Strengthening Kenya’s IP Landscape

Author:Festus Mbuimwe
Position:Freelance writer
SUMMARY

Sylvance Sange, acting managing director of the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), talks to WIPO Magazine about Kenya’s intellectual property (IP) landscape, key priorities, challenges and opportunities.

 
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Can you explain KIPI’s role?

KIPI is a body corporate established by the Industrial Property Act No.3 of 2001, and is currently under the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade. It is mandated to promote inventive and innovative activities and to facilitate technology transfer through the regulation and protection of industrial property in Kenya.

It does this by receiving, processing and granting or registering patents, industrial designs, utility models, trade and service marks, and by screening technology transfer agreements and licenses. KIPI also promotes inventiveness and innovation through its IP public awareness initiatives and a range of training courses which it runs in collaboration with various institutions of higher learning.

How has Kenya’s IP landscape evolved in recent years?

Much progress has been made in terms of pushing IP up the political agenda. In fact, with the adoption of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, IP now has constitutional status. In its current form, I would say that Kenya’s Constitution is one of the best in the world in terms of the attention it pays to IP. Thanks to this, the concept of IP in Kenya is now at the heart of a number of policy and legal frameworks in both the public and private sectors.

Kenya has modern IP laws which comply with international standards (including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS)), and Parliament is currently preparing sui generis laws for the protection of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. So the national legal framework for IP has evolved quite considerably over the past 10 years.

What are your future priorities?

I want to ensure that Kenyans benefit from policies that balance the rights and obligations of producers and users of IP. I also want to further strengthen Kenya’s IP regime and to ensure that it continues to support the nation’s social and economic development ambitions.

One of KIPI’s key priorities is to promote greater public understanding and awareness among Kenyans of the advantages that can flow from effective use of IP rights. IP education is extremely important, because only when people begin to understand the benefits of the IP system will they start using it and benefiting from it.

Another important priority is to improve patent drafting skills. Poor understanding of how to prepare patent applications in business circles is hampering growth in the number of applications...

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