The Litter/Sanitary Bin Patent Monopoly Continues: Court of Appeal in Hygiene Bins v. Sanitam Services

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Readers of this blog are familiar with Sanitam Services (EA) Limited, the holder of ARIPO Patent No. AP 773 entitled “Foot Operated Sanitary/Litter Bin”. Over the years, Sanitam has been involved in numerous suits pertaining this patent as previously discussed here. This blogger has recently come across a judgment in the case of Hygiene Bins Limited v Sanitam Services (E.A) Ltd [2015] eKLR.

In this case, Hygiene Bins was in the Court of Appeal seeking to overturn the ruling of the High Court allowing Sanitam’s application for an injunction restraining Hygiene Bins from selling, providing services, using its foot operated sanitary bin, offering for sale, selling, passing off the same as theirs, trading in Kenya howsoever and in any manner likely to cause Sanitam’s business to be confused with that of Hygiene Bins and/or from trading in any manner as to infringe Sanitam’s granted patent pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

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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.

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.