Branding Strategies for Origin-based Products, was the main theme of a one-day National Stakeholder workshop which was held yesterday at Maritim Resort & Spa Mauritius, in Balaclava. It was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
The objective is to outline the basic elements in the development and implementation of a branding strategy for Mauritius, as well as agree on the responsibilities of relevant stakeholders in the next phase of a project which pertains to the promotion of branding for origin-based products. At the request of the Government of Mauritius, WIPO has solicited the assistance of the Japan Patent Office to support the process of developing an Intellectual Property (IP) and Branding strategy for products in the agricultural and handicraft sectors.
In his opening address the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr. V. K. Daby, pointed out that, in a globalised world, goods and services acquire higher market value due to intangible inputs such as technical knowledge and artistic creativity. Huge investments are involved in developing and the commercial exploitation of creative ideas and inputs, he said adding that the absence of appropriate protection will lead to piracy and counterfeiting, which is a deterrent to innovation and research, he cautioned.
Mr. Daby was upbeat that the branding strategy being developed for Mauritius will ideally capture the goodwill and reputation of Mauritian products on the international market. Handicraft operators have complained of the illicit use of Mauritian products and imported products and which are marketed under the label ‘Made in Mauritius’. On that score, he outlined that the branding strategy is a means to try to solve this problem by creating a brand for a specific type of handicraft.
For his part the Japanese Ambassador to Mauritius, Mr Yoshiharu Kato, recalled that since 1993 Japan has led the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) which has served as a pioneering multilateral forum for international cooperation on African development.
Speaking about industrial property, the Ambassador said that it is essential to further promote innovation and developing industries in Africa to establish a comprehensive industrial property system. He expressed his confidence that appropriate protection of industrial property such as patents and trademarks in Africa will result in improving the environment for companies in foreign countries including Japan to expand their business to Africa. This will result in increasing investments and lead to bringing out the potential of Africa and driving sustainable economic growth in African countries, he said.
In her address, WIPO Senior Counsellor, Regional Bureau for Africa, Development Sector, Ms. Loretta Asiedu, stated that WIPO Member States are realising the importance of the intellectual property system and product brand strategies as a means of enhancing the competitiveness of agro-based and other product industries.
This, according to Ms Asiedu can be measured by an increased request for assistance in this regard, some of which are a direct reaction from exposure to existing WIPO programmes while others are a response to recommendations made in WIPO-supported country IP strategies which have identified certain agro food sectors as potential candidates for sectoral IP and product brand strategies to add value and enhance their performance. The lessons learnt in the context of the implementation of WIPO-led IP and product branding strategies provide solid ground from which to replicate on a number of additional products and in a more concerted approach, she added.
Workshop and Branding project
Some 45 participants from the public and private sectors attended the workshop which was conducted by Mr Getachew Mengistie Alemu, WIPO expert, IP Law Consultant, United States of America and Ms Asiedu, WIPO Senior Counsellor. Presentations focused on: Intellectual Property (IP) IP and Branding Strategies � WIPO Technical Assistance Tools and Services; Preliminary Feasibility Study; and, IP Rights Tools for Protection of Origin-based products.
The WIPO expert is assisting Mauritius to develop and implement a branding strategy. Since 13 March 2018, Mr. Getachew Mengistie Alemu is having in-depth consultations with various stakeholders and relevant government actors to establish the required scope of work for the branding project. The project will initially focus on handicrafts (production of Dodo items), special sugars and local rum.
Mauritius has, in fact, secured assistance from the WIPO to promote branding for origin-based products. The main objective of the project is to capture the goodwill and reputation of specific Mauritian products. The project is part of the recommendations of the National Intellectual Property Development Plan that was reviewed in 2016.
WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. We are a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 191 Member States.
Source: Government of Mauritius