The U.S. Mission in Nigeria, the American Business Council and other partners in government and private sector have said that proper harnessing of Intellectual Property Rights will encourage Nigeria’s investment climate and grow the economy.
They spoke at a two-day Intellectual Property (IP) Symposium in Lagos on Monday with the theme:“The Bane of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals and Piracy: Building Respect for Intellectual Property Rights as a Strategic Resource for Economic Growth”.
The World Trade Organisation says Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds.
Ms Kathleen FitzGibbon, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Abuja, said intellectual property rights protection is important as it enables the innovation and creativity needed to bolster economic growth.
According to FitzGibbon, strong intellectual property rights protection is essential to creating jobs and opening new markets for goods and services.
She said: “This is not just an American issue, this is a global issue.
“And as Nigeria moves ahead with goals of diversifying and shifting to a knowledge-based economy, a strong intellectual property rights regime will help attract investment and protect Nigerian ideas and Nigerian businesses.’’
She urged stakeholders, government, consumers and businesses to join forces in ensuring the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Also, Ms Tanya Hill, said with proper harnessing of IP, Nigeria stands ready to grow its economy along with the rest of the world.
Hill, is the International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) Attorney Adviser, Sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ)/Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training (OPDAT).
“Investments in IP are growing rapidly in the global economy, often exceeding investments in traditional property such as machinery, equipment and real estate.
“A strong intellectual property regime will further bolster Nigeria’s investment climate as Nigeria stands ready to grow its economy along with the rest of the world,’’ she said.
She added that IPR protection affects commerce throughout economies.
“Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent, peharps, her greatest assets is her innovation, ingenuity and creativity of her people, her global influence manifests through Nollywood movies, music, books, art and technology.
“IPR provides incentives to invent and create, protects innovators from unauthorised copying; creates platform for financial investments in innovation; supports startup liquidity and growth through mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.
“It makes licensing-based technology business models possible and enables an efficient market for technology transfer and trading in technology and ideas.
“Strong IPR protections foster growth and creativity within Nigeria.
“These IP protections and enforcement are to the Nigerian creative, pharmaceutical and industrial sectors and their impact on the diversification of the Nigerian economy,’’ Hill said.
Prof. Adebambo Adewopo, an intellectual property scholar and the IP Chair, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, said the role of IP had been multidimensional.
Adewopo, who delivered the keynote address, said IP cuts across many productive sectors of the economy and development disciplines.
According to him, IP also promises to assist in harnessing the enormous human resources that abound everywhere and in every field of human enterprise.
“In Nigeria, we often speak of the rich human resources as one of our greatest natural endowments.
“In reality, the resources in context should be referring to knowledge assets that are the products of creativity and innovation that constitute the hidden wealth of nations today.
“IP system without doubt remains the primary policy and legal infrastructure of innovation and the singular currency of the digital economy.
“IP has never been more economically and politically important than it is today, particularly in the multidimensional drive towards development.
“ More than before, the global IP system has assumed increasing complexity which in itself calls for a better understanding of the dynamic interaction between IP systems and sustainable development goals.’’
Adewopo also harped on the need for Nigeria to be committed to a national IP policy as a mechanism for improved development.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that a highlight of the ceremony was a performance by students of the Caro Favoured Schools of Ajegunle.
Their drama sketch was designed to raise awareness among Nigerian consumers on the importance of trademarks, brands and the dangers of counterfeit products.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)