Holistic reform of Intellectual Property is the way forward in Nigeria

The need for a holistic reform of Intellectual Property (IP) in substance and form, including a well articulated national IP law and innovation policy has been identified as the way forward for a developing country like Nigeria with significant creative and productive capacity in order to leverage global competitiveness especially now that that the country needs to engender this as a matter of national interest and sustainable development.

Professor Adebambo Adewopo, the first professor of Intellectual Property law conferred with Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, made this assertion at his conferment with the rank of Senior Advocate, reiterating that he is inexorably committed to this cause and advocating the promotion and protection of creativity and innovation as imperatives for the development of the economy in the emerging dynamics of intellectual Property law.

The new silk stated that this has not been prioritised in recent economic planning or agenda in Nigeria, adding that IP which is central has not been accorded sufficient attention, particularly in terms of bringing competitiveness to bear in the creative and innovative capacities as a nation.

“All we need to do is to reorganise our existing institutional structures for the administration of IP which has never been more economically important than it is today in its strategic role for national development in many cross-cutting areas of importance; be it education, technology, public health, trade, agriculture and food security, biodiversity, entertainment, media, and more. These are the critical sectors of our economy and polity today. IP is at the core of human development which continues to offer great potential for contributing to the revival of the economy in terms of enhanced revenue generation, job creation and meeting the objectives of national economic reform,” he stated.

And with his conferment as SAN, experts in Intellectual Property (IP) Law as well as the creative and innovation industries have expressed the confidence that the sector just got a quantum jurisprudential recognition. And their confidence seems to be well placed when the professor stated that, “I am both humbled and honoured to be admitted into the Inner Bar and I believe it brings some measure of significance to IP in Nigeria. I derive personal fulfilment in the attainment and more importantly, a sense of responsibility for IP development, our profession and the society at large.

“I have always maintained that the entire structure of IP administration in the IP law and policy reform as a support system for economic development needs a major overhaul if we really want IP to produce the desired result. The present fragmented structures and legal framework cannot support our economic agenda or produce significant output. What we need is a holistic reform of IP in substance and in form, including a well articulated national IP and innovation policy. Developing countries like Nigeria with significant creative and productive capacity need IP law and policy to leverage global competitiveness. There is no better time than now to engender this as a matter of national interest and sustainable development. To this, I am inexorably committed,” he stated.

He further explained that it is a fact that the body of IP laws in Nigeria has been in need of reform and the attempts at reform have had a chequered history as the laws have remained largely unsuited to the emergent commercial and technological development while the absence of a systematic law reform system has contributed immensely to the apparently comatose state of IP regime in the country.

“In the recent past, reform had picked up gingerly and all hands must be on deck to see to the realisation of the process in the interest of IP and its role in the current economic reform process. The promotion and protection of creativity and innovation are an indispensable part of economic development. IP is critical to that, particularly for a developing country with tremendous creative capacities like Nigeria.

According to him, like other jurisdictions, collective management has been one of the most challenging aspects of copyright system in Nigeria for many years due to a combination of many factors and lack of better understanding and the debate over the appropriate regime or framework for Collective Management is well trodden. “I will like to see a virile Collective Management system without the rancour and animosity that have visited that sector for quite a while. Ironically, over the years, most stakeholders have shared common interests and goals but the crisis of midwifing the needed cohesion has been almost insurmountable.

“The primary concern remains that of the creators and authors and that is why they are central in the effective functioning of collective management organisation (CMO). We must always bear in mind that CMOs are merely intermediaries in the exploitation of creative works, although they are significant to the realisation of the economic interest of right holders. I believe a strong CM system will eventually emerge,” he said.


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