ARIPO Roving Seminars 2015: Copyright and Industrial Property Rights in Kenya

ARIPO Roving Seminar 2015 Kenya Director-General Fernando Dos Santos ARIPO Chief Examiner Emmanuel Sackey KECOBO Director Marisella Ouma Victor Nzomo IP Kenya

As earlier advertised here, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) successfully executed its on-going series of Region-wide “Roving Seminars” in Kenya with the first two days (Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th of March 2015) being devoted to copyright matters under the theme: “Copyright in the Digital Environment” and last two days (Thursday 19th and Friday 20th of March 2015) being devoted to industrial property matters under the theme: “Protection and Promotion of Patents, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications”.

In his opening remarks, ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando Dos Santos brought to our attention the important role Kenya has played as a pioneer ARIPO member state. For those who may not know, when ARIPO was established, its first headquarters were hosted at the Attorney General’s Chambers (Sheria House) in Nairobi before later relocating to its present headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Therefore the DG described coming to Kenya and visiting Sheria House as “coming home” since this was his first visit to Kenya since taking office as Director General in 2013.

For those who missed the Seminar, you may follow some of the conversations online on twitter using the hashtag: #ARIPOSeminar.

Here is a list of the presentations made during the four days of #ARIPOSeminar:

- Introduction to Intellectual Property – Concepts and Challenges Facing Developing Countries

- Role of ARIPO in implementing the IP Ecosystem: the case of copyright and related rights

- The implications of recent international developments in the copyright arena

- Overview of copyright in the digital environment

- ARIPO as a Regional Hub for the Development and Promotion of Intellectual Property System in Africa

- Developments in Kenya IP Legal Framework for the Administration of Industrial Property Rights

- International Treaties on Industrial Property (PCT, Madrid and Hague Systems)

- Filing for Trademarks including Timelines and Fees in Kenya

- Trademarks and Industrial Designs as Tools for Adding Value to Products and Services

- Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in ARIPO Member States

- Making Better Use of Technological Information including Patents to Promote Innovation

- Managing the IP Portfolio of an Organization Enterprise

- Development of Regional and National Geographical Indications Protection Systems: Experiences from ARIPO and Kenya

- Development of a Regional System for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Draft ARIPO Protocol)

- Filing for Patents, Utility Models and Industrial Designs including Timelines and Fees in Kenya

- Filing Procedures and Fee Structure under the ARIPO Harare and Banjul Protocols

- The New ARIPO Online Industrial Property Management and E-Services Systems

Readers are welcome to write in and request electronic copies of any of the above powerpoint presentations.

This blogger applauds ARIPO for introducing this new mode of engagement with its nineteen (19) African members and wishes the Organization great success in fulfilling its mandate.

African Regional Intellectual Property Organization Launches New Online System

african regional intellectual property organization aripo online service

African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has announced the launch of its web-based Intellectual Property (IP) Administration System under POLite+ – the ICT Infrastructure Modernization Project sponsored by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

During the launch, ARIPO reports that new paper-based applications for patents, industrial designs, trademarks, utility models and search requests domains and notifications or documents associated to IP applications were captured into the system successfully.

ARIPO remarks that: “It is indeed a very happy moment for ARIPO and this milestone has put the Organization on the global map and in line with sister organizations that also use advanced IP administration systems.”

According to ARIPO, the overall system, when fully functional, will consist of:

– Online Services (eservice.aripo.org): a public service module where members of the public can access to online services like Quick Search, Advanced Search, IP Forms, Journals etc without having to register with ARIPO.

– E-services: a members-only area where members will require registration and acceptance by ARIPO. This facility allows for online filing of IP files, online payment of fees, sending and receiving notifications and general tracking of filed applications.

The e-filing system will be opened to the users on the 9th of March 2015 and it is therefore advisable for users to sign-up in advance for this service.

For now, following menus are available on ARIPO’s online service page here:

– Sign Up
– IP Digital Library
– Information
– Fee Schedule
– User Guide

This blogger congratulates ARIPO on this “great achievement”!

Tunisia to Host Pan African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO)

AU Assembly 23 Ordinary Session June 2014 Malabo Equatorial Guinea

Two separate media reports here and here indicate that Tunisia will host the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI). These reports are indeed confusing since the francophone African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon – atleast according to the contacts page of OAPI’s official website available here.

