The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center facilitates the resolution of commercial disputes between private parties involving intellectual property (IP) and technology, through procedures other than court litigation. The Center has offices in Geneva and Singapore. ADR of IP disputes benefits from a specialized ADR provider with WIPO mediators, arbitrators and experts experienced in IP and technology – able to deliver informed results efficiently. Other benefits include competitive WIPO fees and international neutrality.
Therefore the Center is a neutral, international and non-profit dispute resolution provider that offers time- and cost-efficient alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options. WIPO mediation, arbitration, expedited arbitration, and expert determination enable private parties to efficiently settle their domestic or cross-border IP and technology disputes out of court. The WIPO Center is also the global leader in the provision of domain name dispute resolution services under the WIPO-designed UDRP.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) aims to enable governments, businesses and individuals in all its 188 member states to realise the potential benefits of intellectual property (IP) as a driver of innovation and creativity. It is an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland with 1,300 staff from 120 countries around the world. WIPO also has over 350 accredited observers who take part in WIPO activities. Currently WIPO administers 26 international treaties touching on every aspect of IP.
According to WIPO, there are several IP-related policy issues currently under debate at the international level such as: patents and public health, trade marks and public health, appellations of origin and geographical indications (Lisbon issues), IP and development and traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources.
In the midst of two decades of TRIPs and three decades of openness, 400+ delegates from over 50 countries, ranging from established academics to activists to students converged in New Delhi for the 4th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (GCIP). Right from the inaugural plenary session, delegates were called to reflect on the progress of the Global Congress in the re-articulation of a public interest agenda in Intellectual Property (IP).
Over a period of three days, GCIP delegates met at the prestigious National Law University, Delhi to discuss a host of topics under four broad themes: Users’ Rights, Openness, IP and Development and Access to Medicines. Some of the outcomes from the various panel discussions were tweeted using the hashtags #GCIP15 and #GCIP2015.
Recently, the Draft Access to Information Bill was finally published by the Government Printer. The Bill is sponsored by Priscilla Nyokabi, MP. A copy of the Bill is available here.
This Bill is an important part of Kenya’s efforts to establish itself as the leading ICT investment destination in East and Central Africa and ICT-enabled business is a key component of its national development agenda, Vision 2030. The use of technology for improved delivery of government services, increased productivity, a world-class business environment and dynamic domestic markets in goods and services that can serve regional and global expansion are major drivers in maintaining a sustained economic growth rate of at least 10% per year for the next decade.
In 2009, the President of the United States (POTUS) Barack Obama launched the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) aimed at bringing investors and entrepreneurs from all around the world to showcase innovative ventures, exchange new ideas with a bid to spur economic opportunities and in turn economic development. The GES 2015 will be the sixth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, investors, mentors, and high-level government officials.
From an intellectual property (IP) perspective, the GES takes us back in time to the Vienna exhibition of 1873 when the Government of Austria-Hungary invited other countries to take part in an international exhibition on inventions. Many foreign participants were not willing to attend and exhibit their inventions at the exhibition because of the inadequate legal protection offered at that time to the exhibited inventions. The reluctance by innovators made apparent the lack of adequate protection on foreign inventions.
For the first time, the 2015 edition of Kenyan Blog Awards introduced the “Best Education Blog” category which rewards blog about education matters and those run by educational institutions. With this win, Strathmore University becomes the first ever educational institution to be awarded at the Kenyan Blog Awards.
From CIPIT’s inception in 2012, this blogger has been in charge of CIPIT’s social media presence including its Law Blog. This blog aims to be an independent and authoritative voice which explores legal governance issues at the intersection of intellectual property (IP) and information technology (IT).
This blogger was present at the Awards gala and gladly received the Award on behalf of CIPIT. From a YouTube clip of the event here, it appears that the CIPIT Blog domain name: www.cipitlawstrath.wordpress.com is quite a mouthful for some people therefore we might consider changing its name to something more user-friendly in time for next year’s edition of the Awards.
‘Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.’ – Plato
‘I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we are from, everyone loves music’ – Billy Joel
‘Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you’re doing me wrong so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh, no, something inside so strong
there’s something inside so strong’ – Labi Siffre.
