Legal Fraternity Slams ACA on Proposed Amendments to Anti-Counterfeit Act

ACA Anti-Counterfeit Agency Kenya LOGO

In a recent article in the Business Daily titled: ‘Proposed law on counterfeits will hurt businesses’, the foremost intellectual property (IP) law practitioner in the country, William Maema, has faulted Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) on its proposed amendments to Anti-Counterfeit Act previously discussed on this blog here, here and here. In his hard-hitting article, Maema notes:

‘Apart from the vainglorious step of christening the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) by renaming it the Anti-Counterfeit Authority ostensibly to raise its profile to that of premier parastatals such as the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Airports Authority and Communications Authority of Kenya, the new proposals achieve little else that is praiseworthy. ‘

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2018 Proposed Amendments to The Industrial Property Act

2018 Amendments to Industrial Property Act Kenya KIPI

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2018 seeks to make various, wide-ranging amendments to the 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 proposed changes to The Industrial Property Act (IPA).

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Proposed Amendments to Intellectual Property Laws in Kenya

statute-law-miscellaneous-amendments-bill-no-2-of-2016-submission-memoranda

On 11th November, 2016, pursuant to Special Issue of Kenya Gazette Supplement No.185 (National Assembly Bills No. 45) the Attorney General published the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Bill 2016. It is recalled that this Bill is intended to “make minor amendments which do not merit the publication of separate Bills and consolidating them into one Bill”. The Bill proposes to amend several intellectual property (IP) laws including Industrial Property Act, 2001 (No. 3 of 2001), Copyright Act, 2001 (No. 12 of 2001) and Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 (No. 13 of 2008).

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Trade Mark vs Company Name Registration: Innscor Int. Battles Rwandan Companies, Pizza Inn Ltd and Chicken Inn Ltd

innscor-international-rwanda-trademark-pizza-inn-chicken-limited-image-by-nlipw

In a recent media report here, the Commercial Court of Nyarugenge in Rwanda has ruled that it will not proceed with a case filed by Innscor International accusing two local companies Chicken Inn Limited and Pizza Inn Limited of trademark infringement in Rwanda. The basis of this ruling was reportedly that Innscor had not demonstrated to the court that it had “legal status according to the law governing registered entities in Rwanda”. Technicalities aside, it is clear that once Innscor produces its certificate of incorporation in court, this case would proceed to consider the merits of Innscor’s claim (as illustrated by the picture above), namely that registration of a name as a company name by entity A should not trump any rights in such a name acquired previously by entity B through trade mark law.

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Private Prosecutor Can Appear as Witness in Same Criminal Copyright Suit: Case of Albert Gacheru Kiarie and Wamaitu Productions

A recent judgment by the High Court in the case of Albert Gacheru Kiarie T/A Wamaitu Productions v James Maina Munene & 7 others [2016] eKLR is likely to have profound ramifications for the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights in Kenya. At the heart of this case is a catalogue of widely popular vernacular songs such as “Mariru (Mwendwa Wakwa Mariru)” which is featured in the video above by Gacheru and produced by the latter’s company, Wamaitu.

According to Gacheru, his music and those of other rights holders he was involved with through his Wamaitu label have all been the subject of piracy and copyright infringement for many years. From 2004, Gacheru was the complainant in a criminal copyright infringement case (Criminal Case No. PP 06 of 2004) and was later granted permission to privately prosecute the case but he was then barred from continuing to undertake the private prosecution for the reason that he intended to serve as a witness in the same case. Gacheru appealed this decision insisting that he should be allowed to act as private prosecutor and witness in his case. The present judgment settles this 12 year old dispute on this matter.

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Registration of the “COFFEE KENYA” Certification Mark by the Government

MARK COFFEE KENYA

This blogger came across a recent media report stating that the government through the Ministry of Agriculture had successfully applied for registration of a mark of origin for Kenyan coffee at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and that a similar application was pending at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The media report reads in part:

“Speaking yesterday at a preparatory meeting for the launch at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the move was intended to increase visibility of local coffee in the domestic and international markets.

“The use of national mark of origin is another measure geared at improving visibility of Kenyan coffee in the domestic and international market,” Mr Koskei said.

Interim head of coffee directorate Grenville Melli said the mark is registered by Kenya Intellectual Property Institute and listing by World International Property Organisation is being considered.

So far, four companies have met the requirements to use the mark. They are C. Dormans, Kenya Nut Company, Kimanthi University of Technology and Super Gibs Ltd.”

Comment:

While scanty on the actual facts and details, the media report brings to light an interesting development. This blogger has confirmed that the Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), a state corporation, has registered a Certification mark with the Registrar of Trade Marks at KIPI. A representation of the mark has been reproduced above. The Board also made an application to register the Certification Mark through WIPO’s Madrid System. They duly designated a number of countries including Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Iran, Sudan as well as the European Community but apparently the CBK did not attach the rules governing the use of the mark, as required for purposes of registration of a Certification Mark.

Upon examination of the application, all the designated countries, apart from Sudan, required the Board to forward the above rules within a certain period but the Board did not comply in time. The mark has therefore been deemed abandoned in all the countries designated apart from Sudan where it appears the mark has been registered. The Board has indicated that it will commence the process all over again.

A copy of the “COFFEE KENYA” Madrid application is available here.

#PharmaGate: South Africa’s Push for Patent Law Reforms Exposes Both Government and Drug Companies

The Mail and Guardian (M&G) newspaper in South Africa published a story titled: “Motsoaledi: Big pharma’s ‘satanic’ plot is genocide” where it is reported that Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi is livid about a pharmaceutical company campaign he says will restrict access to crucial drugs. This plan which was leaked to the press is now at the heart of the so-called #PharmaGate scandal which has received widespread condemnation.

All in all, this blogger submits that #PharmaGate exposes the South Africa government’s criticized track record with regard to implementation of existing laws relating to access to medicines. In addition, the Trade and Industry’s Ministry unsatisfactory drafting of the DNIPP is exposed once more. Therefore the Health Minister’s latest sensationalist remarks reported by the M&G appear to be intend to deflect attention from the above issues of poor implementation and drafting by the Executive branch. As for the drug companies, #PharmaGate only exposes the capitalist and pro-intellectual property (IP) ownership stance of Big Pharma, aptly captured in the critically acclaimed documentary, “Fire in The Blood”, whose trailer is featured above.

Read the full story here.