Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa

In the global knowledge economy, intellectual property (IP) rights – and the innovations they are meant to spur – are important determinants of progress. But what does this mean for the nations of Africa? One view is that strong IP protection can facilitate innovation in African settings. Others say that existing IP systems are simply not suited to the realities of African innovators.

This edited volume, based on case studies and evidence collected through research across nine countries in Africa, sheds light on the complex relationships between innovation and IP. It covers findings from Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa, across multiple sites of innovation and creativity including music, leather goods, textiles, cocoa, coffee, auto parts, traditional medicine, book publishing, biofuels and university research.

Various forms of IP protection are explored: copyrights, patents, trademarks, geographical indications and trade secrets, as well as traditional and informal mechanisms of knowledge governance.

The picture that emerges from the research is one in which innovators in diverse African settings share a common appreciation for collaboration and openness. And thus, when African innovators seek to collaborate, they are likely to be best-served by IP approaches that balance protection of creative, innovative ideas with information-sharing and open access to knowledge.


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de Beer, Jeremy and Armstrong, Chris and Oguamanam, Chidi and Schonwetter, Tobias, Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa (January 31, 2014). De Beer, J., Armstrong, C., Oguamanam, C., and Schonwetter, T. (Eds.) (2014), Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa, UCT Press, Cape Town, ISBN: 978-1-919895-99-4.

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