Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions in Kenya

The kiondo, the Kikoy, now the Maasai Shuka have been ‘stolen’ from Kenya! This is something we read about every other day in the press, over the social networks and commonly discussed. We hear about traditional medicines and therapies, traditional cultural expressions are used in music, artwork and designs. These are all elements of what is known as traditional knowledge.

Kenya, like many other African countries is rich in traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). One may ask why the renewed interest in TK and TCEs in the 21st century? In the traditional systems, traditional knowledge was protected by a system of customs and taboos which ensured the preservation and proper utilisation of resources. Currently, this knowledge is being exploited by third parties for use in pharmaceutical products, therapy, building, arts and craft, music, design and even works of architecture. TK is used in the exploitation of genetic resources.

The defining characteristics of TK and TCEs is that they belong to a particular community(ies) and have been passed on from generation to generation.

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The ‘Africa IP Forum’: Doomed to Fail?

It’s now official: the proposed Africa IP Forum planned to take place in Cape Town, South Africa 3-5 April 2012 has been postponed. The US Commerce Department, on it’s website, made the announcement as follows:

“The African Intellectual Property Forum, originally slated for April 3-5, 2012 in Cape Town, will be rescheduled. Organizers are committed to ensuring that all stakeholders – in government, private business, the arts and the development community – are represented and engaged in the conference organization and agenda.”

Certainly we all saw this coming, especially after the huge uproar by NGOs and other interested parties worldwide as witnessed here.

In a poll conducted by afroIP between 15th – 22nd February 2012, respondents were asked: “is the africa ip summit short a development dimension?” and the majority number responded that the agenda of the Africa IP Forum needs to be greatly improved.

Today’s article on Techdirt minces no words in it’s condemnation of the proposed forum:

“An absolutely ridiculous “Africa IP Forum” that was being organized by WIPO and the US Department of Commerce, where it appeared the entire event was around forcing extreme IP enforcement on Africa, despite plenty of evidence that developing nations, such as most of those in Africa, are hurt by such enforcement. The whole schedule was one-sided with speakers who mainly supported extreme enforcement over looking for the most reasonable overall solutions for different economies.”

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Latest Edition of Kenya Copyright Newsletter Now Available Online.

True to the Kenya Copyright Board’s promise, it’s latest quarterly publication “Copyright News” is finally out and has been dedicated to addressing growing concerns about protection of traditional knowledge, cultural expressions and genetic resources in Kenya.

The newsletter is on KeCoBo’s website and is available for viewing and downloading here.

IPKenya is particularly pleased to see his contributions on the subject of Traditional Knowledge in an earlier post “Towards Legislation on Traditional Knowledge in Kenya” were incorporated verbatim into one of the newsletter’s articles titled: “Towards Legal Protection of Traditional Knowledge in Kenya”. However, a credit as co-author of the article would have been nice.

Music Copyright Society to Pay 13.3 Million Shillings to Kenyan Artists

In a recent public notice, the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) announced that it would be distributing royalties from radio and television distribution class as per the distribution rules of the society effective from tomorrow Tuesday February 28th 2012 until June 2012.

The royalties to be distributed are from the radio and television stations which have paid and submitted properly documented log sheets from July 1st 2010 to June 30th 2011. The Society will also use
log sheets generated from its own media monitoring software.

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An Intellectual Property Law Guide for All the Countries in Africa


At the end of last month, the entire African IP fraternity was abuzz after the news that Bowman Gilfillan had agreed to merge its intellectual property law practice with Adams & Adams making the latter firm the largest IP specialist firm in Africa.

Recently Adams & Adams have redesigned and launched their website which will definitely be an oasis of knowledge and insights of IP practice throughout the African continent.

An interesting feature on the new-look website is the Africa IP Law Guide with information on all the countries in Africa complete with a nifty interactive map (pictured above). Of course the information is primarily on industrial property matters, particularly trademark registration and patent filing procedures.

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Makerere Lecturer Sues Bank of Uganda for 1 Billion Shillings in Copyright Infringement Suit

Sylvia Katende Nabiteeko, a senior lecturer at Makerere University’s Margaret Towrel School appeared before Justice Irene Mulyagonja at the Commercial Court in Kampala yesterday in a copyright infringement suit she instituted in December last year against Uganda’s Central Bank, Bank of Uganda (BoU).

Nabiteeko is claiming 1 billion shillings from the BoU whom she claims reproduced her sculpture on the 20,000 bank note (as pictured above) without her consent and without giving her any form of the compensation.

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Challenges Facing Intellectual Property (IP) Audit, Valuation and Management in Kenya

IP audit, valuation and management is a key aspect of exploitation and protection of IP. However, very few enterprises conduct these crucial exercises. Prior to 2007, the Business and Law Institute reports that only about 2% of the large enterprises were conducting some sort of IP audit with 0% from the medium and small enterprises in Kenya. 0% of all enterprises were conducting a valuation of their IP. Only 0.5% of all enterprises had a deliberate IP management policy. This paints a grim picture.

The following main challenges can be cited.

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