By Mercy King’ori
Typically, corporations more than individual inventors, are known to spearhead inventions and make use of the patent system as a tool of protection. In fact, statistics on patent applications and grants indicate that most patenting activity is done by companies more than individuals. Nevertheless, the situation is not uniform throughout the world. According to a study interrogating whether patents and utility models encourage innovation in Kenya, it showed that the number of individual inventors applying and receiving patents is more than corporations. However, despite more individuals applying and receiving patents, the number of patents is still low and there is a high rate of abandonment of patents. The study reveals that more individuals were granted utility model certificates than corporations. Additionally, it reveals that despite corporations having fewer patents in Kenya, there is still inventive work happening in the companies.
To anyone who has interacted with news of innovation levels in Kenya, this might come as a surprise since Kenya has been and continues to be hailed as a hub of innovation. Infact, the Global Innovation Index (GII), continuously ranks Kenya among the highest of the African countries. This is despite the mentioned low number of patents. However, this can be attributed to the fact that the level of innovation in a country is not measured by the level of patenting activity only. The 2019 GII indicated that there are other indicators of innovation in a country such as the amount of venture capital deals in a country, level of high technology imports, mobile app downloads and political and operational stability among other indicators. According to GII, patent applications is just one of the sub- indicators under the sub-pillar of knowledge creation which is under the larger pillar of “knowledge and technology outputs”. The GII uses uniform indicators to rank all the countries. For example, under the sub-pillar of knowledge creation where patent applications fall, it shows that Kenya ranks as number 72 out of the 130 countries.Continue reading