KAMPALA – Transformation of Uganda into a modern, prosperous society as laid out in the National Development Plan III will largely depend on how fast Ugandans can harness, protect and utilize intellectual property in a manner that encourages innovation and creativity.
As part of the strategy to promote the realization of this goal, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) Registrar General, Mercy Kainobwisho delivered a virtual presentation themed “The role of Uganda’s IP policy in nurturing innovation for social economic development”.
The webinar aimed at enhancing awareness and building capacity for IP to support national development through the creative sector of the economy.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, inventions, literary, and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. IP is divided into two categories, industrial property which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and copyright which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.
In her presentation, the Registrar General, noted that intellectual property is a product of innovation, which is tied to Uganda’s strategic objective to propel the country to middle-income status.
“Intellectual property is one of the single largest opportunities for companies to increase strategic business value, create new business opportunities, accelerate barriers to entry for competitors. IP represents a significant, untapped opportunity for revenue generation,” Kainobwisho said.
“Business enterprises irrespective of size must be innovative to remain relevant and competitive locally, regionally. However innovators need to protect their intellectual property in order to gain from their creativity,” she added.
Intellectual Property supports the transformation of the economy through harnessing of the benefits accrued to rights holders such as creating opportunities for employment of the youth and providing solutions through commercialization of innovations.
To support IP growth across the country, Cabinet in May 2019 approved the National Intellectual Property Policy whose objective is to stimulate and nurture innovation and creativity for socio-economic development of the country. The policy also aims at facilitating integration of intellectual property into national priority sectors and programs towards realization of national development goals.
The Registrar General in her presentation outlined the pivotal role the national IP policy will play in promoting IP as a tool for all-inclusive transformation of academia, creative, informal, public and private sectors of the national economy.
“The government of Uganda is well aware of the benefits and role that Intellectual Property can play to accelerate the socio-economic development of our country. The passing of the national IP policy aimed at stimulating effective and strategic use of Intellectual Property in all sectors in order to attain rapid economic development,” Kainobwisho added.
The Registrar General in her discussion tipped inventors on how they can promote their innovations, the need to protect IP creations through trademarking, copyrighting and other related rights, how to address challenges created by violation of IP for ICT innovators, empowering innovators to safeguard their solutions/products and promoting transfer of technology through patents.
The emergence of COVID-19 has had an effect on businesses with many small and medium enterprises (SMES) across the country working towards countering the challenges brought upon by the impact of COVID-19. The pandemic has however also presented them with opportunities to create solutions such as medicine and drugs, protective gear, sanitary products, creating significant intellectual property assets that need to be protected for the benefit of their creators.
URSB is undertaking more engagements under their ‘innovation series’ to explain further how such SMEs can enhance their businesses through exploiting the full benefits of their intellectual property.