Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the House have unanimously agreed that trade mark protection is a must and passed the Trademarks Bill to protect Intellectual Property Rights.
The Bill which will become law when President Peter Mutharika assents to it, will replace the Trademarks Act of 1957 and will accommodate current international instruments which promote adherence to international law and best practices.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu ,who tabled the bill, said he country wass lagging behind in the exploitation and protection of its intellectual property (IP) assets.
IP refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
Tembenu said the Law Commission embarked on the review of intellectual property laws including trademarks to bring them in line with current international instruments relating to intellectual property rights.
He said an effective and well administered trademark regime is essential for Malawi to maximise the economic benefits that flow from the effective protection of trademarks.
According to Tembenu, the new piece of legislation will ensure that the process of application and registration of trademarks is made clearly and becomes simpler as well.
He said there will be an establishment of the Trademarks Office which will be established in this country and will not require additional resources as it already exists and operates as the Department of the Registrar General in the Ministry of Justice.
Supporting the bill, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Maxwell Thyolera, urged members to consider some provisions such as establishing the position of the Deputy Registrar General to assist the Registrar General’s office in the event of the latter’s absence or huge workload.
Thyolera said the bill is “straightforward” as Tembenu highlighted that it seeks to incorporate recent developments in the field of intellectual property that are not only significant in the development of a strong intellectual property regime, but also those that perform to applicable international law and best practices.
People’s Party (PP) leader in the House and its spokesman on legal affairs Ralph Mhone, described the bill as long overdue noting on the need for the country to keep in tandem with global standards.
“It is a bill that was long overdue for its coming to the House. We ought to move with the times because the world is changing and when we lag behind in terms of our law it means even the business persons who want to do business in Malawi will find it very difficult to deal in an environment that has laws that are actually out of date because they feel less protected in terms of what they are bringing to the country. So, in that regard, we fully support this initiative,” said Mhone.
In his contribution, Karonga Central legislator Frank Mwenifumbo (Alliance for Democrcay –Aford) said the Trademarks Bill has direct impact on the socio-economic development of the country.
Mwenifumbo said the bill will protect political parties’ symbols, signals and patents and ensure that they get their royalties.
“For example, on the issue of David Whitehead (Mapeto), they print clothes for DPP with its symbols but I do not think the DPP enjoys loyalties from those patents. The same with the Malawi Congress Party whose patents and symbols are used for making profits but loyalties are not given back to it. So, is the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and many other parties in the country,” said Mwenifumbo.
Mwenifumbo said something has to be done, especially where party cloth is very expensive and the parties do not get their returns.
Rumphi East Parliamentarian Kamlepo Kalua expressed hope that the bill will address issues of intellectual property theft and that protection will be enhanced.
Salima Central MP Felix Jumbe stressed on the importance of the bill especially in a liberalized economy like Malawi as ordinary inventions will be protected.
He appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to use the bill together with other legislations to protect plant breeder’s rights.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu commended member’s contribution towards the Trademarks bill.
He told the House that infringement of trademarks will be taken care of and enforced by civil remedies stipulated in the bill.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :