#ipkenya Weekly Dozen: 10/08

African Telecommunications Union ATU Administrative Council Session Conference of Plenipotentiaries Kenya

  • 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!

Fire in the Sky: Law Society Shamelessly Remains Mum in Copyright Claim

‘Fire in the Sky’ (pictured above) is a stunning photograph of Nairobi’s skyline lit up against the backdrop of New Years’ fireworks. In April 2018, this work by Reinhard Mue aka Rey Matata was unlawfully copied and used by Law Society of Kenya (LSK). In June 2018, Reinhard wrote to LSK complaining about infringement of the rights to his copyright work and threatened to take legal action. To-date, LSK and its elected leaders have failed to respond to Reinhard at all, either formally or otherwise. As a member of LSK, this blogger is disappointed that the LSK leadership has allowed such a straight-forward matter to become a public spectacle.

Continue reading

2018 Proposed Amendment to The Copyright Act

2018 Amendments to Copyright Act Kenya KECOBO Bill

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2018 seeks to make various, wide-ranging amendments to existing intellectual property (IP) law-related statutes. The Bill contains proposed amendments to the following pieces of legislation: The Industrial Property Act, 2001 (No. 3 of 2001), The Copyright Act, 2001 (No. 12 of 2001), The Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 (No. 13 of 2008) and The Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act, 2016 (No. 33 of 2016). The Memorandum of Objects and Reasons for the Bill is signed by Hon. Aden Duale, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly and it is dated 29 March 2018. This blogpost will focus on the changes proposed to The Copyright Act.

Continue reading

OAPI Suspends Agents: IP Community Across Africa is Watching

OAPI NEW LOGO ORGANISATION AFRICAINE DE LA PROPRIETE INTELLECTUELLE

Last year, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) published a notice on its website stating that a group of unnamed persons calling themselves “Collectif des Conseils en propriété industrielle” were leading a public campaign opposing OAPI’s accession to the Madrid Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks. Recently, OAPI published two notices here and here informing the public that two OAPI Agents, Christian Djomga and Judith Fezeu Tchimmoe along with all other representatives from their firm, Cabinet Isis, have been provisionally suspended. In addition to several alleged violations of OAPI rules, OAPI claims that Djomga and Fezeu are involved in the Collectif’s campaign against OAPI joining Madrid.

Intellectual property (IP) observers will be keenly following this on-going matter between OAPI and the Collectif with at least three main questions in mind. Firstly, how will OAPI member states react to the Collectif’s campaign? Secondly, what will be the fate of the agents implicated in the Collectif and it’s campaign? Thirdly, how will the outcome from this saga between the Collectif and OAPI affect relations between agents and IP offices in other African countries?

Continue reading

Room for Judicial Review in Collective Administration of Copyright: High Court Judgment in Nakuru Pub Owners v. KAMP & PRISK

KAMP PRISK

The High Court of Kenya sitting at Nakuru has recently handed down an interesting judgment in the case of Republic v Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) & another Ex-Parte Nakuru Municipality Pubs, Bars, Restaurants and Hotel Owners Association (Suing Through Their Trustees) [2015] eKLR. A copy of the judgment is available here. In this case, Nakuru Municipality Pubs, Bars, Restaurants and Hotel Owners Association sought judicial review orders of prohibition to restrain two collective management organisations (CMOs) from collecting licence fees and or levies from the membership of the Association. The CMOs in question: Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK), two related rights CMOs representing owners of sound recordings and performers respectively.

The crux of the Association’s case against the CMOs is as follows:

“It is argued that the proposed levies and licences were never communicated to their association or any of the members, and that as they were not notified, or invited to participate in their formulation and approval nor gazetted/published, the Respondents [CMOs] failed in their duty to communicate the passage and approval of the levies to them, they are in breach of rules of natural justice by withholding information that would affect them economically and financially and a breach of their constitutional rights as enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution. (…)”

Continue reading

Conflicts between Trade Marks Registry and Companies Registry: High Court Ruling in JamboPay v Jambo Express Limited Case

jambopay

“…whereas the Companies Act deals with the registration of companies and the responsible office is the Registrar of companies, the Act is often to find itself in conflict with the Trade Marks Act for as longs as there is no interlink between the two Acts of Parliament in practical sense. The conflict arises this way. For instance, a trademark is registered in respect of a class of services may conflict with a trade name of a company or company with similar activities or services. This lack of coordination between registering authorities has caused and will continue to cause extreme anxiety to consumers of the two services as well as judges who will be called upon to resolve those conflicts which would otherwise have been avoided were it not for the unhealthy state of institutional operations.” – Justice F. Gikonyo in Webtribe Limited T/A Jambopay v Jambo Express Limited [2014] eKLR at para 15

This blogger has come across a recent ruling by the High Court in the case of Webtribe Limited T/A Jambopay v Jambo Express Limited [2014] eKLR. In this case, Webtribe went to court claiming that Jambopay Express Limited infringes on Webtribe’s trademark Jambopay. In support of its claim, Webtribe produced a certificate of registration of trademark stating that the latter is the registered proprietor of the trade mark number 67127 consisting of the word ‘Jambopay’ registered in class 36 which is valid and subsisting from the 17th December, 2009. Jambopay Express Limited refuted Webtribe’s claim and produced Certificate of Incorporation number CPR/2012/86453 stating that the latter is a company that was registered on 11th October, 2012.

Although the main subject of the suit was the alleged infringement of a trade mark as well as a challenge to the registration of a company, the learned judge restricted his ruling to determining whether Webtribe had met the legal thresholds to be granted its request for a temporary injunction. The court found against Webtribe’s application and stated as follows:

“…a just determination of the issues herein especially of the plaintiff’s [Webtribe’s] right and alleged infringement of trademark does not just depend on the registration of the Trademark ‘Jambopay’ by the plaintiff but includes determination of other issues such as whether the protection provided to the name “Jambopay” by the trademark registered in favour of the Plaintiff overrides the protection of the name “Jambopay Express Limited” secured through the registration of the name as a company; and whether the defendant’s [Jambopay Express Limited’s] intent in registration of its trade name was to cause confusion among consumers and to capitalize in the Plaintiff’s goodwill in the online payment services market. Equally, the circumstance in which the Defendant Company was registered is in the center of this suit and whether it is an infringement as alleged. In light thereof, the material before the court is not sufficient for the Court to issue an injunction.”

As many readers may know, the Trade Marks Registry and the Companies Registry were previously both under the State Law Office. Therefore when registering a trade mark or reserving a company name, it was easier to close reference either the Companies Registry database or the Trade Marks Registry database to see if there were any conflicts. This has since changed. The Trade Marks Registry is under KIPI while the Companies Registry remains under the State Law Office. This legislative and institutional separation has brought about many challenges and disputes for people who are registering companies or trade marks in Kenya. As a result there has been an increase in “name-squatting” which impedes business and trade markets in the country. In aiming to resolve these disputes, aggrieved parties are forced to approach the High Court for determination which ends up being both expensive and time-consuming.

In an earlier case: Agility Logistics Limited & 2 Others v. Agility Logistics Kenya Limited, the court was faced to a similar dispute as in the present JamboPay case. In the Agility case, the court found that the plaintiff’s trademark protection overrides the defendant’s protection by the Companies Act. The court also found that the defendant’s registration at the Companies Registry was opportunistic. In arriving at this holding, the court in the Agility case stated as follows:-

“My take on the two pieces of legislation is that whereas the Companies Act governs registration of company names, the fact of registration per se does not extend protection to the name of the company itself as does the protection provided by a trademark.

Further, it is also pertinently clear that the protection extended by a trademark transcends the face value of a name and inheres in the name a distinctiveness that is associated with the reputation and goodwill that the proprietor of the mark has invested and earned through creation of value, quality and trust. So much so that a customer or user of the service needs only see the mark and associate itself with certain expectations and standards. This is not the case with a company name which is only a mark of identity to the legal person that is the company. Although company names may eventually earn the notoriety, reputation and association with certain standards in like measure as do trademarks, the extent of exclusivity and protection of the company name, without registration of a mark, would still fall short of the standard of protection conferred by a trademark.

The upshot of the foregoing analysis is that in the present matter, the protection provided to the name “Agility” by the trademark registered in favour of the Plaintiffs by far overrides the protection of the name “Agility Logistics” secured through the mere registration of the name as a company. The exclusivity in the use of the name that is conferred upon the Plaintiff through the Kenyan registration of the mark and worldwide by virtue of the status of “well known mark” confers locus standi upon the Plaintiffs to sustain a claim for infringement of the mark that the Defendant cannot equally enjoy by virtue of registration of the company under the Companies Act.”

This blogger will be closely following the developments and eventual outcome of the JamboPay case.

CIPIT Proposes Kenya Association of Intellectual Property Professionals (KAIPP)

CIPIT Banner

The Strathmore Law School Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law a.k.a CIPIT has just announced that there will be a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss and agree on the proposed creation of an Intellectual Property (IP) association for Practitioners in Kenya, tentatively christened it the Kenya Association of Intellectual Property Practitioners or KAIPP.

This meeting will take place during the next IPCheckin Meet-up scheduled for 8th June, 2013 at Strathmore Law School from 11:00am.