This blogger believes that the news reports were referring to PAIPO and not OAPI. As many readers may know, PAIPO was established as a specialized agency of the African Union (AU) that would be responsible for intellectual property (IP) and other emerging issues related to IP in Africa. At the Twenty-Third Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on 26-27 June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the Assembly made the following decision on PAIPO:

Assembly/AU/Dec.522(XXIII)
Doc. EX.CL/839(XXV)

The Assembly,

1. TAKES NOTE of the Report and the recommendations of the Extra Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST V) held from 16 to 18 April 2014 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo;

2. RECALLS Assembly Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.453(XX) on the Creation of the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO);

3. TAKES NOTE of the Draft Statute of the Pan African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) and REQUESTS the Commission to submit it to the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for consideration and appropriate recommendations;

4. RECOGNIZES ARIPO and OAPI as building blocks for the creation of a single Pan African Intellectual Property Organization and WELCOMES their support in the implementation of the Heads of State and Government decisions on PAIPO;

5. INVITES Member States, WIPO as well as development organizations and partners to lend support for implementation of the decision;

6. WELCOMES AND ENDORSES the offer by the Republic of Tunisia to host the Headquarter and Secretariat of PAIPO;

7. REQUESTS the Commission to prepare road map for implementation of PAIPO in coordination with the host country and to report progress in this regard to the Summit.

In light of these recent media reports, it may be interesting to consider some of the comments made by IP professionals on PAIPO’s founding statute and intended raison d’etre:

” The news that PAIPO is about to be launched (….) after being in the works for such a long time is alarming for two other reasons. The first of these is that although the draft statute has been long in the making, this has not been through an open or participatory process. There has been no public consultation on the continent nor have civil society, academics and public interest advocates been afforded an opportunity to engage with the proposal or participate in the crafting of the statute. (….) Secondly, the AU has not provided detailed information about its deliberations and decisions pertaining to the establishment of PAIPO. It is ironic that African states have been chastising WIPO for not being transparent enough (….) when the same can be said of them with regard to the establishment of PAIPO.

Is it asking too much of the AU to request that it defer the establishment of PAIPO until a more inclusive and transparent consultative process is carried out? Certainly not, these are the same demands African states make of WIPO. Are the calls for a more nuanced PAIPO statute with a preamble that resounds with developmental goals, public interest concerns and an emphasis on the appropriate balancing of stakeholder interests unreasonable or unachievable?” – Prof. Caroline Ncube, Associate Professor at University of Cape Town, Faculty of Law.

———–

“(….)the lack of consultation and transparency in the process leading up to the production (and potential adoption) of the Draft Statute is something that should be condemned. Intellectual property has become a highly politicised issue, and it is imperative that there be an inclusive and transparent process when initiatives of this nature are embarked upon.

My principal concern at this point in time is of a more pragmatic nature. One has to question the wisdom of trying to establish an African centralised registration system. Would the resources which are to be spent in such an endeavour not be better utilised in ensuring that the intellectual property registries and laws of the various African states are improved in order for them to participate in existing international registration systems such as the Madrid Agreement and Protocol, administered by WIPO, for trade marks? There is no cogent argument for proliferating registration systems, and for focusing on, comparatively, parochial initiatives in an era of ever-expanding cross-border trade.

The fact that I spent about 20 minutes on the African Union’s website attempting to find the Draft Statute (and failed to locate it via that route), and that the ARIPO website was unavailable when I attempted to access it, convinces me that this is an ill-conceived initiative, built on structures that have proven to be dysfunctional (and largely ignored), and, therefore, unsuited to warrant the extra resources which would be dedicated to them.” – Dr. Sadulla Karjiker, Member of the IP Unit at Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Law.

———–

“I do not see how Member States of the AU, African IP agents and other stakeholders can be expected to make a rational decision on the benefits of establishing a new continental IP body within the AU, and especially a continental registration Office, if the constitutive Protocol for such registration Office and the implementing regulations have not been formulated. (…) In my view Article 20 of the draft Statute appears problematic as some Member States of the AU do not provide for automatic ratification or accession to a convention or treaty or agreement, or automatic recognition of the legal status of an international body, without approval by the national Parliaments of Member States. (…)

Apart from the fact that the draft Statute does not define what such industrial property titles will be called (African patent, PAIPO trademark, etc.), the establishment of a supranational registration Office would appear to be a costly duplication of the registration function of current national and regional IP Offices” – Ms. Sara Moyo, President, Zimbabwe Institute of Patent and Trademark Agents (ZIPTA)

———–

“The truth of the matter is that the proposal to establish PAIPO is a misinformed and misguided effort by a small subset of policy makers at the AU that undermines other policy initiatives at the AU and by Member States that seek to: (1) minimize the impact of patent monopolies on access to medicines and other public goods technologies, (2) minimize the impact of copyright monopolies on access to educational and cultural resources, (3) preserve the livelihoods and agricultural vitality of small-scale farmers that still make up the bulk of the Africa economy, and (4) retain policy space for other more creative mechanisms that promote both knowledge creation and cultural expression while preserving affordable access to the same.

This wrongheaded proposal must be stopped. Normative agency like UNAIDS and UNDP and WHO must immediately engage AU stakeholders and issue statements cautioning against adoption of the imbalanced PAIPO proposal in its current form. Other AU bodies must demand a review of the proposed legislation and determine its consistency or inconsistency with other AU policy objectives in the IP, health, education, and development arena. African civil society organizations and their allies must insist that the proposal be euthanized and that policy space be preserved for innovation and access measures that better meet human development needs.” – Prof. Brook K. Baker, Honorary Research Fellow, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, S. Africa.

———–

The PAIPO saga continues…

Intellectual Property Concerns in Kenya’s Draft National Culture Bill

HASSAN WARIO ARERO

On 27 August 2010, this blogger was among hundreds of Kenyans who witnessed the promulgation of Kenya’s Constitution. On numerous occasions here, we have discussed the far-reaching impact the 2010 Constitution has had on intellectual property laws in Kenya. For the first time in Kenya’s history, intellectual property (IP) norms were constitutionalised with corresponding obligations placed on various arms of the government to ensure that these constitutional provisions are actualised for the benefit of Kenyans.

One of these provisions is Article 11 which reads as follows:

Article 11 – Culture
(….)
11.(3) Parliament shall enact legislation to—
(a) ensure that communities receive compensation or royalties for the use of their cultures and cultural heritage; and
(b) recognise and protect the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya.

As a result of the above, Parliament is required to enact legislation to ensure that communities receive compensation or royalties for the use of their cultures and cultural heritage. This legislation should also address the recognition and protection of the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya.

In this connection, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution requires that the legislation in respect to Culture under Article 11 must be enacted by Parliament within the first five years from the date of promulgation of the Constitution. Therefore the deadline for enactment is no later than August 27, 2015!

In a bid to meet or beat this deadline, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts has begun the process of formulating a piece of legislation on Culture. The Ministry plans to hold a stakeholders’ workshop on January 30, 2015 at KICD to develop a Bill on Culture that will later be tabled before Parliament. In preparation for this planned workshop on formulation of the National Culture Bill, the Ministry has circulated a zero draft of the Bill available here. This draft is clearly ‘zero’ as it is largely incomplete except from a few provisions relating to a proposed National Council for Culture and the Arts and a National Fund for Culture and the Arts.

This blogger’s reading of Article 11(3) is that the legislation on Culture must address important concerns touching on the promotion and protection of traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions, folklore as well as certain in situ genetic resources. In this regard, there may be considerable overlap between the proposed National Culture Bill and the 2013 Bill on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Bill, previously discussed here and here. In fact, the Premable of the proposed draft TK Bill reads: “This legislation will give effect to provisions of Article 11 and 40(5) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.”

Another case of inter-ministerial mis-communication, per chance?

From an IP perspective, this blogger believes that an important question to be answered in the formulation of the Bill on Culture is whether to use the existing IP rights systems including industrial property, copyright and plant breeders rights or to develop a sui generis system for the promotion and protection of Culture.

Preliminary Objections in Copyright and Industrial Property Cases: High Court Ruling in Vermont Flowers EPZ v. Waridi Creations

Vermont Flowers

Recently the High Court made a ruling in the case of Vermont Flowers (EPZ) Limited v Waridi Creations Limited HCC 524 of 2014, a patent and copyright infringement suit filed by the Belgian-owned Vermont Flowers against Waridi Creations, a company formed by Vermont’s former Kenyan employees. A copy of the ruling is available here.

Vermont Flowers made an application for an injunction and Anton Piller orders on the basis that it is the registered owner of various copyrighted and patented manufacturing processes and designs and that Waridi Creations had infringed those copyrights and patents. However Waridi Creations, through the very able representation of Senior Counsel, successfully used the preliminary objections of jurisdiction and locus standi (standing) to have Vermont’s application dismissed.

According to media reports, Vermont Flowers claims that its former employees Godino Mwasaru, Nelson Oware and Jennifer Mumo formed Waridi Creations. Vermont Flowers further claimed that the ex-employees were on the verge of exporting a large consignment of flowers vases that have been branded with Vermont’s logo and were likely to destroy evidence of the copyright infringement. An interesting fact is the reported criminal suit instituted by Vermont Flowers against the ex-employees who are now Waridi’s Directors. In this criminal suit, it is reported that Vermont Chairman testified under oath that “Vermont had no registered invention or patent in Kenya and that the floral vases are not copyright protected in any country in the world”.

In the ruling, the court makes several important points on the jurisdiction objection in patent suits and the locus standi objection in copyright suits.

In addressing the jurisdiction of the Industrial Property Tribunal, the judge states as follows:

“The Industrial Property Tribunal under section 106 has been conferred with jurisdiction by statute to grant relief of; 1) injunction to restrain infringement of patent or registered utility or industrial design; 2) damages or 3) any other relief provided in law in respect of infringement of patent or registered utility or industrial design (…) my considered view is that such applicant [for grant of patent] like the Applicant here [Vermont Flowers], has protection in law and may apply for injunction to stop infringement or claim compensation for infringement of the invention under published application for grant of patent, as if a patent had been granted for that invention, as long as he can show that the person, without his authorization, performed any of the inventions, claimed in the published application, and that the said person, at the time of the performance of the act, had; a) actual knowledge that the invention that he was using was the subject matter of a published application; or 2) received written notice that the invention that he was using was the subject matter of a published application, such application being identified in the said notice by its serial number. The Applicant made an application for grant of patent through application No KE/P/2012001715, paid the relevant fee and notification of filing date of the application was given by the Managing Director of the Kenya Industrial Property Institute to be 3/2/2012. The Applicant, therefore, is covered by the jurisdiction of the Tribunal in the Industrial Act and they should refer the claims which form part of the application for grant of patent to the Tribunal. The Application before me in so far as it relates to the grant of patent under Industrial Property Act should be and is hereby referred to the Industrial Property Tribunal for relief.

I wish to reinforce my decision above through the following rendition. See and consider section 55 of the Industrial Property Act. (….) Note that section 55 refers to acts of infringement under section 54 as some of the acts of infringement which can be restrained by an injunction. Therefore, an injunction to restrain infringement of patent or utility model or industrial design is issued at first instance by the tribunal under section 106 of the Act. And therefore, as the Applicant is also the applicant for grant of patent under the Act, I am persuaded and I have so held that the Tribunal has statutory jurisdiction over the claims which have been presented before this court. The claims herein fall within section 55(c) of the Industrial [Property] Act.”

The learned judge also hints at possible areas for legislative action to aid proper interpretation of the law:

” I do not think section 55(c) intended the relief thereto to be canvassed or sought only after registration of the patent or certificate of utility model or industrial design. I think, the law wanted to provide for remedy and protection to an invention of an applicant whose application has been published. The said section is a basis for an injunction to restrain a person who without authorization, performed any of the inventions, claimed in the published application as if a patent had been granted for that invention. I wish, however, to see legislative intervention towards clarifying the section by providing some measure of protection to utility or design for which registration has been filed and accepted by the MD of the Institute. Section 19 of the Companies Act will provide some lead here; on written application being received, the name is reserved for sixty days pending registration of the company. However, such reservation should be subject to prior users of the invention or contemporaneous inventions.”

