USPTO Conducts IP Law and Policy Program in South Africa
The USPTO's Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) conducted a regional Intellectual Property (IP) Law and Policy program in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27-29, 2007. Thirty-six government officials from 13 sub-Saharan African countries attended the program, which covered patents, trademarks, and copyrights. A team of USPTO attorneys, an attorney from the U.S. Copyright Office, and an IP specialist from the International Trade Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce) gave presentations and led discussions. Programs like the one held in South Africa are part of the USPTO’s ongoing commitment to raise intellectual property awareness and provide technical assistance that enhances IP protection and enforcement throughout the world.
The U.S. Embassy Pretoria’s Charge de Affairs, Don Teitelbaum, opened the program and welcomed the participants. Over the three-day program, Karin Ferriter, patent attorney with the USPTO’s Office of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement, and Minna Moezie, Middle East IPR attaché posted at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, gave presentations on patents. The patent part of the program included a general overview of patents, giving the participants some details of U.S. patent law, as well as relevant international treaties.
Amanda Wilson, an Intellectual Property Specialist with the International Trade Administration, transitioned to consumer safety issues and led a discussion on the importance for businesses to protect their supply chains.
Benjamin Hardman, a copyright attorney with the USPTO’s Office of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement, and Oliver Metzger, an attorney with the U.S. Copyright Office, gave an introduction to copyright followed by an in-depth analysis of the exceptions and limitations provided for in the Berne Convention and U.S. law. Mr. Hardman’s presentation on “Copyright in the Digital Age” highlighted the technological changes that challenge a business-as-usual approach to the protection of works and explored creative solutions to enforcement of copyright in this new environment. A presentation on secondary liability, illustrated by actual U.S. cases, highlighted an example of creative solutions for effective enforcement.
Cynthia Henderson and Nancy Omelko, both trademark attorneys with the USPTO’s Office of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement, gave presentations on the basics of trademark registration; how the US protects well-known marks and geographical indications; and the efficiencies and transparency of proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board within the USPTO.
The program's attendees had many questions about each of the topics and showed a strong interest in the protection of intellectual property. The attendees expressed concern for the importance of consumer protection, which gave the presenters an opportunity to discuss the role IP plays in consumer protection and the difficulties counterfeits cause, not only for companies involved, but for the consumer looking to purchase a quality product.