South Africa Approves New IP Policy, With Guidance From UN Agencies


It took nine years of policy development, two different draft policies and various rounds of public consultation, to finally see Cabinet give the nod to the new Intellectual Property (IP) policy in South Africa.

Cabinet, the highest decision-making body of government made the announcement in a statement released earlier this week.

Cabinet’s approval of the policy has set in motion an administrative process which will lead to the publication of the finalized policy in the government gazette. At this stage it is unclear when it will be published.

High-level input went into the IP policy and Cabinet’s approval was applauded by both local and international IP stakeholder communities.

According to sources, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Development Program (UNDP) provided substantive advice and assistance on the development of the policy from mid-2016. The overall purpose of UNCTAD’s and UNDP’s involvement was to share experience in international IP policymaking to help South African stakeholders compare the approach taken in their national policy with practices in other jurisdictions.

This involved a series of activities on the draft IP policy as well as its predecessor, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) draft consultative framework for IP, the sources said. UNCTAD and UNDP organised two national stakeholder consultations, in 2016 and 2017, on the policy document. The process also was said to involve other organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provided inputs to a human rights analysis of the draft policy prepared by UNCTAD and UNDP at the DTI’s request. This involved a series of activities on the draft IP policy as well as its predecessor, the DTI draft consultative framework for IP. Since 2016, UNCTAD and UNDP have been in touch with the South African government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on IP (IMCIP), which is in charge of the IP policy…

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