Kenya’s Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill Signed into Law

Uhuru Kenyatta signs Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill into law 16 May 2018

On 16 May 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured above) assented to the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2018. The Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 26 April 2018. Readers of this blog will note that, unlike the previous Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017 that was first tabled in Parliament, the Act now contains some new provisions relating to blockchain, mobile money, offences related to cybersquatting, electronic messages, revenge porn, identity theft and impersonation, as well as the newly created National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee. A copy of the Act is available here.

From an intellectual property (IP) perspective, the Act is significant for several reasons, including that it creates new offences and prescribes penalties related to cyber-infringements, it regulates jurisdiction, as well as the powers to investigate search and gain access to or seize items in relation to cybercrimes. It also regulates aspects of electronic evidence, relative to cybercrimes as well as aspects of international cooperation in respect to investigations of cybercrimes. Finally it creates several stringent obligations and requirements for service providers. Continue reading

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For Your Own Protection: Why Proposed Anti-Counterfeit Act Amendments Make Sense

Nairobi-Fashion-Hub-Disconnect-Movie_1

The word ‘Disconnect’ (see caption image above) may be the title of the latest Kenyan blockbuster film but it also embodies the current raging debate over proposed changes to The Anti-Counterfeit Act No. 13 of 2008. In our previous blogposts here and here, we have largely dwelt on the demerits of the proposals contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018, which if enacted, would radically affect intellectual property (IP) enforcement in Kenya, principally undertaken by Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA).

Meanwhile, some readers of this blog, who happen to be IP practitioners specialising in brand enforcement and anti-counterfeiting matters, have rightly pointed out that it is equally important to consider the merits of and benefits expected from the proposed changes to the Act if and when the omnibus Bill is enacted. In particular, this blogpost will focus on the proposals relating to offences and the ‘recordation’ requirements.

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In Regulation We Trust: Kenya Copyright Board Proposes New Set of Administration and Enforcement Provisions

kenya copyright board kecobo

To date, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has published two sets of draft proposals of amendments to the Copyright Act on collective management organisations (CMOs) available here and on intermediary liability for internet service providers available here. KECOBO has now published a third set of draft legislative proposals namely a draft copyright regulations 2016 available here. These three sets of draft proposals will be the subject of a day-long consultative public forum to be held next week on February 11th 2016 at the Auditorium of NHIF Building starting at 8:00am. For those who will not be able to attend the public forum, KECOBO has set up an email account to receive your comments on the drafts, which is: publicforum@copyright.go.ke. This blogpost is a commentary of the key features of the draft copyright regulations 2016 proposed by KECOBO.

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Kenafric ‘Fuma’ Footwear Denies Counterfeiting Claims by Puma

Kenafric Fuma Footwear

This blogger has previously blogged here and here about Kenafric’s fatal attraction to well-known trade marks, to put it mildly. The latest victim of Kenafric’s attraction is none other than Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport (Puma for short). In this connection, this blogger came across a recent ruling in the case of Kenafric Industries Limited & another v Anti-Counterfeit Agency & 3 others [2015] eKLR.

In this case, Puma through its representative Paul Ramara lodged complaints at Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) against Kenafric for trade mark infringement. ACA and Ramara went to Kenafric’s premises and demanded to check the same for goods in the name of Puma a demand Mikul Shah a director at Kenafric declined to comply with due to the fact that his company had not been served with any Court order directing the said search and entry. Consequently, Shah was arrested, taken to Ruaraka Police Station and charged with the offence of obstruction and released on bond.

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International Women’s Day: Celebrating African Women Leaders in Intellectual Property

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Celebrated globally on 8th March, this year’s International Women’s Day highlights the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”

“When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for International Women’s Day 2015.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (#IWD2015), this blogger has compiled a list of some of the (influential) women (leaders) in intellectual property (IP) from Kenya and throughout English-speaking Africa. The women listed below (in no particular order) are primarily drawn from IP offices, academia, non-governmental organisations and the IP legal fraternity.

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KEMRI Ordered to Pay Researchers 30 Million Shillings for Constitutional Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme KWTRP

In the recent case of Dr. Samson Gwer & 5 others v. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) & 2 others Petition No. 21 of 2013, the Industrial Court at Nairobi found that KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) had violated the constitutional rights to intellectual property of six Kenyan research doctors and ordered KEMRI to pay each of the doctors a sum of 5 million shillings as compensation. A copy of the court’s judgment is available here.

After an in-depth review of this case from an intellectual property (IP) perspective, this blogger concludes that this case sets an important precedent for the State’s obligations to protect the right to property under Article 40 of the Constitution of Kenya.

