Kenya Leads Africa in Celebrations of World Intellectual Property Day 2014

Winning team from Riara University at Inaugural IP Moot receive Trophy from The Hon. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya.

Winning team from Riara University at Inaugural IP Moot receive Trophy from The Hon. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya.

In case you missed it, Kenya’s planned activities for this year’s World Intellectual Property Day went off without a single hitch and exceeded all expectations. This year’s celebrations were the envy of the twitterverse judging from the volume of tweets with the hashtag #worldipdayke (click to view the live-tweets).

The highlight of the day’s event’s was undoubtedly the inaugural IP moot which was won by the impressive all-female team from Riara University. The IP Moot trophy was presented by none other than the Chief Justice and Head of the Judiciary, Dr. Willy Mutunga, SC (see picture above).

Surprisingly, the IP Moot topic was closely related to the World IP Day theme despite being prepared almost 5 months before WIPO announced this year’s theme. The topics are available here. The inaugural Moot attracted a total of eight (8) teams drawn from the various public and private universities throughout Kenya. However the success of the moot was due to an unparalleled cooperation between the government, the legal profession and of course academia, led by Strathmore Law School. At the governmental level, the Executive and Judicial branches of government played an instrumental role in offering practical guidance to the mooters. The Executive was represented by KECOBO and KIPI, whose senior management served as moot court judges. The judiciary’s role in the moot was indispensable and indeed the mooters benefited from the knowledge and experience of Court of Appeal Judge G. Kairu and High Court Judge J. Kamau.

The legal profession also came out in support of the IP moot led by three law firms namely, Coulson Harney, Kaplan & Stratton and Simba & Simba, Advocates. Each firm was represented by their IP-savvy advocates who served as judges in the moot.

The following pictures taken during the various rounds of the moot say it all:-

Mooter (standing) addresses moot court judges including KECOBO Legal Counsel Edward Sigei during preliminary rounds of the Moot.

Mooter (standing) addresses moot court judges including KECOBO Legal Counsel Edward Sigei during preliminary rounds of the Moot.

The Moot Judges in the Final Round: L-R Kairu, JA; Kamau, J; Caroline Muchiri, Simba & Simba Advocates; Sudi Wandabusi, KIPI; John Syekei, Coulson Harney & Dr. Mutai, KIPI.

The Moot Judges in the Final Round: L-R Kairu, JA; Kamau, J; Caroline Muchiri, Simba & Simba Advocates; Sudi Wandabusi, KIPI; John Syekei, Coulson Harney & Dr. Mutai, KIPI.

As the moot rounds were underway, two separate events were taking place namely the “IP Pavillion” (exhibition stands) and a discussion forum on IP and Film. The day ended with a public screening of the award-winning movie “The Prestige” (2006) courtesy of the United States (US) Embassy in Nairobi. Here are some of the pictures from these events:

Liz Lenjo leads the discussions on Intellectual Property Rights in Film.

Liz Lenjo leads the discussions on Intellectual Property Rights in Film.

Peter Hime, an IP Lawyer at the ACA stand.

Peter Hime, an IP Lawyer at the ACA stand.

Discussion Panel on Film Industry in Kenya (L-R): Gerry Gitonga, Entertainment Lawyer; Krushil, Owner of MoMoviez; Gerald Langiri, Founder of Actors.co.ke; June Gachui, Actress, Singer & Lawyer; Timothy Owase, Kenya Film Commission and Mwaniki, Riverwood Ensemble.

Discussion Panel on Film Industry in Kenya (L-R): Gerry Gitonga, Entertainment Lawyer; Krushil, Owner of MoMoviez; Gerald Langiri, Founder of Actors.co.ke; June Gachui, Actress, Singer & Lawyer; Timothy Owase, Kenya Film Commission and Mwaniki, Riverwood Ensemble.

Although it was a Saturday, members of the public came out and interacted on issues affected the film industry and the role of IP in the context of film.

The day was also significant for KIPI Managing Director and Registrar of Trade Marks, Dr. Kibet Mutai who announced that his term was set to expire at the end of April 2014. Many will recall that Dr. Mutai took over from Prof. Otieno-Odek at KIPI in April 2011. Therefore this day was Dr. Mutai was his last public function and he took opportunity to award several awards for the highest number of trade mark applications.

A smiling Dr. Kibet Mutai gives away prizes at the World IP Day 2014. This is his final public event as KIPI Managing Director.

A smiling Dr. Kibet Mutai gives away prizes at the World IP Day 2014. This is his final public event as KIPI Managing Director.

While the IP Moot, IP Pavillion and IP Forum were taking place at Strathmore, there was a separate event taking place in the Nairobi central business district. The Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) had organised a procession walk from Kenya National Theatre to Nairobi County Hall. The procession finally gathered at Uhuru Park where members of the public got to interact and discuss the day’s theme. As many may know, PRiSK is the collective management organisation that represents the related rights of performers including actors.

poster by PRiSK

The theme of this year’s World IP Day was also the subject of the following WIPO interviews with two personalities in Kenya’s film industry:

Overall, this blogger is very pleased with the amazing team effort displayed by a whole cast of different stakeholders in Kenya’s creative industries, from government to private sector and academia. The result was a magnificent day marking World IP Day in Kenya. A quick online search reveals that only Algeria, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda had any online evidence of planned World IP Day activities, which is worrying given the low levels of IP awareness on the continent. Therefore it is clear that Kenya has set the bar very high for Africa!

This blogger hopes that Kenya will continue being active in its World IP Day outreach activities and events in the years to come.

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