When Nathan Associates began its two intellectual property rights (IPR) projects in Egypt, Egypt’s laws did not meet the requirements of TRIPS and Egypt was on USTR’s Priority Watchlist for failure to provide pharmaceutical patents and to prevent widespread copyright infringement.
These problems caused significant economic loss to local and foreign businesses in Egypt as well as the country’s general economy.
The firm’s USAID-funded Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights in Egypt (SIPRE) project and the Technical Assistance on Intellectual Property Rights in Egypt (TIPRE) project comprised a vigorous program of modernization, training, education, public advocacy, and legal assistance.
The primary goal of TIPRE was to follow-up on the achievements of the SIPRE project by establishing a reliable legal framework consistent with the requirements of the WTO TRIPs Agreement. As a result of these projects Egypt has modernized its IPR laws and is one step closer to participating in the global economy.
Building Support for the Framework
To build support for development of a legal framework, TIPRE conducted numerous seminars and workshops on intellectual property rights, informing businesspersons, university students and professors, and the public about the benefits and obligations accruing from Egypt’s implementation of the TRIPs Agreement.
One of the most important of these advocacy events consisted of six workshops informing Egyptian journalists about intellectual property and its benefits for Egypt. These workshops helped change public opinion on IPR, opinion that had been decidedly negative. The workshops made the public aware that Egyptian inventors and scientists, including agricultural researchers, were frustrated by the existing IPR system.
Drafting Laws and Regulations
TIPRE’s expert technical legal support helped bring Egypt’s IPR regime up to international standards. Working with Egypt’s patent, trademark, and industrial designs offices and the Ministries of Supply and Internal Trade, Higher Education and Scientific Research, the project drafted model provisions, regulatory language, legal memoranda, and administrative guidelines for Law #82 for the protection of intellectual property rights.
Enacted in 2002, Law #82 covers pharmaceutical patents, patent terms, industrial design publication and examination, transfer of trademark ownership, data exclusivity, protection of plant variety, and protection of integrated circuits. The project also prepared guidelines on patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and TRIPS contact procedures and held roundtable discussions on patents and pharmaceuticals, licensing, scientific research and patents, copyright protection for traditional culture.
Training for New Functions
The project helped train employees in the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation in a new function: registering plant varieties.
Employees learned about
(1) the requirements and services of the International Union for Protection of New Plant Variety Convention
(2) assessing plant distinctness, uniformity, and stability
(3) the effect of plant variety protection legislation on licensing in the plant breeding industry
(4) the effect of legislation on breeders, seed companies, and farmers
TIPRE conducted a workshop on the new system for plant variety protection; informed Egyptian breeders and exporters about the use of trademarks, certification marks, and collective marks; and worked closely with the Government of Egypt on protection for agricultural chemical and pharmaceutical data.
The project also conducted seminars for law faculty at Cairo University, Ain Shams, and Menoufiya.
Publishing Our Knowledge
On the basis of training material developed for the universities, the project published Intellectual Property: Principles and Practice, which addresses all aspects of IP, including agricultural issues. The book is available in Arabic and English.