Regional integration in the area of intellectual property: The case for Southern African Development Community involvement – pg. 317.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has played an important role in efforts to integrate the economies of its Members. This has been most prominent in the context of trade in goods and, most recently, services. While the SADC Protocol on Trade makes perfunctory reference to the need for its Members to comply with the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, there are no substantive or operational provisions outlining the proposed contribution of the SADC to this end. As cross-border trade and economic integration within the region increase, the existing territorial approach to intellectual property is becoming more and more inadequate. The existing regional intellectual property organisations in Africa have sought to bring a regional approach to intellectual property on the continent. African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, the dominant forum as far as SADC countries are concerned, operates in a fragmented manner which can be seen to frustrate the business simplification objective of regional integration. Certain institutional limitations also call into question the suitability of the body as an appropriate platform for the advancement of regional integration in the context of intellectual property. This article makes a case for the participation of the SADC.