The intellectual property rights (IPR) “system” involves creative individuals and entities, government agencies and the specific laws that provide the detailed framework for the acquisition and protection of patents, industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications, copyrights and related rights, integrated circuit layout designs and undisclosed information/trade secrets.
This report on Georgia’s IPR environment concludes that the overall level of IPR awareness is perceived to be very low among Georgia’s business, legal and government sectors. All sectors are in need of significant assistance to raise awareness. In addition, meetings with representatives of Georgian businesses, entertainment industry, the legal community, higher education, and government agencies provide a picture of very low awareness among the general population, which contributes to a domestic market that creates an obstacle to promoting IPR as a tool for business and economic growth. Based on these findings, it is recommended that the EPI project undertake a variety of activities aimed at raising awareness among the general public about IPR, educating businesses about the role of IPR as a tool for promoting business assets to generate revenues, assisting Georgia’s IPR agency, Sakpatenti, to become the government’s primary promoter of IPR, and strengthening government institutions that are critical to the protection and enforcement of IPR assets that are commercially used for business and economic development.
Sakpatenti, Georgia’s Intellectual Property agency that is responsible for accepting applications, examining applications and deciding whether to grant legal recognition of the different types of IPR applied for, has some, but not all, the necessary internal mechanisms to be an effective intellectual property office. Internally, it does not have manuals for standard operating procedures for the various tasks it must undertake. In addition, it does
not have a trademark examiners manual that would ensure greater uniformity for the examination, review and decision making for trademark applications.
Sakpatenti, as the primary IPR agency of the Georgian Government, lacks the training and skills to be an active source for IPR outreach (awareness and education for the business sector and other relevant government agencies). In order for Georgia’s businesses to take greater advantage of the IPR system, Sakpatenti should receive training that improves its ability to explain its functions and the functions of other relevant agencies such as customs. In addition, Sakpatenti should be able to effectively communicate the importance of IPR as a tool for business and economic development.
Government entities such as customs, police and prosecutors have very little understanding of the role of IPR in economic development. As a result, the enforcement entities of the government cannot appreciate the importance of IPR and why protecting owners and enforcing the law has any economic importance to the country. While the laws make violations of IPR subject to civil and criminal penalties, the lack of interest in enforcement of
the laws is, in part, a lack of awareness and understanding of why these laws should be enforcement.
In addition to the perception that enforcement agencies are unaware of IPR, the judiciary is also viewed as uneducated about IPR and, to the extent any judges have IPR experience, it is inadequate to result in meaningful protection of IPR through judicial proceedings. Thus, the combined effect of low IPR awareness by enforcement authorities and judges is a lack of confidence in the IPR system by the few businesses that take steps to protect their IPR.
The business sector lacks sufficient IPR awareness to take full advantage of the IPR system. The lack of awareness includes both inadequate knowledge about the general legal structure that different technical, creative, and commercial activities can be protected by different IPR laws. In addition, the lack of awareness is related to the fact that there is little to no explanation provided about how the acquisition of IPR results in commercial activities that can generate revenues for a business as a tool for economic growth.
The lack of understanding the potential benefits of IPR results in an inability to fully and commercially exploit assets for medium and long-term business growth, which in turn can deprive the national economy of the full benefits of IPR’s role in economic development.