World Intellectual Property Day Almost Here: Current State of IP in Kenya

Editor’s note:
This post is divided into three parts:
1. Recap of major IP developments in Kenya so far.
2. World IP Day celebrations in Kenya.
3. Visionary innovators in Kenya – two personal picks.

Part 1: Recap of major IP developments in copyright and industrial property sectors

At the beginning of the year, IPKenya drew up a little list of 12 expectations for IP development in Kenya. As promised, IPKenya is back to review what has been accomplished and what remains pending. Also, there have been a number of important IP-related developments that have taken place that must be highlighted.

Copyright sector:
Over the last four months, there’s been a number of important news stories in the area of copyright and related rights.

– Recently, the Regulations pursuant to the Copyright Act have been amended to increase the prescribed fees for registration of copyright works. This move was somewhat expected because last year KECOBO reduced the cost of the authentication devices for those dealing with musical and audio-visual works.

– The Creative Commons Kenya team remains dormant meanwhile next door in Uganda, Creative Commons licenses were ported at the end of January and public comments and discussions were invited.

– Musicians are yet to form a united Musicians’ Union, despite the growing need to spread awareness among musicians as well as lobbying and advocacy on copyright and related intellectual property concerns.

– The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has successfully applied for a CMO license from KECOBO and the official press conference is set for tomorrow.

– The Attorney General has appointed the Chairman and four Members to sit on the “Competent Authority” established under the Copyright Act, a quasi-judicial body akin to a Copyright Tribunal.

No decided cases on copyright despite a number of media reports that copyright suits have been filed including the Safaricom case.

Industrial Property sector

– The enforcement arm of industrial property rights administration, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) has been visible in carrying out a number of raids, seizures and has effected numerous arrests. IPKenya highlighted the case of ‘Zero B’ where ACA played an important role in protecting the trade mark rights of a manufacturer.

– The regulatory arm of industrial property rights administration, the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) has so far held two successful workshops on patent law and drafting of patent claims. A recap of one of these workshops can be found here.

– So far, there have been two decided cases on industrial property matters. The first case was trademark infringement by “Eve Sisters” and the second case involved a constitutional challenge to the term “counterfeit” as defined in the Anti-Counterfeit Act (Patricia Asero Ochieng, Maurine Atieno and Joseph Munyi vs Republic H.C.C.C.NO 409 OF 2009). In a judgment handed down by Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi (also known as “Kenyan Jurist” in blogging circles), it is now reported that the constitutional court held that the definition of what constitutes ‘counterfeit’ under Section 2 of the Kenya Anti-Counterfeiting Act is unconstitutional as it violates the right to life, health and dignity of persons living with HIV/AIDS.

– Still no word on the Geographical Indications Bill and the progress in preparing a Traditional Knowledge Bill. On the subject of protection of TK, IPKenya wonders whether the government could consider adopting some of the provisions in this draft TK Bill prepared by Prof. OH Dean, Anton Mostert Chair of IP over at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

** Both KIPI and KECOBO are now active on social media (twitter + facebook) and are constantly updating their websites with useful content including publications. Recently KIPI published its monthly Industrial Property Journal and KECOBO published its quarterly newsletter “Copyright News”. The race to offer online registration and come up with a public search database systems is still on.

In other developments:

– It has now been confirmed by KIPI that Kenya in conjunction with WIPO and ARIPO will establish a National IP Academy.

– Members of the Competition Commission have been now appointed and gazetted.

– Mr. Murungi published a book titled “Cyber Law in Kenya” which contains useful information on intellectual property rights in the ICT sector in Kenya.

– Prof. Sihanya announced that his long-awaited book on intellectual property law in Kenya will be out sometime in May (next month).

– In case you missed it, leading African IP blog Afro-IP visited Kenya late last year and prepared a fair appraisal of the state of IP in Kenya.

– IPKenya has joined forces with an elite group of IP enthusiasts namely Melissa (@ThatAkinyi) and Evans (@EvansMwangi1) in a bid to spread the gospel of IP. We intend to hold monthly meetings at the Nairobi Innovation Hub (@ihub) where we will tackle a whole host of IP-related topics and issues. Our first meeting is in May and we will be discussing the following topics: copyleft licensing such as Creative Commons, Open Source Software Licensing and Software policy e.g. Privacy Policy and Terms of Service agreements etc. More details to follow. All are welcome to join us!

Part 2: World Intellectual Property Day Celebrations in Kenya

Every year on the 26th of April, the world celebrates IP day with activities and events aimed at promoting awareness of and respect for intellectual property. As you recall last year (see the photo above), IPKenya joined the national IP offices in celebrating WIP Day under the theme: “Designing the future by promoting intellectual property rights to attain Vision 2030”.

This year, the theme is “Visionary Innovators” and no official national banner or slogan has been published by the KIPI and/or KECOBO. Details on what Kenya has planned for WIP Day remain sketchy. All indications are that Kenya will stick to its traditional celebrations which includes a procession through the streets of Nairobi, followed by a symbolic public destruction of seized infringing materials (with NEMA’s blessing, of course) and finally a gala event where speeches will be made by the various heads of the IP Offices. KIPI announced recently via twitter that they will be handing out special awards on WIP Day.

Part 3: Visionary Innovators in Kenya

IPKenya suggests the following two public figures. Although they are both no longer living, they have greatly contributed to the sciences and arts in Kenya.

Dr. Thomas Odhiambo – for his pioneering work within the industrial property sector. Read more about him here.

Issah Mmari (‘E-Sir’) – for his lasting contribution to contemporary urban music. Read more about him here.

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