The Intellectual Property Law & Policy Research Unit assists in developing IP Law and Policy in Southern Africa and aims to contribute to the manner in which this topic is treated in the emerging and developing countries throughout the world. The Unit is in a position to become an influential leader within Southern Africa for research and scholarship in intellectual property law and policy. The Unit believes that it is important that developing countries participate in the evolution of intellectual property policy and law systems to ensure that any changes envisaged or realised in practice take full account of the needs of emerging economies, and therefore can benefit them. The Unit takes the position that South Africa has a part to play in defining the manner in which these new challenges are met.
New technologies are modifying the manner in which the patents, copyright and even trademarks have worked during the 20th century. Modern genetics discoveries and inventions challenge the way in which patents are used. In addition, the basic concept of disclosure in order to allow for improvement and new inventions is being challenged as organisations take care to protect their intellectual property to the detriment of the tradition of the compact between the public and the innovator. Patent thickets and even pools are developing to make patents a tradable commodity or even currency, and the implications need research.
Our Unit seeks to explore the many issues faced in the changing world of Intellectual Property and relate these to the needs of society, IP holders and consumers. It is a daunting responsibility which the Unit seeks to assume through dialogue, research, debate and capacity building in order to develop expertise in IP for Southern Africa.