The Internet and Ethiopia's IP Law, Internet Governance and Legal Education: An Overview

Author:Kinfe Micheal Yilma - Halefom Hailu Abraha
Position:Kinfe Micheal Yilma, (LLB, Addis Ababa University; LLM, University of Oslo; LLM, Brunel University London). The author was formerly a Lecturer-in-Law at Hawassa University. Currently, he works as an independent consultant and researcher. - Halefom Hailu Abraha, LLB (Mekelle), LLM (University of Southampton). The author currently serves as ...
Pages:154-174
SUMMARY

The current information age requires intellectual property laws to catch up with and proactively regulate unfolding technological realities. The dynamic advances in the domain of the Internet have thus necessitated corresponding changes in Ethiopia’s intellectual property legal regime including copyright laws in relation with computer programs, databases, online service provision and Digital... (see full summary)

 
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The Internet and Ethiopia’s IP Law,
Internet Governance and Legal Education:
An Overview
Kinfe Micheal Yilma and Halefom Hailu Abraha
Abstract
The current information age requires intellectual property laws to catch up with
and proactively regulate unfolding technological realities. The dynamic
advances in the domain of the Internet have thus necessitated corresponding
changes in Ethiopia’s intellectual property legal regime including copyright
laws in relation with computer programs, databases, online service provision
and Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs). New issues are also steadily
arising owing to the increasing commercialization of the Internet in relation
with the quest for the presence of trade names in cyberspace and protection
from similar or confusingly similar trade names. Likewise, the applicability of
patent laws to the digital environment and the patentability of software-related
inventions are contentious. This article briefly deals with these issues. Also
addressed in this article are issues relating to Ethiopia’s roles in the global
Internet governance ecosystem, and the extent to which Ethiopian legal
education is catching up with the unprecedented changes wrought by the advent
of the Internet.
Key terms
Intellectual property, copyrights, patents, trade names, internet governance,
cyber law, Ethiopia
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mlr.v9i1.5
- This article is thematically a sequel to another article titled “The Internet and Regulatory
Responses in Ethiopia: Telecoms, Cybercrimes, Privacy, E-commerce, and the New
Media” published in the same issue of this journal.
- The authors kindly thank Ato Kidus Teshome for his support in the course of writing this
article. Comments to the authors may be forwarded to: kinfeyilma@gmail.com.
Kinfe Micheal Yilma, (LLB, Addis Ababa University; LLM, University of Oslo;
LLM, Brunel University London). The author was formerly a Lecturer-in-Law at
Hawassa University. Currently, he works as an independent consultant and researcher.
 Halefom Hailu Abraha, LLB (Mekelle), LLM (University of Southampton). The author
currently serves as Deputy Director of L egal and Policy Affairs and as a Cyber Law and
Policy Research er at the Ethiopian Information Netw ork Security Agency.
The Internet and Ethiopia’s IP Law, Internet Governance and Legal Education 155
Acronyms
DRMs
EPO
EU
ICANN
ICT
IPRs
OSPs
TRIPs
WIPO
Digital Rights Management systems
European Patent Office
European Union
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Information and Communication Technology
Intellectual Property Rights
Online Service Providers
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
World Intellectual Property Organization
The registration of a domain name does not have any trademark status. It is up to
the requestor to be sure he is not violating anyone else’s Trademark.”
______________
Introduction
The rapid technological changes over the last decades have provided an
enormous number of new and innovative goods and services. The advent of
Internet, in particular, has dramatically transformed the way of doing business.
Along with all these opportunities, the Internet is also bringing new set of
challenges to existing legal regimes around the world. Intellectual property law
is arguably among the legal regimes challenged by the rapid development of the
Internet. It has become very easy to infringe intellectual property rights (“IPRs”)
through the use of electronic technologies.1 In this context, the first three
sections of this short article examine the main challenges and loopholes of the
major Ethiopian intellectual property laws in the context of the Internet.
The fourth section outlines the state of Internet governance in Ethiopia by
briefly addressing issues such as Ethiopia’s role in the global and regional
Internet governance frameworks as well as domestic multi-stakeholder
initiatives, if any. Section 5 considers the need for enabling Ethiopian legal
education to prepare law students to a legal profession which is increasingly
oriented by the Internet. A case is made towards introducing a new ma ndatory
‘cyber law’ course within the present law school curriculum in order to make
the legal education system fit for purpose in the digital age.
1 Copyrights and the Internet
The advancement of the internet has changed the underlying assumptions of
traditional copyright law since tech nological developments have made copyright
John Postel (1994), Domain Name Structure and Delegation, Request for Comments 1591,
March 1994, p. 6.
1 Philip Weiser (2003), The Internet, Innovation, and Intellectual Property Policy, Columbia
Law Review, Vol. 1 03, No. 3, pp. 534-613.

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