On 21st January 2016, Ghana launched its National Intellectual Property Policy and strategy (NIPPS). The vision is for Ghana to be amongst the leading countries in the utilization of Intellectual Property as a tool for rapid national development. The mission is to contribute towards enhancing the competitiveness of Ghana by improving and increasing the use of intellectual property systems. NIPPS long term goal is to exploit intellectual property rights for accelerated growth in technological and industrial development in Ghana. The objectives of the policy are the following:
- To strengthen the legal framework for protection of Intellectual Property (IP) rights;
- To strengthen the institutional framework for the administration and management of IP rights;
- To promote creativity and innovation to enhance IP generating activities in Ghana.
- To promote and facilitate commercial exploitation of IP rights and technology transfer.
- To strengthen legal and institutional framework for enforcement of IP rights;
- To develop adequate human resource capacity in the administration, protection, commercialisation and enforcement of IP rights.
- To create public awareness on IP issues for the general public and identifiable groups.
- To develop and promote IP services industry in Ghana.
- To promote research on IP related issues.
Ghana is however not a signatory to the Banjul Protocol, Arusha Protocol, Swakopmud Protocol, Singapore Treaty and International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
The two institutions that deal with the administration of IP in Ghana are the Copyright Office for copyright and related rights and the Industrial Property Office (The Registrar General’s Department) for patents, industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications and the layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits. Both institutions are under the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Department.
Existing laws on IP rights in Ghana are the following:
- Protection against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589);
- Industrial Designs Act, 2003 (Act 660);
- Geographical Indications Act, 2003 (Act 659);
- Patents Act, 2003 (Act 657);
- Trademarks Act, 2004 (Act 664)
- Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act, 2004 (Act 667) and
- Copyrights Act, 2005 (Act 690).
Ghana has no law on genetic resources and traditional knowledge. There is currently a draft bill on plant breeders’ rights (plant varieties protection), which is yet to be passed by Parliament.
The following Institutions help with the enforcement of IP rights:
- The Courts;
- The Ghana Revenue Authority;
- The Ghana Police;
- The Copyright Office;
- The Food and Drugs Authority;
- The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (registration of technology transfer agreements);
- The Ghana Standards Authority and
- The Registrar General’s Department.
To achieve the objectives and implement the NIPPS thirty four (34) projects have been agreed upon and these projects, which range from short term (within 1 year), medium term (2-3 years) to long-term (4-5 years) will be implemented during a five-year period from 2016 to 2020. Notable amongst these projects are the amendment of existing laws on patents, industrial designs and geographical indications and the completion of the on-going automation of IP registration process, which are long overdue.
Ghana has complied with most of the international Agreements, Treaties and Protocols related to intellectual property rights. These include:
- The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property;
- The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works;
- The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT);
- The Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO);
- The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT);
- Hague Agreement on International Deposit of Industrial Designs;
- Madrid System on International Registration of Marks and
- The Lusaka Agreement.