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IP Rights Bill Signed Into Law In South Africa

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

16 January 2009


It has been announced by South Africa's Department of Science and Technology that the Intellectual Property Rights Bill has officially been signed into law.

The new law sets out clear obligations regarding the ownership of intellectual property rights in South Africa.

Published in the Government Gazette on December 22, 2008, the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research (IPR) Act has been developed to ensure the effective use of intellectual property resulting from publicly financed research and development – which has been considered a grey area.

The specific object of the legislation is that intellectual property resulting from publicly financed research and development should be commercialized for the benefit of all South Africans, and protected from appropriation.

For this reason, the law provides for an enabling environment for intellectual property creation, protection, management and commercialization.

According to the South African government, the country’s knowledge-generating institutions will now have clear guidance on how best to manage IP, as well as how to ensure that publicly financed IP gets out into the market place and is used.

Support will be provided by the National Intellectual Property Management Office and the Intellectual Property Fund, as well as offices of technology transfer at the institutions.

Closely linked to the IPR Act is the Technology Innovation Agency Act, which provides for the establishment of a public entity to finance individuals and entities commercializing their technological innovations and inventions.

The Department of Science and Technology has expressed the hope of establishing the agency this year in order to integrate the management of disparate technological innovation initiatives that are still at a developmental stage.

All these initiatives are part of the Department's larger Ten-Year Innovation Plan, aimed at driving South Africa towards a knowledge-based economy in which the production and dissemination of knowledge leads to economic benefits.


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