A stakeholder’s workshop to review Ghana’s intellectual property laws opened on Thursday, with a call on Ghanaians to register their brand names to enable them to have sole rights of the products they sell.
Mrs Grace Issahaque, Principal State Attorney at the Registrar Generals Department, said due to ignorance, people refused to register brand names identifying their products on the market thus making it possible for others to copy or steal their brands.
The workshop that attracted lawyers, representatives of various companies, enterprises and members from the Ghana Chamber of Commerce to discuss draft regulations on the Trademark Act, Industrial Designs Act and their Perspective Accompanying Act, was facilitated by the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Justice and Attorney Generals.
In recognition of the need to modernize the administration of the intellectual property system in Ghana, encourage innovation, facilitate trade and enhance competitiveness of local businesses, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property is assisting Ghana to review such laws that were enacted in 2003 and 2004.
Mrs Issahaque said the forum was important because it would enable stakeholders to upgrade Ghana’s static intellectual laws to meet international standards.
She said participants were expected to discuss the laws, make suggestions and amendments for the final copy to be sent to the cabinet and the parliament for final approval.
Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in a speech read for her by Mr Ohene Obeng of the Registrar Generals Department, said protecting intellectual property rights benefited society in many ways making it a national issue as well as a global one.
She said the World Trade Organization (WTO) in recognizing that fact introduced the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under which Ghana had started to review its laws.
She said the review would ensure that the Ghanaian intellectual property system was in compliance with best practices as set out in Ghana’s treaty obligations to afford the opportunity to provide standard and uniformed office practice, and to enable applicants and owners to know the deadlines or timelines for most actions before the office, among other matters.
“Effective and efficient intellectual property administration and management enhances the confidence of users in the system and encourages them to improve their competitiveness by protecting their intellectual property assets” she added.
Mr Kwame Fosu, Senior Legal Officer, Ministry of Trade and Industry, explained that intellectual property rights referred to ownership of ideas including inventions, literary and artistic works, signs for distinguishing the products of an enterprise and other elements of intellectual property rights that were legally admissible and protected.
“The general aim of intellectual property rights protection is to encourage trade in the use of these protected objects or products so that investors and innovators can earn royalties on their inventions and creativity”.