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The African Journal of Information and Communication

On-line version ISSN 2077-7213
Print version ISSN 2077-7205


BEER, Jeremy de; BAARBE, Jeremiah  and  NCUBE, Caroline B.. Evolution of Africa's Intellectual Property Treaty Ratification Landscape. AJIC [online]. 2018, vol.22, pp.53-82. ISSN 2077-7213.

Intellectual property (IP) policy is an important contributor to economic growth and human development. However, international commitments harmonised in IP treaties often exist in tension with local needs for flexibility. This article tracks the adoption of IP treaties in Africa over a 131-year span, from 1884 to 2015, through breaking it down into four periods demarcated by points in time coinciding with key events in African and international IP law: the periods 1884-1935, 1936-1965, 1966-1995, and 1996-2015. The article explores relevant historical and legal aspects of each of these four periods, in order to assess and contextualise the evolutions of the IP treaty landscape on the continent. The findings show that treaties now saturate the IP policy space throughout the continent, limiting the ability to locally tailor approaches to knowledge governance.

Keywords : international law; Africa; intellectual property (IP); treaty ratification; development; data visualisation; WIPO; WTO; trade; harmonisation.

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