Friday, 24 March 2017

Afro Leo

Geeks On A Plane touched down in Africa on Monday

A group of investors, technology fundis and interested entrepreneurs touched down in Africa on Monday, March 20.

The group, labelled “Geeks on a Plane” (#GOAP), will be visiting four of Africa’s technology start-up hubs over the 13 day visit, which wraps up on April 2.

Organized by 500 Startups, Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is a tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about high-growth technology markets worldwide. We travel by planes, trains, and automobiles to the most exciting international startup scenes with the sole mission of uniting geeks and exploring cross-border opportunities. The result: a lifelong bond with fellow travelers, a wealth of new friends and business contacts in exploding technology markets, and a stronger appreciation for the cultural and economic ties that bind us globally.”

The Silicon Valley “Geeks” hope to ignite conversation with various techno incubation projects, innovators looking for start-up funds and generally get a feel for the emerging industries.

First stop is Lagos, Nigeria, (also often referred to as the ‘Yabacon Valley’), where they will attend a series of events, including a “Nollywood media and tech party night”. The second leg, Accra, Ghana which is fast becoming known as one of Africa’s leading technology centres. The geeks will join the Enterprise Africa Summit as well as get a glimpse of a $200 M business innovation hub called “Ghana Cyber City”.

In Johannesburg, they will be hosted to a panel event led by a not for profit organisation that gives “hand-ups” to start-ups.

While in South Africa, they will enjoy a three day safari and experience local culture by touring Soweto, the Cape Winelands and Table Mountain. They will also get to meet up with SiliconCape, a community of tech entrepreneurs, developers, creatives and angel investors who are passionate about entrepreneurship. 

The 500 Startup group is a tech accelerator organisation that operates tours all around the globe for investors to network and identify tech trends the world over.

"The African region is definitely of interest as we continue to look for and source deals from traditionally underrepresented ecosystems," said 500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure.

Afro Leo thinks this is inspiring:

“the future is for geeks”,

“have you ever seen a lion need glasses”

“have you ever heard of a lion seeing through glasses”

Welcome to Africa! Just don’t forget the IP, geeks. Facebook was stolen, there is a movie about it (our post on that here); Snapshot shares have been snapped up because of the IP in its data (Reinhardt Biermann covered it for us here) and well, here is a post from me just for you: Important IP Considerations for Entrepreneurs.
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Friday, 17 March 2017


GP: The ASA is here to Stay ...And BAT feels the effect of its power

From the desk of Andrew Papadopoulos (KISCH IP) comes this guest post which is a timely update on what's happening at the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) in South Africa. The ASA was/is experiencing financial difficulty and recently went into business rescue. This, coupled with the damning decision in Herbex (discussed below and which is currently on appeal), left many to doubt the future of this traditional forum of choice for packaging and advertising disputes. Here he analyses its predicament and the recent ruling in the BAT case.


"There have been many reports about the future of ASA in the recent months but it appears that the ASA is alive and kicking, with no hint of it going anywhere.  If anything, the ASA is poised at obtaining more power.

The first supposed blow to the ASA was a May 2016 High Court judgment in the case between Herbex (Pty) Ltd and the ASA.  This judgment placed in question the ASA’s ability to adjudicate matters over advertisers who are not members of the ASA.  This matter is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) and therefore the effect of this is that the High Court decision is suspended pending the SCA’s ruling.

Following this judgment and in the latter part of 2016, the ASA went into voluntary business rescue in an effort to restructure the industry regulating body.  Comment out of the ASA on this process was that it was a strategic decision and would not affect the operations of the organisation.

These two events did not instil much hope in the ASA and attracted many questions surrounding the relevance of the ASA as an industry watchdog.  However, it would seem that the ASA had different thoughts.

A proposed advertising industry code and ombudsman scheme has been published for public comment, in terms of which the ASA is to be recognised and accredited as an ombudsman for alternative dispute resolution of complaints pertaining to advertising. In other words, the ASA has applied for formalisation of its “Industry Code” in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, which would thereby give the ASA the teeth it has been missing in its current form.  This would also remove any question about the ASA’s jurisdiction and avoid cases like the Herbex judgment.

