In a recent media report titled: “Maasai elders swap Kenya for Holborn Viaduct”, the global law firm Hogan Lovells has reportedly invited Maasai elders to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of its intellectual property (IP) pro bono work. As the report explains:
The firm has been doing intellectual property (IP) pro bono work, led by partner Sahira Khwaja, to try to secure a trademark for the tribe after the recognisable Maasai image has been used repeatedly used in advertising campaigns without any of the spoils making their way back to the tribe itself.
Lovells is working with Elders from the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania through charity Light Years IP, which helps developing country producers win ownership of their intellectual property – should they choose to.
Light Years IP is a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by assisting developing country producers gain ownership of their intellectual property and to use the IP to increase their export income and improve the security of that income. The Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI) was founded by Light Years IP who designed a 7 point plan and IP strategies for the Maasai to achieve control over their iconic brand.
According to Light Years IP CEO, Ron Layton:
…the Maasai people have not yet decided on trademark ownership or appointment of Hogan Lovells to carry out trademark work. The Maasai elders are visiting London to obtain information to assist their community make such decisions. Above all, Light Years IP seeks for respect to be shown to the Maasai. Hogan Lovells are assisting Light Years IP in a range of work.
First off, this blogger is ashamed that Kenya’s leading IP firms would rather religiously ‘network’ at International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual Meetings than take up worthy pro-bono IP matters such as MIPI.
Read the rest of this article on the CIPIT Law Blog here.