New Study on Patent, Utility Model and Industrial Design Activity in Kenya from 1990 to 2014

The Scinnovent Centre

The good folks over at The Scinnovent Centre have just published a new study titled: “Industrial Property Rights Acquisition in Kenya: Facts, figures and trends”. This March 2015 study was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) with the partnership, support and guidance of Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI). The study used KIPI’s database of all industrial property applications and grants since its inception in 1990 to date (2014) and sought to answer four key questions: (i) Where do the inventions come from? In other words who owns the industrial property protected in Kenya? (ii) How does foreign (international) applicants compare with national (domestic) applications? (iii) In which economic sectors are the most industrial property applications registered? (iv) what are the key challenges/ bottlenecks faced by the applicants?

The data analysed in the study consists of the records of KIPI registry database on the filings, grants and registration of the IP protections for patents (1990 – 2013); utility models (1993 – 2013) and industrial designs (1991 – April 2014). The samples consisted of 2388 patents, 396 utility models and 1392 industrial designs. The study does not include data relating to patent, utility model and industrial design applications filed and granted through African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).

The study established that of all the 633 patent patents granted by KIPI from 1990 – 2013, only 167 (26.4%) have been awarded to Kenyan nationals, companies and institutions. The remaining 466 (73.6%) were awarded to international applicants. The study notes that over the same period, there was no significant difference between national and international applications. Out of the 2,388 patents filed, the study found that 1160 (48.6%) were national while 1228 (51.4%) were international applications. On average, the study found that it took relatively shorter time to grant international applications (42 months) as compared to national applications (55 months). Furthermore, the study noted that companies and individuals accounted for the majority of patents granted at 78.4% and 9.5% respectively. According to the study, Universities and Public Research Institutes registered dismal performance at 1.6% and 3.9% of all the patents granted. Some of the bottlenecks to obtaining industrial property titles in Kenya identified by the study include: (i) lack of responses to queries from examiners at KIPI (ii) failure to submit required fees (iii) failure to meet set criteria (iv) withdrawal by the applicants (v) poor drafting of applications. According to the study, these bottlenecks explain the high rejection/delays in applications by Kenyan nationals, companies and institutions.

Here are some of the findings of the study:

trend in patent applications in kenya kipi kipo 1990 2014 by the Scinnovent Centre

trend in patents granted in kenya kipi kipo 1990 2013 by the Scinnovent Centre

trend in National vs PCT applications and grants in Kenya 1990 2013 by the Scinnovent Centre

In the area of patents, the study has some interesting findings on the distribution of patents filed and granted according to category of owners and sectors of the economy.

Distribution of patent applications filed and granted by owners category by the Scinnovent Centre

Distribution of Patents Granted by Economic Sector by the Scinnovent Centre

Trend in Patents Granted by Economic Sector by the Scinnovent Centre

In the area of utility models, the study found that there was a continuous growth in the number of UM applications filed between 1993 and 2013 with a total of 396 applications being filed and 42 applications being granted over the period.

Trend in Utility Model Applications Filed in Kenya 1993 2013 KIPO KIPI by The Scinnovent Centre

In the area of industrial designs, the study found that there were 1392 industrial designs filed in Kenya between 1991 and April 2014 with more than half of these designs; 714 (51.3%) being granted in this period.

Trend in Industrial Designs Applications Filed in Kenya

Finally, the study makes the following recommendations to facilitate acquisition of industrial property titles in Kenya:

(a) Intensive education and awareness on the criteria for protection under the various categories (patents, utility models and industrial designs)
(b) KIPI to review and improve its communication with the applicants
(c) Provision of institutional and financial support for local inventors to obtain IP protection
(d) Promotion of partnerships as a means of reducing the rates of failure and lessening the financial burden on applicants
(e) Competitive ranking in universities and inclusion IP applications/grants as part of the evaluation criteria
(f) Inclusion of IP in the staff recruitment and promotion criteria for university and research institutes’ staff.

For more information on the study, contact the corresponding author, Maurice Bolo at

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