Under the auspices of the EU-African SME Summit 2021 in Rome, a new Helpdesk on African Intellectual Property (IP) matters was launched to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This online desk, implemented by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and with support from the Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) will enable EU businesses to ask their specific questions and to find detailed and practical information on Africa intellectual property matters.
The issue of intellectual property is becoming increasingly relevant as a cornerstone of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and the focus on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) derives from the key drive they give to economic growth in both the EU and in Africa. According to the EUIPO, while less than 9% of SMEs in the EU own intellectual property rights (IPR), those SMEs who own at least one patent, registered design or trade mark generate on average 68 % higher revenues per employee than the ones which do not. Both the EU and African countries have a common interest in facilitating trade and investment by removing obstacles that hinder their development. The Helpdesk aims to support African IPR policy and its harmonisation and to protect and promote value addition of African products and services, by improving networks and tools and by strengthening capacity building.
In this context, the new Africa IP SME Helpdesk comes at a timely moment and will provide information, case studies, training materials and webinars to help SMEs understand and protect their intellectual property assets (patents, trade marks, industrial designs, trade secrets, copyrights, etc) in Africa. It will support small and medium-sized enterprises in the process of creating, protecting, utilising, administering and enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR) across Africa, in line with international and European best practices.
SMEs will be able to submit their own enquiries to the Helpdesk related to protecting their IP rights in Africa through the dedicated Helpline service. IP experts will analyse them and give useful advice in a confidential way within a short delay. The Helpdesk also aims to support IP capacity building along the full scale of IP practices from awareness to strategic use and to their successful exploitation.
The Africa IP SME Helpdesk is established thanks to the support of the European Union and implemented by the EUIPO, through the Intellectual Property Rights & Innovation in Africa (AfrIPI) project.
- Publication date
- 22 October 2021
- Directorate-General for International Partnerships