Connect with us


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:



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HNB supports Sri Lanka Welfare Society of Blind Women



Supporting the livelihoods of visually impaired women, Sri Lanka’s most customer friendly bank HNB PLC donated 300 white canes and dry ration packs to the members of the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women.

The donations made utilizing voluntary contributions gathered by HNB employees, were handed over to members of the Society at a special event at HNB Towers under the patronage of HNB Managing Director and CEO Jonathan Alles.

“HNB is proud to partner with the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women to serve the visually impaired women of the country. Our goal is to do our part in ensuring they are given opportunities, recognition and respect that are equal to every other citizen, and we hope that partnerships of this nature will pave the way for a more inclusive and caring society,” HNB Managing Director and CEO, Jonathan Alles said.

With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. Over the recent past, the bank was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.

HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020, in addition to winning the coveted Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka Award for the 11th time at the Asian Banker Awards 2020, in recognition of its sustainable growth and continuous improvements in processes, products and services amidst a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Continue Reading


People’s Insurance enters Medical Insurance market with ‘the most comprehensive medical insurance cover available in Sri Lanka’



In an unprecedented effort to enhance its product offerings to customers across Sri Lanka, People’s Insurance PLC recently announced its plans to diversify into the health insurance space of the country. This strategic move to establish its presence as a health insurance provider builds on the well-established public image of People’s Insurance as the insurer who cares with love.

As the market is already heavily saturated with health insurance products offered by the competition, Peoples Insurance had the strategic objective of offering a product to make them stand out from the rest. Following a customer first approach, the insurer has decided to be a step above its competitors by offering a highly comprehensive medical insurance cover available in the country.

Citizens of Sri Lanka and those individuals who currently reside in the country are eligible to obtain a medical insurance cover from People’s Insurance. Individuals can be covered from their 5th birthday onwards. However, infants from the age of 3 months can also be protected by these covers provided that their parents have a medical cover from People’s Insurance too.

Jeevani Kariyawasam, the Head of Operations at People’s Insurance PLC commented on this new development, “When People’s Insurance PLC began to contemplate our entry into the health insurance sector, we knew we had to be different. As we are known as the only insurer who cares with love, our health insurance product had to reflect this strongly. Due to this, we decided to position ourselves as an insurance provider with a highly comprehensive product in the health insurance space. With affordable premiums, we have made every effort to ensure that Sri Lankans can enjoy the peace of mind that health insurance brings about.”

Medical schemes will vary from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 2 million and premiums will depend on the sum insured, along with the customer’s age band. It is also noteworthy that the geographical scope of treatment extends beyond Sri Lanka and into India as well. Costs related to ambulance call outs, inpatient proceedings, surgical treatments, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and pre and post hospitalization expenses are just a few of the areas that this comprehensive product covers.

As People’s Insurance PLC has a trusted and well established name in the minds of Sri Lankan customers, it is expected that their entrance into the medical insurance sector will be welcomed by citizens across the island. With the underlying goal of caring for its customers beyond anything else, this new development will allow for more Sri Lankans access to proper healthcare services. This decision truly resonates with a purpose beyond profit initiative.

Continue Reading


Browns Investments purchases 9.9 percent stake in HNB, boosting market



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE activities were positive but not bullish yesterday. Besides, the CSE announcement on a transaction where Browns Investments purchased a 9.9% stake in HNB plus last minute buying interest brought a positive note to the stock market, analysts said. Browns Investments bought 42 million HNB shares in the price range of Rs. 125.75 and Rs. 132.25 for RS 5.3 billion.

This quantum of shares or 9.9 % percent stake of HNB purchased by Brown Investments happened during the months of April and May, market sources said. Amid those developments both indices were positive. All Share Price Index was up by 45.85 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 890.3 million with a single crossing. The crossing is from Sampath Bank which crossed 500000 shares to the tune of RS 26 million and its shares traded at Rs. 52.

In the retail market, top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, J K H RS 189 million (1.4 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 181 million (27.8 million shares traded),Expo Lanka Rs. 53.8 million (1.2 million shares traded), Sampath Bank 50.2 million (1 million shares traded)and Royal ceramic Rs. 47.3 million (1.4 million shares traded). During the day 74.2 million share volume changed hands in 10600 transactions.

Continue Reading