Marius Schneider and Nora Ho Tu Nam from IPvocate Africa were invited to speak at the INTA Middle East and Africa Conference which took place in Dubai in December 2018. The conference focused on the opportunities and challenges of attracting investment into the regions, on how innovation is re-shaping the economy, and the importance of a thorough IP strategy for effective protection and enforcement in these regions.

Nora spoke on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the innovations it will bring forth and their (disruptive) effect on the IP profession. While the Fourth Industrial Revolution will not entail the disappearance of the IP lawyer, the work undertaken by IP lawyers will be fundamentally redefined through the availability of methods, systems and processes that will not only reduce the cost of undertaking routine legal work but will undercut into the very heart of legal work.

Marius spoke of supply chain control, the distribution channel being the focus of most anti-counterfeiting efforts. He discussed the various track-and-control mechanisms available such as blockchain and the challenges of using such mechanisms on every day, small-sized affordable goods.

The second part of the presentation was grounded in the extensive practical experience of Marius on combating counterfeits in Africa. Marius also proposed proactive measures to right holders in Africa such as defensive trade marks. On the same panel was Vanessa Ferguson, with whom Marius Schneider is currently preparing a book on Enforcement of IP rights in Africa, which will be published next year by the Oxford University Press.

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