Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Should Kenya merge its industrial property and copyright offices?

International Law Office carries a note which proposes centralising the administration of IP in Kenya ("Improving the IP Rights Protection Regime") by David Kimani, of Njoroge Regeru & Company.

This note explains the legal basis and functional ambit of the country's Industrial Property Institute and its Copyright Board, which were established under different acts of Parliament and operate fall under the jurisdiction of different governmental bodies. The Industrial Property Institute, he explains, is a semi-autonomous institution, able to control its own affairs easily, while the Copyright Board is run similarly to mainstream government departments and is thus bureaucratic in nature. Copyright holders complain that no action is taken when their rights are infringed, and that any action taken takes place too late to prevent significant losses, while the Institute has been commended for its efficiency in protecting the rights of trade marks and patent holders. The author concludes:
"Considering that both the Industrial Property Institute and the Copyright Board were established to protect intellectual rights, it is logical that these two institutions be merged. Accordingly, Section 3 of the Copyright Act must be amended so as to establish the Copyright Board as a department within the institute. Sections 5 and 7 of the Act will also require amendment in this regard. This suggested change would mean that the registration and protection of all IP rights were overseen within one institution, thus significantly improving the effectiveness of the IP rights protection regime".

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