Colombo Telegraph

Lakshman And The Intellectual Property Laws

By Suganthie Kadirgamar

Suganthie Kadirgamar

I welcome you all to the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration, 2013.

Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General – World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the specialized agency in the United Nations responsible for promoting the protection of Intellectual Property, in the world through cooperation amongst States, is here today to deliver the 2013 Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration.

Dr. Gurry, thank you for accepting my invitation on behalf of the Board of Management of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies to deliver this year’s Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration.

Dr. Gurry, you are here today to honour your former colleague and friend who laid down his life for the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country. Your presence here today is a tribute to the memory of Lakshman Kadirgamar. We are honoured to have you here today.

Dr. Gurry, the fourth and current Director General of the WIPO is also the Secretary General of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Dr. Gurry has written many books and academic articles specializing in Intellectual Property related issues. I must mention that Lakshman was very impressed with Dr. Gurry’s book titled ‘Breach of Confidence’ which was based on his doctoral thesis.

Hon. Minister of Justice, thank you very much for your presence to commemorate the memory of your former parliamentary and Cabinet colleague.

In 1977, Lakshman Kadirgamar, as the head of the Asia Pacific Bureau of the WIPO, had discussions with the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka – Dr. H. W. Jayewardene and Minister of Trade and Shipping Lalith Athulathmudali, to assist Sri Lanka to revise the Intellectual Property Laws of Sri Lanka.

Pursuant to these discussions, in September 1977 the Minister of Trade and Shipping appointed a committee to revise the laws on Intellectual Property in keeping with the commercial policies of the Government. I had the privilege of serving as the Secretary of that Law Revision Committee.

Intellectual Property laws at that time comprised of several Ordinances which were archaic. Such as,

Merchandise Marks Ordinance of 1888;

Designs Ordinance of 1904;

Patents Ordinance of 1906;

Copyright Act 1911;

Copyright Ordinance of 1912;

Trade Marks Ordinance of 1925;

Lakshman Kadirgamar through the WIPO submitted a set of model laws, which the Law Revision Committee accepted with modifications and amendments to suit Sri Lanka. Incidentally, the first seminar organized by the Sri Lanka authorities and the WIPO to discuss the changes to the Intellectual Property Law was held in this very same hall in 1977.

On 25th May 1979, the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka enacted the Code of Intellectual Property Act No. 52 of 1979.

This Act was again revised in the year 2003 to adhere to the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement. Mr. Kanag-Isvaran, PC who is present here today was the Chairman and I was a Member of this Law Revision Committee.  Lakshman Kadirgamar was consulted by his Cabinet colleague Mr. Kingsley Wickremaratne, Minister of Trade. Many aspects concerning the amendments to the Law were discussed.

3. To comply with the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, the Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2003 was enacted.

WIPO’s constructive role to assist the advancement of the Intellectual Property Laws in this region is commendable. The resident Intellectual Property training course for participants from Asia which was commenced by Lakshman Kadirgamar in the year 1979 was held annually in Sri Lanka, at this Institute, until the year 2000. This training course could not be continued due to the menace of terrorism which prevailed in Sri Lanka. Now that the conflict is over may I suggest to Dr. Gurry to consider the possibility of re-commencing this training course in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Gurry, WIPO may also consider assisting Sri Lanka to establish an internationally accepted searching authority to examine prior art on specifications of inventions seeking novelty. Such an authority will be of great assistance for the inventors as they could ascertain whether their inventions are new to the world.

I thank you once again Dr. Gurry for visiting Sri Lanka to deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration.

Hon. Minister of Justice, thank you for your presence this evening.

I thank you ladies and gentleman for your presence here today for the 2013 Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration.

*The speech delivered by Suganthie Kadirgamar for the “Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Oration 2013” held on the 6th November, 2013 at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

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