Government Officials from the Ministries of Justice and Legal Affairs, Culture and Tourism and Foreign Affairs and External Trade are meeting in Honiara this week to validate a draft Solomon Islands Intellectual Property Strategy.
The workshop is to give stakeholders previously involved in consultations and other interest groups an overview of the draft strategy.
It is also an opportunity for stakeholders to further discuss or suggest changes to the draft or seek clarifications from an international expert that produced the draft strategy.
An expert on Intellectual Property Rights, Dr Ian Heath was engaged in 2012 to undertake consultations which led towards the drafting of the IP strategy following consultations between Solomon Islands Ambassador Moses Kouni in Geneva and the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
In April 2013 Dr Ian produced the ‘Solomon Islands Intellectual Property Report’ which has paved the way forward to make Solomon Islands a financial member to benefit from WIPO assistances.
The following year in April 2014, Dr Ian produced the ‘draft Solomon Islands Intellectual Property Rights Strategy’ with the overall objective ‘to create, protect, manage and use intellectual property as a strategic tool for the economic, social, cultural and technological development of Solomon Islands.”
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Freddy Me’esa said this Intellectual Property Rights Strategy will provide Solomon Islands a strategic direction towards reviewing existing legislations on copy rights and intellectual property in Solomon Islands.
“This is a step to update and upgrade our existing legislations on Intellectual property rights and copy rights to contemporary Solomon Islands and the International world,” he said.
Currently, Solomon Islands is not a member of any of the main intellectual property treaties such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1971 and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property 1967 as well as the WIPO Convention.
Mr Me’esa said, Solomon Islands does not have a separate intellectual property legislation protecting plant varieties, circuit layouts, or geographical indications as well as any specific legislation protecting traditional knowledge or traditional cultural expressions.
He said, the existing Colonial laws still in practice in Solomon Islands were dated back to 1924 and no longer relevant to Solomon Islands context nor relevant to the modern world.
“These legislations need to be amended to suit the current Solomon Islands society and our copy right legislations should be design to suit our local context while at the same time take on board international laws on copy rights and intellectual property rights under WIPO,” Mr Me’esa said.
The DCC Government is also very supportive of the reforms in the legal and judicial system and relevant government authorities will work to analyze and implement the Intellectual Property (IP) strategy in relation to copy rights, trademark and industrial designs.
“We must thank the current government to see the review of the outdated laws as paramount importance for the protection of our traditional cultures, arts, artefacts and products to international obligations under relevant treaties and conventions.
The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade will make a joint cabinet submission soon after the SI Intellectual Property Strategy is finalized for the ‘ratification of the BURNE Convention’ by cabinet this year to make Solomon Islands become a member to that Convention.