Monday, 26 March 2012

Kenya patent claim drafting: a practical course

From Isaac Rutenberg, a US-based patent attorney now living in Kenya, comes the following report:
Prior art?
An excellent week-long conference devoted to patent claim drafting was held in Nairobi from March 19-23. The conference was organized by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI, the Kenyan patent office), and was co-sponsored by WIPO and ARIPO. Participants and presenters included KIPI and ARIPO examiners, as well as IP-managers, scientists, and lawyers from a number of Kenyan Universities, research organizations, and law firms.

The conference was organized because KIPI has received many patent applications that do not have well-drafted claims. The conference was highly practical -- in one session, participants worked in groups to draft a set of claims for a ballpoint pen. The resulting claims drafted by each group where then critiqued by all participants. Conversations were lively, insightful, and highly useful (as indicated by feedback from participants).

KIPI recognizes that there are not many people in Kenya with experience in drafting patent applications. The training provided at the conference was meant to be only the first of many workshops, and was very well timed considering the growing interest by the various institutions in obtaining local and international patents. Interest is growing (at least in Kenya) among IP managers in using national and international patents to attract investment.

One of the participants remarked that she was glad that KIPI has moved beyond “awareness” conferences and has begun providing more practical sessions.

According to the WIPO and ARIPO representatives, KIPI is the most active of patent offices in the region. Based on Kingsley Egbuonu's marathon alphabetical trek around the official IP websites of African nations, this is not surprising. Kenya’s IP offices are  using the web
effectively, and this conference shows that KIPI is addressing a vital and timely need.
Kudos to KIPI, ARIPO, and WIPO!
Thanks, Isaac, for this very positive report. This blogger has long used the example of the ballpoint pen as an example of something which is familiar to us all but a nightmare for the untrained, or even trained but unpractised, individual to express in the form of a description and claims.

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