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Report on the “JPO/IPR Training Course on IP Administration for LDCs”

The 12th JPO/IPR Seminar on LDC IP Bureau Administration was held from September 24 (Thu.) to October 2 (Fri.)

This course was held for administrative officials in governmental bodies carrying out the functions of intellectual property (IP) bureaus in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). There were 26 participants, from 18 countries of Asia and Africa.

Participating countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia

During the seminar period, there was a lecture on the first day by a lecturer from the Japan Patent Organization (JPO) on IP support for small and medium sized businesses and on IT systems, and there was a visit on the second day (Friday) to the Sapporo Beer Factory in Funabashi, Chiba.

At the Sapporo Beer Factory there was a lecture and a question-and-answer session with the following content. The roots of Sapporo Beer are in the city of Sapporo, from which the "Sapporo" brand is derived, and in the Tokyo district of Ebisu, from which the "Yebisu Beer" brand is derived. This company's center of operations in Southeast Asia is in Vietnam where it has a factory, and there also are business sites in Singapore and Malaysia. The lecturer explained Sapporo's short term, medium term, and long term strategies for its corporate Group, management, businesses, R&D, and IP, the relations among these strategies, and how they are directed toward the realization of Sapporo’s vision for 2026, the company’s 150th anniversary. In the Q&A session, the students eagerly asked about all aspects of IP activities of the Japanese company. They clearly had a strong desire to learn why IP is important here. A portion of Sapporo’s products are being exported to African countries, but the volume of exports is low. Some students asked "Will you be entering my country's market?" and other questions indicating their desire for their country's economy to grow. They seem to be earnestly searching for ways in which they can contribute to their country’s development. After the factory tour, the students did some beer tasting. It was a very fruitful visit.

Beer tasting by seminar students

Beer tasting by seminar students

In the next week, there was a visit to the JPO and a lecture there, and the students all gave reports on their countries. The presentation of these reports on the present state of IP administration in each country took up one day. This was a good opportunity for the students to learn from each other about IP operations in other countries, including the differences among the systems of each country and the infringement cases that occur. However, since there were reports on 18 countries, the time for each report was short, and there was insufficient time for Q&A. Students expressed the opinion that more time should be allotted for the presentations if possible, because they are very helpful.

Country report presentation

Country report presentation

After that, there were lectures by Mr. Sumida and Mr. Takasaki, which were rated very highly by the students.

Mr. Sumida's lecture included reasoning and case examples presented from the viewpoint of a legal specialist, but the reasoning was easy to understand. The students could hear the personal views of the lecturer and participate in debates about the case examples, and conclusions reached by courts were cited in detail when discussing judicial precedents, so much helpful knowledge was learned. Due to the format of this lecture, even students who had little familiarity with IP could participate enthusiastically in the discussion. Last year, the materials Mr. Sumida prepared could not all be covered in one day, and those students expressed the desire that the lecture be made longer. Thus, the length of the lecture this year was extended to a day and a half, and it was again highly evaluated.

Students listening to Mr. Sumida's lecture

Students listening to Mr. Sumida's lecture

Mr. Takasaki's lecture, based on his experience in managing a company, presented the conceptual framework of IP exploitation to create products with innovative commercial value, examining how a company must develop in terms of marketing, patents, design, and promotion (MPDP) to accomplish this, and giving concrete examples of these various operations. He brought some of his company’s products to the class, which aroused the students’ interest in his explanations even though they may have not been able to understand the underlying technology.

Mr. Takasaki's class

Mr. Takasaki's class

At the closing ceremony, the students from Mali presented the JPO International Department Director with a present to express their gratitude.

Presentation of token of gratitude

Presentation of token of gratitude

The problems of IP are increasingly extending beyond national boundaries, and many of these students see the importance of building an international network for future communication among themselves. The depth of the interactions among the students in the breaks during classes and the travel time to and from research facilities made a striking impression. We hope that they will do great work in the future, aided by the knowledge they have gained and the human network they have built through this seminar.

 

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