Trade Mark vs Company Name Registration: Innscor Int. Battles Rwandan Companies, Pizza Inn Ltd and Chicken Inn Ltd

innscor-international-rwanda-trademark-pizza-inn-chicken-limited-image-by-nlipw

In a recent media report here, the Commercial Court of Nyarugenge in Rwanda has ruled that it will not proceed with a case filed by Innscor International accusing two local companies Chicken Inn Limited and Pizza Inn Limited of trademark infringement in Rwanda. The basis of this ruling was reportedly that Innscor had not demonstrated to the court that it had “legal status according to the law governing registered entities in Rwanda”. Technicalities aside, it is clear that once Innscor produces its certificate of incorporation in court, this case would proceed to consider the merits of Innscor’s claim (as illustrated by the picture above), namely that registration of a name as a company name by entity A should not trump any rights in such a name acquired previously by entity B through trade mark law.

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Proposed Amendments to Seeds and Plants Varieties Act

KEPHIS Seeds and Plant Varieties Amendment Act Bill 2015

Article 11 of the Constitution of Kenya recognises culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation and includes science and indigenous technologies and intellectual property (IP) rights of the people of Kenya within the scope of elements of culture that are recognised. The Constitution goes further and states in Article 11(3) (b) as follows:

“Parliament shall enact legislation to recognise and protect the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya”

It is this constitutional imperative that has resulted in the recently proposed amendments to the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act (Chapter 326 Laws of Kenya). A copy of the Seeds and Plant Varieties Amendment Bill, 2015 is available here.

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Reminder: CIPIT – KIPI Training Course on Patent Drafting and Prosecution, 18th – 21st August 2014

“The strength of a patent depends on a properly prepared patent specification that meets the requirements prescribed in the Industrial Property Act 2001 and the industrial Property Regulations 2002. In addition, there are generally accepted practices that have developed over the many years of patent practice, which serve to guide preparation and prosecution of patent applications.”

There will be a training course, Patent Drafting and Prosecution, to be held on 18th – 21st August 2014 at Strathmore University. For learned friends who attend and complete this course, they will receive 2 CLE points. The course prospectus is available here and the course programme is available here.

For those who attended this course in 2013 (see here), and wish to further refine your patent drafting skills, please note that the 2014 version of the course will focus heavily on patent drafting for ICT-based inventions. The trainers of this year’s training course will also work with repeat attendees to customize your training.

The fee per participant is Ksh 50,000 which is inclusive of course materials, lunches and teas. Participants who register and pay the fee early will enjoy a special rate of Ksh. 45,000.

For more information contact: cipit@strathmore.edu

Why Private Copying Law and Practice in Kenya is Unconstitutional

50 bob movies by wamathai dot com

Private copying can be defined as the act of making any copy for non-commercial purposes by a natural person for his/her own use. Kenya’s Copyright Act defines it as the making of a single copy for the personal and private use of the person making the copy. Although the right of reproduction under copyright law is exclusive, Kenya is among many jurisdictions worldwide that limit the application of the reproduction right to activities that can be qualified as private copying, the reasoning being that it is practically impossible to grant permission to large numbers of individuals, or to monitor the use consequently made of it. It follows that private copying is allowed under the condition that a fair compensation is paid to the authors and other rights holders for loss of revenues or harm caused to the rights holder whose work had been copied. Private copying levy (or the audio blank tape levy as it known in Kenya) is currently the only efficient mechanism which allows creators to be compensated for widespread copying of their works for private/domestic use. It therefore follows that the blank tape levy would be applicable to blank CDs, tapes, cassettes, DVDs, VCDs, USB Disks, MiniDiscs, Memory Cards, Mobile Phones among others. It is yet to be operationalised in Kenya despite being provided for under section 28(3),(4),(5) and (6) of the Copyright Act.

In December 2013, this blogger discussed here that one of the proposed amendments to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2013 related to the provisions of audio blank tape levying provided under Section 28(5) of the Copyright Act. The effect of this proposed amendment was that the blank tape levy be collected by KECOBO and then distributed to the registered CMO representing the owners of sound recordings, currently known as the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP). However, this blogger argues that this section 28 (in both its current and proposed form) is unconstitutional and ought to be fundamentally amended so as to address the economic rights of all rights holders.

The WIPO International Survey on Private Copying Law and Practice 2012 explains that where private copying remunerations are gathered by collective management organisations (CMOs), these societies are appointed by the government or by rights holders. According to the Survey, these CMOs must be representative of each variety of rights holders namely the authors, performing artists and producers. In some jurisdictions, a distinct CMO exists dealing solely with private copying levy and the board of such a CMO is comprised of the various rights holders’ representatives.

