The public and private sectors in Seychelles will benefit from technical assistance, capacity building and better protection for products after the Cabinet of Ministers approved the island nation joining a regional intellectual property organisation.
The Cabinet of Ministers last week approved for the 115-island archipelago of the western Indian Ocean to join the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO).
"On the government side, ARIPO provides technical assistance to its member state so that they can improve their national laws relating to intellectual property. It allows them to align and harmonise it to international best practices while retaining your own appropriate level of protection when it comes to intellectual property," said Ashik Hassan, the director-general for Trade Division.
ARIPO is an inter-governmental organisation that acts as a hub for cooperation between its 19 member states. The organisation facilitates cooperation in intellectual property matters, with the objective of pooling financial and human resources and seeking technological advancement for economic, social, technological, scientific and industrial development.
Hassan added that the real benefit will go to the private sector as the country is placing a strong emphasis on innovation and the creation and development of small and medium enterprises.
"When someone comes forward with a new product that has the person's innovation, the individual must be able to protect his or her product in order to derive a maximum economic benefit out of it," said Hassan.
He explained that there is a need for this protection as "the private sector of other countries can copy the product and mass produce it."
Should Seychelles ratify the agreement and becomes a member of ARIPO, private businesses and enterprises will be able to better protect their products in any ARIPO member states through only one registration and this means a reduction in registration costs. Currently, productions are covered under the Industrial Act and the Copyright Act.
"These laws protect businesses in Seychelles and they are relatively new. Once we join ARIPO, new doors will be opened. When someone registers their product through ARIPO, the product is then protected in all the 19 member states," said Hassan
He added that the country is looking to join other conventions in order to cover protection in other areas, one of which is the Madrid Protocol.
In July this year, a high-level delegation from ARIPO and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) were in Seychelles to raise awareness on the two organisations.