6 December 2017

Liberia: LIPO Calls for Strong Intellectual Property Strategy

The Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) has begun a 12-day stakeholders' field trip intended to develop a national intellectual property strategic plan to be integrated into the government's national development agenda.

The field trip comes at a time when investors, inventors and artists in the creative sector (film, music, innovation, etc ), are taking steps to ensure that government pays more attention to this lucrative creative industry.

Since the country enacted the Intellectual Property Law, no government - past or present, has fully given recognition to the creative sector as an engine of growth due to what they describe as 'lack of a road map for the sector.'

Accordingly, the 12-day LIPO field trip is expected to change things as part of its trajectory will be the development of a national strategic intellectual property (IP) plan that will encourage and facilitate useful creations, critical developments and management and protection of IP at the national level, as well as giving more subsidies to creative industry societies.

LIPO director general Roosevelt Gould, who took over the agency less than five months ago, initiated this crucial activity that will soon see artists benefiting more from their career paths. Artists have described the plan that is being developed as "a crosscutting document which outlines links with diverse policy areas to ensure effective coordination with other activities."

He added that a national IP strategy strengthens a country's ability to generate economic growth, both in terms of GDP and human capital.

"With the coming of this strategy, everything ranging from literary to artistic works and genetic and biological assets will be protected and the individuals behind them will fully reap their benefits. Without a national IP strategy, it is difficult to unlock these assets in a planned, efficient, and sustainable manner.

"The goal of this national IP strategy is the creation, ownership, and management of artists and inventors' rights to increase economic growth. The world is now being controlled by IP, and if other countries are benefiting from this, it is about time Liberia starts to benefit as well.

"We have artists and inventors who are supposed to be millionaires by now, but this is not happening because we lack a national IP strategy. We have a good IP law but in the absence of a national IP strategy - which is a key policy tool to promote public interest in the arts and innovation and for the environment to thrive, then the law remains inactive," he said.

Gould noted that since 2009, LIPO has been undergoing numerous reforms and working hard to make sure that its performance equals and surpasses its mandate.

Director Gould added that the 12-day field trip will be managed by two expert consultants sent by the World Intellectual Property Organization to work alongside the agency's staff to develop the country's strategic IP plan through stakeholder engagement.

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