KARACHI (APP) - The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Francis Gurry, and his counterpart from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Gift H. Sibanda, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday in Geneva, to strengthen and expand cooperation between the two organisations. The MOU covers traditional areas of cooperation relating to capacity building, as well as a special project to boost ARIPO's patent information capacity. In addition to reinforcing WIPO and ARIPO's 30-year old collaboration, Mr. Gurry said today's agreement will boost the capacity of ARIPO member states to provide the means for research institutes, universities and the private sector to capitalise on the wealth of technical information available in patent documents. He noted, "Improving access to and efficient use of technological information contained in patent documents is critical.  WIPO will provide the necessary support to ARIPO and its member states to broaden their ability to participate fully in the knowledge economy." WIPO will also assist, where appropriate, in undertaking studies on the contribution of copyright-based industries to national economies, and the role of distinctive signs, particularly geographical indications, in the promotion of domestic and export trade. Cooperation will extend to building the capacity of copyright collective management organisations and enhancing rights management at the national and regional levels. In addition to the provision of technical and legislative assistance, cooperation will also be strengthened in establishing a legal framework for the protection on traditional knowledge and traditional expressions of folklore.   In a separate agreement relating to patent information and the dissemination of patent documents, WIPO will provide ARIPO with the necessary technical assistance to digitise and format its patent data. This will enable ARIPO to provide value-added patent information services to its member countries. WIPO and ARIPO will cooperate in the development of patent information tools to demonstrate the value of patent information and to increase awareness about the utilisation of patent information.   The two organisations will jointly organise symposia, seminars, workshops and other training programs in the area of patent information to address particular needs and requirements of users from ARIPO member countries. WIPO will integrate the patent information provided 'y ARIPO and its member states into WIPO's patentscope. Search Service to encourage the broader dissemination and use of this data.   ARIPO, established in 1976, deals with the harmonisation of IP procedures, awareness-building, and administration of IP rights among its 16 member states which include Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania.