- Kenya Guns for Top ICT Positions in Africa and Globally [Official]
- Strengthening Africa’s audiovisual sector: market intelligence is critical [WIPO Magazine]
- Technology transfer to transform agricultural production in Africa [African Development Bank]
- A decision-making tool for countries to implement the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit Sharing [Biodiversity International]
- ‘My President is a Pair of Buttocks’: the limits of online freedom of expression in Uganda [Oxford]
- Parallel imports remain a grey area for IP rights in East Africa [Captain Obvious]
- Trademark Infringement in Nigeria: What is ‘Use in the Course of Trade’? [Afro-IP]
- In case you missed it: You can now register copyright online in Kenya [KECOBO]
- Industrial Property Act Comes Into Effect [Namibia Economist]
- Scotch Whisky Association awarded a certification trademark in South Africa [the drinks business]
- Ethiopia becoming an industrial powerhouse and future ‘Wakanda’ [Asia Times]
- 10% of WIPO’s workforce comes from Africa [2018 Report]
For more news stories and developments, please check out #ipkenya on twitter and feel free to share any other IP/ICT-related items that you may come across.
Have a great week-end!
Endless wrangles in Kenya’s collective management system have made us all experts in copyright law. The thorny question of how and to what extent key players in the collective administration of copyright and related rights must comply with the Constitution remains a hotly debated topic. This brings us to a recent judgment by the High Court in the case of Laban Toto Juma & 4 Others v. Kenya Copyright Board & 2 Others Consolidated Kakamega Petition No. 3B of 2017 delivered on 13 July 2018. A copy of this High Court judgment is available here. Not surprisingly, both sides in this see-saw legal battle are claiming victory following the court’s final verdict. So, this blogpost will attempt to examine the key issues tackled by the court in its judgment as well as some of the questions that have been left unanswered.
The raison d’etre of the collective administration or collective management system in copyright law is to bridge the gap between rights holders and users of copyright works. So, what happens when collecting societies, or as they are commonly called collective management organisations (CMOs), fail to carry out this core function and instead become poster children for corruption, mismanagement, lack of transparency, and abuse of power?
Back in 2013, Jonathan Band and Brandon Butler published an insightful article titled ‘Some Cautionary Tales About Collective Licensing’ which exposed the dark side of CMOs around the world. This blogger was pleased that some of our work in the context of CMOs in Kenya was featured in the article, specifically the on-going wrangles between Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and literally everyone else including the copyright regulator, copyright owners, copyright users and even other Kenyan CMOs in the music industry.
“In my view fresh appointments to the positions of inspectors must be open to the public and such positions must be advertised. It therefore does not matter whether the interested parties were handpicked by the Board or Mr Igathe [Former Chairman of ACA Board of Directors]. The era of handpicking persons and appointing them as public officers was in my view buried with the retired Constitution and has no place in the current constitutional dispensation.” – Odunga J at para. 39.
In a recent judgment in the case of Republic v Anti-Counterfeit Agency Ex parte Moses Maina Maturu  eKLR, the High Court quashed Gazette Notice No. 9451 published on 24th December, 2015 appointing several individuals (enjoined in the suit as interested parties) as inspectors of Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA). According to ACA, the present suit was a scheme to paralyze its operations instigated by persons who have been behind several court cases, which ACA has been forced to defend thereby directing its resources away from the fight against counterfeiting.
This blogger has recently come across an astute ruling by the High Court in the case of Music Copyright Society of Kenya v Chief Magistrate’s Court & Inspector General of Police  eKLR. Justice L. Kimaru sitting in the High Court was approached by the authors’ collecting society, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to stay orders issued by the Magistrate’s Court freezing all the bank accounts of MCSK following a request by the Serious Crimes Unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). DCI requested that MCSK’s accounts be frozen as it investigates complaints made by MCSK members in regard to alleged misappropriation and theft of funds at the collecting society.
After carefully evaluating the facts before him, Kimaru J ruled that the investigations were lawful and based on several complaints received by DCI from MCSK members and that the orders to freeze MCSK’s accounts were within the precincts of the law.
In November 2012, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (‘the Commission’) formally launched the Reform of the Copyright System. The key objective of the reform was to re-position Nigeria’s creative industries for greater growth; strengthen their capacity to compete more effectively in the global marketplace, and also enable Nigeria to fully satisfy its obligations under the various International Copyright Instruments, which it has either ratified or indicated interest to ratify.
Since the formal launch of the Reform, the Commission has undertaken a number of activities, including review and comparative analysis and case studies of similar national reform efforts; stakeholders’ consultations; collation of commentaries; and analysis of stakeholder feedback.
This blogger has come across a recent judgment by the High Court in the case of Republic v Anti-Counterfeit Agency & 2 others Ex parte Surgippharm Limited  eKLR. A copy of the judgment is available here. In this case previously highlighted here, Surgipharm Limited went to the High Court seeking judicial review orders to prohibit the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) from carrying out its enforcement mandates under the Anti-Counterfeit Act. Following a complaint against by Wiskam against Surgippharm, the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Nairobi granted ACA a warrant of entry, search and seizure was issued against Surgippharm with regard to the alleged counterfeiting activity.
While Surgippharm admits that Wiskam is the registered holder of the “ZERO -B” trademark in Kenya, Wiskam failed to disclose to ACA and the Magistrates’ Courts that Surgippharm had initiated proceedings for the expungement of the mark with the Registrar of Trade Marks at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI). Surgippharm also alleges that Wiskam also failed to disclose that had already commenced proceedings in the high court of Kenya seeking, inter alia, for an injunction order and an award of damages against Surgippharm, being HCCC NO. 542 of 2011.