The above song ‘Something Inside So Strong’ was written by British singer and song writer Labi Siffre who said it was inspired by a TV documentary on Apartheid in South Africa. A live performance of the song by PJ Powers during the ‘UCT 20 years of Freedom’ concert on 22 May 2014, holds true to the liberation struggle of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ as the country reflected on the strides it had made over the past 20 years.
On 14 April 2015, it is reported that US President Barack Obama hosted music legends and top gospel artists in an evening of singing and clapping. Obama stated that the unique and influential history of Gospel music has shaped many genres such as Jazz, Motown, Blues and Country music in present day America. He further stated that Gospel music had evolved over time but that its heart remained true and still had an unmatched power to strike the deepest chord in everyone. The US President further noted how gospel music was a staple of the Civil Rights Movement and how Hymns such as ‘Take My Hand’, ‘Precious Lord’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’ became movement songs that gave hope that the country would rise above its failures and disappointments.
Reflecting on the words of the lyrics to ‘Something Inside So Strong’, one cannot help but look back at the various roles played by Kenyan music in Kenya.
For instance, the music of one Joseph Kamaru is often regarded as an embodiment of the socio-cultural, political and religious set up of the Kikuyu people. On the socio-cultural plane, Kamaru sings of the values, norms and traditions of the Kikuyus. On matters religion, Kamaru’s songs speak of Kikuyu’s religion and the gospel. On the political front, Kamaru sings of the struggle for independence in Kenya, the suffering that was endured both by the Mau Mau and Europeans as well as their families, the victories and defeats of both factions. Kamaru also sings of Kenya’s post-independence era, its benefits, as well as expressing his opinion on Kenya’s early political leadership. A lot can be learned from Kamaru’s Kikuyu hit songs which actually give factual accounts of various facets of Kenya’s cultural and political history.
In this connection, one may recall how Gidi Gidi Maji Maji’s hit song ‘Unbwogable’ became a political slogan of the December General Elections. The song is a telling testimony of how hip hop music took center stage in politics and was capitalized by NARC; the political coalition that brought to an end Daniel Moi’s 24 year rule. At the time, pro-NARC supporters were united in song and the words ‘Unbwogable’ became the rallying cry of millions of Kenyans who wanted political change.
Five years later since the ‘Unbwogable’, the wake of the 2007/2008 post-election violence polarised Kenyans along ethnic lines and political parties. It was during this dark period of Kenya’s recent past that Eric Wanaina’s song ‘Daima’ shone a light in the hearts of Kenyans, reminding us of the importance of ‘uniting in our diversity’. Thereafter, the Kenyan Music national tour that was organized during that time with support from the Embassy of France, Total Kenya and Ford Foundation contributed to various reconciliation efforts in the country. Music and musicians from different regions of the country took part in the tour to promote and signify the diversity of the Kenyan people. Once again music was a unifying factor in Kenya.
Kenya’s popular protest song ‘Mapambano’ affectionately associated with the late Hon Otieno Kajwang, MP is today used in virtually all assemblies, demonstrations and rallies to express the call for reforms; be it social, political or economic reforms. Indeed a common sight in Kenya is a group of protesters aggrieved by the status quo holding hands and singing ‘Mapambano’.
Nameless’ song ‘coming home’ and Roger Whitaker ‘My land is Kenya’ are two household songs that are symbolic of patriotism, beauty and the greatness of our Nation. The two songs are particularly emotive to the millions of Kenyans living in the diaspora, away from home and would eventually want to return to their homeland.
These are just few examples of musical works that have had and continue to have an impact in Kenya. Music gets us through emotions; it soothes the soul and spirit, clears the mind and revitalizes the body. From the United States of America, down to South Africa and to the East of Africa in Kenya, Music has and is being used to communicate one language, express a shared and common goal while arousing hope for an ideal and just world.
