by Seno Namwandi
The business economy revolves around what one knows, knowledge is now a commodity and therefore to trade it as a commodity, one has to be able to quantify it. Intellectual Property enables quantification of knowledge expressed in various forms. Intellectual property (IP) is the legal right granted by a government entity to creations that result from one’s intellect and/or creativity. IP enables ownership of these creations and the legalizing element of ownership therefore enables an aspect of trading.
Practically, what this means is if one owns something legally, one can treat it as a property that can be bought, sold, leased or rented. This is critical in today’s economy as the importance of products and services fades into the background and the knowledge that resulted in those products or services has come to the forefront. Previously, the economy was based on the ingenuity of products and services themselves, now the economy is looking at the expert input that led to the creation of products and services.
IP is used across the value chain - from the idea expressed in tangible form to the product or service it results in, all the way to the name of the traded product or service. The idea written would be protected by copyright and if that idea holds a combination of 1’s and 0’s that leads to a novel software programme that results in a new business venture that would be protected by a patent; if that software is traded with a catchy brand that would be protected by trademark; IP becomes embedded in each of the above mentioned stages. The software programme could be licensed, rented or remain an entity in and of itself that grows as an incredible brand.
This has radically transformed the business industry and Africa should not be left behind. Africa is rich in creativity and the business sector around this creativity is proving to be as impressive. What is now apparent is that IP awareness is growing but the in-depth understanding of how to utilize is as a business tool is still unclear. In the following articles, the details of the different IP available will be discussed and with the appreciation of what IP is, the understanding of how to utilize it best to one business’ advantage will come.
IP is very board and is relevant to the songwriter, the medical technician, the architect, the software coder, the business owner, etc. Due it’s wide reaching effect, IP is divided into two sections for ease of management; industrial property rights which incorporates patents, trademarks, industrial design, geographical indication and the new forms of IP - traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore. The second section is Copyright and its related rights pertaining to performers’ rights, broadcasting etc.
All IP can be an incredible asset to a business and should be exploited to the maximum for the benefit of the business owner and the customers.
Seno Namwandi is one of the pioneers of Intellectual Property (IP) in Namibia. Her recent achievement was being selected as 1 of 16 Mandela Washington Fellows from Namibia for 2018. She currently serves as the youngest director on the board of the Business Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) in Namibia. Seno is also employed full time at the International University of Management (IUM) where she serves as the Director of Innovation and IP. Seno has a Masters degree in IP from Africa University, Zimbabwe and other postgraduate certifications in IP. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. LINKEDIN | EMAIL