After decades of no Patents at all, cabinet recently approved an ambitious bill which, when passed into law, will provide further impetus to the realisation of a knowledge-based economic goal. A two-day workshop to sensitise parliamentarians on the technicalities of patent rights before they debate the intellectual property bill about to be tabled to the plenary was concluded last evening at Parliamentary Buildings.
A patent is a grant made by government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use and sell that invention for a set period of time. The invention protected by such grant is also referred to as a patent.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry organised the workshop under its mandate to promote innovation by motivating inventors with exclusivity over their creations.
Patents fuel innovation and innovation drives the economy. Yet that engine of innovation has been absent since independence. Even the little there was more than 45 years ago had been designed to serve our colonisers’ interests and so it went with colonisation.
With the law in place, artists such as singers will be sure to earn good money from their compositions. This is because we are no longer going to copy cassettes without the right to do so. Acquiring the right shall be by payment of money to the benefit of the author.
Lack of intellectual protection has been severely hindering technological advancement and technology transfer. No one was going to invest in costly technology when they are not assured of recouping their initial capital, leave alone making profits. Universities will now be encouraged by the prospect of commercialising their research findings.
That said, the field of intellectual property is sophisticated, requiring a high level of legal and technical expertise. It requires not only knowledge of law but also the diverse and highly technical knowledge of advanced technology.
However, so many policies in this country have started from scratch and have gone on to bear fruit. Where others have a long history in almost everything and are only bothered by reform when it has to be, nearly everything here began in the second half of the year 1994.
Since we are used to Rwanda as a nation of innovation, let us start with passing the bill into law, proceed to train patent attorneys and equip them with the necessary technical knowledge.