The proposed Industry Code mainly concerns the consumer-centric provisions (for example, those relating to misleading claims and untruthful advertisements) and omits those competitor provisions relating to advertisements which imitate and take advantage of another’s advertising goodwill.  Therefore, once the Industry Code is enacted, it is proposed that all provisions which have been excluded in the Industry Code will be dealt with in terms of the ASA’s current advertising code.  It is further proposed that the Industry Code (or some other legislation) will later deal with the competitor protection provisions in the same way.

So change appears to be on the horizon for the ASA… but what is happening in the meantime?  Surely would-be advertising infringers don’t just pause their unlawful activities while the ASA gets its house in order?  Well, following a recent judgment out of the Final Appeal Committee of the ASA, it would appear that the ASA has not missed a step.

Since December 2015, tobacco manufacturers Leonard Dingler (part of the Philip Morris group) and British American Tobacco (“BAT”) have been embroiled in a bitter battle over the latter’s entrant to the pipe tobacco market, AFRICA GOLD.  The dispute went through all levels of the ASA (together with numerous interlocutory applications being launched) and has concluded in a ruling handed down on 7 March 2017, with BAT being ordered to immediately cease use of its AFRICA GOLD advertisements and packaging on account of them being too close to Leonard Dingler’s famous BOXER pipe tobacco packaging.

Leonard Dingler’s original complaint was on the grounds that the AFRICA GOLD packaging and get-up is too close to the well-known BOXER pipe tobacco.

The Final Appeal Committee of the ASA agreed with Leonard Dingler and found that BAT’s AFRICA GOLD packaging, which was launched in August 2015, imitates and takes advantage of the advertising goodwill subsisting in the BOXER product and packaging design.  The ASA held that BAT had intentionally designed the AFRICA GOLD packaging to utilise the same combination of key elements to those of the BOXER packaging which has been in the South African market for over 95 years, with hardly any changes to the pack design.

An earlier decision by the Advertising Industry Tribunal of the ASA also found that BAT’s use of the words “Original”, “Makoya” and “No. 1” on the AFRICA GOLD packaging was likely to mislead the relevant consumers and likely to exacerbate the impact of the imitation.

During proceedings BAT attempted to challenge the ASA’s jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter (following the Herbex judgment), but BAT later withdrew this defence on account of it being a member of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (“CGCSA”) which is a member of the ASA.  The CGCSA actively advocates for the ASA, stating on its website that “the regulation of advertising is essential for the country and ASA has been the voluntary regulator… The CGCSA members place consumer protection at the heart of its business, recognizing that consumers have the right to transparency, to fair business practices and to the right of redress amongst others…”

The ASA ruled that BAT’s current packaging, which includes all of its point of sale material, must be withdrawn, and the process to withdraw the packaging must be actioned with immediate effect.  BAT was also ordered to pay Leonard Dingler’s costs in the proceedings."

Thanks Andrew, and very encouraging indeed.

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Monday, 13 March 2017

Afro Chic

INTA 2017 and Africa IP Collide in Fashion

As INTA hits Europe in May for its annual general meeting, it’s worthwhile considering what it has in store for the Africa Regional Update. This update is important because it offers the 10,000 odd delegates a chance to apprise themselves of what’s hot (and what’s not) on the continent from speakers and attendees who are mostly from Africa.

Afro-Chic has taken the mantle of providing information and coverage of this much awaited session. This year the update is moderated by Nolwazi Gcaba who has compiled a panel that will use African fashion to highlight strategic approaches and pitfalls to brand protection and enforcement on the continent.

Speaking to Afro-IP recently Nolwazi explained that “Africa is abundant with creativity and design, and opportunities for local and international brand owners. Yet, sometimes the perception is that African IP is not up to the task. The update seeks to address and correct that perception by profiling IP strategies in one of Africa’s most vibrant industries”.

The regional update is at 15h30 – 16h45 on Monday 22 May 2017 and will be followed immediately by the Africa Reception between 17h00 – 18h00. If you are interested in African IP, block out these two and half hours and encourage as many as you can to come along.

Please look out for more information on the Africa session in the coming weeks from me, Afro-Chic. In the meantime, here it is straight from the program:

RM50 Regional Update: Protection and Enforcement Strategies in Africa
Speakers who practice across the continent will share their views and give updates on:

  • Recent ground-breaking case law in Africa.
  • The effectiveness of the Madrid Protocol in Africa and the implementation thereof by the African Registries.
  • Anti-counterfeiting strategies in Africa, focusing on jurisdictions without counterfeit goods legislation.

