By Fred Yaw Sarpong
Mahama Issah, a Documentation and Research Officer at Copyright Office in Accra has said that, for a company to promote its business, it must create good brand, industrial design and trademark in order to use them to protect its products from imitation and unfair competition.
In Ghana most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are not expanding because they do not use Intellectual Property (IP) to protect their business, no linkage between tertiary institutions and SMEs and couple with lack of funding or grants from corporate institutions.
Many SMEs in other developing countries due to globalization of trade use intellectual property to protect their businesses. Almost every SME has a trade name or one or more trademarks, designs and should consider protecting them.
Issah, who disclosed this in an interview, said intellectual property such as trademark, industrial design and brand are used by businesses as corporate marketing strategy, and the brand and design should be developed in order to attract customer and develop a loyal clientele.
According to him, it is very important for SMEs to make sure that customers know their products and they can be identified to be owners. ‘So there should be conscious afford to make consumers feel good and have good perception about the products, this can be done through advertisement,’ he added.
The process through which intellectual property rights (IPR) contributes to the success of SMEs is complex and needs to be understood in the context of business strategy and the ways technology is transferred and used by the SMEs.
Issah was of the view that, if SMEs are using IP that belongs to others, then they should consider buying it or acquiring the rights to use it by taking a license in order to avoid a dispute and consequent expensive litigation.
He indicated that, if SMEs are involve in such activity it infringe on IP owners right of their trademark, designs, or Copyright of those companies.
He stated that if SMEs hope to grow and expand their businesses then they should get creative and avoids infringing on the IP rights of other companies. ‘SMEs which engage in such acts may be drag to court one day, so they must desist from such practice, for ignorance of the Law is no excuse,’ said the Copyright Officer.
He then called on relevant agencies to sanitize those SMEs to stop such practice, so that it will help curb the further spread of the disease among the industry players.
He also urged the Government to strengthen management of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to increase in funding to SMEs. ‘This will foster the development of indigenous entrepreneurship and reinforcing employment creation throughout Ghana,’ said Issah.