Protecting creative ideas

A piece of an artwork

Evelyn Chisambiro a visual artist who owns an art gallery at Four Seasons gallery in Malawi's capital Lilongwe has a burning passion of promoting other artists and providing them with a physical avenue for them to be able to sell their artworks in the country.

She noted that despite the country boasting a lot of creative minds among the youths, most of them lack the necessary exposure and recognition especially in the visual acts sector.

She believes, every person is born an artist but the skill gets lost as one grows older because it is not nurtured. Additionally, most youths are very creative but lack of finances is a major setback.

Chisambiro pointed out that looking at Malawi 2063, the first thing one sees is an artwork which shows that art plays a big role towards the realisation of a better Malawi.

“Art is a very big contributor to the economy of countries and as for Malawi as we’re looking ahead; we cannot leave arts behind because you know countries that are wealthy, they have built their wealth on arts.

"When you visit those countries you see that there’s a lot of art around you and the reason why art has gotten to that stage it’s because it has a way of telling stories that are beyond words”.

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Chisambiro: It is the creativity which needs to be protected by copyrights

The artist explained that visual arts comprises the physical product which is the artwork itself which is sold and the creativity which needs to be protected.

“The creativity needs to be protected by copyrights and that’s one thing that mostly Malawians don’t get. They don’t get their artworks protected by copyright whereby you have got a few people who eventually start to copy other people’s work.

“So we hope that by promotion as well as more awareness in the form of intellectual property, people can realize that their ideas are worth protecting,” she stressed.

The Office of the Registrar General is responsible for the granting of Intellectual Property (IP) rights patents for inventions, trademark designs and is a focal point for intellectual property in Malawi.

It also grants rights to innovators to protect their creations and promote intellectual property and its generation so that innovators are rewarded for their talent.

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Namero: Important that innovators are supported with obtaining protection of their innovation outside our borders

Two years ago, government launched the National intellectual policy and the office is responsible for its implementation.

Registrar General Chikumbutso Namero stated that more needs to be done to increase the visibility of the office and making sure young innovators know how they can acquire IP protection and commercialize their works.

He believes making his office autonomous will help it in being more proactive and vibrant.

“Protection of intellectual property has to be done not only in Malawi. Some of the innovations that are coming out of this country are innovations that can be marketable outside our borders.

“So it is also important that innovators are supported with obtaining protection of their innovation outside our borders so that we do not have people learning about the innovations taking place here and then obtaining protection for them outside the country and then in the process making our innovators lose out on their creations”.