intellectual property (IP)-related topics. With an enthusiastic audience and speakers from around the globe, each day produced interesting ideas and a lively debate.

The first day consisted of a plenary welcome with representatives from IIPI, the USPTO and Botswana Government officials; it also featured foundational IP lectures covering legal concepts and the economic of strong IP policies. The second day focused on IP strategies and issues for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and covered topics ranging from case studies in international business to IP in craft industries to IP enforcement strategies employed by the Bureau Sénégalais du Droit d’Auteur (Senegal’s Copyright Office). The third day was comprised of international IP enforcement measures. Presentations on civil infringement actions, criminal prosecutions, border control measures and a mock trial of a trademark case were employed to demonstrate current enforcement mechanisms and problems. The last day of the conference was devoted to public administration and IP governance. Government leadership, philosophies of economic development, communications strategies and allocation of public resources were discussed in light of the preceding days’ focus on IP. IIPI is planning to continue and build on its relationship with Botswana government officials in developing sound IP laws and governance.

The following week, IIPI held a smaller one-day conference in Mbabane, Swaziland. The focus of the event was IP’s role in protecting and promoting culture-based industries. Following an introduction to IP legal principles and IP’s role in a developing economy, the presenters took the audience through general IP principles for SMEs, applied them to examples in the business of selling cultural products, and included several anecdotes relevant to questions raised throughout the day.

Both conferences – in Botswana and Swaziland – engendered local interest, provided an educational opportunity that was helpful to a range of government and private professionals, and informed IIPI of some the most relevant issues that need to be addressed to make substantial positive changes.