Intellectual Property rights (IP Rights) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They are a form of property granted that enable the owner to exercise monopoly on the subject of the Intellectual Property rights and comprise of a set of exclusive rights to exclude others from making, copying or using certain intangible creations for a certain period of time.
They are not only aimed at protecting the innovative and creative capacity of owners of Intellectual Property and promoting competition in various industries, but also have to do with the welfare of the consumers of the goods and services to which they apply.
Protection of Intellectual Property is enshrined in Article 40(5) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 which places the mandate on the government to protect and enforce Kenyan’s Intellectual Property Rights.
Being that Kenya is a member state of WIPO since 1971, it has in place four intellectual property protection bodies being:
- The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI)
- The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO)
- Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)
- The Anti- Counterfeit Agency (ACA)
Forms of Intellectual Property
With much progress being made in terms of developing intellectual property laws, the development was made in compliance with international standards (including the agreement on Trade- Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) this has in turn lead to the increase in the level of awareness in Kenya.
The most common forms of Intellectual Property that have been developed and to be discussed include:
- Industrial Designs
Registrable works include:
- Literary works eg. Poetry novels and stories
- Artistic works eg drawings, paintings, engravings and wood cuttings
- Audio visual works eg. TV Programs, films and web series
- Sound recording eg. Performances, representation of sound and music
The Value of Intellectual Property
Kenya has been defined over the years to be intellectually rich. Entities have grown to gradually recognize the value attached to intellectual property leading to the increased recognition of its role in national strategies and laws aimed at enhancing competitiveness and generally protecting consumers.
With this in mind, on the one hand, the value of intellectual property includes Strengthening national economies, driving innovation and technology, fostering new ideas and enhancing society and culture. Intellectual property protection grows the economy of the Country in the sense of GDP (Gross Domestic Property), employment, tax revenues as well as competitiveness. Intellectual property has the potential to drive innovation and technology attracting FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), monetizing inventions and growing inventions as well as small and medium sized enterprises to benefit consumers while in overall enhancing the society and its cultures.
On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind the risks associated with failure to protect intellectual property and their impact on the Kenyan economy. The government loses out on Billions due to smuggling and counterfeiting of goods, funds which could be invested in key critical areas such as education, public health and infrastructure. A robust regime therefore ought to be created that is capable of generating and preserving significant benefits for the future.
Upon the recognition of the importance of stronger intellectual property protection, the progress made since 2008 has seen great improvement with more room for improvement. The greatest challenge that has been seen is on enforcement of the laws. A robust regime therefore needs to be put in place in order to address the deficiencies in the current legislation and improve on issues such as boarder enforcement.
Please note that this article must not be construed as legal advice and for further information regarding Intellectual Property Law and professional advice thereto, kindly do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or visiting our offices on 8th Floor, CMS Africa House, Nairobi or on 3rd Floor, Ritah Plaza, in Kakamega.