19 August 2021 News

Denoncourt J., Okyere M., Protecting Ghana’s intellectual property rights in kente textiles: the case for Geographical Indications, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, Volume 16, Issue 4-5, April-May 2021, Pages 415–426

Increasing threats to Ghana’s kente textile have intensified the need for its urgent defensive intellectual property (IP) protection. While Ghana’s Copyright Act, 2005 (Act 690) protects the kente styles and designs from being copied, it can neither address the problem of third parties producing kente imitations for sale nor the cultural misappropriation of Ghana’s textile tradition. Additionally, the world’s largest free trade agreement, the comprehensive African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), has the potential to further damage Ghana’s kente trade where it has no extensive IP protection. This article makes a case for why Geographical Indication (GI) protection should be an important part of a comprehensive IP strategy to protect Ghana’s kente. From a global perspective, the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) agreed to enhance cooperation through a commitment to an AU-EU Continental strategy for Geographical Indications in Africa with an action plan to improve Africa’s GI systems. Notably, the action plan identifies Ghana’s kente as having GI potential. This article argues that supportive pan-African, regional and national GI policies are needed to link people, places and products, and calls for the enforcement of Ghana’s Geographical Indications Act to preserve Ghana’s traditional kente from wider misappropriation.