Refereed article in compilation book (A3)

The Unusual Extension of Imperial Intellectual Property Laws to Colonies in Africa

List of Authors: Acquah Daniel Opoku

Place: Leiden/Boston

Publication year: 2022

Book title *: Intellectual Property and the Law of Nations, 1860-1920

Title of series: Studies in the History of International Law

Volume number: 58/22

Start page: 291

End page: 331

ISBN: 978-90-04-43981-8

eISBN: 978-90-04-51143-9



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This chapter examines the unusual extension of Imperial intellectual property laws to British colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, critically appraising how British dominion shaped domestic intellectual property laws and culture, and its impact on the social and economic development of African nations. It argues that contrary to the narrative that there was no apparent imperial strategy as to the development of colonial intellectual property laws, there seems to have been a certain arrangement regarding Africa, which cannot be merely coincidental. Intellectual property laws were imposed on Sub-Saharan Africa, not borrowed, and there must have been a reason for this. Yet unlike other Crown colonies, the Imperial government did not build local capacity nor institutions for intellectual property in Africa. This led to displaced local knowledge governance and innovation systems, and countries ill-equipped to handle the pressures of the twenty-first-century intellectual property system.

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Last updated on 2023-22-03 at 10:16