The learned judge makes an identical finding in a recent ruling in the case of Naili East Africa Limited v Samuel Kariuki & another HCC 295 of 2014 where the plaintiff sought injunctive relief to restrain the Defendants from infringing the rights under the Industrial Property Act in an invention described as “The aquatic plant removal apparatus which includes a heavy duty marine net preferably made of carbon fiber. To the net are attached to a winch, the winch being mechanically driven by deriving its rotary power from a tractor, a lorry or electric motor”. A copy of the ruling is available here.

In addressing the issue of standing to institute a copyright infringement suit, the judge states as follows:

“As long as the Applicant [Vermont Flowers] is claiming exclusive licensee of copyright which is not domestic registered copyright, the assignment must be accompanied by a letter of verification from the Board. None has been provided. That requirement is critical and its importance is well understood when one considers two things; 1) the international obligations of the nation to provide for adequate and effective protection of rights of copyright owners; and 2) the provision of section 33(2) on assignments and testamentary disposition of copyright (….) The nature of intellectual property and the strict requirements of the law make it absolutely necessary that the licensee should plead his status that he is an exclusive licensee; give all particulars of the licence as well as the copyright for which he has been granted exclusive licence by the owner. (….) It is readily discernible from the plaint and the application without probing for any evidence, that; there is not specific pleading in the plaint on exclusive licensee and the specific copyrights on which the licence is granted; yet the application and the affidavits filed thereto introduces exclusive licensee or assignment. As long as that situation has not been clarified by amendment of the plaint, the application for injunction lacks a foot on which to stand.”

This fatal error by Vermont Flowers compounded with the apparent poor drafting of its pleadings are not punished with a dismissal of the entire suit and in this regard the learned judge states that: “I hereby uphold the preliminary objections but in respect of the application only. (….) I will not extend these finding to the plaint as the plaintiff [Vermont Flowers] can always amend the plaint to measure up to the legal thresholds in such cases. That course will also give the plaintiff an opportunity to have its day in court.”

This blogger will continue to follow the developments in this case.

4.7 Trillion Shillings Later and Copyright Law Still Lagging Behind

This month, Kenya made news when it joined Africa’s top 10 economies after rebasing of its gross domestic product (GDP). Kenya is now officially classified as a middle-income country after a statistical reassessment of its economy increased the size by 25.3 per cent. Kenya’s economic output was calculated to be 4.76 trillion shillings ($53.4 billion) in 2013 after the rebasing, up from 3.8 trillion shillings ($42.6 billion). This takes Kenya up to ninth in Africa’s GDP rankings from 12th, above Ghana, Tunisia and Ethiopia but below oil-producing Sudan based on a World Bank table for 2013. Kenya became the latest African country to benefit from rebasing its economy after Nigeria overtook South Africa to became the continent’s biggest economy earlier this year.

This blogpost takes a moment to consider how copyright law amendments could play a crucial role in increasing the contribution of copyright-based industries to Kenya’s GDP. In particular, this blogpost considers three main areas namely, provisions on online and digital infringement of copyright as well as collective administration of copyright.

Read the rest of this article here.

Demystifying the Role of Copyright as a Tool for Economic Development in Africa: Tackling the Harsh Effects of the Transferability Principle in Copyright Law

samro---guitarist

“It is…submitted that the system of alienable copyright is not conducive for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and cannot, unless the legislatures of these countries intervene, ever give rise to a sustainable, home-bred and poverty alleviating industry.” – JJ Baloyi, 2014.

This blogger has recently come across a compelling article titled “Demystifying the Role of Copyright as a Tool for Economic Development in Africa: Tackling the Harsh Effects of the Transferability Principle in Copyright Law” written by JJ Baloyi in the South African Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal. A copy of the article is available here. The central argument in Baloyi’s article is that the transferability principle in copyright law has had the inadvertent effect of stifling copyright-based entrepreneurship, and thus economic development in Sub-Saharan African countries that inherited copyright laws from their erstwhile colonial masters, England or France.

This blogpost discusses Baloyi’s well-written article and examines its implications for Kenya especially in light of the possible solutions put forward to tackle the ‘harsh effects’ of the system of assignment under copyright within Africa.

Read the rest of this blogpost here.