Five things you need to know – Middle East and Africa

AfCFTA

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) celebrated its official market launch in July. At the time of writing, just three countries – Eritrea, Benin and Nigeria – have not yet signed up to the agreement. AfCFTA seeks to create a free trade area spanning the continent, eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, reduce unemployment and increase the development of infrastructure. Its implementation will be a gradual process and some details are still being negotiated. In particular, the treatment of IP rights is set for discussion later this year.

Africa

A new study into the most well-known brands in Africa found that just 14 of the top 100 come from there. The research, based on a survey of adults conducted in 25 countries across the continent and released by Brand Africa, lists the brands spontaneously recalled by respondents. In first place is US brand Nike, while the leading African brand was telecoms company MTM, followed by Ethiopian brand Anbessa Shoes and Nigerian firm Dangote.

Côte d’Ivoire

The French National Institute of Industrial Property has announced the creation of an IP adviser role to cover the countries in the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation. The Côte d’Ivoire adviser will be based in the French Embassy in Abidjan and will help French companies with issues in the Côte d’Ivoire and France, particularly with regard to counterfeiting. They will also support companies in the acquisition and defence of their rights and cooperation with local IP offices and authorities.

Nigeria

The Nigerian government has announced the modernisation of the IP register, which will now protect the IP rights for apps, games, programming and other online assets. The move comes as part of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, which is examining a knowledge-based economy as a potential shift for the country’s revenue, fundamental to which would be an updated IP regime. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment also announced that a six-year backlog of registration applications and certificate issuance has been cleared.

Saudi Arabia

Following Saudi Arabia’s participation for the first time in World IP Day, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has launched a major awareness campaign to promote IP rights across the country. Among the activities undertaken, shopping malls will host events under a promotional hashtag. The campaign coincides with Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Office of the US Trade Representative’s Priority Watch List of countries that are failing to protect IP rights.

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