Last week, we kicked off our Lions’ Den blog series by highlighting some of the practical applications of copyright, patent, trade mark and design protections in business sectors ranging from mobile technology to apparel and clothing as well as comic book publishing. This week, we consider some of the intellectual property (IP) aspects of the business proposals pitched in Episode 2.
First in the den was Michael Nduati, whose company is behind M-Kura an online platform where registered mobile phone users are able to cast a vote in an election from any location. M-Kura (which loosely translates to M-Ballot in Kiswahili) is still in prototype phase thus Nduati requires funding for development and testing of this mobile application (app). His pitch to the Lions was Kshs 1,500,000 for 25% equity stake in the company. From an intellectual property (IP), apps like M-Kura may be protected through copyright, patent and industrial design registrations. Such registrations would allow Nduati’s company to monetise the application by licensing it out to election bodies and other third parties. Interestingly, the Lion who saw potential in M-Kura cited its potential as a brand. This requires trade mark registration at Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI).
Next in the den was Abdalla Dones the founder of Amdones Herbal Shop who has been selling his “Amdones Herbal Soap” for the last 11 years. His pitch to the Lions was Kshs 500,000 for a 4% equity stake in the business. From an IP perspective, it is not enough to develop a strong brand name such as Amdones, protecting such a brand is essential for continued growth and as a deterrent to potential infringers. To that end, Dones and his new-found investor, Chandaria Industries will have to consider making trademark applications at KIPI. Unlike M-Kura, the brand name “Amdones” would be referred to as a coined trade mark and is considered as a strong mark because it is inherently distinctive since it consists of a combination of letters that has no meaning; it is an invented word.
That’s it for Episode 2. Stay tuned for more IP insights when we review Episode 3 next week.