In preparation for this meeting, CIPIT has prepared a draft constitution for KAIPP available here.

This on-going push for a fully fledged IP association in Kenya comes in the wake of encouraging news from Nigeria. Afro-IP reports that the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association of Nigeria (IPLAN) has gone to court to challenge a move by the Nigerian Registry of Trademarks, Patents and Designs to only accept electronic applications for registration of trade marks, patents and designs filed by accredited agents. IPLAN contends that this move unlawfully creates compulsory accreditation system for law firms, stakeholders and potential registrants as well as illegally purports to increase or prescribe additional fees. We will be keenly following this case as it develops.

Meanwhile, back home, this blogger is fully in support of an IP Association in Kenya and for Kenyans.

Looking forward to seeing you at on the 8th of June 2013 at 11:00am. Bring a friend or three.

In Support of An Intellectual Property Association of Kenya

530x340

It was in response to Isaac’s post on Afro-IP that this blogger put forth the idea of setting up a bona fide association for intellectual property practitioners and professionals in Kenya. Many of us may have pondered upon this very topic in the past but to-date nothing seems to have materialised.

In the past weeks, there is renewed buzz around establishing such an IP Association, tentatively christened as Kenya Association of Intellectual Property Practitioners (KAIPP).

Within Africa, the only other national IP Association is in South Africa. Established in 1952, the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) is an association representing “some 164 patent attorneys, patent agents and trade mark practitioners in South Africa who specialise in the field of Intellectual Property Law”. According to its official site, SAIIPL states that:-

“It [SAIIPL] is widely regarded as the custodian of South Africa’s intellectual property rights, and comprises practicing attorneys, academics, practitioners in businesses and in general, people interested in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The members of the SAIIPL represent the majority of national and international businesses who have built their businesses on brands, innovation and technology, and who protect their interests through our country’s intellectual property laws.”

SAIIPL has four types of memberships: Fellow, Associate, Student and Ordinary. It is important to note that unlike Kenya, South Africa has an institutionalised system of IP qualifications. The first is the Patent Attorneys qualification which is a statutory qualification under control of the Patent Examination Board. There is also the Trade Mark Practitioners qualification is offered by SAIIPL to provide proficiency in trade marks and related fields. An Attorney with this qualification is entitled to Fellowship of SAIIPL. A quick browse through SAIIPL’s membership list reveals that the whos-who of South African trademark and patent lawyers are on the list including Prof. Owen Dean (@ipchair), Darren Olivier (@afroIP) as well as this blogger’s former classmate, Jeremy Speres (@jeremysperes), among many others.

Read the rest of this article on the CIPIT Law Blog here.

Lessons for MCSK from Nigeria: Music Copyright Society of Kenya Must Administer Rights Even Without Government License

MCSK royalties music kenya

“…there has been a bickering and attendant judicial skirmish over who is the sole Collector in Nigeria, at the time of penning this piece, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) seems to be recognized as such. However, it is an anomaly in my opinion as there could be more bodies to administer Royalty collection. In all honesty, it is doubtful if a sole collecting society can effectively subdue the difficulties experienced in the administration of Royalty collection and the Publishing industry in Nigeria.” —Mr. Akinyemi Ayinoluwa “@akinyemilaw”, Nigerian IP lawyer and blogger

It is reported that on 28th May 2013, employees of the Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) will once again be in court facing charges of operating as a collecting society without the approval of the government regulator, Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC). However in civil court, the latest judgment handed down by the Nigerian Federal High Court was against the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), with respect to its decision and actions against MCSN. The Court on 18 March 2013 declared the actions of the NCC against MCSN as unlawful and unconstitutional and reaffirms an earlier judgment of the Court which declared Section 39 of the Nigerian Copyright Act upon which the NCC relied in taking its decisions on collective management of rights, unconstitutional, null and void.

A copy of the judgment made by the Court in this matter is available here.

Similarly in Kenya, the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and the government regulator, Kenya Copyright Board (KeCoBo) have not always seen eye-to-eye on certain aspects of collective management of copyright in Kenya. This apparent tension culminated in the deregistration of MCSK as a collecting society by KeCoBo in 2011. The decision by KeCoBo to renew MCSK’s license was made in mid-2012 which means that its license will be up for renewal again soon. Under section 46 of the Copyright Act of 2001, KeCoBo has the responsibility of licensing and supervising all collective management organisations (CMOs) in Kenya. KeCoBo has come up with its guidelines for licensing of CMOs and renewal of licenses for CMOs available here.

For the purposes of our present discussion, let us look closely at the above recent judgment in MCSN & 7 Ors vs. NCC & 4 Ors Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1163/12.

Read the rest of this article on the CIPIT Law Blog here.