Creating a culture of creativity: Importance of Intellectual Property Rights
By Dilani Hirimuthugodage
On the 26th of April each year, Intellectual Property (IP) Day is celebrated to draw public attention to the importance of IP rights in fostering creativity and innovation.
It is said that oil was the primary fuel of the 20th century economy while creativity is the fuel of the 21st century. Creative industries encompass a broad range of activities such as arts, craft, music, design and media which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Creative industries are vital to many economies, accounting for 7% of the world’s GDP and growing at an annual rate of 8.7% according to the latest available data.
The World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO) marks IP Day under specific themes, and this year, it focuses on creativity in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in bringing novel ideas to the market. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) including copyrights, trademarks, Geographical Indications (GI), patents, and sui generis systems are important in protecting and fostering creativity. This blog highlights the importance of IPRs for Sri Lanka’s creative industries and offers strategies to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.
Creative Industries in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s creative sector can be broadly divided into three categories: arts and culture, design, and media. A study by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) commissioned by the British Council, Sri Lanka identified 16 subsectors as creative industries:
According to the available data, Sri Lanka’s creative industry has shown a growth of 95% between 2010 to 2014, rising from USD 433.6 million to USD 845.4 million. An approximate estimate of the GDP share of creative goods and services exports in 2014 was nearly 1.1%. The IPS survey, which sought to capture the current size and scale of the creative industry sector in Sri Lanka, found that only 4.6% of respondents were export-oriented and the balance produced for local consumption. Thus, the 1.1% GDP share is an underestimate, as it only accounts for the exports of creative goods and services.
The IPS survey also found that the number of employees in the sector make-up approximately 3% of the country’s total labour force. Approximately 36% of creative workers are female and 67% of workers in the sector are between the ages of 24 and 55 years, while 71% of workers are in the private sector and the rest is in government and semi-government sectors. Self-employment is high in this sector, with 40% of the workforce identifying themselves as ‘self-employed’. As is the case globally, in Sri Lanka too, the sector consisted mostly of SMEs and sole traders with only a few large businesses.
Most importantly, the creative industries depend on the talents of individuals and the generation of intellectual property. Thus, several IPRs are relevant to the sector. For example, copyrights for literature, music, visual arts, digital creative work, trademarks for advertising and branding, GI for location-specific creativities, and patents for gaming and digital designs. Therefore, IPRs play a major role in driving this sector. Further, IP enforcement is important to protect the creator and/or investors to provide them with incentives to invest and further develop the sector.
The awareness of IPRs among the survey respondents in the above-mentioned IPS study was poor. Only 8.8% had obtained any form of IP protection, out of which 48% had copyrights, 10% had patents, 26% had trademarks and 16% had others. Copyrights and trademarks were taken up in each sector whereas patents were only adopted in a few subsectors such as visual/performing arts, crafts, advertising, etc. (Figure 1).
IPRs are relevant to the creative industry as it relies on the use of intellectual production to create its goods and services. Following are a few suggestions to enhance the effective utilisation of IPRs for the development of the creative sector: Firstly, it is important to enhance knowledge on access to IPRs in the creative industry sector through awareness programmes at the grassroots levels especially in the craft, music, dance and design sectors. Industry professional associations should take the lead in this regard.
Secondly, many traditional creative industry sectors such as craft, performing arts, and visual arts are location-specific such as Ambalangoda masks, Dumbara mats, and Weweldeniya cane products. Thus, products can use GI to indicate that the goods have a special quality, character or reputation because they originate from a specific place. This will help to protect their rights, increase product value and better visibility. As such, the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) must speed up the process of identifying and obtaining GIs for selected sectors while also expanding links with WIPO to protect traditional creative industries.
Thirdly, at the national level, it is important to adopt a sui generis (a unique system) legal framework for protecting traditional knowledge and cultural expressions, which are ultimately the foundation from which Sri Lanka creates its unique designs. Fourth, laws need to be updated as the existing legal framework does not cater to developments in modern technology. NIPO should also improve its efficiency and capacity to cater to modern creativities especially for IT and design sectors. Finally, Sri Lanka must modernise its IP system, incentivise grassroots innovation and promote homegrown creativity to fuel a culture of creativity.
This blog is based on an IPS study, commissioned by the British Council, Sri Lanka on Creative and Cultural Industries in Sri Lanka (2020).
