US Mission promotes intellectual property rights protection in Nigeria

Nigerians have clamoured for a list of the affected individuals to be made public, but the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said on Wednesday, September 16, it's impossible because the visa application process is confidential by default.

The US government says it is committed to promoting public awareness on the importance of protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR), as a strategic resource for bolstering economic growth in Nigeria.

The US Mission in collaboration with the American Business Council, hosted the second edition of its Intellectual Property (IP) Symposium on “Intellectual Property and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”, the theme for World IP Day 2022.

The two-day symposium, led by the United States Department of Justice’s INL-funded Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)’s International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Attorney Adviser (ICHIP), brought together key stakeholders in Nigeria’s IPR protection framework, including leading entertainment and creative industry leaders.

Delivering remarks during the opening ceremony of the symposium in Lagos, US Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, noted that protection of intellectual property rights is critical for any economy that wants to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Ambassador Leonard noted that strong intellectual property rights protection is essential to creating jobs and opening new markets for goods and services. She encouraged stakeholders in the intellectual property space to shore up Nigeria’s IPR legal framework and lay a solid foundation for youth to drive innovation and engender a more prosperous Nigeria.

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“Nigerian youths are an incredible source of ingenuity and creativity”, Ambassador Leonard said. “A strong system of intellectual property rights assures inventors, industrial designers, musicians, and artists alike that their creative content will be protected and valued.”

The symposium featured a plenary session, thematic panel discussions and exhibitions with particular focus on Nigeria’s burgeoning entertainment and creative industries. Participants discussed how intellectual property rights can support their goals, help transform ideas into reality, generate income, create jobs, and make a positive impact.

Leading industry, legal and academic speakers explored options for making Nigerian IP infrastructure work for innovative youth in Nigeria, on one hand, while creative industry pioneers discussed negotiating opportunities for Nigeria’s creative industry.

The symposium featured a spirited secondary school debate on the relevance of IPR protection for Nigeria’s better future, as well as thought provoking art performances to spotlight the place of creativity.

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Through economic diplomacy overseas, the United States encourages host-nation governments to establish predictable legal regimes to ensure intellectual property rights can be secured.

OPDAT’s ICHIP Attorney at the US Embassy in Abuja serves as the sub-Saharan African regional hub for developing and administering technical and developmental assistance programs designed to enhance the capabilities of foreign justice sector institutions and law enforcement to prevent and combat intellectual property offenses and cybercrimes.

The US Mission Nigeria, organised the first intellectual property symposium in 2019 on “Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals and Piracy.” The Embassy-funded original film, Fishbone, premiered at the 2019 symposium.

This valuable awareness-raising film on the dangers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals has now been translated into French for the benefit of IP stakeholders in Francophone African countries.

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