U.S. Mission supports intellectual property rights protection in Nigeria

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By Chioma Obinagwam
The U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the American Business Council, in partnership with the Government of Nigeria and members of the private sector, launched a two-day Intellectual Property (IP) Symposium on the theme “The Bane of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals and Piracy.”
The symposium, the mission disclosed in a statement, brought together a broad range of stakeholders including senior officials from Federal ministries, departments and agencies, legislators, lawyers, business, and technology leaders.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon delivered remarks highlighting the importance of intellectual property rights protection which enables the innovation and creativity needed to bolster economic growth.
Chargé FitzGibbon noted that strong intellectual property rights protection is essential to creating jobs and opening new markets for goods and services.
“This is not just an American issue, this is a global issue and as Nigeria moves ahead with goals of diversifying and shifting to a knowledge-based economy, a strong intellectual property rights regime will help attract investment and protect Nigerian ideas and Nigerian businesses,” Chargé FitzGibbon said.
She urged stakeholders––government, consumers, and businesses to join forces in ensuring the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Also speaking at the opening of the symposium were Robert Bowman from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training as well as Professor Adebambo Adewopo, a leading intellectual property scholar and the IP Chair at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
A highlight of the ceremony was a performance by students of the Caro Favored Schools of Ajegunle. Their dramatic sketch was designed to raise awareness among young Nigerian consumers about the importance of trademarks, brands, and the dangers of counterfeit products.
In addition, the opening day of the symposium featured panel discussions, exhibitions, and the screening of the documentary “Fishbone.” The Nollywood-produced film highlights the menace of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and their effect on both Nigeria citizens and the local economy.
Through economic diplomacy overseas, the United States encourages host-nation governments to establish predictable legal regimes to ensure intellectual property rights can be secured.
As a follow-up to the IP symposium, the regional taskforce against counterfeit pharmaceuticals and health-related safety will hold their first roundtable meeting on September 18-20, while the regional cybercrime, cyber security, and internet piracy workshop will take place on September 23-27, 2019.

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