Protecting the intangible

Innovative, focused and determined

15 October 2021 | Business

Mariselle Stofberg

The curriculum vitae of Onesmus Joseph is nothing short of impressive, with extensive knowledge, experience and qualifications to his name.

Joseph was born in Ohadiwa, a sub-village of Onamutai village in the Oshana Region, and has 14 years of experience in both public and corporate services.

He holds a Master of Philosophy in intellectual property law from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, an MBA in finance and accounting, an honours degree in company secretary and governance practice, and a Bachelor of Technology in accounting and finance.

“I received extensive intellectual property (IP) training from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which included patent drafting, IP commercialisation, IP dispute resolution and IP and access to medical technology. Professionally, I am a chartered company secretary and governance professional and a CGISA (ACIS) member. I am also a member of the Southern Africa Institute of Business Accountant (SAIBA) BAP.”

But his list of accolades does not end here. He is also a trained pilot and former police officer trainer.

“Based on its mandate, I have realised that BIPA plays a significant role in enabling a knowledge-based society; hence, being directly involved and adding value to the realisation of creating a society that is intellectual property conscious is an honour,” he says.

Joseph believes that intangible assets or intellectual property rights are not given the respect they deserve, probably because of their nature or form. “I hope that my contribution to this position will further catapult the respect of knowledge creation, utilisation, and an IP environment where creators and businesses have the freedom to leverage their IPs.”

As a senior intellectual property officer at BIPA, Joseph is responsible for developing, reviewing, and implementing intellectual property policies and frameworks to enhance the quality of rights they grant.

“I ensure the successful implementation of policies and engage the various stakeholders in IP, both internationally and locally, to ensure everyone has access to the different IP systems to protect our clients’ intangible assets.”

Almost 70% of his daily work is project-based and looking at project plans is his daily cup of coffee.

“I would look at the project plan, monitor the progress, and pursue activities as they become due. Our current project is developing a new copyright legal framework that is resilient and purposive to the 21st century with the enhancements of digital transformation.

“My biggest accomplishment so far is the transitional growth in my career from a police constable to an intellectual property specialist. I never dreamed of it, given my background. Also, on a lighter note, the fact that I can control an aircraft as a solo pilot demonstrates God’s grace.”

Joseph says that given the aspirations as a country to be a modern economy, Namibia has to innovate and create a solution to the problem and prioritise intellectual property.

“The most challenging aspect is the level of awareness of society and education of IP and its value. Many people are not yet aware of the value of IP and the protection thereof. It will take a lot of groundwork and education to reach our international counterparts' level when it comes to IP protection.”

Joseph is an outcome-driven person, and measures his success based on the output yielded instead of the input.

“For me, success is marked by good performance, legitimacy or trust by our stakeholders. Hence, success would look something like this: Implementing all IP policies and strategies successfully, resulting in a reputable IP environment where creators and inventors create, protect, enforce and commercialise their IP with minimal standards.”

He hopes to bring a wide range of expertise in different fields to his new role and hopes each field of expertise will complement each other to maximise value and outcome for the organisation.

“The fourth industrial revolution requires us to innovate if we want to remain relevant for the era and I plan to enrol for a PhD in innovation and technology transfer. It is my ambition to continue to pursue my professional development with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, with specific focus on quantifying and valuing IP to see IP being recognised as securities or collaterals in many banks in the region.”

Josephs adds that the world we find ourselves in now comes with challenges, but we need to see challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow. “The physically strong are no longer in control of the world, but the power is with those that are innovative and full of new ideas. They need to find the gaps in these challenges and turn them into opportunities. The era requires a mind that does not see problems; but rather what they can do to be the solution to the problem.”