Dilani Hirimuthugodage is a Research Economist working on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Policy at IPS. Her research interests include agriculture economics, food security, intellectual property rights and innovations. She holds a Masters in Economics (with Distinction) from the University of Colombo. She is part-qualified in Charted Institute of Management (CIMA-UK). (Talk to Dilani: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Women led LPO services firm Velox Partners enters new office space in Colombo
Velox Partners, a tech-based legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm, expanded its presence into Colombo to augment its existing law firm. Velox commenced operations in January 2020 prior to the onset of the pandemic. Today, it has expanded its services across numerous verticals Commercial law, Litigation, Conveyancing and Company Secretarial Services, with Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) Services being the core. It is geared as a fully-fledged legal service provider servicing clients across United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Velox is female-led with over 90% being women comprising versatile and experienced lawyers. Their expertise bridges multiple disciplines of law with a local and global clientele. The two powerhouses leading the firm are its founding partners Lihini Fernando and Dakshika Perera whose collective experience spans over three decades.
Velox Partners saw Covid-19 restrictions and remote working as an opportunity to position the firm as a tech-based entity and launched its LPO arm. Providing back office legal services to law firms across continents was seen as a viable business model that is both functional and lucrative. Furthermore, the partners of Velox realized the potential of positioning Sri Lanka as a LPO Hub, where the LPO sector enables foreign remittance to the island nation to rebuild its economy. This also provided an opportunity particularly as LPO services can be offered remotely, without a physical office presence.
Velox has serviced clients in over 14 jurisdictions worldwide providing solutions on the ethos, ‘Beyond Legal’. Velox believes in combining business efficiency and tech enabled processes to differentiate itself from the conventional law firms.
Lawyers at Velox are solution providers guided by industry expertise. The team comprises professionals based in Australia, the United States of America, Singapore, and Sri Lanka which enables them to draw cross country perspectives in providing services. Velox is now poised to use their multiple years of experience across continents to provide smart legal solutions.
Estonian TV crew gets a taste of Sri Lanka for the first time
Sri Lanka Tourism, under its Scandinavian market promotions hosted a Media FAM with 4 Media personnel from Kanal2 TV from Estonia. The tour started off on February 28 and ended on March 8. The purpose of hosting this tour was to receive more high-end tourist arrivals from Estonia, as well as the other Scandinavian markets including Lithuania and Latvia.
Subsequently, this tour was hosted in collaboration with the Sri Lanka embassy in Sweden which contributed to make this tour a success. The FAM Tour covered all the main tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, including wild life, Ayurveda, Boutique hotels, and also cultural attractions.
All these attractions were filmed and the destination will be promoted on air via Kanal2 TV, through the TV show ‘’ Kaugele Siit’’ (far from here). The first episode of this programme is scheduled to be telecast for 45 minutes. This travel programme has 420,000 followers as their audience. Kanal2 TV was also the official Media partner for the Winter Olympics 2018, a Sri Lanka Tourism press release said.
The release adds: ‘The visitors were quite impressed with the 8-day tour which they had, enjoying every moment of their tour. They were equally mesmerized with the warm hospitality which they received from the Sri Lankans, which they are mostly renowned for. They enjoyed the traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, and the variety of dishes which they tasted. Nevertheless, they had the opportunity of exploring every attraction of the paradise island to convey the message to their fellow Estonians, that Sri Lanka is a unique travel destination which has everything in store for the enthusiastic traveler.
‘They also had a cooking demonstration by courtesy of Siddhalepa Ayurveda Resorts & Spas Wadduwa, and also a Yoga treat at the same venue. Visiting the Turtle Hatchery at Kosgoda , the Elephant orphanage at Pinnawala, going through a safari at Eco park was also another amazing experience which they had during their stay.’
The Academy of International Business signs Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Pacific
Academy of International Business Sri Lanka (AIB) held its second graduation at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall with over fifty graduates successfully passing out. At the recent graduation, the business academy signed its MOU with the University of the Pacific.
The signing of the MOU is a major milestone for the business academy. The courses offered are DBA, MBA, and BBA top-up programs through AIB. Prof Liam, Rector – of the University of Pacific, expressed confidence that the program delivered by AIB will be very beneficial.
The event was graced by passed graduates, teachers, and lecturers, the ceremony was hosted by the chief guest and the regional director of ABE(UK) Dr Praveen Mahendran. “The ABE(UK) is one of the long-standing professional awarding bodies from the UK and AIB is proud to be associated with ABE and approved by the awarding body.
Hard work, competency and capability are the values that produce results, through the AIB and its programs these are achievable. Every student is encouraged to show their full potential”.
The distinguished guests were the Vice President of the BNI Pioneer Chapter, Dilan Fonseka. He emphasized, the importance of students gaining experience in entrepreneurial skills and business development by enrolling at BNI. AIB is a member of BNI, which creates multiple opportunities.
About the Academy of International Business: AIB is recognized for its management programs, digital marketing, marketing, and English language programs such as IELTS, and PTE. It’s widely popular among students in search of pursuing business and management courses.The Director of AIB Sri Lanka, Chrishankar Janathanan, expressed the institute’s commitment to providing the best quality education. It’s not only a center that is simply cornered to the education sector but also has focused its efforts on recruitment services and digital agency services.
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