SpicyIP Events: INTA’s 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference: Innovation, Investment, and IP [December 10-11, 2018; Dubai]

We’re pleased to announce that INTA will be hosting the 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference: Innovation, Investment, and IP on December 10-11, 2018 in Dubai. There’s an early bird discount being offered for those who register by October 19, 2018. For further details, please read the post below.

International Trademark Association’s Middle East and Africa Conference to Explore How to Seize Opportunities and Protect Intellectual Property in Expanding Markets

Tish Berard

Public and private investment from India in the Middle East and Africa is growing and set to grow further. At the same time, innovation is proceeding fast throughout the Middle East and Africa, driven by new technologies and expanding markets. Trademarks and related intellectual property (IP) play a vital role in protecting and promoting that innovation.

Join us to find out more about the opportunities in these regions and the latest IP issues at the 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference: Innovation, Investment, and IP. Hosted by the International Trademark Association (INTA), the conference will take place December 10–11, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

India has long had strong economic ties with the Middle East and Africa—and this connection is predicted to intensify even more in the near future. The UAE is home to some two million Indians, including many professionals and entrepreneurs. UAE-based Indians send an estimated US $13 billion in total to their families in India each year. In recent years, Middle East–based businesses have also shown considerable interest in investing in India.

In total, bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth US $53 billion in 2016–17, according to a report by Export Genius, and the two countries aim to increase trade by 60 percent over the next five years. These bilateral links were reinforced in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit the UAE in 34 years. In 2017, India and the UAE signed 14 memorandums of understanding covering topics such as defense, energy, and trade.

Looking further afield, India is also developing its relations with the rapidly growing markets in Africa. Trade between India and Africa is currently worth US $52 billion, and India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, C. R. Chaudhary, recently expressed hope that it could triple in the next five years. In July, Prime Minister Modi visited Uganda, where he promised further commitment to Africa, including a US $205 million loan to fund agriculture and electricity distribution in Uganda.

Africa is now one of the fastest-growing regions of the world, with economic growth set to exceed 4 percent this year, and the World Bank expects most African countries to reach middle income status by 2025. As economies develop, demand for goods and services will increase, particularly in sectors such as consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and telecoms. This will provide opportunities both for local innovative businesses and multinational investors.

As more and more opportunities open up, trademarks and related IP rights increasingly come into the picture. Early registration of IP rights combined with effective enforcement help protect the investment made in new businesses, leading to greater brand value and equity in the long term.

There are some very positive signs of improved protection for trademarks. Across the Middle East and Africa, more than 30 countries are now members of the Madrid System, including Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and the 17 members of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI). In December, Malawi will also become a member state of the Madrid Union. India joined Madrid in 2013, as readers likely know, so Indian businesses are among those that can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Madrid System when investing internationally.

Another important development came on October 1, 2018, when the heads of OAPI, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a tripartite cooperation framework to support African countries. This framework means that WIPO, OAPI, and ARIPO “will undertake and provide joint technical assistance programs to the Member States of ARIPO and OAPI within the scope of their respective cooperation activities and mandates.”

Despite harmonization efforts, the Middle East and Africa are home to a wide range of IP regimes and structures, and any business investing in these regions will need good advice on protecting their IP rights. This advice should encompass the challenges around trademark registration, counterfeit goods, regulatory restrictions, data privacy, traditional knowledge, and doing business online.

In the light of these economic developments and business opportunities, now is a great time for brand practitioners in India to find out more about the opportunities in the Middle East and Africa, and, in particular, the relevant IP issues and developments of today. INTA’s 2018 Middle East and Africa Conference will address opportunities and challenges in attracting investment in these regions, how innovation is re-shaping the economy, and the importance of a thorough IP strategy for effective protection and enforcement in these regions.

The conference will open with a keynote address on “Investing in the Future” by Michael Haddad, a professional athlete, holder of three world records, environment advocate, and social entrepreneur. He will inspire the audience with his story of courage, hope, and commitment to medical research and the environment.

The educational program will cover a broad range of topics, including:

  • The significant role of IP in an innovation-based economy
  • The role of free trade zones to promote economic growth
  • The growing need for harmonization
  • How innovation is changing the IP industry
  • Innovation and IP strategies: bringing your innovation to market
  • Balancing IP rights and regulatory restrictions
  • Taking your business online
  • Data protection, data privacy, and duty of care
  • Anticounterfeiting: online and offline enforcement

The speakers come from various countries, including Cameroon, India, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UAE, and Zimbabwe. They include representatives of local and multinational companies, IP offices, government agencies, and law firms. Among the companies represented are Beiersdorf Middle East, Louis Vuitton Middle East FZCO, Microsoft Corporation, Nike, Safaricom Limited, and Velcro Group Corporation (where I work).

The registration fee (including VAT) is US $1,024 for INTA members or US $1,523 for non-members. You can save on these fees with Early-Bird Registration if you sign up by October 19, 2018—so act quickly to take advantage of this special offer. INTA also offers other fees for emeritus members, government/non-profits, universities, students, and professors. Details are here. The registration fee includes coffee and lunch on both days, and a Networking Reception on the evening of December 10, 2018.

If you are currently conducting business and/or eyeing expansion in the Middle East and Africa, this is one conference you won’t want to miss. I look forward to seeing you in Dubai.

Tish Berard is the 2018 President of the International Trademark Association. In this role, she is also Chair of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee.


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