What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
What are Intellectual Property Rights?
IP rights are enforceable rights over creations of the mind. They are time- or use-bound; and exclusive rights that enable the owner to exclude others from engaging in a variety of acts related to the subject matter (subject to exceptions and limitations as defined in national law, and allowed by international treaties).
IP rights give the creator the right to prevent others from making unauthorised use of their property for a limited period, in exchange of the disclosure of the creative work.
The two domains of Intellectual Property Rights
- Industrial Property Rights includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications.
- Copyright covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works (e.g., drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures) and architectural designs.
The institutions that are responsible for Intellectual Property
- BIPA (Namibian National Institution, as an agency of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development)
- ARIPO (African Regional Institution): https://www.aripo.org/
- WIPO (International Institution): https://www.wipo.int/
Relevant laws establishing IP Institutions
|INSTITUTION||OFFICE||LEGAL INSTRUMENT (Institution established by-)||HEADQUARTERS||DATE OF ENTERING INTO FOCE/ RATIFICATION/ ACCESSION|
|Business and Intellectual Property Authority||National Office||Business and Intellectual Property Authority, 2016 (Act No. 8 of 2016)||Windhoek, Namibia||16 January 2017 (entered into force)|
|African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)||Regional Office||Lusaka Agreement on the Creation of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)||Harare, Zimbabwe||October 14, 2003 (Accession)|
|World Intellectual Property Authority(WIPO)||International Office||Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization||Geneva, Switzerland||December 23, 1991 (Accession)|
About the IP Department in BIPA
The core functions of the IP Office are to register and grant intellectual property rights in Namibia. Furthermore, the office promotes the creation, use and protection of IP, and contributes to the development of the domestic, regional and international IP legal frameworks. The focus of the IP Office remains the delivery of outstanding service to the customers through the administration and registration of IP rights; to build an IP-conscious society through various targeted stakeholder engagements; and to participate in the development and improvement of the IP legal frameworks at national, regional and international levels.
Namibia is a member of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), an intergovernmental organisation for cooperation of African states in matters relating to Intellectual Property. ARIPO was established to promote intellectual property in the region as a tool for socio-economic development for its member states.
Namibia became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1991 and is also a member of the following unions: Madrid (the International Trademarks System); the Patent Cooperation Treaty (the International Patent System); Hague (the International System for Industrial Designs); Paris (for the protection of Industrial Property Rights); and Berne (for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works).
WIPO is an intergovernmental organisation established in terms of the WIPO Convention of 1967. WIPO serves as the global forum for Intellectual Property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. The organisation is one of the oldest specialised agencies of the United Nations and has 191-member states, more than 97% of countries in the world. With its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO exists to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all member states.
About the IP Legal Framework in Namibia
Protection of intellectual property in Namibia is therefore governed in terms of the national legislations, regional agreements administered by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and international agreements administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as follows:
|DOMAIN||NATIONAL LEGISLATION||REGIONAL INSTRUMENT||INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENT|
|Trade Marks||Trade Marks Act, 1973 (Act No. 48 of 1973)Provides for the establishment of the Trade Marks Registration Office, Appointment of the Registrar and registration of trade marks||Banjul Protocol on Marks Within the Framework of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO)||Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (WIPO)|
|Patents & Industrial Designs||Patents and Designs Act, 1916 (Act No. 9 of 1916)Patents, Designs, Trade Marks, and Copyright Proclamation, 1923 (Act No. 17 of 1923)Provides for the establishment of the Patents and Industrial Designs Registration Office, Appointment of the Registrar and registration of patents and industrial designs||Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs Within the Framework of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO)||Patent Cooperation Treaty (WIPO)Hague Agreement (Geneva Act, 1999) Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (WIPO)|
|Industrial Property: Trade Marks Patents Utility Models Industrial Designs||Industrial Property Act, 2012 (Act No 1 of 2012)||Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (WIPO)Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO)|
|Copyright and Related Rights||Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Act, 1994 (Act No. 6 of 1994)||Berne Convention (WIPO)Marrakesh VIP Treaty (WIPO, Namibia signed but not yet ratified)WIPO Copyright Treaty (Signed but not ratified)
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (Signed but not ratified)
Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (Signed but not ratified)
|Traditional Knowledge & Expression of Folklore||Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore within the Framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)|
Namibia”s National Policy on Intellectual Property
The Ministry of Industrialization, Trade & SME Development, through the Business and Intellectual Property Authority, on behalf of the Government of Namibia, launched the first National Policy on Intellectual Property on 23 October 2019 in Windhoek. The Intellectual Property (IP) Policy establishes the framework conducive for innovation and competitiveness through IP education, protection and commercialization. It defines the parameters of the use of IP as a strategic catalyst to accelerate transformational growth at home and contribute to socio-economic development. The policy sets Namibia’s vision for IP, identifies objectives and key strategies and establishes an institutional framework to serve as the coordinating body in IP-related policy and strategic matters.