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Remarks by Embassy ICHIP Attorney Advisor Tanya Hill – Judicial Colloquium Swakopmund, Namibia
May 3, 2023

Good morning.  First, I’d like to acknowledge and recognize all the distinguished judicial officers and others at this meeting.  Next, I wish to stand on all existing protocols.

We are honored and humbled to be a part of this program today.  No one here has yet mentioned it, but last week we observed World IP Day.  The theme to this year’s World IP Day was “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity.”  In homage to that theme, the secretariat of the IP Bench Work working committee asked the women judges on the committee, to draft essays, which are now contained in this bulletin.

This bulletin highlights the perspectives of female judicial officers on the judiciary’s role in advancing intellectual property rights (IPR) ecosystem – of course, we know that the development of IP law is gender neutral.  But these judges’ essays provide, among other things, their experiences in drafting the African Regional Intellectual Property Bench Book (IPBB).

The African Regional IPBB is a joint project of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) Africa program, and the Judiciaries of ARIPO member and observer States, to produce a “benchbook” to assist courts and judges in adjudicating IP disputes.  The African Regional IPBB will be published as a volume of WIPO’s IP Benchbook series, which provides a set of condensed, practical manuals on IP law and procedure in different jurisdictions.  Drafted by judges and tailor-made to their specific needs and perspectives, the benchbooks aim to support judiciaries in fulfilling their important role in the IP ecosystem, both as a quotidian reference and as a basis for capacity building programs.

As trailblazing women, each in her own right, we recognize their contributions within the global 2023 World IP Day theme “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity”. This is a very exciting time to work within the IPR area in Africa. Along with their male counterparts, these judicial officers are at the fore, helping to develop this area of law at a time when the adoption of National IP Policy is at its infancy, yet promising. e.g., Nigeria adopted its National IP Policy in September 2022, Bostwana followed in November 2022, while Namibia launched its National IP Policy and Strategy in 2019. Other countries that have are generally less than 15 years old. An IP Policy establishes the framework conducive for innovation and competitiveness through IP generation, protection, and commercialization. It defines the parameters of the use of IP as a strategic catalyst to accelerate transformational growth within national territories.

The African Regional IPBB project is advancing to the editing stage, and the output shall include digital and hardcopy publication, and flashcard-sized bench cards with keys points.  The provisional outline of the IPBB is included with this bulletin.

As part of promoting the project and increasing its reach across Africa, the IPBB Working Committee has joined with AfrIPI, ARIPO, and partners, to organize the Regional Judges Colloquium on Enforcement of IPR.

We wish to extend our personal appreciation to each of the amazing women on this committee for wholly embracing the project.  We will always remember these outstanding colleagues for their dedication as they wrote these pieces and, most especially, for their hard work on the IPBB project. We will take from this experience lifelong admiration and gratitude for our judicial colleagues in Africa. On behalf of the IPBB Working Committee, particularly its female members, — but also its male members — we present this bulletin and the outline for what will become the African Regional IPBB.  We trust that once completed, it will be a valuable resource in this increasingly significant area of the law.

Thank you.