Exploring the effect of IPR on Egypt’s ICT sector

Our competence team, Professor Knut Blind (TU Berlin / Fraunhofer FOKUS), Dr. Sacha Wunsch-Vincent (WIPO) and Dr. Tim Pohlmann (TU Berlin / MINES ParisTech) just returned from a very successful mission to Cairo, Egypt. The goal of the mission was to meet with local authorities, companies, start-ups or Universities and discuss how Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) influence Egypt’s ICT (Information and Communication Technology) industry. Egypt already has numerous programs to fund innovative programs such as University-Industry collaborations, training of young students or funding of start-up projects. Our mission showed that Egypt has a high number of talented and well educated young citizen that have good language skills, qualified University degrees and a very innovative mind.

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In terms of IP however, there is still a lack of awareness. Different systems to register ideas or software co-exist to the patent office or the still separated trade mark office. Most young entrepreneurs have little knowledge about how to protect their innovations which in some cases even led to a notion of hiding ideas and avoiding openness. Also the Egyptian market still seemed to be not lucrative in terms of technology rivalry. Most firms and especially multinational entities (MNEs) file patents abroad, even though the innovation was initially created and developed in Egyptian labs.

The ministry of ICT as well as several public organizations, local and international firms are located in the smart village, a high-tech business center. The smart village occupies an area of 450 Feddans (units), including communication center buildings, business service centers, conference centers, and technological incubator centers. Today the smart village constitutes an attractive location for ICT businesses, becoming a focal point for over 500 corporations and over 100,000 employees.

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The initiative of the mission

There is great interest in better understanding the effects of intellectual property (IP) protection in developing countries, both on specific measures of social and economic performance and on the economic development process more broadly. Many economists have argued against a “one-size-fits-all” approach in designing and implementing an IP regime. At the same time, national policymakers in developing countries lack credible empirical guidance in tailoring their IP systems to national capacities and needs. This is in considerable contrast to developed countries, where national IP offices, other branches of government, and academic economists have produced insightful evidence on the economic implications of different dimensions of IP protection.

To respond to the need for more empirical research, Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) have initiated a Project on Intellectual Property and Socio-Economic Development that consists of a series of economic studies seeking to narrow the knowledge gap facing policymakers in developing countries.

The goal of the project

Under this CDIP project, the government of Egypt, via the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), has requested the Chief Economist to assess the Economic Impact of Intellectual Property in the ICT Sector in Egypt. Broadly speaking the research question is concerned with “How IP impacts ICT innovation in Egypt”. A firm survey will be designed to collect information related to IP aiming to study closely the current situation in Egypt, and identifying the positive and negative impacts of IP on firms in the ICT sector, and determining the channels through which these impacts take place.

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About timpohlmann

Tim Pohlmann is a post-doctoral researcher in economics at Mines ParisTech and Berlin Institute of Technology. He specializes in the economic analysis of markets for technology. He earned his doctoral degree with the highest distinctions in August 2012 from the Berlin Institute of Technology with a dissertation on patenting and coordination in ICT standardization. Tim’s research covers the empirical analysis of the trade of patents, patent trolls, standardization consortia and patent pools. He has presented his work at a large number of international conferences. Tim has been actively involved in preparing studies for the European Commission and the German Federal Government on the role of patents in technological standardization and business models in Open Source Software. Doctoral Thesis SSRN author page
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