Media release: World Intellectual Property Day: IP More Important Than Ever In The Age Of COVID-19

FMF Media Release
24 April 2020

26 April marks World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. The day celebrates the role that IP rights play in spurring innovation and technological progress. The world today is confronted by a global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, for which there is currently no effective treatment or vaccine. Now, more than ever before, robust IP rights are needed to foster innovation and protect creativity. They are a leading force toward finding a cure for COVID-19. But even in a world without COVID-19, guaranteed IP rights are essential.

Together with the Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance (GTIPA), a global network of 36 independent think tanks supporting global trade liberalisation and integration, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) signed a declaration of support for IP guiding principles for the good of people, international trade, global prosperity, and progress. 

According to the signatories:
  • Governments around the world and international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation and World Intellectual Property Organisation should encourage respect for intellectual property rights. 
  • Governments should expand education on the importance of and respect for intellectual property rights.
  • Policymakers should implement strong intellectual property rights without discrimination against types of technologies or who owns them, big or small, local or foreign. 
  • Governments should promote a strong rule of law underpinned by an independent judiciary. 
  • Global efforts should be taken to combat online piracy of digital goods. 
  • Governments should increase efforts to interdict trade in counterfeit goods at their borders; and
  • Policymakers should recognise that robust intellectual property rights underpin successful life-sciences innovation systems in nations worldwide.
"South Africa's economy and, more important, the lives of all South Africans, can only improve if we are free to innovate, knowing full well that government is committed to protecting our lives, hard won freedoms and private property rights, both physical and intellectual," said FMF Director Jasson Urbach. "Some of SA's key competitors already realise the limits of basic manufacturing, commodities and agriculture as a basis for economic progress. They are pivoting their economies towards innovative, knowledge-based sectors such as biotech, chemicals, entertainment and pharmaceuticals. As a result, IP rights are fast becoming an increasingly important plank in national economic growth strategies."

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