And so, as Kenya joins the world in ‘getting up and standing up for music’, let it be a time to reflect on the impact of the various music genres and the huge influence they continue to have in these changing times. It is crucial that Kenyans are able to use music to speak where words and action cannot. From an IP perspective, protecting IP entails the balance of two interests, the owners of IP and those of the users of IP protected works. Kenya needs well considered IP regime and system that ensures no rights or interests adversely tramples over the other.
The turn of the 21st century saw the creation and use of digital currencies i.e. internet based mediums of exchange that allow instantaneous transactions and borderless transfer of ownership. These currencies developed during the internet boom of the 1990’s. Examples include: E-gold and Liberty Reserve (both shut down by the US government).
There has, however, been a resurgence in the interest in and creation of digital currencies in the last decade. The most notable of these creations is “Bitcoin”; the most widely used and accepted digital currency.
Bitcoin is touted as the world’s first decentralized currency as it allows transactions to occur directly between parties without the mediation of a financial institution. This feature makes it extremely attractive as it provides a degree of anonymity to the parties. Bitcoin employs cryptography to secure its transactions and control the creation of new units. Its protocol limits the total number of coins that can be created to 21 million units, thus eliminating inflation due to the lack of the erosion of the parties’ purchasing power.
While the true identity of its creator(s) remains unknown, its creation is credited to a Satoshi Nakamoto. It is however speculated that “Nakamoto” may be a pseudonym. The domain bitcoin.org was registered on the 18th of August 2008 at anonymousspeech.com and the first bitcoin transaction took place on the 12th of January 2009 between Nakamoto and Hal Finney; a developer and cryptography activist.
Central to the bitcoin network is a shared public network known as the block chain, where its financial transactions are tracked and recorded. The block chain contains every past bitcoin transaction in chronological order and is maintained by all bitcoin users. These transactions are grouped into “blocks” which are then timestamped and published. Each timestamp is linked to the time-stamp before it thereby forming a chain. Once a block is recorded, it cannot be changed without redoing the work and as blocks are chained after it, it is not possible to change a block without redoing all the following blocks. This creates a public database of all bitcoin transactions.
Beyond its use in the bitcoin network, this technology can also be applied in the protection of digital intellectual property due its ability to demonstrate the property’s authenticity, ownership and time of creation, while still preserving the confidentiality of its contents. This would be enabled by the development of commercial services based on it such as the “Proof of Existence” service; a decentralized method of verification built by Manuel Araoz an Argentinian developer, where users pay a fee to upload a document and have its cryptographic proof included in the block chain.
In this respect bitcoin would provide a “means” rather than an “end” in the protection of digital property as it only goes as far as assisting in the enforement of intellectual property rights and would thus require widespread acceptance and enabling legislation to enable the use of its general ledger as a mainstream method of verifying digital property authorship.
A practical avenue for such implementation would be in the maintenance of the Patent Roll. This would help resolve conflicts that often arise during patent registration in cases where it is difficult to establish which party registered a patent for an invention first, as the party with whom the right to the patent lies would be identified from the Patent Roll based on the time of registration.
While bitcoin’s profitability in the financial world cannot be ignored, this blogger notes that its technology’s application in the protection of digital intellectual property may prove to be extremely lucrative due to its capacity to revolutionize the Intellectual Property Management status quo.
After getting a close-up of the picture above, several thoughts come rushing to mind. The writing on this exhauster services tanker reads “Trade Mark (R)” which from an intellectual property (IP) perspective means that the word “Trade Mark” is a registered as a trade mark. Such irony!
This blogger suspects that the person behind this writing was probably inspired by all the branded goods and services that surround us on our daily lives. Interestingly though, unlike copyright where “Copyright” “(c)” are often used side by side without creating a repetitious irony, the same cannot be said for trade marks, it seems.
This blogger shared today’s picture of the day with some colleagues and here are some of the comments made so far:
“it’s amazing how ignorant we are of IP, but then again it is good for such mistakes to be made it means we are making headway in terms of awareness….ߘatleast he has a clue about the sign and the word trade mark …..All we need to find him is a trade mark and registered it and he will be good. For starters maybe wira na wira.”
” Ha! it is the wira ni wira that need to be registered as a TM..”
