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Intellectual Property: An engine for your business

Owning intellectual property assets can assist an enterprise in almost every aspect of business development and competitive strategy.

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Photo: Shutterstock

MAY 18 2021


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By Paul Murungi

When Ms Joyce Chimanye started Zuvva Fashion a few years ago, she did not register it.  Her fashion business made a big break last year and was ready to expand across borders.


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However, she only realised that someone was also using the same brand name in a different country.

This made it difficult for her to sell in that country. She did not know what her intellectual property rights were at that time.


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Now with a registered trademark for her fashion business under the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Ms Chimanye who is from Zimbabwe is ready to reap from economic opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Intellectual property rights


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Ms Chimanye was speaking during a recent webinar on the World Intellectual Property Day Kickoff event in Africa.

The webinar titled, “Growing Brands: Evolving Opportunities – African SMEs Reflect,” discussed pertinent issues vital to ensuring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) know about Intellectual Property (IP) rights and how to protect their businesses.

Every business begins with an idea. The idea grows and shapes into someone’s mind until it makes it to the market.

The idea when shaped and executed becomes a new product, brand or creative design. This is as a result of continuous innovation and creativity.

But protecting such innovations has not been part of the big budget for many Small and Medium Enterprises which take up a substantial part of the economies across Africa.  

Uganda’s SME sector remains one of the most vibrant and highly competitive in the region.

According to Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), SMEs are spread across all sectors with 49 per cent in the services sector, 33 per cent in commerce and trade, 10 per cent in manufacturing and 8 per cent in other fields.

 Over 2.5 million people are employed in this sector, where they account for approximately 90 per cent of the entire private sector, generating over 80 per cent of manufactured output that contributes 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

There remains a high possibility that an invention, creation, brand or design could be lost or have been lost to a competitor in Uganda’s competitive SME sector. Thus the need to protect it.  

Intellectual Property

According to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Intellectual Property (IP) is a product of the mind and human intellect. Intellectual property rights grant the owner of an intellectual creation exclusive rights to exploit and benefit for his or her creation.

Intellectual property exists around us. Every product, or service that we use in our daily lives is a product of someone else’ creativity.

URSB categorises intellectual property in two segments. The first is Copyright and Neighbouring rights which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, and plays, movies, musical works. Photographs, architectural designs, computer programs and electronic databases.

The second consists of Industrial Property which includes inventions for patents, Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications.

These are protected under the Copyright and Neighbouring rights Act of 2006.

 The cost of obtaining intellectual property rights from URSB varies between Shs150, 000 and Shs600,000.

Important tool

Traditionally, most SMEs consider their physical assets as the bulk of the value largely responsible for determining the competitiveness of an enterprise in the market.

However, these scenarios have changed as a result of the revolution of the information technologies, intangible assets ranging from human capital such as know-how to ideas, brands, designs and other intangible assets from the creative and innovative capacity are often today become more valuable than the physical assets.  This is according to a paper titled: ‘Intellectual Assets and Innovation: The SME Dimension’ authored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Business development

Owning intellectual property assets, according to Micheal Wabugo, an Intellectual Property lawyer, can assist an enterprise in almost every aspect of business development and competitive strategy.

This can be product development, product design, from service delivery to marketing, and raising financial resources to exporting or expanding your business abroad through licensing or franchising.

IP assets generate market value overtime and this can give SMEs a strong market position and competitive advantage.

 “IP gives enterprises the exclusive right to prevent others from commercially using a product or service, thereby reducing competition for their innovative product and enabling the enterprise to establish its position in the market,” he explains.

Whereas most SMEs consider using tangible assets as collateral to acquire credit facilities, Wabugo says owning IP assets that have generated market value overtime can help to acquire finance at reasonable rates of interest. 

This has been enabled by the enactment of the Security Interest Movable Property Act.

This is also in relation to raising capital. In some circumstances, enterprises seeking to commercialise a new technology may easily raise capital based on their IP assets, for example, by including information about their IP assets in their business plans while approaching investors, financial institutions or government agencies.

Wabugo explains while raising capital; business partners, investors and shareholders may perceive IP portfolios as a demonstration of the high level of expertise, specialisation and technological capacity within your enterprise.

Two cents

To effectively carve out the exclusivity provided by an IP asset, Wabugo advises that it may occasionally be necessary to litigate, or at least to threaten to litigate with enterprises that are infringing on your rights. Owning IP assets will improve your enterprise’s ability to take successful legal action against imitators and free-riders.

For due diligence, Wabugo says it is advisable that an SME conducts due diligence before acquiring or registering an IP. This will help to know the owner, status and third-party interests which may result in litigations.

“But it is also important to know if there is no infringement. In respect to registration like trademarks, it is necessary to conduct a trademark search at the National IP Office at URSB.”


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Africa Finance Corporation – Changing the Narrative on Africa

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Africa is on a major growth trajectory and the future belongs to Africa .


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New luxurious Vic Falls hotel close to opening

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from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – THE multimillion dollar hotel that is the latest such facility in the prime resort town is set to open its doors in the Victoria Falls in July.


