Intellectual Property Strategies: Building A Sustainable Regime For The Protection Of Brands In Africa.


Developing an intellectual property strategy is a crucial tool for the growth of all businesses, and this is especially so for businesses such as technology companies, media & entertainment companies, and fastmoving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, which are known to have large intellectual property portfolios.

Technology companies that develop software, hardware, or related products often have significant patent portfolios that protect their inventions. Companies dealing in fashion, luxury goods, and consumer electronics also highly rely on trademarks to protect their brands and designs. Media and entertainment companies, such as film studios and record labels, rely on copyrights to protect their creative works.

Intellectual property also plays a vital role in the success of FMCG companies, who typically rely on trademarks and packaging designs to protect and distinguish their brands from competitors.

It is essential to note that all businesses have some form of intellectual property, ranging from the product name, logo, customer data, etc. Therefore, it is crucial for all business owners in Africa to develop an intellectual property strategy for identifying, protecting, and leveraging its valuable intellectual property assets, regardless of industry or size.

Intellectual Property Strategies: Building Blocks

  1. Create a dedicated Intellectual Property Team.: The starting point in developing an intellectual property strategy for an organisation is the creation of a dedicated intellectual property team.A standard intellectual property team typically consists of professionals knowledgeable in the field of intellectual property, they include patent attorneys, trademark attorneys, intellectual property analysts, etc. These professionals are skilled and grounded in the art of managing and protecting intellectual property assets.Some multinational companies, such as Ericsson and Huawei, have a dedicated intellectual property team that takes on the responsibility of managing and protecting the company’s intellectual property in several regions. While other companies contract established external intellectual property professionals or firms, (either based on a retainership or on a one -off basis), to manage and protect their intellectual property portfolio.

    Where an organisation cannot afford to have a standby intellectual property team, it is essential to contract the services of external intellectual property consultants who can help identify, analyse, and develop a tailored strategy based on the organisation’s specific needs and goals.

    Beyond establishing a team comprising of intellectual property lawyers, it is also important that the team consists of other professionals and stakeholders who are crucial to the development of intellectual property within the company. These would typically include research and development professionals, finance professionals, marketing professionals and other relevant members of the organisation.

    This would guarantee a collaborative approach towards the management and protection of the company’s intellectual property in a way that serves the company and aligns with the company’s business strategy.

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