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Written by Serunjogi Francis

The minister of Justice Hon Kahinda Otafiire has today April 22, 2013 told journalists that the government will embrace flexibilities in Intellectual Property laws if raised in Parliament to help in consumer protection.  The minister who emphasized that consumers are supposed to pay authors of books and creators of medicines also said that if relevant gaps in Intellectual Property laws in Uganda are raised by Members of Parliament, government will not hesitate in embracing them.

This was during a media briefing organized by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala. The media briefing was aimed at informing media practitioners about a two day High level National Intellectual Property Policy Forum that will take place between 23rd and 24th of April 2013 at Hotel Africana.

According to the media brief issued at the Uganda Media Center, the purpose of the forum is to set measures for a coordinated strategy among policy makers, governments, officials, representatives from industry, research and development institutions, universities, civil societies and private sector with an aim of encouraging and facilitating effective creation, protection and management of intellectual property with in the national development framework.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, which include inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in trade. IP rights are, therefore, the entitlements given to owners of IP, in form of patents, copyrights and others.

However, much as these rights give the creator or inventor the legal right to prevent others from benefiting from their idea except with their permission, the human rights principles and mechanisms require that Intellectual Property rules do not stifle access to essential goods for the welfare of society, particularly in least developing countries (LDCs) with relatively lower levels of innovation.

LDCs such as Uganda, are struggling to conform to new global standards of Intellectual Property protection as prescribed by the multilateral Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).

The World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreements are minimum standards which allow countries to provide reasonable protection of intellectual property with an aim of promoting access to essential commodities.

Incorporating these in Intellectual Property laws of a country help in consumer protection thus access to essential commodities.


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