Dti implores smart-tech developers to protect their rights

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has made a renewed call for local innovators to safeguard their technological inventions and science-based research findings through applying the necessary intellectual property rights.

Speaking at an Intellectual Property and Technology Commercialisation Colloquium in Pretoria, the dti’s deputy-director general of special economic zones and economic transformation, SIpho Zikode, said: “If we do not invest in intellectual property we will fall behind.”

Zikode, among other things, praised the country’s ability in the field of fourth industrial revolution innovation and said South Africa was well poised to reap the benefits of smart technologies and scientific research.

But, he warned, we need to guard against the possible contravention of intellectual rights, the same kind of rights the US has accused China of contravening and one of the principal reasons why Washington has asked for ethical business reforms from Beijing before relaxing any tariffs imposed on its Asian trade partner.

Zikode said South Africa “managed to develop niche technologies through research that is funded from the public purse and we have managed to develop programmes that could really take the country to the next level”.

It’s imperative, however, that proper rights regimes are applied – such as the dti’s National Commercialisation Strategy.

Zikode reminded delegates attending the two-day colloquium that “the strategy outlines a tailor-made set of interventions that focus on the recommendations for achieving an efficient and effective technology commercialisation system”.

Some of the aspects it clarified, he said, included context, challenges, policy and regulatory framework.

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