From all the 30 countries selected for the Survey, it is clear that there are two main categories of rights holders who benefit from the royalties collected for private copying: copyright holders and the related rights holders. The copyright holders appear to take the lion’s share of the collections with countries like Switzerland and Canada recording an authors’ share of 58%. All in all, the share for copyright holders appears never to be less than 30%.

Meanwhile, back in Kenya, the related rights CMO representing sound producers (KAMP) has recently published a public notice on it’s official website which reads in part:-

“The Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performers Rights Society of Kenya Stakeholders Meeting on Blank Media Levy concluded by setting an unopposed tariff of 6% of import price at the point of sale on the aforementioned equipment. KAMP and PRISK by virtue of Sections 28 (5) and 30 (8) will commence collections May of 2014.”

According to section 28(4) of the Act, the royalty payable for private copying can only be set in one of two ways: through agreement with stakeholders or by the (non-existent) competent authority. The question which therefore must be asked is which one of the two ways was used and what was the rationale behind the percentage figure of 6% purportedly agreed upon pursuant to the Act.

Assuming that the conditions of section 28(4) of the Act have been met, it would follow that the audio blank tape levy would only be applicable to KAMP and not PRiSK. This is because the section refers only to audio recording equipment and audio blank tape and not video. In addition, according to the WIPO Survey, the only jurisdiction with a tariff of 6% (of the import price) is Lithuania and this tariff covers both copyright and related rights holders, as illustrated in the table above.

However there is a fundamental question which remains unanswered, namely: is the current private copying levy provision under section 28 constitutional? The blogger argues that the answer must be no. In all the countries studied in the WIPO Survey above, copyright holders were allocated a substantial share of collections from the respective private copying levies. However, the Kenyan Act only refers to owners of sound recording. It is therefore possible to argue that section 28(3),(4),(5) and (6) are unconstitutional for two cardinal reasons, namely the discrimination of rights holders contrary to Article 27 of the Constitution and the deprivation of property contrary to Article 40 of the Constitution.

2013 Year in Review: Intellectual Property in Kenya

2013 was an election year for Kenya which resulted in the swearing in of Uhuru Kenyatta as the fourth President of the Republic. Kenyatta has been very supportive of the creative economy and has on several occasions reiterated his administration’s commitment to creating a conducive environment for creators to reap from their intellectual property (IP) assets. However, Kenyatta’s mark on IP this year was the decision to reform all state corporations and parastatals in Kenya which has set in motion plans to merge the copyright office, the industrial property office and the anti-counterfeit agency into one national IP office.

Copyright and Related Rights

In 2013, copyright news was monopolized by Safaricom which was embroiled with two high profile copyright cases with Faulu Kenya and JB Maina. Another popular copyright story was Longhorn’s acquisition of publishing rights for iconic educational textbooks writer, Malkiat Singh.

The year was also memorable for Kenya as she successfully negotiated and signed the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are BIlind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

Industrial Property

In 2013, trade marks stole the show with several far reaching rulings by the Registrar of Trademarks as well as the landmark acquisition of a local trademark by a multinational cosmetics company. In addition, trademark administration has continued to be the major revenue earner for the national IP office, Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) especially through the Madrid System.

The Red Bull case (available online) was an important decision in that it expanded the Kenyan IP jurisprudence in respect of the doctrines of “conceptual similarity” and “well-known marks”.

In the Basmati case, a clear distinction was drawn between trade marks and geographical indications within the context of Kenya’s international obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of IP (TRIPs) adopted in section 40A of the Kenya Trademarks Act.

In the Pyrex case (available online), the Registrar found that the withdrawal of a threat of opposition does not amount to a surrender of your rights to institute cancellation proceedings in respect of the same trade mark. This ruling was important because it provides a practical application of two amended provisions of the Act, namely Section 36A and 36B of the Act.

Later in the year, one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world, L’Oréal fully acquired the health and beauty divisions of local firm, Interconsumer Products Ltd, makers of Nice & Lovely brands, in a multi-billion shilling transaction. This acquisition is seen as part of L’Oreal’s push to dominate the East Africa’s low-end cosmetic market.

Legislative Developments

As previously discussed here, several amendments have been proposed to the Copyright and the Anti Counterfeit Acts in the Statute Law Miscellaneous Bill currently before Parliament is passed. Earlier this year, a proposed draft law on the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions was validated.

This year saw the enactment of the Science, Technology and Innovation Act, Consumer Protection Act, Media Council of Kenya Act and Kenya Information and Communication Amendment Act, all of which will affect IP administration and enforcement both directly and indirectly.