Nolwazi Gcaba, Adams & Adams

Godfrey Budeli, Adams & Adams

Vanessa Ferguson, Kisch IP 
Monique Gieskes, Vlisco Netherlands B.V. 
Darren Olivier, Adams & Adams

Africa Reception

This reception provides registrants from Africa with an invaluable opportunity to network with colleagues and share experiences concerning the benefits and challenges of doing business in the region. This reception provides an opportunity to meet with INTA’s CEO and other INTA staff.
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Friday, 10 March 2017

Afro Leo

MIP Awards Evening : Africa Firms of the Year 2017

Last evening Managing Intellectual Property held their annual awards evening at the glitzy Savoy Hotel in London. A black tie event attracting over 300 practitioners from 89 firms in 44 countries was hosted by the eloquent and humorous James Nurton and Alice O'Donkor.

Nominated for awards in Africa were Spoor & Fisher, Adams & Adams, Kisch IP, EnsAfrica, and Von Seidels pasturing Africa from the South, Jackson Etti & Edu, Rouse Africa, Inlex Africa, and Inventa International from the North, and Abu-Ghazaleh and Coulson Harney from the East in three categories: Africa IP Firm of the Year, Africa Firm to Watch and South Africa IP firm of the Year.

The winners announced last night are:

Africa IP Firm of the Year:                                    Adams & Adams
Africa Firm to Watch:                                            Rouse Africa

South Africa IP firm of the Year:                          Spoor & Fisher

Congratulations to those firms from Afro-IP!
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017


The reports of the death of innovation are somewhat exaggerated...

This recent article from Kenya inspired this Twiga (Swahili for Giraffe) blogger to write, after a long silence.

The article asks why innovation died in Kenya sometime around 1985, and proposes a number of possible contributing factors. It's really quite insightful and thought-provoking, and many of the points are worth exploration.

As a proxy for innovation, the article cites to the number of patents ("registrations"), and compares registrations in Kenya with registrations in China. The number of patents is a standard measure of innovation in developed countries, but numerous studies have shown that it is indeed a poor measure of innovation in developing countries. See, for example, this (free to download) book published by OpenAIR researchers.

That said, the numbers are even worse than the article provides. On average, fewer than 10 Kenyan patents are granted to local inventors each year.  The total number of Kenyan patents granted to local inventors since KIPI began granting patents in 1994 is below 100. Of those 100, fewer than 20 are still valid and enforceable (i.e., are up to date on annual fee payments). But as pointed out in the OpenAIR research, most innovations and innovators never find their way to the patent office.

So, although one can dispute the measurement selected for supporting the assertion that innovation in Kenya is dead, some of the reasoning behind the assertion is really quite insightful.

For example, the author states that "China invested in Science and Technology with more students taking STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and reserving 2.05 per cent of GDP going to R&D in 2015 compared with Kenya’s 0.79 per cent (2010 data)." This data for Kenya is quite right - although Kenya has a National Research Fund that is supposed to receive 2 per cent of GDP from Government sources and is for funding R&D, we are not close to actually spending that amount. One reason given for the shortfall is that R&D institutions (primarily Universities) cannot absorb that level of funding. The fund is only a few years old so we shall continue to monitor the level of funding.

The author states "I will never get tired of asking why drama festival winners visit State House and not science congress winners" and, to explain this situation, posits: "One suggestion is that our policy makers are mostly social scientists who see science and technology as a nuisance and boring. This shunning of science and technology experts on the high table starts in secondary school and is reflected all the way to the presidency. How many governors, MCAs, MPs, senators or women reps are scientists?"

This blogger, originally a scientist by training but now a lawyer, shouts with glee ("Eureka!") at this insight. It is so very true, and so very sad.  The current President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib, is an accomplished scientist, but is notable precisely because scientists so rarely hold high office, particularly in Africa. Without a doubt the background of a leader influences how that leader thinks and leads, and how various fields are prioritized.

The author questions: "Does the President of Kenya have a Science and Technology policy adviser, we know of political and education advisers?" This blogger does not know of one and requests input from readers. If there is none, what a shame! To truly be the "silicon savannah" or, at any rate, a hotbed of innovation, the top leaders must have close advisors that understand these issues.

We should celebrate the innovation that is occurring here, even while we question the priorities that are set by government.

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