by Perpetua Mwangi
The annual Kenya fashion awards, various fashion shows currently airing on local stations, fashion segments in local dailies, the myriad fashion events and other platforms mirror the existence of a budding fashion industry in Kenya. There is also a growing awareness to be authentic by adorning Kenyan designs while also embracing a strong sense of Kenyan pride. Whilst the aforementioned reflects a yearning among Kenyans to keep up with the joneses and fashion in particular, in the intellectual property (IP) space, it reflects the presence of a pool of protectable IP. Fashion is as dynamic as the digital revolution in that what is in season today in a couple of months, it is ‘so out of season’. It is thus crucial to seek IP protection(s) that will be relevant even after the society has migrated to the newest trend. However, there are timeless items which withstand the test of time and for which rely on or would require strong IP protection.
One fashion item/article would have to be protected by multiple areas of law in Kenya because currently we do not have a separate system of protection for ‘fashion designs’ compared to the European Union whose members aside other areas of national law can make use of the 2002 regulations on Community designs. This blogpost is an attempt to explore how Kenya’s current IP regime can offer protection in the fashion industry as well highlight some issues particularly relating to copyright protection.