For more stories from 2013, check out the IPKenya archive on the right hand side of this page and information from other sites on our twitter feed.

See you all in 2014!

Kenyan Cattle Herdsboy Seeks Petty Patent Protection for “Lion Lights” Invention

turere-1-600x397 by WildlifeDirect

For those who may not know, IPKenya’s friend Dr Isaac Rutenberg is the voice behind a series of blog articles over at the Afro-IP blog dubbed “Diary of A Patent Lawyer in Kenya”. In his latest entry, he explains that he was “helping a 14-year old Kenyan attempt to secure IP rights after he had designed a system useful in rearing domestic livestock as well as in wildlife conservation.” He further discloses: “At our inventor’s [the 14-year old Kenyan’s] request, and with the guidance of a local wildlife conservation group, we prepared and filed a Utility Model Certificate application.”

This blogger is strongly convinced that the Utility Model (UM) application in question is in respect of the “Lion Lights” invention by young Richard Turere and supported by WildlifeDirect, in particular CEO, Dr. Paula Kahumbu.

Earlier this year, the Daily Nation published a story about a 13 year old boy Richard Turere: “the young Maasai boy who figured out how to scare off lions by irritating them with flash lights.” According to WildlifeDirect, a local wildlife conservation group, Turere was discovered while the group was working on a project to find new ways to reduce human lion conflict in the Kitengela area just south of the Nairobi National Park in Kenya.

Turere’s invention was born out of a necessity to protect his family’s cattle herd from carnivorous predators, especially lions since they lived right on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. Turere is said to have used his knowledge of lions’ fear of flashing lights to devise an automated lighting system made up of torch bulbs, a box, switches, an old car battery and a solar panel. According to reports, Turere’s lights are “designed to flicker on and off intermittently, thus tricking the lions into believing that someone was moving around carrying a flashlight”.

Lion Lights Invention Richard Turere Wildlife Direct

It is reported that “since Turere rigged up his “Lion Lights,” his family has not lost any livestock to the wild beasts, to the great delight of his father and astonishment of his neighbours.” This invention has become very popular and “around 75 “Lion Light” systems have so far been rigged up around Kenya”. With the support of WildlifeDirect, Turere has presented his invention at the well known TED Conference in 2013 and obtained a scholarship to one of Kenya’s top private preparatory schools.

Comment:

Right off the bat, this blogger was pleased with some of the the comments in the original Daily Nation story about Lion Lights where a couple of ordinary Kenyans wondered whether Turere had obtained patent protection for his invention.

Lion Lights Invention DN comments

These comments demonstrate an increased awareness of intellectual property, its value and the importance of securing IP rights.

Secondly, I salute Dr Rutenberg and his team over at CIPIT for the good work they are doing in helping Kenyans like Turere to identify, understand, protect and promote their IP rights using the various IP systems available in Kenya.

Local Universities To Host Two Patent Drafting Training Courses in August

This August, IP enthusiasts, practitioners, professionals and students will have a choice of two separate patent drafting courses both taking place within Nairobi. The first option is a patent drafting and dispute resolution course organised by Kenyatta University (KU). The second option is a training course on drafting and prosecuting patent applications jointly organised by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and Strathmore University (SU) Centre for IP and IT Law (CIPIT). Details of this SU course are available online at the CIPIT Law Blog here.

Here are some of the details IPKenya readers may need to decide whether to attend both courses, or one of the two courses or none of them.

1. Dates, Venues & Duration:

The KU course runs for five (5) consecutive days from 5th to 9th August 2013 at KU’s Conference Centre.
The SU course runs for four (4) consecutive days from 12th to 15th August 2013 at SU.

2. Charges:

The KU course costs Kshs 65,000.00 which includes lunch and teas but excludes accommodation and transport.
The SU course costs Kshs 50,000.00 which includes lunch, teas and training materials. However, participants who register and pay the fee by 2nd August 2013 will enjoy a special rate of Ksh. 45,000.00.

3. Resource Persons:

KU’s course will be facilitated by Eng. Pierre Fuller, MSc. B.Mech, B.Arch – A Patent Agent at Ropes & Gray LLP and Prof. Ethel Monda, PhD in Plant Pathology at KU.

SU’s course will be facilitated by Mr. David Njuguna, Chief Patent Examiner at KIPI and Dr. Isaac Rutenberg, PhD.,JD. at SU CIPIT.

IPKenya would like to encourage everyone to take advantage of this rare opportunity and atleast attend one of these training courses. Any feedback, comments and thoughts on the courses are most welcome via the comments box below or through email at ipkenyan@gmail.com.