General News of Monday, 21 May 2012Source: Daily Guide Emerging details about the registration of the red, white, black and green umbrella logo of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) indicate that former First Lady and wife of the NDC founder, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, paid GH¢50 for the logo.
Though officials of the Copyright Office, especially the administrator, Yaa Attafua, were tight-lipped in giving details about the registration of the NDC logo, a highly-placed source at the office has given vivid details of how Mrs. Rawlings ‘grabbed’ the umbrella symbol in 2010 by paying the required amount of GH¢50.
According to the source, Nana Konadu sent a representative to register the symbol on her behalf as her artistic work and since they satisfied the questionnaire, the symbol was duly registered as her intellectual property.
The registration has caused some furore in the ruling party, with some members questioning the rationale behind the action of the former First Lady.
Mrs. Rawlings had registered the NDC symbol with the Copyright Office on the blind side of the party leadership, claiming the right of ownership.
This has raised eyebrows and mind-boggling questions, especially among members and supporters of the NDC on how she managed to register the single most powerful symbol of the party which has been used by the umbrella family since the inception of multi-party democracy in 1992.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a deputy Information Minster, has called for the arrest of former Copyright Administrator, Bernard K. Bosomprah, for allegedly colluding with Nana Konadu to shortchange the NDC. Other activists of the party are linking him to the opposition NPP, claiming that Mr Bosomprah once stood on the NPP ticket for a parliamentary seat.
The allegation has turned out to be a mere fabricated piece of propaganda by the elements of the ruling party as the former administrator had nothing to do with the NPP since he was rather appointed by the previous NDC administration.
In spite of the fact that the Copyright office makes provisions for aggrieved individuals, groups of persons or institutions to petition against the registration of an intellectual property to an individual, it has emerged that no one has yet petitioned the office to challenge the registration by Mrs. Rawlings.
This was just before she put in a spirited challenge for the presidential primary of the NDC which was eventually won by President Atta Mills.
Works that are eligible for copyright protection in Ghana have been identified as including literary, artistic, choreographic, computer software, architectural drawings, logos and derivative works and that, all one needs to do is to submit two copies of the original work and fill in a form after which one is required to pay a certain amount for the registration process to be complete.
The amounts for some of these registrations range from GH¢15 to GH¢100 and those for literary works are GH¢25, logo GH¢50, GH¢15 for music and GH¢100 for computer programmes.
The Copyright office is not obliged to conduct a check to ascertain whether or not a person registering a product is indeed the owner since the presumption is that anybody who takes a product which has not already been registered is the rightful owner until the ownership is challenged by way of petition to the office or in court.
That notwithstanding, the source emphasized, “if it comes out that you are not the owner; mostly what happens is that if the other party tries to go to court; the court may order the office to expunge it; so it doesn’t mean that because we don’t do background check, if I know that this thing is not for you; I will register it for you whether or not a product is yours.”
He cited instances where the office had been ordered by a court to expunge the names of certain individuals and groups as owners of products because they later turned out not to be owners of the intellectual property, likening it to one submitting fake documentation for admission into a school and later being sacked when the anomaly is detected.
According to the source, registering a copyright in Ghana was done for the purposes of creating a register for works and the authentication of people’s intellectual property and that in other jurisdictions, registration was not done at all.
Copyright, throughout the world, he said, was automatic and that “as soon as you finish the creation, you already have the right,” an indication that one did not need to register a product before he or she was protected.
Quite often, the officer indicated, people confused copyright registration with patent and trademark, noting that what one could register at the Copyright office could equally be registered at the Registrar-General’s Department as a trademark or a patent which conferred true ownership on a person or an organisation.
But before a licence would be issued to an individual or group of persons for a trademark or patent, the department is mandated to conduct an extensive search to ascertain that nobody or institution owns that brand.
There are two branches of intellectual property: industrial rights and copyright.
In Ghana, all issues relating to copyright are handled by the Copyright office whilst industrial rights are in the bosom of the Registrar-General’s Department.