“Has d guy actually registered d mark? Really funny… Is it in Kenya? Well done with your IP awareness creation”
“That’s the first sign that someone is aware of IP. Sensitization is working, we can start with that!”
The Linda Ikeji Blog (LIB) commands a great deal of readership and influence in Nigeria with an average of 100 comments per blogpost and over 425,000 followers on twitter. Earlier this month, it was reported that LIB was taken down from the Google-owned “Blogger” platform and later restored by Google. Linda Ikeji disclosed that LIB was taken down following allegations of plagiarism and copyright infringement, presumably under the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). However Google has declined to categorically state why the blog was taken down but generally explained that: “We [Google] take violations of policies very seriously as such activities diminish the experience for our users. When we are notified of the existence of content that may violate our Terms of Service, we act quickly to review it and determine whether it actually violates our policies. If we determine that it does, we remove it immediately.”
This blogpost considers LIB’s recent experience from an intellectual property (IP) perspective and concludes that this case should be an eye-opener to bloggers, especially in Kenya.
As we know plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing. The key distinguishing factor is the use intended. A copyright infringer uses your work in order to derive some commercial benefit. On the other hand, a plagiarizer uses your work in order to assume your identity as the author for purposes of recognition and attribution. Therefore every case of copyright infringement can also be plagiarism but not all cases of plagiarism amount to copyright infringement.
In the case of LIB, Ikeji addresses here the allegations of plagiarism and copyright infringement made against her blog:
“My understanding of plagiarism is when you take someone’s work and republish it verbatim as your own work. I don’t do that. But if I have ever done that in the past then I apologize. It was an oversight. I do get a lot of original content, way more than any other blogger in this country. Some of the biggest news stories in this country in recent times was broken by LIB. From Goldie’s death (God rest her soul) Aluu4, ABSU rape, P-Square saga, Solomon Akiyesi and plenty more. And when I take news from other sources, I always credit them. When I don’t give credit is when the news is everywhere so I write it in my own words and make it mine. I don’t believe that is a crime. I admit that I have used photos without giving credit. I apologize. That will never happen again. You learn every day. And I have learnt from this.”
Here in Kenya, the case of media personality Caroline Mutoko’s blatantly plagiarised article has been aptly by one of her own colleagues here. Despite Mutoko’s vehement denials, it was evident to most observers at the time that the matter was ripe for both criminal and civil action at the instance of the copyright owner who reportedly confirmed that Mutoko never sought authorisation to use the work. Although the fair dealing provision of the Kenya Copyright Act may serve as a defence in cases of infringement, there remains a compulsory requirement of attribution which reads “subject to acknowledgement of the source”.
Still on the issue of copyright, an interesting issue that arose in the LIB story relates to abuse of the DMCA take-down procedures. Ikeji claims that Google restored LIB “in record time” after verifying that the allegations of copyright infringement were “bogus and deliberate sabotage.” Generally speaking, bogus copyright and trademark complaints threatens all kinds of creative expression on the Internet. In this connection, many will recall the recent case where Wikimedia Foundation refused to take down that notorious monkey selfie. The monkey selfie claim by Caters News Agency against Wikimedia is considered by some as “dubious” and a DMCA abuse. See our discussion of the monkey selfie dispute here.
In addition to copyright issues, there is also an important trade marks lesson in the LIB story. It was reported that once LIB was taken down by Google, Ikeji was forced to direct her readers to a temporary site: lindaikeji.mobi since “cybersquatters had acquired all her potential domain names” including the domain name: lindaikeji.net which had been registered by one Mukhtar Dan’Iyan through an alias.
Ordinarily one would expect that any blog which is able to get thousands of comments and sell advertising space to companies, such as LIB, would have long taken the necessary steps to protect the LIB name as a trade mark and register several domain names closely related to LIB as a defensive measure against infringers and squatters respectively. However, this appears not to have been the case in the LIB story.
In the final analysis, any serious online content creator must be aware of the boundaries of IP and operate within those boundaries. The role of IP becomes more critical where the online content creator’s blog or website is commercial in nature.