Addressing the Arab region’s challenges in the Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright ecosystem would help spur growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), innovation, and entrepreneurship, according to Kareem Hassan, executive director, ESCWA Technology Centre for Development.
Hassan made the statement in his opening remarks during the recently-held ‘Intellectual Property for Promoting Innovation and SMEs in the Arab Region’ online workshop organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE).
He explained that the Arab region faces “a considerable challenge” with the IP and copyright ecosystem, which leads to “a significant brain drain of Arab innovators, and reflects on the number of inventions and IP registrations.”
The gap in IP creation protection and enforcement resulted in the lagging of Arab states behind other countries, according to Hassan. He also noted that only a few countries in the Arab region have an IP national strategy in place and that not all of them have access to international conventions.
Hassan said, “Moreover, internal political discourse delays the enactment of new laws. The ecosystem challenges reflect on Arab startups and SMEs, as well, that are facing weaknesses in the patent drafting, registering trademarks, and competitive intelligence, in addition to the lack of IP registration professions, in terms of attorneys and agents.”
However, Hassan pointed out that there are several solutions for solving the IP challenges in the Arab region.
He said, “[these] revolve around investing in the human and knowledge capital, making IPs accessible to the business world and facilitating effective partnerships, in addition to identifying in a participatory manner clear goals and strategies to increase the number of innovations that serve the national and regional SDGs.”
Hassan noted that the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) works on solidifying legal frameworks that foster public-private partnerships and link up local and international agendas that capitalise on the technology commercialisation outcomes and knowledge transformation into capital.
Citing the significant role of ICC, WIPO, and other partners, Hassan said the event gives a clear understanding and overview of the critical topics related to IP for promoting innovation and SMEs in the Arab region.
The ‘Intellectual Property for Promoting Innovation and SMEs in the Arab Region’ workshop provided an overview of the status and challenges of IP systems in the Arab region and the role of IP in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also discussed best practices and lessons learnt from select Arab countries on advancing IP systems in their ecosystems and presented the WIPO IP Diagnostics tool to improve the IP-readiness of innovators and SMEs.      
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