29 April 2022

Celebrated annually worldwide on 26 April, World Intellectual Property Day raises awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact our daily lives. This year’s theme: “Intellectual Property (IP) and Youth – Innovating for a better future, sought to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the world.

The event was founded in 2000 by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WPO). Addressing and welcoming attendees, UMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso expressed profound appreciation for the opportunity to host this important event.

"It is such an honour for our new institution. We value such experiences as part of our pioneering journey. We have been part of this exciting journey since 2014. At that time we enrolled only 169 students in three programmes. Eight years later, in 2022 we have 6 720 students in 48 programmes including six Masters Degrees and three Doctoral degrees.”

Professor Mayekiso acknowledged and commended the companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Intellectual Management Office, the Technology Innovation Agency, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) for their contribution to the day.

“Finding an opportunity to engage and exchange ideas is always such a key moment in the life of intellectuals. An opportunity to connect and challenge one another to improve and refine our thoughts always bodes well for the expansion of knowledge and bolstering scholarship."

UMPUMP Vice-Chancellor Prof Thoko Mayekiso and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Shirley Sommers interact with BEd student, Palesa Masuku who participated at the International Intellectual Property Day. 

“The curiosity to follow knowledge where it leads us – for the betterment of the world – is indeed a great prospect to be relished. For our staff and students, mingling with like-minded people brings about an extra edge and the realisation that they are not alone and that there are others to learn from.”

Prof Mayekiso said UMP as a comprehensive institution understands that its academic project must combine both the creation and transfer of knowledge to produce students that are independent and critical thinkers. 

She explained that the institution’s vision was to be an African University leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation.

“Through our research and development effort, our students should have an eye for innovation. As an institution, we are committed to the development of an innovative culture and to playing a catalytic role in innovation with a definite bias towards Africa.

As an engaged university, we place great value on partnerships, collaborations or linkages and networks. We have identified partnerships as both drivers and enablers in achieving our vision. As a strategic level and in line with UMP’s vision 2022, our goal is to make a pioneering, critical and constructive contribution through the generation, dissemination and application of knowledge.”

According to Prof Mayekiso, the institution is guided in its ventures by core values, excellence, integrity, diversity, collaboration adaptability, relevance and inspiration. She said all the UMP values found expression in the recent World Intellectual Property event that they hosted, and added that it was crucial to note that innovative, energetic and creative minds drive positive change.

She explained that when the world faces unprecedented times, and daunting challenges, “ it is encouraging to note that at such a time there are creators, inventors and entrepreneurs who can use IP rights to achieve their goals, create jobs, tackle global and local challenges and generate income.”

UMPPower-packed programme: Prof Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju, Director: Research Management at the UMP and Bongani Sibuyi, UMP Graduate and Founder of Relevant Technologies during a Radio 2000 live broadcast of the 2022 World Intellectual Property Day celebrations.

Speaking at the same event, Mojalefa Khoza from the Companies & Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) said South Africa has been commemorating this important day for the past 12 years.

"The day aims at celebrating human creativity and innovation. This year World Intellectual Property Day is focusing on the youth. There are a lot of ideas that young people have, so we want to celebrate the young men and young women who offered something to our country. There is no idea that is bad because any idea can be useful as long as you work on it and develop it. Please don’t underestimate the idea that you have because it might take you places.

“We want to make sure that young people know how to protect their intellectual properties and make money out of it and create jobs. The innovators that we are celebrating today, include Nkosana Makhate who invented a ‘Please call me.’ The idea came when the young man wanted to call his mother but he did not have airtime. He then started working on the App that is now used mostly in Africa and South America. IP protects your ideas from being stolen. ”

Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) representative, Migal Sithole, who also spoke at the event, called on young aspiring entrepreneurs to contact them so that they can be prepared to start their own businesses.

UMPUMP BEd Foundation Phase student Thandeka Mahlangu showcased her business, Ndeka Desserts.

“We work with many government entities, therefore, we are the first institution that young people must interact with if they want to start their businesses. We assist on how to get financial backing and also assist by offering training on how to run a business. We have offices throughout the province.”

During the webinar, Professor Gary Atkinson from Technology Innovation Agency educated attendees on how to register their intellectual properties, including trademarks, copyright, patents, trade secrets and other related things.

“You must not show other people your work before it gets registered because if someone registers it will be hard to produce proof that it belongs to you. When you generate a trademark for your product you must not forget to include the capital letter ‘C’. Trademarks last for 10 years and can be renewable. Young people must register their IP as soon as possible,” said Atkinson.

Bonga Mthombeni of Duma brands is an entrepreneur who turned WIFI signal into a power that can be used on small electric appliances such as cell phones, laptops and other related things. He also participated in the workshop and urged young people to do plenty of research to develop themselves a frame of reference.

UMPMojalefa Khoza from the Intellectual Property Commission said IPC is focusing on the youth.

“Always document your research and make sure that it is well supported. Those who are in high school must not wait until they get to the university to start working on their ideas. I worked on my electricity power project alone and I managed to get found.”

Thabang Jase, Acting Director at National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) delivered a presentation that encouraged young people to be innovative because the country needs more inventors to grow.

“It is important that we come up with new things that will play a role in developing society. Through IP our products have a better chance that they can do well on the market. Since many companies are failing to offer employment, we are calling on the youth to become innovators and start doing their things.

Our department is here to support you, so start your thing - we will assist you. Look at the problem that society has and come up with a solution. But make sure that whatever you invent has a market because there is no need to invent something that does not have a market,” he said.

Some of the speakers included Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, Prof Shirley Sommers who presented the programmes offered by UMP and the success of the institution throughout the years.

@ Story Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.


WATCH: Students share their sentiments of the 2022 World Intellectual Property day held at the University of Mpumalanga, Mbombela campus.