INTELECTURAL PROPERTY RIGHTS POLICY


1.Introduction
2. Objectives
3. Intellectual Property Covered by the Policy
4. Definitions
5. Disclosure
6. Licences for Use of the Materials by the University
7. IP Commercialization Agreements
8. Administration of Intellectual Property
9. IPR Awareness Creation
10. Governance of Relationships Between Parties
11. Revenue Distribution
12. Implementation
13. Notification
14. Handling of Agreements
15. Effective Date of Implementaion


1. INTRODUCTION

The fundamental mission of Sokoine University of Agriculture is teaching, research, service (extension, outreach and consultancy), to advance knowledge and serve the public. In the pursuit to its mission, new creations, innovations and discoveries often result to situations that require intellectual property protection.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) today commands much attention globally than ever before. The knowledge-led economy is based on the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) products. Intellectual property protection facilitates technology development and transfer within /from outside a nation.

All countries have recognised the importance of technology in the socio-economic development of a country. Much more emphasis is being put on the new and emerging technologies, such as biotechnology. Both in the development and adoption of technology there are different types of resources and also existing legal and regulatory frameworks, which should be taken into consideration.

When activities in research and development produce commodities of commercial value at an industrial scale, the sharing between parties of the economic benefits arising there from can be a cause of serious controversies in the absence of a policy to guide the management of such benefits. This has prompted many countries and R&D institutions in the world to develop IPR policies aimed at guiding the process and procedures for managing the protection of the IP generated.

In order for R&D institutions to sustain innovations, harmonious working conditions and formalized agreements with industry on ownership of developed knowledge and sharing of benefits accruing from commercialisation of research results have to be worked out.

Cognizant of the role that protection of IP rights have to play in optimising returns on investments in research, SUA has directed through its Corporate Strategic Plan to the year 2005 the development and implementation of an IPR and Technology Transfer System. This IPR Policy is a development in the implementation of that goal.

Tanzania does not have a National IP policy, although it is in the process of formulating one. On the other hand, Tanzania is a signatory to a number of global Treaties and Conventions that govern the protection and exploitation of intellectual Property. In the preparation of this document, due reference has been made to ensure harmonisation of the
substance of this policy with the position of our government with respect to excerpts in the international treaties and convention that have a bearing on IP management.

Examples of such Global Treaties and Conventions in this respect include the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV), which is an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland), established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The Convention was adopted in Paris in 1961 and it was revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991. The objective of the Convention is the protection of new varieties of plants through intellectual property rights.

An overview over these treaties and conventions reveals the convergences in ideas and benefits as well as a number of unresolved contradictions and conflicts in interests that is useful to be aware of when translating the same into National and Institutional IPR Policies.

The CBD, which is one Convention that reaffirms National Sovereignty over genetic resources and stresses the importance of in situ conservation, is of particular relevance to SUA by its indulgence on genetic resources. Prior to CBD, genetic resources have generally been perceived to be a common global heritage. The CBD also recognizes the central role played by indigenous and local communities in conserving biodiversity through their indigenous knowledge and sustainable practices.

This document is cognizant of the main objectives of CBD which include promotion of conservation of biological bio-diversity, sustainable use of its components, fair & equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and respect to the rights of indigenous & local communities. It also alludes to a number of recommendations of the CBD the Conference of Parties(COP), which have so far met seven times, the latest being the one of February 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the other hand, the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual property Rights (TRIPS), require all World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to provide minimum standards of protection for a wide range of IPRs. In this orientation, TRIPS has raised issues that have provoked heated debates. Some of such issues include, the extent to which patents should be allowed on inventions related to living forms, for example micro-organisms, and the requirement to provide IP protection for plants.

The plant variety protection (PVP) initiatives in various countries, like the enacted Plant Breeders Rights Act of 2002 for Tanzania, being an instrument of protection of IP developed under the sui generis system, provide softer versions of the patent system. The Plant Breeders’ Act is an instrument that provides for establishment of a Registry of plant breeders’ rights and for promotion of plant breeding and facilitation of the improvement of agriculture and the acquisition of agricultural advancements by granting and regulating the rights of plant breeders so as to ensure that returns of the research efforts invested in the development of a new variety are safeguarded. PVP instruments are mandatory for all States and certain intergovernmental organizations wanting to accede to the UPOV in line with the 1991 Act of the Convention.


It is in recognition of the opportunities and challenges that come with subscription of nations to the Global treaties and Conventions that it becomes necessary for nations and institutions to develop own IPR policies in order to provide instruments to guide in the management of their IPR and IP Assests in the same.

To administer and articulate IP matters in the country, Tanzania has established an agency referred to as the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The mandate of BRELA is to administer and manage all forms of IP protection.

Through IPR sensitisation seminars facilitated by BRELA and the Commission for Science & Technology (COSTECH), a number of institutions in the country have taken steps and are at different stages in the process of developing institutional IPR policies. Currently, there are only a few Universities and R&D institutions that hold IPR policies. One such institution in East Africa that has an IPR policy is ILRI in Kenya. Others are University of South Africa (UNISA) and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Intellectual property protection takes many different forms depending on the nature of the product to be protected. The IP categories include Copyright: Literary works, Artistic works, Computer programmes, Electronic database; Neighbouring rights which is a form of IP protection applicable to Performers rights, Producers of phonograms, and Broadcasts & Patents: Utility models, industrial designs as well as Trade and service marks which is a form on IP protection applicable to inventions and other forms of industrial property.

The patent is the most powerful form of IP-protection system. It is an agreement between the Government and the inventor. In exchange for the inventor’s disclosure of the invention, the Government gives the inventor the rights to exclude others from using the invention in certain ways without his consent.

The other form of IP protection is a sui generis system (a system of its own kind) for inventions that deserve protection but are not patentable by prohibition of law. Examples of a sui generis system include the plant breeders’ rights protection schemes as provided by the “Protection of New Plant Varieties (Plant Breeders’ Rights) Act of 2002”.

The Plant breeders’ right is the right granted by the state to provide exclusive right to the breeder to exploit his/her newly developed variety commercially. It is understood that a new plant variety is always a fruit of many years of efforts labour and intellect of the plant breeder, which is very expensive. The protection of the breeder against unfair exploitation provides an incentive for the breeder to continue with the long-term efforts to develop new plant varieties. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security administers the act.

The set of legal rights that govern the ownership and exploitation of IP are referred to as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). In this respect, IPR are rights to products of mind-the intellect. This offers protection to the IP owner to exclude others from exploiting the innovations/inventions. It gives the owner the exclusive rights to exploit the IP product commercially. Other parties that may desire to use a protected IP can do so only after receiving consent from the proprietor of such IP or as otherwise governed by the law.

In development of IP, SUA recognises that collaboration initiatives may bring SUA researchers to work together with researchers from within or outside the institution/country, industry or work together with local and indigenous communities. This policy sets forth modalities of managing access, collaboration, material transfers and benefit sharing between parties involved in such collaborations.

Granting of IP rights has two main purposes. First is to stimulate new innovation through ensuring that the person putting work and effort into an IP get some benefits as a result of his/her work (i.e. stimulates generation of new ideas) and secondly it provides incentives for disclosure of new knowledge.

Intellectual Property facilitates technology transfer within the nation and from external sources as it allows the exploitation of existing resources through licensing and other means. In order to facilitate this, national laws, polices and institutional frameworks are needed to assist individuals/organisations to recognise, handle, protect, monitor and market the inventions.

With the foregoing background information and given the volume of research activities going on at SUA, the institution needs an IPR policy which will be a guide on the management of IP and technology transfer decision making.