South Africa is currently developing a policy for intellectual property protection in the country. On 19 August 2011 it was reported that Jodi Scholtz, group COO of the DTI stated:
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) intends to submit the Intellectual Property (IP) draft policy to Cabinet next month to secure approval to undertake wider public consultation.”
Ms Scholtz statement was made following the August 2011 Indaba on intellectual property which, according to a statement released by the Department of Trade and Industry, aimed to inform the development of the IP policy.
“The purpose of the Indaba was to discuss Intellectual Property issues to assist in the Intellectual Property Policy development process which will inform the review or reforms of the Intellectual Property Laws in South Africa amongst others such as, Trade Mark Act, Copy Right Act, Design Act, and Counterfeit Goods Act.
“A unanimous agreement from all participants was that our laws are outdated in terms of the new technologies which are coming–up on a daily basis and that the enforcement legislation needs to be revised in order to have an effective enforcement of Intellectual Property rights…”
Additionally, in response to a 20 July 2011 letter to DTI Minister Rob Davies from TAC, expressing our concerns with the Economic Partnership Agreement under negotiation between SACU, Angola and Mozambique with the European Union, we received further details on the policy from the Minister:
“The Government is developing an Intellectual Property Policy (IP Policy) which will also address access to medicines and public health issues… The IP Policy will also establish a framework for legislative reform across all areas of IP policy to ensure a consistent approach that contributes positively to the economic and social interest of South Africa.
“The Policy will provide clarity as to which sections of the Patents Act 57 of 1978 and the Medicines Control and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 require amendment to ensure that the flexibilities relating to access to medicine and health are incorporated into national legislation.”
After receiving this letter, TAC followed up with the representative of the DTI to whom we were referred by the Minister, requesting details of when and how the process for public consultation on the policy will be carried out. We received confirmation that a working document has been developed and that public consultation will be carried out. However, our follow up requests for specific details of the consultation have not been answered to date.