April 29, 2014 | Tuesday
By Luljeta PLAKOLLI-KASUMI
LL.M. in Intellectual Property Rights
Economic growth, more jobs and welfare of consumers: these are three primary things that come to my mind when thinking about how imperative intellectual property to Kosovo is. The catalogue of benefits that stem from a strong intellectual property protection for a country is of course lengthier, but for a newborn country that has not still celebrated its jubilee anniversary, these are the three most important things to start with.
Some ten years ago, intellectual property was an untouched land for many, not to say all of us. It was not part of the educational curriculum, it had no share in any legislative initiative or policy document, it was nowhere in the agenda of the government, and a little was mentioned about intellectual property by the civil society. Everything was in its embryo form waiting to be built piece by piece, and as in a puzzle, locate its place into the big picture of state building.
Within a ten-year span (1994-2014), some significant developments have taken place: first IP related laws were drafted and passed by the Assembly, institutional infrastructure was set up, initially with the Industrial Property Office (IPO) within the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and later on with the Office for Copyright and Related Rights (OCRR) within the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; a strategic document on Enforcement of IP rights accompanied by an action plan was put in place, first collecting societies were certified by the OCRR, and the Strategy Against Counterfeit and Piracy (2012-2016) has been adopted thus removing from the market all pirated CD’s and DVDs containing foreign music, films, and software; and last but not the least, the World IP day has started to be marked every year through different activities.
But did all these above mentioned actions undertaken within these ten years bring economic growth, more jobs and welfare of consumers? No, they did not. Why? Because we need at least another ten years to get there, or even more.
The situation is also contingent upon a number of conditions, the essential ones being of political nature (memberships in UN, WIPO, WTO etc.). Apart from these external factors, there are nevertheless many internal considerations that might and should be taken into account in order to accelerate our country’s efforts in establishing a sound intellectual property protection system.
Supplementary initiatives must be assumed to encourage creation and utilization of intellectual property by for instance teaching people how to make money out of their intellectual property, refining the users’ conduct vis-à-vis IP right holders, nurturing mindfulness for mutual rights and obligations deriving from intellectual property and many more. It is these small hands-on steps that seem to be lacking. Everything is on paper, impeccably consistent with what is known as international standard(s), but on the ground, the society still has not apprehended the importance and the benefits of intellectual property, and until this has not transpired, any other effort will be deficient.
Intellectual property is not only important for achieving economic growth, job creation, protection of consumers and many other benefits; it is everything. It is the beginning and the end; it is found in everything we say and do, hence it should be given the courtesy that it deserves. Happy World Intellectual Property Day!