Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
121.   South Africa is currently implementing two flagship programmes aimed at assisting small businesses to benefit more meaningfully from the IP system. They are the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) and the IP for Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) project (IP4SMMEs). The IAP is an innovative programme administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In South Africa it is implemented by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). It aims to make the IP system more accessible to under resourced inventors, whether they apply for patent protection as individuals or as a part of a Small Micro and Medium Entity (SMME). The principal goal of IAP is to bring as many under-resourced inventors as possible into their local IP systems by giving them the knowledge, tools and means that they need to file complete applications, undergo substantive examination and ultimately enjoy benefits of a duly issued patent. This is achieved through the provision of an online course on the importance of IP protection and finally, pairing of inventors with pro bono Patent Attorneys. 122.   The IAP was launched in South African in November 2017 and commenced operations in November 2018. Turning to our second flagship programme, IP4SMMEs; the project has two overarching objectives: a. Enhancing SMME competitiveness through effective management of IP assets; and b. Strengthening the institutional capacity of SMME support institutions (SMME intermediaries) in delivering IP-related services to their stakeholders. 123.   Furthermore, the SWISS-SA IP project (SSAIP), a collaborative programme between the CIPC and Swiss IP Institute supports the IP4SMME project. These programmes will be implemented over the next three years. These initiatives, among others demonstrate South Africa's commitment to ensuring that the IP system benefits SMMEs, which in many developing countries have been marginalized. 124.   In crafting such initiatives, due regard must be given to the growing body of economic literature which suggests that the relationship between IPRs and development is a contested one. South Africa's IP Policy was approved by Cabinet in 2018. It acknowledges the important role that IP can play in incentivizing innovation while engaging with the emerging consensus in the economic literature that the best outcomes are achieved when a given country's IP regime is calibrated to its level of development. Our delegation remains amenable to engaging constructively on this theme.
48. The Chair recalled that this item had been put on the agenda at the request of Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, and the United States. A communication had also been circulated in documents IP/C/W678 and IP/C/W/678/Rev.1. Since the circulation of the document, the United Kingdom, Chile and Singapore had also co-sponsored this item and the corresponding documents.
49. The representatives of the United States; Switzerland; Australia; the United Kingdom; Singapore; Japan; Brazil; and South Africa took the floor.
50. The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/100, IP/C/M/100/Add.1