New Study on Patent, Utility Model and Industrial Design Activity in Kenya from 1990 to 2014

The Scinnovent Centre

The good folks over at The Scinnovent Centre have just published a new study titled: “Industrial Property Rights Acquisition in Kenya: Facts, figures and trends”. This March 2015 study was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) with the partnership, support and guidance of Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI). The study used KIPI’s database of all industrial property applications and grants since its inception in 1990 to date (2014) and sought to answer four key questions: (i) Where do the inventions come from? In other words who owns the industrial property protected in Kenya? (ii) How does foreign (international) applicants compare with national (domestic) applications? (iii) In which economic sectors are the most industrial property applications registered? (iv) what are the key challenges/ bottlenecks faced by the applicants?

The data analysed in the study consists of the records of KIPI registry database on the filings, grants and registration of the IP protections for patents (1990 – 2013); utility models (1993 – 2013) and industrial designs (1991 – April 2014). The samples consisted of 2388 patents, 396 utility models and 1392 industrial designs. The study does not include data relating to patent, utility model and industrial design applications filed and granted through African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).

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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”!

Quick Thoughts on “Zindua Cafe”: Safaricom’s New Idea Submission Portal

zindua cafe safaricom homepage

This week, Safaricom launched “Zindua Cafe”, an idea submission web portal which allows registered users to submit ideas, applications or prototypes to Safaricom Limited, Kenya’s leading mobile network operator. Once these submissions are made to Safaricom, the telecommunication giant will review them internally and send either a ‘interested’ or a ‘regret’ response to the user. If Safaricom is ‘interested’ in any submission, the user will be offered a non-disclosure agreement and commmercial contract governing Safaricom’s intended implementation of the submission.

Having taken Zindua Cafe for a test-run, this blogger has a few thoughts on Safaricom’s new innovation portal:-

1. Intellectual property (IP) advice: Zindua Cafe is an excellent source for unsolicited legal advice on IP rights protection. The portal reads in part: “We strongly recommend that you patent your idea or get your IP in place”. The portal then explains the distinction between WIPO, KIPI and KECOBO and provides links to their respective websites. In the case of IP- protected submissions, the terms of use on the portal clearly state that users “irrevocably grant Safaricom the unrestricted right or license to use any idea or material [submitted] for the purpose of improving it, assessing its viability and determining its progression to the next stage within the Innovation Cycle”. In this regard, users of the portal agree that such use by Safaricom under the above license “shall not be deemed a violation of the user’s rights or the rights of any third party or give rise to any claim based on such alleged violation.”

2. Proof of IP protection: Zindua Cafe requires users to disclose whether submissions are protected as patents, trade marks or copyright in addition to providing the registration numbers of any certificates received from WIPO, KIPI and KECOBO. Copies of these certificates must also be submitted by users. This is a really smart way for Safaricom to establish the extent of IP protection involved in all submissions made on the portal. More importantly, Safaricom is in a better position to determine what steps would be necessary to exploit and/or acquire any intellectual property rights in the submissions.

zindua cafe safaricom brewing ideas

3. What’s the big idea?: As part of the submission process, Zindua Cafe requires users to provide a name for the idea/product/service/solution and select the applicable industry from a list including Agriculture, Education, Energy, Entertainment, Financial Services, Health, ICT, Manufacturing, Retail, Transport, among others. This section also requires the users to describe the idea/product/service/solution in 200 characters as well as explaining the need/problem that will be solved by the idea. Finally, users are required to itemise any similar or competing ideas/products/services/solutions already in the market and explain why their submissions are better! This is a really smart way for Safaricom to reduce on the amount of time spent in meetings with people pitching their ideas.

So, what do the users get in return after going through this rigourous 3-step submission process? Nothing. The terms and conditions of use on the portal ensure that Safaricom is fully protected from any claims arising from users and third parties while imposing several obligations on users including indemnity to Safaricom, assurance to Safaricom of IP ownership, among others.

Following the Vodacom “Please Call Me” case in South Africa and the numerous IP infringement cases involving Safaricom here in Kenya, this blogger applauds the move to introduce Zindua Cafe particularly because of the emphasis the portal places on protection of IP by its users prior to submitting their creative and innovative ideas to Safaricom.

What remains to be seen is whether this new portal for brewing ideas will deter future innovators and creators from bringing IP-related suits against Safaricom.

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

A Kenyan Perspective of South Africa’s Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property

South_africa_parliament1

As many IP enthusiasts may have heard, South Africa has recently published a Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property (IP) (hereafter the Policy). Within the Kenyan context, this blogger has previously questioned the need for a national IP policy particularly in light of the recognition given to IP in the Constitution. However, for the purposes of this post, the policy provides a good basis for a comparative analysis of the state of IP in both South Africa and Kenya as well as possible recommendations to strengthen IP laws.

In the area of patents, Kenya’s IP office undertakes both formal and substantive examinations of patent applications whereas in South Africa, the Policy recommends the establishment of a substantive of a substantive search and examination of patents to address issue of “weak” vs “strong” patents. The policy’s recommendation to amend South African patent law to include pre-and post-opposition would also be instructive to Kenya.

Read the rest of this article here.