The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched an Intellectual Property (IP) policy to protect and promote the development and distribution of new technologies and services.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Ghana Intellectual Property Organisation (GHIPO) assisted in the development of the policy document, which went through several stages.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), who unveiled the policy document, praised CSIR for its contributions to culture, knowledge, and the country’s development over the years.
He said intellectual property rights were an assertion of the CSIR’s contribution to the wealth of knowledge and culture, but added that IP rights had been overlooked in several sectors and the country’s governance.
He also noted that because of lack of documentation and legal approaches to intellectual property rights, Ghana loses a lot of knowledge, which can translate into thousands of dollars and cedis.
He said intellectual property rights had far-reaching implications for many sectors of the economy and promised to support the implementation of the policy in order to achieve the desired results.
Prof. Paul P. Bosu, Director General of the CSIR, described the policy as one of the best efforts in the country to guide researchers’ rights in relation to developed technologies and innovations.
He stated that the CSIR was determined to increase the commercialsation of its technologies and innovations in order to increase revenue generation and mobilisation to cover its research and development operation costs by 30 per cent.
He also emphasised the importance of intellectual property rights to holders, the public, and businesses, as they serve as powerful tools for start-ups and small and medium enterprises to compete with larger ones.
“If a company protects its products or processes with IP rights, it can derive revenues not only from direct marketing but also from licencing the intellectual property rights to third parties,” he said.
Prof. Bosu noted that the revenues could be from fees or royalties and may sometimes exceed direct revenues, and that they could be especially relevant to research institutions that generate technologies but do not use them on a large scale.
Ghana’s CSIR has an enviable track record of tirelessly contributing meaningfully to the country’s socioeconomic and industrial development, including but not limited to crop improvement for food security and poverty reduction.
Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, CSIR Governing Council chairman, also noted that CSIR had developed a lot of technologies that had been profiled, catalogued, and published for the information of the private sector, the public, and as reference material.
“It is, therefore, gratifying that this IP policy has now been developed and published for the benefit of both the innovator and the CSIR,” he added.
He reiterated that intellectual property rights were widely used to promote culture, such as in the creative arts industry through the publishing of music, films, and so on, where copy rights allow authors, performers, producers, and other creators to receive economic rewards in exchange for their creativity.
This, he said, “goes a long way to enriching cultural heritage, enhancing cultural diversity, and benefiting society at large.”
However, he stated that the council was interested in the aspect of intellectual property rights that aid in the dissemination of technical information, stating that approximately 80 per cent of current technological knowledge and information can be found in patent documents.