The researchers alleged that the respondents “routinely violated the Petitioners’ right under Article 40(1) of the Constitution by taking away the Petitioners’ right to intellectual property resulting in the Respondents, its servants, employees and students taking credit for the work and scientific innovation of the Petitioners by:

(i) (a) disregard syndrome; (b) Mathew Effect (Discovery credit inadvertently reassigned from the original discoverer for a better known researcher)

(ii) disapproval by the Respondent of the Petitioners and other local scientists innovations or work to apply for grants;

(iii) misappropriation of the work of local scientists to benefit expatriate scientists

(iv) frequent unfair administrative action

(v) Inability to veto adverse decisions by the scientific team leader

(vi) redeployment and chastisement through mail from the Director of KEMRI on the account of raising these grievances.

As a result the Petitioners submitted that the cumulative effect was to forever stifle the progress by Kenyan researchers and to impede their autonomy and dream of Kenyanising scientific innovations.

Therefore the petitioners sought the following reliefs, inter alia, a declaration that the Respondent’s conduct, acts and/or omissions are unlawful, illegal and/or unfair and the same violates Article 40 of the Constitution as well as an order that the Petitioners are entitled to compensation for the above alleged violation of the Constitution.

With regard to allegation (i) on the ‘disregard syndrome’, the petitioners submitted that the most rampant scientific misconduct by the Respondents against the Petitioners was plagiarism, a behaviour the latter termed as ‘citation amnesia’, ‘disregard syndrome’ and ‘bibliographic negligence’ on the part of the Respondents.

In this connection, the Petitioners alleged that the Respondents “arm-twisted the Petitioners to give up their intellectual property rights and cede their passwords to research and innovation” and that “the contracts of employment do not entitle KEMRI to the intellectual property of the Petitioners and the appropriation outlined is unlawful.”

The Respondents flatly denied these allegations arguing that there was not an iota of evidence before the court to substantiate the petitioners’ claims.

In its determination, the learned court noted that whereas KEMRI as an employer is a public institution, the funding under the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme emaned from external donors. These external donors attached specific terms and conditions to the grant and administration of the Wellcome Trust Research Programme which terms and conditions became subject of grievances by the Petitioners. However the Court found in favour of the Petitioners and stated thus at paragraph 82:

“The 1st Respondent as a state employer is bound by the Constitution to protect the right of the Petitioner and not allow a policy that appropriates their intellectual property as has been ably demonstrated by the Petitioners herein contrary to Article 40(1) of the Constitution.”

Therefore the court ordered that each of the Petitioners is entitled to compensation for the said constitutional violation in the sum of KES 5 Million within thirty days of the judgment date, including interest at Court rates from the judgment date to payment in full. Further the court ordered that the Petitioners are entitled to access all the outcomes of their scientific research and to the credit and benefit attached to the outcomes under Articles 35 and 40 of the Constitution. KEMRI was also ordered to pay the costs of the Petition.

Comments:

From the above, it is submitted that the petitioner’s case for scientific misconduct and denial of intellectual property (IP) rights by KEMRI raises a number of important issues. Furthermore, the learned court’s determination that the petitioner had ably made a case for infringement of the constitutional right to property under Article 40 is quite significant as it reinforces a dangerous precedent set by the Court of Appeal on constitutional enforcement of IP rights.

To begin, the petitioners’ case is problematic as it does not disclose which specific intellectual property rights have been infringed by KEMRI. This case is further complicated by the petitioners’ conflation of plagiarism and alleged IP infringement. As previously discussed by this blogger here and here, copyright infringement may also amount to plagiarism but plagiarism can never amount to copyright infringement. However the petitioners appear to have successfully misled the court to make a finding that KEMRI’s scientific misconduct of plagiarism amounts to infringement of the petitioners’ intellectual property rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

This leads us to consider the impact of the court’s IP-related findings in this case. The present judgment in the Gwer v KEMRI case appears to be in line with the recent Court of Appeal decision in the digital migration case where the majority of the appellate judges found that the alleged infringement of intellectual property rights could be the subject of a constitutional Petition. However as this blogger has argued here, the reasoning by the Court of Appeal on IP (and seemingly adopted in the Gwer case) was flawed.

Therefore on this issue of constitutional enforcement of IP rights, this blogger respectfully submits that the earlier decisions by the learned Majanja J. in the High Court cases of Sanitam Services (EA) Ltd v Tamia Ltd Petition No. 305 of 2012 and Royal Media Services Ltd & 2 others v Attorney General & 8 others [2013] appear to be more cogent and correct in law compared with the findings in the present judgment and that of Court of Appeal in the digital migration case.

