A message from the Principal Secretary for Trade on the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April 2020
April 28, 2020
“Intellectual property is largely the product of our innate abilities to create and innovate. It demands recognition, reward and respect.”
A message from the Principal Secretary for Trade and Chairperson of the National Intellectual Property Committee, Ms Cillia Mangroo, to mark the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April 2020
In the first few months of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has closed borders, grounded international flights and put 2.6 billion people across the world on lockdown. Up until February, the tourism-dependent economy of Seychelles was flourishing, with visitor arrivals reaching a record high in 2019. But in March 2020, when the pandemic began to affect Europe, visitor arrivals trickled to a halt. The tourism-dependent private sector now waits in a state of turmoil, unsure if their businesses will survive the global hiatus in travel.
All around the world, individuals, businesses and governments are reassessing their priorities. Here in Seychelles, the pandemic is expected to throw the economy into a deep recession as lending is increased to cover private sector salaries and boost support for health and other essential services. It is clear that in order for Seychelles to continue to thrive, entrepreneurs will need to adapt and look at new opportunities, perhaps changing their business models entirely.
In the short-term, the private sector will need to shift their attention away from traditional international markets and concentrate more heavily on regional and local trade. This will be true especially for the import and export wholesale and retail sectors.
Affected by the foreign exchange rate and shortage of cargo flights, entrepreneurs who manage to source products and raw ingredients from the local market or neighbouring countries will be able to safeguard a more reliable and sustainable supply chain for their products, not to mention the fact that this will improve environmental sustainability and reduce global carbon emissions. Similarly, Seychellois entrepreneurs who are noticing a demand in the domestic market or in other neighbouring countries for specific goods and services can take advantage of the current situation and try to fill the gaps in the supply chain using their own sense of innovation and ingenuity.
This kind of entrepreneurial agility is not new to Seychellois people. Since our islands were first settled 250 years ago, the many challenges of living on a remote archipelago disconnected from the rest of the world made our ancestors resilient and encouraged them to find unique solutions to their problems. Now, younger generations are asking their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents for insights into the traditional ways of food production and artisanal crafts that will enable them to become more self-sufficient and limit their reliance on imported goods during times of crisis.
The advantage we have today is that we are still connected to the outside world through modern technology, and this connectivity will enable entrepreneurs to network and find new markets for their locally-inspired bright ideas. Creating new avenues for business and growth will boost employment, keep money circulating in the economy and help Seychelles to recover from the challenging times we find ourselves in today.
Recognising these bright ideas asintellectual property (IP) is the next important step in this process. Whether it is a song, a work of art, a recipe for a product, a business idea or a design for a piece of machinery, all of these creative ideas are the property of the person who dreamed about them, or the ‘inventor’. However, if the owners do not register their IP they could leave themselves vulnerable to other people copying their idea or unique creation and profiting from it. IP is largely the product of our innate abilities to create and innovate. It demands recognition, reward and respect. It is thus vital that we now, more than ever, cultivate innovative thinking and guarantee an advancement in the quality of trade, so that we may in turn support our small and vulnerable economy.
In Seychelles, the Trade Division of the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, as the Secretariat to the National Intellectual Property Committee, is responsible for the promotion of IP awareness in Seychelles. Since 28 February 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers decided on the establishment of a centralised office for IP registration and a body responsible for undertaking policy matters on IP. This Cabinet decision approved the assignment of responsibility to create laws and policies on IP to the Trade Division and this responsibility extends to keeping the public informed on the laws and policies related to this topic. The Trade Division’s roles and responsibilities complement those of the Registration Division, which is the sole registration office for IP.
The World Intellectual Property (IP) Day is celebrated on the 26th April of every year and the annual theme is selected by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This year’s theme is ‘Innovate for a Green Future’. According to WIPO, carving a pathway to a green future is a modern-day imperative. The World IP Day campaign of 2020 puts innovation and the rights that support it at the heart of the efforts to shape a low-carbon future.
Finding home-grown solutions in the heart of the public health crisis and protecting these bright ideas for the future fits in perfectly with this green innovation theme.
The protection of IP Rights is proven to help create and support high-paying jobs, drive economic growth and competitiveness, generate new solutions to global challenges, encourage innovation and reward entrepreneurs for their creativity. For these reasons, now has never been a better time to start talking about just how vital the protection of IP rights is in order to generate the next wave of innovators, dreamers and creators in Seychelles.