World IP Day: Sound Intellectual Property System Key To Successful SMEs – NCC D-G

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There are limitless opportunities for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in today’s digital and online platforms given that they are the backbones of national economies as they deliver goods and services as well as serve as incubators for innovations and as wellsprings of creativity.

Mr. John O. Asein, Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) made this assertion in a statement he presented on the occasion of the World Intellectual Property Day on Monday, April 26, 2021, saying that the SMEs account for 90 per-cent of the world’s businesses and a significant portion of the global workforce. The theme for this year, “IP & SMEs: Taking your Ideas to Market”.

According to the NCC boss, while every business starts with an idea, the need to be nurtured and exploited in a predictable, sustained manner that adds to their market value, adding that the Commission was convinced that a sound IP system was important for that to happen and to guarantee return on intellectual investment.

Full Statement below:

“Today, the Nigerian Copyright Commission joins the rest of the world, particularly the millions of stakeholders in the creative industry, to celebrate this year’s World Intellectual Property Day. As in other years, the Day seeks to promote better understanding of the intellectual property (IP) system and draws attention to the importance of innovation and creativity to our daily life.

“As noted by the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the occasion of the first World IP Day in 2001: “We owe the inventions, designs and works of art that ease our workload, improve our living conditions and enrich and beautify our surroundings to a long line of men and women whose creativity and invention have led us from the inkwell to the Internet and from railways to rockets.”

“In my message to mark last year’s World IP Day and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had declared with optimism that: “the global response to it has been reassuring that humanity is able to use its collective power of creativity and innovation to overcome the challenge.” It is gratifying that science has since found the vaccines and restored hope where there was despair. Thankfully, we have also taken advantage of the new possibilities concerning how we work, learn and access entertainment materials.

“The theme for this year, “IP & SMEs: Taking your Ideas to Market”, underscores the place of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in society and how the IP system can serve as a vehicle for moving their raw ideas to the market. SMEs are the backbones of national economies as they deliver goods and services, serve as incubators for innovations and as wellsprings of creativity. They account for over 90 percent of the world’s businesses and a significant portion of the global workforce. The opportunities available to them in the creative space are limitless in today’s digital and online platforms. While every business starts with an idea, they need to be nurtured and exploited in a predictable, sustainable manner that adds to their market value.

“The Commission is convinced that a sound IP system is important for that to happen and to guarantee return on intellectual investment. Therefore, within the context of its existing policy initiative to provide safe corridors for copyright works from the point of creation to the market, the Commission is committed to assisting SMEs with the needed administrative and legislative frameworks to facilitate their use of the copyright system in converting ideas to bankable assets and to engender investor confidence in the sector. The new Draft Copyright Bill, when eventually passed into law will give impetus to the growth of SMEs by providing adequate protection for them in the digital environment and on the many online platforms. In the meantime, under the present Act, appropriate regulatory solutions are being developed to encourage better licensing practice and aid the effective use of flexibilities to grow copyright-related industries. The areas of attention would include the activation of statutory and compulsory licensing provisions in the Third Schedule (dealing with cover versions of music) and the Fourth Schedule dealing with the grant of compulsory licences for translation and reproduction of certain works.

“The Commission will also be improving the copyright registration system to make it more user-friendly and responsive to the needs of SMEs, taking cognizance of today’s market realities. The Commission is collaborating with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center to promote the use of arbitration and mediation for speedy resolution of entertainment disputes. To complement the efforts of the Commission, it is important for practitioners to pay more attention to the business side of their creative endeavours such as rights clearance, licensing, marketing strategies, rights management, dispute resolution and effective protection in order to ensure adequate returns on their intellectual and financial investment.

“While the Commission will continue to support legitimate SMEs, it frowns at illegal, unfair or unconscionable business practices. It will continue to promote a culture of respect for copyright and pursue a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of piracy in the copyright market. The criminal activities of pirates make it difficult for SMEs to thrive and discourage investments.

“Like any other IP asset, copyright has value, and we appeal to banks and other financial institutions to embrace the collateralisation of IP to support SMEs in the creative sector as this would enhance their contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The Commission is prepared to work with relevant agencies and stakeholders to explore this area further.

“As we mark this year’s World IP Day, I again commend practitioners in the creative sector for giving Nigeria an industry to be proud of and I appeal to the public to give them and their SMEs the needed support and encouragement by respecting their copyright
Thank you”.

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