The role of trademarks and geographical Indications in advancing economic development in developing countries in Africa: an investigation into Zimbabwe and South Africa

Doctoral Thesis


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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and small scale farming constitute an integral part of African economies. These small scale producers, however, face significant challenges in market access, marketing, advertising, and developing the reputation of their products and services. In this respect, appropriate intellectual property (IP) strategies could be leveraged, particularly where producers come together as a collective. The focus of this thesis is to explore options on how developing countries in Africa can begin to think about using trademarks and geographical indications for SMEs and small scale farmers. The international legal framework for the protection of trademarks and geographical indications has shaped the national legal regimes of countries. There is, however, flexibility in the type of legal protection strategy that could be utilised by small scale producers – trademark, certification mark, collective mark, geographical indication – but these options have not been sufficiently adopted for such producers. This thesis examines the legal frameworks for protection in Zimbabwe and South Africa and submits that by developing clusters to improve the efficiency of small scale producers and strengthening producer associations, governments can set the framework upon which to develop capacity to use trademarks and geographical indications. Using a case study, the thesis identifies issues that impede the adoption of trademarks and geographical indications, among these, institutional deficiencies, insufficient knowledge of trademarks and geographical indications and limited access to legal information. It proposes legislative and regulatory changes to enhance uptake of trademark and geographical indication protection and proposes identifying strategic clusters that could use these IP rights.