Book Review: Intellectual Property and Innovation Law in Kenya and Africa by Prof. Ben Sihanya


On 27th October 2016, Prof. Sihanya announced the arrival of his long-awaited book titled: “Intellectual Property and Innovation Law in Kenya and Africa: Transferring Technology for Sustainable Development”. The self-published tome is just shy of 700 pages which is not surprising since it rehashes Sihanya’s entire body of work dating back to his 1991 LL.B dissertation. Unapologetically, the self-proclaimed “Father of IP” uses his new book to trace his two decade-long journey of training, research and teaching in intellectual property (IP), complete with footnote references to private class materials from his studies at Warwick and Stanford in the 1990s. Despite all its quirks, the book stands out as the first serious attempt by an African scholar to discuss the development and challenges of IP law, innovation and technology transfer in Kenya. There is no doubt that the book has laid the foundation for future work in IP law across the country for generations to come.

The book’s discourse on trade-related IP and innovation law is contained in 27 chapters covering all the broad areas of IP such as patent, utility model, plant breeders’ rights, copyright, trade mark, geographical indications, industrial design and trade secret. In addition, the book explores other IP-related topics such as character merchandising, domain name, parallel importation, trade in counterfeit and pirated products, technology transfer and IP enforcement. Throughout the book, Sihanya addresses policy and developmental concerns related to IP and innovation law and makes proposals for reform.

It is hoped that the book’s author will consider making his self-published work open access for readers in Kenya, elsewhere in Africa and beyond interested to study it and build on it in the future. In the meantime, the book is available at a few select bookshops in Nairobi for about Kshs. 5,500 (around $53.00).

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