IPRAM Workshop: Industry Stakeholders say “Yes” to Intellectual Property Protection in Advertising
Important stakeholders in the Integrated Marketing communications industry converged on the Radisson Hotel, Ikeja, on Friday at the Gee Law’s Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights in Advertising and Media, with the unanimous decision that it’s time to be knowledgeable in intellectual properties rights and to protect same to advantage as individual practitioners and content creators.
Presenting his keynote to spark off what became a robust and eye-opening discussion, Lanre Adisa, Chief Creativity Officer /CEO, Noah’s Ark Communications challenged his audience that although IP issue has at best has remain casual conversation in the industry, it is an important subject that should excite everyone, adding that with doggedness and inherent learning opportunities it provides, the industry will be the better for it.
To bring his point home on how agencies undermine their earning opportunities, he gave the scenario if an agency had created the Campbell soup paintings it might have been paid some cheeky retainer, the last time the paintings were sold, it exchanged for $11.7million, he declared. Similarly, the Nike swoosh design he also said was created by an agency, but today everyone can imagine how much the Nike design equity is worth.
Raising the poser, who owns the idea? which is always the bone of contention between the client and the agency, the keynote speaker having painted a number of scenarios which make the poser seemingly difficult and confusing, answered that they actually belong to the agency at least in advertising. “They belong to the agency”, he says, wondering why agencies shy away from the client in pressing for those rights.
“As long as we work in the creative industry, we should not be held in fear, it is for us to be knowledgeable about IP issues and how it can be protected to our benefits”, he declared.
According to Adisa, agencies are too anxious to get the business, hence operators reduce themselves to be at the mercy of the client. “If a client rejects an agency’s idea, it remains the agency’s and it’s free to sell it to another client. It amounts to sheer robbery if such client uses or exposes an idea he has not paid for”. He noted and sadly too, that the industry is allowing this to happen!
To forestall such robbery, Adisa recommends that agencies should always issue a caveat against such idea misappropriation noting that a number of agencies shirk from this because they do not want to appear to be troublemakers.
As a component of the knowledge economy, Adisa pointed out that, “intangible capital” is on the increase standing at $5.9 trillion as at 2014 with China leading the pack followed by the US, “Today, content is king, as people who deal with content, where are the assets?”, Adisa questions the industry.
“We need to do a lot of rethinking, must start dealing with attorneys to enlighten us as a business when handling pitches or on-boarding new clients”, he cautioned.
Making his presentation, Nosakhare Uwadiae, Esq, Convener of the IPRAM workshop who had earlier enunciated that intellectual property rights in Advertising vis-à-vis its opportunities and increase potentials for increased value creation, declared that “Intellectual Property Rights does not protect an idea but protects the expression of an idea that has been crystallized into a fixed medium. IP is a bundle of rights and a Human Right”.
Agencies and practitioners must, therefore, be deliberate in protecting their IP rights against inappropriate exploitations. According to Uwadiae, in Intellectual Property rights transfer, money is not a consideration but a written agreement.
Two discussion sessions following the keynote presentation drew the point home for the audience. According to Dr. Ayoyemi Lawal-Arowolo, Associate Professor, Private & Commercial Law, Babcock University, Intellectual Property is not an idea for where the content creator is currently, they are for years to come. Emphasising that the content creator is more powerful than the client, “You are the next big thing, you need to own and protect your intellectual properties”, she advised.
Lending his voice to the discussion, Joko Okupe, CEO, Soulsight Nigeria queries, how would an agency create a proper structure on Intellectual Properties? “The problem is behemoth”, he said lamenting that even those who have tangible assets are not aware talk less of protecting intangible Intellectual Property rights.
According to Okupe, judicial and legal structures do not offer much relieve in cases of IP breaches as the penalties are grossly abysmal and inappropriate for the gravity of the infringements.
“If IP rights in the advertising industry are to the protected, it is going to be an industry decision, a policy issue at the highest level. The client has to be involved because its going to be a strategic document for all operators”.
Waxing philosophical, Okupe expresses grief on poor awareness level, “the greatest disease is that you do not know that you do not know”, submitting that the industry should create awareness to achieve a consensus of understanding on IP issues.
In the same token, Yomi-Bdejo-Okusanya, CEO, CMC Connect emphasizing the knowledge economy as the “next big thing” said it’s about what you know and not what you produce. He added that the knowledge economy cannot succeed with IP while warning that there should be “a strategic approach to guide and protect agencies’ IP assets”.
Also speaking as a panelist, Olubukunola Olateru, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, submitted that agencies have to put in their best and appropriately cover their IP rights. Giving example of her company’s and its agencies’ approach said, “Agencies should sit down at the beginning of the year with their clients, reach understandings, sign agreements and reach a mutually beneficial consensus to ensure everyone is covered and protected”. This is to ensure no one comes around to exploit loopholes to fleece the brand or agency.
Following Okupe observation that that copyright and IP infringements have eaten deep into the effectiveness of marketing, Toyosi Odunmbaku, Esq – Senior Associate, Brand Protection Unit, Jackson, Etti & Edu, disclosed as an advertising and media industry practitioners, “IP rights are enforceable and an income attached to it as there are laws safeguarding your IP rights and merchandising materials”
Diverse as the point-of-views were, stakeholders were, however, unanimous in their submissions, “Start awareness campaigns on IP issues in the industry. Awareness is key, protecting your creativity and the client’s brand, you need to be more aware” they seem to agree.
The convener, who expressed satisfaction with the attendance and level of discussions, said the workshop is coming up at this point in time having been a player for about two decades, thinks it is high time the industry took a serious look at the different ways to amortize their creative efforts. “There hasn’t been any structure around it and there seem to be a lot of acrimonies on what belongs to who? It is like the ad agencies have abandoned their IP rights at the altar of chasing businesses.
“The idea is, if as an agency, I am able to take a product to become a brand of reckoning, I too should have something to show for it. What is clear today is that most of the agencies have not benefitted in this regard, as there are no clear-cut lines of financial benefits or rewards for their efforts”.
Going forward, there is a need for the industry to have a paradigm shift, declared the Convener. Gee Law isn’t pushing this all alone, “We want the industry bodies as stakeholders to partner with us”. The law firm, is riding on its field of expertise to start and trigger the process, all stakeholders will stoke the fire that will take the industry to the expected Eldorado.