Saturday 28 July 2018


Time for a sui generis technology importation right?

At the Intellectual Property Law Clinic in Nairobi, the following inquiry is a very frequent occurrence: "I saw technology X in foreign country Y, and it doesn't exist here in Kenya. I'd like to invest time and money in bringing the necessary equipment from abroad in order to practice this technology method (or make and sell this product) locally. Can I get any protection for that?"

The answer is always the same. No.

(Although, technically, the answer is yes. Since Utility Model Certificates are not substantively examined, a UMC could be obtained for the imported technology, although presumably such UMC would be invalid if the UMC holder ever tried to enforce it.)

The "No" answer is always very frustrating to the client, and this blogger has seen several business fail to launch simply because the would-be proprietor (read: tech transfer agent) decides it's not worth the effort since there is no exclusivity of any kind.

So this blogger has been thinking, and proposes the following concept for discussion. What if we granted a very limited exclusivity period for someone who imports a technology that exists elsewhere but (demonstrably) doesn't exist locally? Maybe the promise of 3 years exclusivity would encourage more tech transfer into the country, and would encourage local innovation as well (particularly as people observe the technology in the local context and brainstorm ways to improve the local experience)? 

Perhaps it's time to create a form of IPR that removes the absolute worldwide novelty requirement in exchange for a drastically reduced period of exclusivity. 

Reader thoughts?



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