Thanks to the IPRA project, it now takes only one year instead of six to register a trademark in Egypt.
In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. Trade Representative placed Egypt on its Priority Watch List, citing high piracy rates, inadequate enforcement, and inadequate protection of pharmaceuticals. Egypt had enacted a comprehensive IP rights law in 2002, but the law had not been fully implemented, no plant variety protection had been established, and enforcement was weak.
Through the USAID-funded IPRA project, Nathan Associates helped the Government of Egypt establish a reliable IP rights system that meets the country’s international obligations, including obligations under the WTO/TRIPS Agreement to strengthen the environment for investment, trade, and innovation and to improve public awareness of intellectual rights.
Specific project goals included
(1) improving Egypt’s IP rights framework and enforcement
(2) establishing and/or upgrading government offices dealing with IP rights
(3) raising public awareness of intellectual property
(4) training government employees on IP issues
IPRA moved, refurbished, and automated Egypt’s Trademark Office, providing the office with a networked system with an integrated WIPO and Arabic search engine trademark software. The office was then able to process a five-year backlog of applications and drastically cut trademark registration times from six years to one.
The project also helped establish a Plant Variety Protection Office, introducing plant variety protection, and established a Patent Cooperation Unit that will enable Egyptian inventors to protect their inventions abroad.
To improve understanding of IP rights, as well as enforcement and compliance with IP regulations, the project trained
- Nearly 2,000 officials in intellectual property,
- 150 civil inspectors and 750 judges in the enforcement of IP rights, and
- 350 businesspersons and members of NGOs from four cities in IP rights and consumer protection.
To raise awareness about the benefits of IP protection, IPRA sponsored television, radio, and printed interviews; organized conferences on how to use IP to make products more competitive; and formed an IPR Media Club, with members from all major Egyptian newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television broadcasters.