As a parting shot, this blogger notes that one unintended consequence of this emerging jurisprudence of constitutional enforcement of IP rights particularly in the employment context is that ex-employees such as Samson Ngengi (See our analysis of Ngengi v. KRA here) have an added avenue to obtain damages and compensation from public sector ex-employers in IP-related disputes. This blogger is informed that arbitration proceedings in the Ngengi’s case are still on-going.

Lessons from Kenafric on Intellectual Property Rights and Permissions

BEN 10 Cartoon Network CN Poster

The Business Daily recently reported that Time Warner Inc and Kenafric are in talks to settle their copyright and trade mark infringement dispute out of court. It is reported that both parties recently appeared before the soon-to-retire IP-savvy Justice JB Havelock to request more time to conclude settlement discussions.

As we had previously discussed here, Cartoon Network Africa through its parent company, Time Warner had moved to the High Court to stop local confectionery giant Kenafric from using its cartoon “BEN 10” on the wrappers of its bubble gum products. Time Warner argued that the association of the chewing gum with its brands was damaging to the reputation of BEN 10 and goods branded with the label including toys, video games and clothing valued at Sh275 billion therefore Kenafric’s use of the name BEN 10 amounts to trade mark infringement of BEN 10 Trademarks. In addition, the sworn affidavit by Cartoon Network’s Vice President Louise Sams claimed that the unauthorised reproduction or adaptation or publication or broadcast or sale or distribution or possession or importation of the offending chewing gum by Kenafric constituted copyright infringement.

KENAFRIC BEN 10 BUBBLE GUM BRAND

In its defence, Kenafric argued that the Cartoon Network products in question are registered under different classes under the Nice Classification hence Time Warner cannot challenge Kenafric given that the latter deal in different products. Kenafric also argued that the US firm has no local operations that can make consumers links its products with those of Kenafric, which are mostly sold within East Africa. All in all, Kenafric contended that the line of trade of the two companies is distinct and there are no similarities between their goods that can confuse customers.

In the meantime, many intellectual property (IP) commentators agree that Kenafric runs the risk of being dragged to court in similar fashion by the Coca Cola Company for its wrappers which appear to infringe on the “FANTA” and “SPRITE” marks. These infringing get-ups are available below:

KENAFRIC SPRYTE BUBBLE GUM

FANTY MAGIC KENAFRIC

Be it as it may, this blogger argues that Kenafric’s public experience with intellectual property enforcement should serve as a lesson to other commercial entities on how not to use the IP of other entities.

From a copyright perspective, literary and artistic works that make up a trader’s brand image cannot usually be used without that owner’s permission. Of course, the copyright owner may refuse to give permission for use of their work. In the case of Kenafric’s operations, it is clear that its uses would not fall within the scope of the fair dealing provisions and would not be subject to compulsory licensing through the Competent Authority. Therefore Kenafric would have to seek and obtain permission in writing to use, reproduce or adapt any trader’s copyright works.

Therefore, Kenafric would have to negotiate a licence to cover the use it intends to make of the work. This licence is essentially a contract between Kenafric and the copyright owner including the terms and conditions of use and payment or royalty for the use. The Copyright Act distinguishes between exclusive and non-exclusive licenses however the license must be in writing.

From a trade marks perspective, if Kenafric wants to use other people’s trade marks, it must obtain permission. Trademarks may be registered or unregistered. The registration of a mark gives the proprietor of that mark the exclusive right to the use of the trademark upon or in relation to the goods in respect of which it is registered, or in relation to services for the purpose of indicating that a particular person is connected, in the course of business, with the provision of those services. It follows that the proprietor of the mark may sue for infringement where there has been an unauthorised use of the registered mark. In addition, the registered owner of a trademark also retains the right to protect any reputation acquired through use by means of a passing-off action.

Therefore if Kenafric wants to use a trade mark, it must approach the owner and enter into a licence agreement with them. As one of the largest confectionary companies in the East African region, this blogger is of the view that Kenafric has sufficient bargaining power to negotiate favourable licensing terms and conditions with respect to both trade mark and copyright uses. As witnessed previously in the Mandela Foundation case against Zuji Travel Agency, globalization has made it easy for IP owners to detect IP infringement all over the globe, therefore the onus is on IP users to take all reasonable precautions to ensure that they obtain the necessary permissions and licenses from the IP owners.

In the case of most commercial entities such as Kenafric, formalized licensing arrangements provide a desirable win-win outcome for all parties involved as opposed to costly and lengthy court cases. What remains to be seen is whether Kenafric and other local companies will learn from the Ben 10 case.