Last month, the President signed Executive Order No. 1 of 2018 on the Organisation of Government which, inter alia, assigned functions and institutions among Ministries and State Departments. One interesting new change in the structure of the Government is that Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and Kenya Film Commission (KFC) are now listed under the State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications in the ICT Ministry. In addition the Ministry’s functions now includes overall responsibility for policies on film development in Kenya and the development of the country’s film industry.
This may all seem like a mundane bureaucratic detail but in reality it may well represent a fundamental shift in Kenya’s approach to the development of the creative economy and the important contribution of the film industry. But like every good story, there is a plot twist: the only thing that KFCB and KFC seem to agree on is that they are better off separate than together. Lately, the two lead film agencies have been at loggerheads (see video clips here and here) over how best the film industry should be regulated for the development of this vital pillar of the creative and cultural industries.
Endless wrangles in Kenya’s collective management system have made us all experts in copyright law. The thorny question of how and to what extent key players in the collective administration of copyright and related rights must comply with the Constitution remains a hotly debated topic. This brings us to a recent judgment by the High Court in the case of Laban Toto Juma & 4 Others v. Kenya Copyright Board & 2 Others Consolidated Kakamega Petition No. 3B of 2017 delivered on 13 July 2018. A copy of this High Court judgment is available here. Not surprisingly, both sides in this see-saw legal battle are claiming victory following the court’s final verdict. So, this blogpost will attempt to examine the key issues tackled by the court in its judgment as well as some of the questions that have been left unanswered.
‘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.
In 2008, Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) was birthed as Kenya’s TRIPS-plus experiment to spearhead intellectual property (IP) rights enforcement by coordinating efforts among various state agencies. In our humble opinion, ACA deserves no score higher than 3/10 for its performance in fulfilling its overall statutory mandate in Kenya.
It was envisioned that ACA would be a shining example of an inter-agency approach to IP rights enforcement with private sector coordination. Ten years later, it is safe to say that ACA has failed to live up to its potential. The reason? Two words: Institutional Corruption.
Presently the Copyright Register (pictured above) shows that the same audiovisual work called “MY SKOOL TV SHOW” has two separate owners who registered it almost a year apart. In a recent High Court judgment in the case of Republic v Executive Director, Kenya Copyright Board & another Ex-Parte Sugarcane Communications Ltd  eKLR, the court quashed a decision by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to cancel the copyright registration of “MY SKOOL TV SHOW” by the ex parte Applicant (Sugarcane Communications Limited). This judgment is perhaps a wake-up call for KECOBO which, unlike the Registrar of Trade Marks at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), is not accustomed to having its decisions regarding registration of intellectual property (IP) rights challenged by courts of law.
- Nigeria’s World Cup kit sells out in 15 minutes [BBC]
- Rwanda’s £30m Arsenal sponsorship divides opinion [The Guardian]
- Uganda imposes tax on social media use [Reuters]
- Cameroon: 3rd Meeting of the ARIPO-OAPI Joint Commission on Intellectual Property [In French]
- Tanzania: AY and Mwana FA awarded Sh96 million against telco giant [SDE]
- Court rules SONY is not a well-known brand in Kenya [Business Daily]
- Music Copyright Society of Kenya Now Banned from Collecting Music Royalties [Captain Obvious]
- New South African IP Policy Text Now Available [Official]
- Some concerns on advertisements in Ethiopia [The Herald]
- Running the gauntlet: making wise patenting decisions [Dennemeyer IP Blog]
- MaXhosa v Zara [Stellenbosch IP Chair]
- Winners of the 2017 ATRIP Essay Competition Announced [ATRIP]
For more news stories and developments, please check out #ipkenya on twitter and feel free to share any other intellectual property-related items that you may come across.
Have a great week-end!
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?