THE COPPERBELT UNIVERSITY
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REGIME IN ZAMBIA:
A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE SITUATION.
A PAPER PREPARED FOR THE INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY FOR LEAST DEVELOPED
COUNTRIES, TRAINING PROGRAMME,
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, 2005.
ERNEST M. BEELE, COPPERBELT UNIVERSITY
21 NOVEMBER – 9 DECEMBER 2005
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REGIME IN ZAMBIA: A PRELIMINARY SURVEY
OF THE SITUATION.
My application for the Stockholm training programme on intellectual
property was motivated by a long held curiosity to study this area of law,
trade and economics. I had known for sometime that it was a rich area of
study, but never found enough time to reading the subject. None of the 3
law schools I have attended in Zambia, USA and England ever prepared
me to venture in the area of intellectual property. This only shows how
much this area was neglected in academic discourse at my time. In 2001,
I attended a meeting by the African Regional Intellectual Property
Organisation (ARIPO), explaining who they were and what they do. Now I
am looking forward to the Stockholm training programme to provide the
necessary impetus for further reading and possible teaching, research and
practice of intellectual property law.
It was necessary for me to make these preliminary remarks just to indicate
my starting points both for the Stockholm Training Programme and my
understanding of the Zambian situation on intellectual property. In Section
II, I provide general remarks on the country situation and then move on to
Section III to provide information on specific pieces of legislation in
Zambia. Section IV will sketch over envisaged project.
II BACKGROUND AND CURRENT SITUATION
Zambia began to establish an industrial infrastructure in the 1940s and
1950, following the discovery of mineral deposits in the early 1920s and
30s. By the time of Independence in 1964, a modern economy had been
established especially along the line of rail that was built to transport
minerals from the production areas in North Western part of the then
Northern Rhodesia to seaports in South Africa. The early 1970s
witnessed nationalization measures in the economy and consequence
preponderance of the State in all systems of production and trade.
Despite this, a lot of room was left to small-scale producers and traders to
operate free enterprise systems and many indigenous persons ran very
respectable enterprises in the economy. The reversal of the
nationalization policies in the 1990s gave greater impetus to individuals to
develop the private enterprise. The Government specifically promoted
private enterprise by encouraging private foreign investment in the
Zambian economy, especially in mining, tourism, banking and retail
sectors. Manufacturing, which had a good base during the period of State
enterprises suffered a major set back in 1990s on account of competition
from imported goods.
This then is the backdrop for intellectual property policies in Zambia.
There are both the Patents and Copyright offices. These are public offices
established under legislation to administer intellectual property policies
and laws. Patents, Trademarks and Registered Design policies and laws
are under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry while the regime
of Copyright and Performance Rights are administered and supervised
from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Generally, there is a very low level of understanding in relation to
intellectual property issues, leaving matters of intellectual property to
officialdom and very few concerned citizens. This is accounted for by lack
of scientific activities to promote innovation and invention as well as
development of new industrial practices. We understand talking to
officials at the Patent office that the most used legislation relates to
registration of trademarks. The battlefield of this being registration of
mineral water and soft drinks. In recent years, artists, especially
musicians, have canvassed for protection against copyright infringement
and have formed a legally constituted society for the protection and
advancement of copyright interests. Pirated music being the most serious
nuisance in country.
According to information accessed, Zambia is a member of the World
Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the Africa Regional
Industrial Property Organisation, ARIPO. Zambia is also a signatory to
several conventions, including the Lusaka Agreement on the creation of
the Africa Regional Industry Property Organisation, Harare Protocol on
Patents and Industrial Designs within the Framework of ARIPO and the
Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
III. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
As intimated above, the main laws on intellectual property is contained in
(a) Patents Act, Chapter 400 of the Laws of Zambia (1995 Edition).
(b) Trade Marks Act, Chapter 401
(c) Registered Designs Act, Chapter 402
(d) Copyright and Performance Rights Act, Chapter 406.
These are fairly elaborate pieces of legislation dealing with technical
matters of administration, registration, qualifications, objections and
appeals procedures and offences. The subsidiary rules provide
procedures and standard forms to be completed. These are the laws
which functional officers responsible are expected to understand in detail
together with the provisions of the various conventions to which Zambia is
a party. Officers in the Patent and Copyright offices give information and
advice, but the enforcement of laws is left to individual parties through
courts of law.
With regard to competition law, Zambia has had a Competition
Commission since 1994, which regulates and enforces competition laws.
This is provided for under the Competition and Fair Trade Act, Chapter
417 of the Laws of Zambia. There appears to be clear operational
demarcations between the various government agencies with each
dealing with its specific area of jurisdiction.
IV. PROJECT PROPOSAL
There is a report being prepared for the Zambia Patents office by the
University of Zambia which is meant to be an audit of Intellectual Property
situation in Zambia. This study is likely to generate interesting
perspectives for follow up actions. Our request to access the report was
refused on grounds that the authors have not yet received authority to
disseminate. We are hopeful however, that there will be a better basis for
continued engagement with the intellectual property regime in Zambia in
future. Our specific project which is in line with our initial interest is to
develop a curriculum for teaching intellectual property law in Zambia. It is
agreed in our preliminary discussions with patent office officials that the
absence of intellectual property studies in the country is partly responsible
for the low levels of awareness of Intellectual Property. Therefore, we will
look forward to sketching a Curriculum intended for delivery to
undergraduate students of business.
(ZACOUNTRY REPORT EMB. Doc.)