League of Arab States Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day in Collaboration with SMAS-IP

Cairo on 22nd April, 2015: A regional conference on intellectual property, titled “Challenges of Implementing Intellectual Property Laws in the Arab World,” is being held on April 22 – 23, 2015, at the premises of the Arab League’s General Secretariat in Cairo.

The two-day conference is being hosted in celebration of the World Intellectual Property Day, and is organized by the Intellectual Property and Competitiveness Unit of the Economic Sector at the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States in collaboration with SMAS- IP.

The conference aims to create a regional platform for multilateral dialogue, tackling the different issues related to intellectual property (IP) in depth. The event joins a pool of high-level delegates, including influential decision makers, interest groups, business owners, government authorities, and top officials, to discuss the reactivation of intellectual property rights in Arab countries and the best ways to combat piracy and counterfeit trademarks, especially in the domains of arts and culture.

During the inaugural session, Dr. Maha Bekheet, the head of the Intellectual Property and Competitiveness Unit of the Economic Sector at General Secretariat of the League of Arab States, said the World Intellectual Property Day offers a great opportunity to gather stakeholders from all over the world to demonstrate how intellectual property rights pave the path for a better future for music and arts and can contribute to technological advancement, thereby building a prosperous tomorrow for all.

Dr. Bekheet added that the objectives of the conference are to raise awareness in the Arab World of the importance of intellectual property, promote the culture of intellectual property rights, and highlight the impact of piracy, which threatens Arab and global economies, causing unimaginable losses to creators in all fields.

The conference also comprises a series of specialized sessions on intellectual property, featuring a large number of Egyptian, regional and global IP experts. The topics discussed include: raising awareness of IP and its connection to economic development, the importance of the enforcement of IP laws on borders, the impact of counterfeit trademarks on Arab economies, and the importance of coordination and knowledge sharing to protect cultural products from piracy.

The importance of SMEs and their vital role in economic development was also a key topic raised during the conference. In this regard, the challenges facing marketing, the impact of counterfeiting on the Arab economy and how to best combat these challenges was emphasized. Participants at the conference also shed light on the importance of marketing and the sharing of information and expertise to protect cultural industries from piracy. Moreover, the conference facilitated the sharing of many regional and international experiences in the area of intellectual property.

“IP laws face a lot of challenges in the Arab world,” said Mr. Nidal Al Kharouf, the regional CEO of SMAS-IP. “One of the most recent challenges is posed by E-commerce taking place through social networks and digital communication. Indeed, communication technologies pose huge obstacles limiting the enforcement of IP laws, since many cultural and musical products are displayed with counterfeit trademarks and with untraceable fake names. The overcoming of such challenges requires the enforcement of IP laws and the enhancement of the roles of civil society and NGOs in the protection of IP rights. Through certain sets of mechanisms, such players can help law enforcement organizations create proper IP laws in favor of the public interest and consumers,” he added.

Nidal also asserted that Arab countries are in desperate need of teaching the culture and concepts of IP rights in faculties of law, while providing creators, researchers and stakeholders with up-to-date information to benefit from IP laws.

The conference witnessed the participation of many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain, as well as representatives from EU countries, the U.S. and India.

On another note, a high-level Egyptian delegate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the conference, as well as representatives from a number of companies and institutions. Moreover representatives from various sectors, including arts and culture, entrepreneurs, IT, economics, oil and gas, manufacturers of consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and renowned restaurants attended the conference.

It is worthy to note that global experiences have shown that the enrichment of cultural heritage mainly relies on the level of protection provided to intellectual works. More effective protection tools encourage publishers to be more creative, in turn increasing intellectual products. This mechanism is what distinguishes countries that are advanced culturally and scientifically from others.

It is worth noting that works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculptures, and films, to computer programs, electronic publishing, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

The World Intellectual Property Organization is celebrating this year’s World Intellectual Property Day under the slogan “Get up, stand up, for music.”