Kenya is on course to implement new intellectual property rights through the latest Intellectual Property Bill 2020 that’s aimed at spurring innovation in the country. Currently, the country is highly ranked as the second most innovative country in Africa and a home to a handsome of global innovations.
Items which can be classified under the intellectual property laws include innovations, copyrights as well as trademarks. Trademarks are basically those special marks that uniquely identify goods and services to a particular company. These marks may as well refer to brand names while on the other hand, copyrights are intended to safeguard artistic creations of the mind.
Copyrights are quite common in the entertainment industry with the likes of audio, visual, literary, computer graphics as well as audio-visual beneath the same copyright umbrella. The last segment of intellectual property includes patents, technology innovations and utility models which are all contained in the Industrial Property Act. There’s also a less common type of intellectual property that entails industrial designs as well as geographical indications.
At the moment, Kenya’s intellectual property laws are contained in several existing laws such as the Industrial Property Act which regulates patents, utility models and technology innovations, trademark laws that regulate trademarks and Copyrights which regulate the same and related rights. But there also existing some government organs that oversee the administration of the various classes of rights.
In the proposed intellectual property bill 2020, the laws therein intent to make changes to the current status by incorporating several pieces of legislation into one known as the Intellectual Property Act (IP Act). The act will then include different classes of legislations under one law and will also lead to the creation of one statutory body to administer intellectual property in Kenya, that is, the Intellectual Property Office.
Consolidation of the intellectual property laws comes with major advantages as is the case with other countries such as Rwanda that were drafted with assistance from the World Intellectual property Organization (WIPO). Consolidating laws into one as was done with previous laws regulating marriage has several benefits that comes into play especially during legal interpretations.
The proposed law accommodates for an intellectual policy and strategy which the old ones didn’t have. Any progressive legislative environment has to be supported by a strong policy to guide future changes in the law. The new proposals spells importance in the growth and development of Kenya’s economy. The functions of the regulatory authority have been expanded to accommodate fighting counterfeits and promotion of innovations. The regulatory body will not just administer the rights but also participate in enforcement.