Seychellois citizens urged to register their inventions, artwork, symbols and names
More work remains to be done to get Seychellois citizens to register their intellectual property in Seychelles, especially when it comes to utility models, industrial design and patents, a government official said.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Types of intellectual properties include copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial design, geographical indications and trade secrets.
Intellectual property rights that can be registered in Seychelles include trademarks, patents, utility models, copyright and industrial designs. Trademarks are the most common intellectual property rights registered in the country.
In Seychelles, the Department of Commerce and the Registrar General’s Office are the two entities that have the responsibility to register and manage intellectual properties. This partnership has been going on for three years.
The registrar general, Wendy Pierre, said that since she took office, “the emphasis has always been on land and business and the section that deals with intellectual property has not received as much attention, even in terms of resources and publicity.”
“We are aware of this and this is why this year, we are taking the opportunity to start the sector up again. Even if we have had over 15,000 registrations over the past 20 years, we feel that the amount of potential that this sector hasn’t been tapped into,” said Pierre.
She outlined for example that anything that is a solution to a problem can be registered as a utility model.
“It is easier for us to deal with these applications as well. A patent is demanding in terms of expertise, why not start with utility models? There are small inventions being made but people are not aware of what should be done and are not commercialising them,” said Pierre.
She said that her office has several challenges when it comes to intellectual properties people invent things and they either fail to register it or if they do register it, they don’t hear much about it.
“Through future training, we want to have with WIPO, we want to let people know that they can do more than just register their intellectual property. You can commercialise it, market it, develop it, sell your IP or license it. You can monetise it just like any other property, even internationally. There is a serious lacking when it comes to the management of intellectual property,” Pierre continued.
Another challenge that Seychelles faces when it comes to intellectual property is the fact that the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean lacks the competent manpower to deal with certain aspects of registration.
During the years that Seychelles has been a member of WIPO, the organisation has helped the island nation immensely with technical assistance.
“They provide training to our people because when it comes to examinations of applications, it is difficult for us locally as we do not have people with such expertise in the government. We are trying to join the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO). They have experts and let’s say we see ourselves in a situation where we are not sure on how to deal with an application and we feel that we need to go beyond this formal assessment, then we can liaise with them so that they can assist with their expertise,” said Pierre.
She added that the National Assembly approved last year for Seychelles to join ARIPO and at the moment this procedure is being finalised by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The main laws governing intellectual property in Seychelles are the Industrial Property Act of 2014 which replaces the Patent Act and the Trades Mark Decree, and the Copyright Act of 2014 which is a completion of the first law with the same name issued in 1984.
There are also the Companies Law and the International Business Companies Act which have been updated with elements related to the protection of intellectual property, the Consumer Protection Law, the Fair Competition Law and the Seychelles Investment Act. The Business Tax Law and the Penal Code also contain provisions related to the protection of intellectual property rights.