Since the onset of the digital age, Kenya has grown exponentially in terms of technological innovation and creativity. As such the review to its intellectual property laws, through the Intellectual Property Bill 2020, has been a long time coming.

The Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms which is a merger of all Intellectual Property Agencies namely the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and the Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) together with Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development and the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) has worked on a draft bill- Intellectual Property Bill 2020 and has requested for comments on the document to be submitted on or before 17th May 2020.

Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect.  There are many types of intellectual property such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.  The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods.

The law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. During this time, creators can earn a profit from the information and intellectual property they create. These economic incentives help to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries and innovators.

In recent times, however, we have seen an upsurge of complaints that creators are not earning an income from the intellectual property they create. Media houses have sued individuals for downloading and spreading PDF versions of their newspapers online, which denies them an income. Bloggers, photographers and videographers have also been on the receiving end of intellectual property theft.

Currently, intellectual property law in Kenya is governed through many laws. For example, the Anti Counterfeit Authority( ACA), deals with counterfeit goods and related rights, The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has the mandate of overseeing the administration of copyright and related rights, while the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) deals with trademarks, patents, technology innovations and utility models.

The Bill among others proposes the creation of an Intellectual Property Office of Kenya to undertake activities. Having such an office will ensure all complaints regarding intellectual property are dealt with, under one umbrella law.

The Bill is in its formative stages and is not yet tabled in parliament. Once tabled, the statutory public participation forum will be open providing yet another opportunity to further comment on the content of the Bill. If interested in submitting comments to the Taskforce for their consideration, you are urged to do so on or before the deadline, 17th May 2020. Read the notice, here.

Please find the draft Intellectual property Bill, 2020 here.