The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies yesterday revealed that the dti was finalising an Intellectual Property (IP) policy to preserve and defend the intellectual property of the country's citizens.
Addressing national, regional and private sector stakeholders at the opening of the Africa Intellectual Property Conference, held at Gallagher Estate Conference Centre, in Midrand yesterday, Minister Davies said that South African products have been pirated all over the world and the dti is now intensifying efforts to secure our nation's intellectual property.
Explaining the rationale for the latest move, Minister Davies said that over time there has been progressive innovations but without an overarching framework that allowed for optimal IP protection.
"To address this it is envisaged that the policy will introduce remedial measures to tackle infringements but at the same time we will make sure that our IP laws do not become a barrier to doing business," said Davies.
Minister Davies explained that the Policy will focus on issues of health, traditional knowledge and geographic indicators. For instance in the fight against diseases and poverty Minister Davies said the benefits of generic medicines must be explored and a sharp distinction must be made between generics and counterfeits.
"The importance of protecting our IP is again under the spotlight with a French company wanting to register "Rooibos" as their intellectual property. I have written a letter to the French embassy strongly objecting to this and will support the industry in its fight to protect this name," Davies said.
Davies also said counterfeits are a threat to the South African economy and have caused substantial damage to the livelihoods of our artists. It is for this reason that our anti-piracy campaign will be enhanced to get rid of counterfeit and pirated goods.
"It is a scourge we have to root out. Substandard products that do not meet compulsory specifications are detrimental to our citizens as well. The struggle against counterfeits is very important to our cause," added Davies.
The conference today will be focussing on, amongst others, the protection of indigenous knowledge. SA is in the final stages of passing the law that integrates the protection of indigenous knowledge using the IP system.