INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Ethiopia: Visiting Expert Offers Advice On

Published: Tue 7 Aug 2007 10:26 AM
VZCZCXRO3266
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2474 2191026
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071026Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7350
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC 0062
UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 002474
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
STATE FOR AF/E AND AF/EPS
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USPTO:LISA MALVASO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECIN ECON EINV ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: VISITING EXPERT OFFERS ADVICE ON
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
REF: ADDIS ABABA 2006
1. SUMMARY: During a private visit, the president of the
National Intellectual Property Institute (NIPLI) Dr. James
Chandler stressed the importance of intellectual property
rights (IPR) in Ethiopia's future global competitiveness and
development to the Government of Ethiopia. GOE officials,
including the Prime Minister's Chief Economic Advisor
appeared to welcome Chandler's recommendation that Ethiopian
trademark and patent laws be brought into conformity with
global standards in order to foster foreign direct investment
and provide an additional source of revenue for the GOE. END
SUMMARY.
2. Dr. James Chandler, president of NIPLI, visited Ethiopia
as a private citizen invited by the Ethiopian Intellectual
Property Office (EIPO). EIPO is part of the Ethiopian
Science and Technology Agency, which falls under the GOE's
Ministry of Capacity Building. Chandler is an academic expert
in IPR who has provided training and advice in multiple
countries including Russia and China. Chandler's association
with EIPO stems from hosting EIPO's head Ato Getachew when
Getachew was in the US for USG-funded IPR training at the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). During his visit,
Chandler and ECONOFF met with Newaye-Kristos Gebre-Ab, Chief
Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. POL/ECON
FSN attended a seminar Chandler gave at EIPO.
--------------------------------
CHANDLER TO NEWAYE--
IPR IS ESSENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT
--------------------------------
3. In his meeting with Minister Newaye, Chandler stressed the
importance of IPR as a tool for development. He told Newaye
that Ethiopia, with its large base of human capital, had the
potential to host large factories like those in China. He
cautioned that without a strong IPR regime that conforms to
international standards, companies will not be willing to
make substantial investments in Ethiopia. Chandler pointed
out that intellectual property is a good, and that ownership
of the ideas is worth money to the creator. Chandler further
pointed out that patents, trademarks and copyrights can be a
source of revenue for the government. He stated that DuPont
alone has nearly 50,000 patents. Chandler stated that if
Ethiopia charged equivalent fees to the USPTO's
(approximately 400 USD), that would be 20 million USD in
revenue from one company alone.
4. In response from a question from the Minister, Chandler
stated that while Ethiopia has trademark and patent laws they
do not conform with global standards. The Minister asked if
there were any potential disadvantages to aligning Ethiopian
law with global standards. Chandler replied that only good
can come from offering entities the same level of protection
they find in other countries. The Minister agreed that he
could see no harm coming from Ethiopia having the global
standards as Ethiopia is not at a high enough level of
development to freeride by copying protected materials.
5. In his seminar at EIPO, Chandler reiterated the same
points. As quoted in report from the state-run Ethiopian
News Agency, Chandler stated is no reason the
economic prosperity happening in other countries could not
happen in Ethiopia...It is important for Ethiopia to think
about it and see the benefits that can be harvested from IPR
laws.8
6. COMMENT: The joint announcement in June 2007 (reftel) of a
licensing, distribution and marketing agreement between EIPO
and Seattle-based Starbucks underscored the significance and
economic benefits of trademark and patent law to the GOE.
Chandler's visit, while that of a private citizen, raised the
importance of IPR with a high-ranking GOE official and
received press coverage. Minister Newaye seemed open to the
idea of bringing Ethiopia's IPR laws in line with global
standards and was interested in the concept of IPR as a
driver of development. Additionally, Chandler's visit at the
behest of an official who received USG-funded training shows
a tangible result of USG interest in Ethiopia's IPR programs.
Chandler's visit has, at the least, provided food for
thought for Ethiopian IPR officials. END COMMENT.
YAMAMOTO
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