The World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) is celebrated by Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on every 26th of April. This coincides with the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO originally entered into force in 1970. Year in, year out, the WIPD theme tend to revolve around creativity and innovation. In 2017, the theme was “Innovation – Improving Lives” and WIPO released this theme earlier than usual to aid in preparations by member states to mark the day. This year’s theme took this blogger back to WIPD 2012 when we celebrated “Visionary Innovators” with emphasis on people whose innovations transform our lives.
We are pleased to announce that three of our Strathmore Law School colleagues, Francis Kariuki, Smith Ouma and Raphael Ng’etich have just completed a new book titled: “Property Law” recently published by Strathmore University Press. Many will recall that Raphael worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at CIPIT. This book is the second installment in SUP series, Strathmore Studies in Law, which was conceived in 2015 with the dual aim of producing high quality textbooks for the various areas of law for which there is little updated commentary, and giving SLS Faculty opportunities to publish said high quality scholarship.
Unlike other areas of intellectual property (IP) law, trademark law is a subject that is accessible to everyone. To understand why goods are marked with signs, why two or more businesses cannot use the same sign for the same goods or services, why it is not a good idea for those signs to be very similar to one another, why you should not be able to stop someone from using a sign if you have it but do not use it yourself, and so on – these are topics that quite amenable to general understanding.
On 22nd January 2015, Radio Africa Group (RAG) filed an application to register trademark no. KE/T/2015/85958 “KILIMANI MUMS” (WORDS) before the Registrar of Trade Marks. The application was filed in international classes 35 (Advertising; business management) and 41 (Education; providing of training) of the International Classification of Goods and Services for Purposes of Registration of Marks in respect of various goods and services.
Dr. Isaac Rutenberg (CIPIT Director) and Ms. Jacquelene Mwangi (CIPIT Researcher) have co-authored a new peer-reviewed article titled: “Do patents and utility model certificates encourage innovation in Kenya?” recently published in Oxford’s Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. A copy of the article is freely accessible for a limited period here. In the article, it is observed that traditional measure of innovation at the country level is the number of patents filed and granted. However it is argued that this may not be an appropriate method for measuring innovation in developing countries in Africa, particularly since many patent offices on the continent are ineffective or inactive. However an exception is Kenya, which has a patent office equipped with a corps of examiners and more than two decades of experience in substantively examining patent applications.
In a recent blogpost titled “The Reports of the Death of Innovation are Somewhat Exaggerated” over at the newly revamped Afro-IP blog, CIPIT Director Dr. Isaac Rutenberg offers a response to this article published in one of the local dailies. Here is what Rutenberg had to say:
The article asks why innovation died in Kenya sometime around 1985, and proposes a number of possible contributing factors. It’s really quite insightful and thought-provoking, and many of the points are worth exploration.
A “Maker space” is a collective organization that maintains a workshop for individual tinkering, social learning, and group collaboration on creative and technical projects, generally among adults. This is a location in which creation occurs through interdisciplinary sharing of resources and knowledge. Put differently, a Maker space is a creative laboratory where people with ideas can get together with people who have the technical ability to make these ideas become a reality. A Maker space is often associated with fields such as engineering, computer science, graphic design and digital art, and although the physical space is important, it is the collaboration between individuals with various and distinct areas of knowledge that is fundamental to fostering this creative environment.
On February 8, US-based Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) released the fifth edition of the U.S. Chamber International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, “The Roots of Innovation,” which illustrates the value of a robust IP framework in 45 economies around the world. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s leading economies view intellectual property (IP) standards as essential to the success of any 21st century economy. IP provides the living and growing roots that stimulate innovation and bolster growth. And those with the strongest IP systems stand to reap the greatest economic rewards. The 2017 Index benchmarks the IP standards in 45 global economies, representing roughly 90% of global GDP. The 45 economies covered in the Index include: Kenya, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Nigeria, Argentina, France, Sweden, Algeria, Brunei, Poland, Germany, Israel, Ukraine, Ecuador, UK, Canada, UAE, Indonesia, Switzerland, Taiwan, China, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Colombia, South Africa, Thailand, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Philippines, Venezuela, Hungary and Australia.
As readers of this blog may already know, on April 26th every year, the World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated with the purpose of “learning the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.” According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this year’s focus is on exploring “how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer, and more comfortable, turning problems into progress.” In addition, the organisation highlighted the importance of looking at “how the intellectual property system supports innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, encouraging them to develop their ideas, and ensuring that their new knowledge is freely available so that tomorrow’s innovators can build on today’s new technology.”
Toward the end of 2016, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited tech hubs in Kenya and Nigeria. During this, he remarked: “The future will be built in Africa”. Indeed the emergence of Africa’s technology hubs is of crucial importance for those living on the continent, as the trend represents an opportunity for homegrown entrepreneurship, devising local solutions to socio-economic problems and being a major catalyst for the continent’s innovation revolution.
This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting Open AIR’s latest working paper, A Framework for Assessing Technology Hubs in Africa, which will soon be published in the New York University Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. This is the first paper to offer a framework for systematically describing and assessing the emergence of high technology hubs throughout Africa. It is also the first paper to explain the legal and policy implications of Africa’s innovation revolution for those both within and outside the continent. It is hoped that this paper will be the foundation for new research into African high technology hubs and innovation.