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Spencers Creek is building the Palm River Hotel on the edge of the Zambezi River, at a cost of US$24,6 million.

The 71-room four-star hotel, built in partnership with Old Mutual Zimbabwe, targets high end travelers to Zimbabwe’s tourism capital.


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Spencers Creek already runs Ilala Lodge Hotel group, another luxurious facility, in the town.

Heather Kay, the Ilala Lodge general manager, said the new hotel would comprise 60 deluxe rooms, two deluxe suites, two honeymoon suites, two family suites, three executive suites, one presidential suite and one Palm River Villa inclusive of three bedrooms.


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It is also sensitive to disability as it includes two wheelchair accessible rooms.

“Construction of Block A (Acacia) and Block B (Baobab) made up of predominantly Deluxe rooms and a Presidential Suite, together with a refreshing 20-metre infinity pool are now complete and await the arrival of the first guests,” Kay said.


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She said Block C (Combretum) and the main area including the reception, dining hall, bar and fresco restaurant are currently receiving the last of their final touches in preparation for the opening.

Block D (Duiker-berry), Block E (Ebony) and Block F (Fig) are being constructed and expected to be finished this November.

Kay said the hotel is elegantly appointed with comfort and space in mind and the interior design of the rooms is focused on bringing the stylish use of natural tones, locally sourced materials and artwork reflective of the area together.

She said the tastefully modern style of the Queenslander is reflected in the inside as well as the outside, giving a new sense of luxury in the resort city providing guests with comfortable modern convenience.

A river deck on the edge of Zambezi and a large alfresco dining area under a canopy of trees offering an A’la carte service, an outdoor bar, conferencing and events facilities, a pool that transforms into a star wonder-lit completes the luxury.

Palm River has made plans for a shuttle to transport clients between town and the lodge via some areas of interest such as the rainforest, Big Tree, Victoria Falls Bridge and Zambezi National Park.

The Palm hotel is one of a number of tourism developments in Victoria Falls.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa toured the site before construction last year in August.

Construction was delayed by challenges posed by COVID-19.

Recently built lodges in the area include Shearwater Village Explorer, Wild Horizon’s Old Drift and Mbano Manor Hotel and Mpala Jena Camp.

– CAJ News


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De-risking the World’s Future Growth Engine:

African Trade Insurance (ATI) joins The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business

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n our 27-year history as a Chamber of Business (www.CanadaAfrica.ca), the latest range of risk insurance instruments from the African Trade Insurance (ATI) Agency is a major leap forward for Canadian institutional investors and African countries – standing to unlock billions in investment capital.


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ATI facilitates inward investment in Africa by providing insurance against trade and investment risks. This month the organization joined The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

‘ATI is a game-changer. From discussions with private equity and pension fund representatives, ATI has the potential to ensure both the perceived and real risks on the continent are well-managed; ensuring investment committees can proceed on deals that until recently may have been deemed too risky,’ says Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of the Board, Chair of the Board at The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.


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The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business invites interested parties to learn more.

Join us on Thursday 20 May 2021 at 10:00 ET/ 16:00 CAT / 17:00 EAT


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View the Full Virtual Program (https://bit.ly/3ooyuNB)

RSVP (https://bit.ly/3eSzlmu)


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ATI has a good market position in Africa, based on the scale of its underwriting penetration and benefits from significant local expertise and understanding in a number of African countries. It currently insures trade and investments worth over USD6 billion or an average of 1-2% of GDP annually in its African member countries. ATI’s partners and clients include African Governments, lenders, traders (both domestic & international) and project developers.

‘It has become increasingly clear that to achieve “the Africa we want” the role of private sector must become central in mobilizing the needed resources. Alliances like this one present excellent opportunities to address the development challenges facing our region.’ – Manuel Moses, Chief Executive Officer, ATI

‘During my career on Bay Street, it was clear solutions were needed to unlock the billions of investable capital in Canada. ATI has since developed a suite of products that in my view has dramatically changed the landscape in recent years’  – Deepak Dave, Chief Risk Officer, ATI

ATI’s African Member states contribute, along with international governments, multilaterals and private sector to the pool of capital underwriting investments, without holding any influence over ATI operations. The Nairobi-based multilateral has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

For More Information:
Garreth Bloor
President
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business
Tel: +1.647.667.1223
Email: garreth@canadaafrica.ca
Manulife Building RTO
55 Bloor Street West
PO Box 19553
Toronto
Ontario M4W 3T9

About The African Trade Insurance Agency:
ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. In 2020, ATI closed the year with a gross exposure of US$6.3 billion and a net profit of US$39.4 million, owing to a strong demand for ATI’s insurance solutions from the international financial sector and from African governments. Since inception, ATI has supported US$66 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. 
www.ATI-aca.org

About The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business:
The Chamber is committed to accelerating trade, business and investment between Canada and African markets, through world-class networking and information sharing opportunities.

Founded in 1994, the Chamber is based in Toronto and Ottawa, with members located throughout Canada and African markets.

The Chamber is an independent, not-for-profit organization with strong working links with both Canadian and African businesses and governments.
www.CanadaAfrica.ca


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