A HP roundtable discussion yesterday emphasized the vital role of intellectual property (IP) as a catalyst for economic, social and cultural prosperity.
Panelists agreed that more people would respect IP and avoid counterfeits if they had a better understanding of how trademarks and copyrights drive economic innovation and enhance personal lifestyles in areas such as health care, technology and leisure.
In addition to improving the quality of life, IP-protected music, medicine, print cartridges and other everyday consumer items inspire others to innovate and create with the hopes that they, too, can enjoy the rewards that come from original thinking.
Speakers provided these insights at the ‘Be Original conference on Intellectual Property & Innovation: A Virtuous Cycle organized by HP to mark World Intellectual Property Day, which is celebrated on April 26. The participants included, former Business editor, Guardian Newspaper and also former News Editor Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Dr. Isah Momoh; Mr. Kenneth Esere a lecturer of New Media, Visual Communication and Graphics design in the School of Media and Communications, Pan African University and Mr. Chude Jideonwo, lawyer, television personality, youth advocate, media entrepreneur and founder/creative director of RedSTRAT.
“Few people talk about IP or are aware of just how ingrained and important it is in our lives, which is why it’s the ‘secret ingredient’ to a modern society in which innovators thrive under the protection of comprehensive IP law,” said Rita Amuchienwa, Channel Development Manager, HP IPG English Africa, “Stopping the unauthorized use of IP, whether it’s pirated movies, fake handbags or counterfeit print cartridge technology tells the next generation of visionaries that their work will flourish and be respected.”
Amuchienwa further stated that, “HP is committed to the protection of IP, not just in relation to HP products, but also other people’s creative works. A society free from counterfeit products is not of benefit to us alone- it benefits the economy in the long run and creates a viable, sustainable environment for people to practice their craft knowing they are protected.”
Panelists noted that while it’s important to promote the benefits of a robust IP system, it’s equally crucial to educate society on the threats of counterfeit products. Most fakes are made with inferior raw materials and components and don’t perform as well as brand-name goods backed by decades of research and development and testing.
“The understanding of IP protection begins with a consciousness. We, as a society must begin to understand that counterfeit products destroy innovation and drive the economy down. We must push government to introduce stiffer penalties to protect IP and make government to realize that it is the wealth of the Nation. We must all stand up for what is right,” said Dr. Momoh.
Chude Jideonwo, a youth advocate, magazine publisher and serial media entrepreneur pointed out that the role of law enforcement is critical. He said that greater prosecution of IP infringement including tougher sentencing will send the right message.
Mr. Jideonwo argued that, “The government’s enforcement of laws regarding copyright infringement and intellectual property theft is still rather abysmal. Until government steps up to its responsibility and provides the adequate legal framework necessary for the protection of people’s creations, we are going to continue to battle with IP theft.”
Nigeria is among the countries where the manufacture and distribution of fake printing supplies and other illicit merchandise is widespread. According to the World Economic Forum, Nigeria ranks 104 out of 142 countries in the protection of IP rights.
HP is one of the biggest owners of intellectual property, with a portfolio of over 37,000 patents. Many of these are held by PPS which manufactures not just printers and scanners but the ink and toner to supply them.
Through its Anti-counterfeiting Program, HP actively educates its customers and partners to be vigilant against fake printing supplies. It also cooperates closely with local and global law enforcement to detect and dismantle illegal operations that produce counterfeit HP printing components.
Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) over the last four years, HP has conducted nearly 1,000 investigations, resulting in over 600 enforcement actions (raids and seizures by authorities) and nearly 8 million units of counterfeit products and components seized, thus preventing them from being sold in the EMEA marketplace and beyond.