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COSOMA Building. Photo credit: Roger Chevallaz

Workshop Opening Ceremony. Photo credit: Albert Kamanga, Lilongwe

Workshop in action. Photo credit: Roger Chevallaz 

The Malawi Project

In November 2016 upon the invitation of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), ADALPI carried out a project in Malawi in cooperation with STOP PIRACY, a Swiss non-profit association which fights actively and sustainably against counterfeiting and piracy. The project concerned the creation of awareness for the value of intellectual property and was based on the Swiss initiative “Stop Piracy”. The full report is available below.

Workshop on creating awareness of intellectual property rights

Creating a Public-Private Partnership to fight counterfeiting and piracy in Malawi
Lilongwe (Malawi), 15 – 16 November 2016

In November 2016, ADALPI joined forces with STOP PIRACY, a Swiss non-profit organisation, to conduct a workshop in Malawi on creating awareness of intellectual property rights (IPRs). We had been invited by The Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), who hosted the workshop with the support of The Department of the Registrar General of Malawi.

The specific goals of the mission were:

  • to spread knowledge on the basics of the IPRs system and its opportunities and challenges, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises in Malawi,
  • to create awareness for the need to protect, respect and enforce IPRs,
  • to address the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods and its adverse effects on the domestic and regional market by outlining the basics of a “creation of awareness” programme,
  • and, most importantly, to create an IP-enforcement unit in the form of a public-private partnership adapted to the needs of the stakeholders in Malawi.

The workshop was planned through close cooperation between Dora Makwinja and Rosario Kamanga of COSOMA and Roger Chevallaz from ADALPI and Juerg Herren from STOP PIRACY. The organisers on the Malawian side knew the stakeholders and the expected audience well, and as a result the experts were able to tailor the programme and the content of the specific modules to their needs.

Funding was provided by the Governments of Norway and the Republic of Korea as well as WIPO. While the two experts prepared and conducted the workshop pro bono, their travel expenses and accommodation were covered by STOP PIRACY.

The workshop was opened on 15 November 2017 in the Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe. The Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Hon. Dr. Patricia Kaliati, MP, formally opened the event. State Television, Radio stations and the press were present. After the opening ceremony, representatives of the organisers conducted a number of interviews with National television, radio stations and newspapers. This resulted in highly welcome media coverage throughout the country of the event.

On Day 1, the workshop was launched with an overview, which comprised an introduction to IP in general and to the IP system in Malawi. In the afternoon, group work started with a round of introductions by the participants with the aim of getting the experts acquainted with all the interests represented in the audience. The participants were then broken up into several groups in order to identify the needs, knowledge gaps and barriers to effective protection in their respective activities. The day concluded with a presentation of a new project by ADALPI called “IP Lawyers without borders”. This project aims at giving support to right holders who are in need of enforcing their IPRs but lack the financial means and contacts to do so in an efficient manner abroad.

Day 2 began with a summary of the results of Day 1. The participants were then introduced to the activities of an existing public-private partnership, STOP PIRACY in Switzerland, as an example of a successful initiative. Again divided into groups, the participants first mapped the relevant stakeholder groups and their interests and identified the most relevant stakeholders. This exercise served as a starting point to structure the future work of a public-private partnership as it revealed the various interests, their interdependence and possible overlaps.

The afternoon of Day 2 was dedicated to the concrete steps that need to be taken in order to set up a public-private partnership. It included the drafting of a working plan and of the necessary documents as well as a list of partners to be contacted and a timeline. The organisers put great emphasis on this so as to ensure the workshop led to sustainable next steps. Eventually, the participants decided to set up a public-private partnership which will be called SPAC (Stop Piracy and Counterfeiting), and identified next actions to incorporate this association in the appropriate legal form.

The main goals of SPAC are to:

  • act as a one-stop centre for the coordination of anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy activities
  • create awareness of the dangers of counterfeiting and piracy
  • act as a lobbying group to support issues related to IP

The experts from ADALPI and STOP PIRACY will continue to be available for consultation. One of the strengths of SPAC is that it represents various interests and backgrounds. The newly created initiative can thus draw on a plethora of ideas and creative approaches, which will be particularly important when SPAC launches its first campaigns.

Conclusions and lessons learned

  • The workshop was considered a great success by all parties involved. The support provided by the Malawian side to the two experts from ADALPI and STOP PIRACY in the preparation stage as well as during the workshop proved to be effective and ensured that the workshop could be tailored according to the level of knowledge and the needs of the participants.
  • A public-private partnership such as SPAC can only succeed in the long term if it is “owned” by the relevant stakeholders. As IPRs are ultimately private rights, the drivers of the initiative need to come from the private sector. It is therefore vital to involve the most relevant private companies and industry associations of a nation’s economy as early as possible. Fighting counterfeiting and piracy and improving or expanding existing IP legislation to new fields are the motivating forces for the private sector.
  • It is a frequent occurrence in projects of technical cooperation that the momentum of an event such as a workshop is lost and the follow-up work simply does not happen. Having a working plan that is agreed by all involved and which indicates the timeline and the responsibilities is therefore crucial to ensure that the work done is sustainable in the long term.

ADALPI is delighted to have been able to make a small contribution to improving the IP climate in Malawi and looks forward to future cooperation.

ADALPI, August 2017