This blogger is pleased to learn that the monthly intellectual property (IP) discussion forum “IPCheckin” is back with its inaugural edition of 2015 graciously hosted by CIPIT at Strathmore Law School building. The topic of this inaugural edition is: “Reflections of 2014”. Although this blogger will not be able to attend IPCheckin this month, the topic is an important one which would require a few comments in absentia through this blogpost.
First and foremost, this blogger would like to salute CIPIT for reaching several notable milestones in the advancement of IP training, outreach and consulting for the benefit of Kenyans. As many will recall, CIPIT started off 2014 on a high note with the launch of Kenya’s first full text searchable database of patents granted by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)! This ground-breaking CIPIT resource is available online for free here.
On Valentines’ Day last year, CIPIT’s Director announced that Kenya’s first IP Moot Court competition was accepting applications from East African Law Schools. The inaugural IP Moot took place without a hitch on April 26, 2014 as part of the hugely successful World IP Day celebrations in Kenya. In addition to the IP Moot, CIPIT was the official host and co-organiser of all the World IP Day celebrations which included the “IP Pavillion” (exhibition stands by various IP stakeholders – including the IP Offices) and a discussion forum on the 2014 theme: “Movies – A Global Passion”. A full recap of Kenya’s World IP Day celebrations is available here.
Throughout the year, CIPIT continued to engage with both government and the private sector in policy formulation, advocacy and capacity building in the area of IP. For the second year running, CIPIT was selected as a host organisation for the prestigious Google Policy Fellowship programme. The list of 2014 Google Policy Fellowship host institutions is quite a who’s-who of tech research institutes from around the world! In recognition of CIPIT’s growing prominence in Africa, the Dr. Rutenberg-led Centre was selected as a host institution for the Open Technology Fund Information Controls Fellowship (along with other institutions such as Princeton and Harvard!). Finally, this blogger is pleased to announce that CIPIT’s Social Media and the Law Project is actively represented on this blog and all enthusiasts are invited to contribute articles in relevant topics of interest.
With this background in mind, this blogger wishes CIPIT great success in 2015!
Outside CIPIT, there have been other important developments in the IP space within Kenya in 2014. All these developments have been analysed by this blogger in over 58 blogposts published throughout the year.
In terms of impact, the biggest IP news story of 2014 in Kenya is undoubtedly the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in Communications Commission of Kenya & 5 others v Royal Media Services Limited & 5 others  eKLR. This case was centred around Kenya’s ‘imminent shift’ from analogue terrestrial broadcasting to digital terrestrial broadcasting on or before the international analogue switch-off date of June 17, 2015. This case is notable as it is the first pronouncement of the Supreme Court on any IP question. The IP question before the court was principally whether the (re)broadcasting of free-to-air programme-carrying signals under the “must carry rule” in the Regulations under Kenya’s Information and Communications Act amounted to copyright infringement. The findings of the Supreme Court and this blogger’s dissenting view can be found here.
A significant IP development in 2014 was the enactment of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2014 which introduced four amendments to the Anti-Counterfeit Act, namely sections 2, 6, 16 and 34 as well as four amendments to the Copyright Act, namely sections 22, 28, 33 and 46. This blogger has offered a preliminary analysis of the far-reaching amendments to the Anti-Counterfeit Act and Copyright Act here and here respectively.
In terms of blog readership, the following topics generated a lot of views in 2014:
– Bata’s triumph in Republic v Kenya Revenue Authority Exparte Bata Shoe Company (Kenya) Limited  eKLR (See here).
– Section 30A and the ‘back-door’ introduction of compulsory licensing in copyright law (See here).
– SafePak’s successful track-record of protecting its industrial designs (See here).
– That photogenic monkey and ownership of the selfie (See here)
– Litigation on ownership of IP in television shows (See here).
– That infamous Demand Letter in the Penny Galore v. Amani Women’s Group dispute (See here).
– JB Maina’s Kshs 15.5m settlement with Safaricom in copyright suit (See here).
– Research doctors receive their just dues in Dr. Samson Gwer & 5 others v. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) & 2 others Petition No. 21 of 2013 (See here).
With close to 30,000 views generated from all blogposts in 2014, the CIPIT blog continues to grow and as always we are looking for good content and IP enthusiasts willing to blog so if you feel so inclined in 2015, please contact us.