Tips on Protecting Your Intellectual Property (IP) Rights | Lifestyle | KenyaBuzz

Tips on Protecting Your Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

04 Dec 2013 | By June Gachui

It is important as a first step to understand what kind of work/product/invention you are creating or inventing. Once this is known, the next step is to establish what kind of IP protection is best suited for the work/product/invention you have created.

This protection of your IP by the law allows the owner of the IP to continue being innovative and provides them with peace of mind because they can continue working without the fear of infringement. However, in the event that infringement occurs, there are provisions in the law that would protect your IP, provided you have successfully applied for and received the relevant registration.

There are two (2) main streams of IP protection available:

1) Copyright

It is important to note that Copyright protection arises automatically once a work has been created and it does not depend on registration. Copyright law, however, protects only the form of expression of ideas and not procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. It covers the following works:

Original musical, literary, artistic, audio-visual works, sound recordings and broadcasts which shall all be eligible for copyright protection.

The procedure that one must follow in order to be able to effectively register their works is described clearly on the Kenya Copyright Board website. Please click here to read more.

2) Industrial Property

This area of IP is handled by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) which was set up to administer, protect, promote and educate on matters surrounding industrial property. Industrial property covers:

a) Patents: This link clearly explains what is eligible for patent protection / or to be patented’ and what is not.

b) Industrial Designs: Kenya also provides for protection of Industrial Design as defined in the Industrial Property Act 2001: “an industrial design is defined as “any composition of lines or colours or any three dimensional form whether or not associated with lines or colours, provided that such composition or form gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can serve as pattern for a product of industry or handicraft”. It is important to understand that an industrial design deals with the purely visual aspects of the work/article and does not therefore protect the method of construction or the function of the article. The process to secure registration of your industrial property at KIPI is also available on the KIPI website. (Ref:

c) Utility Models: These are defined as “… any form, configuration or disposition of element of some appliance, utensil, tool, electrical and electronic circuitry, instrument, handicraft mechanism or other object or any part of the same allowing a better or different functioning, use, or manufacture of the subject matter or that gives some utility, advantage, environmental benefit, saving or technical effect not available in Kenya before and includes micro-organisms or other self-replicable material, products of genetic resources, herbal as well as nutritional formulations which give new effect” They must generally be new or novel and have industrial applicability to be eligible for protection and once issued, the protection would last for 10 years.

d) Trade Marks: These are signs which serve to distinguish the goods or services of an industrial or a commercial enterprise or a group of such enterprises. The sign may consist of one or more distinctive works, letters, numbers, drawings or pictures, monograms, signatures, colours or combination of colours etc.

The sign may consist also of combinations of any of the said elements. A Trade Mark can be a word, a symbol , a design, or a combination of these, used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others in the market place.

The Trademarks Act (Cap 506) describes a mark as a distinguishing guise, slogan, device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter or numeral or any combination thereof whether rendered in two-dimensional or three-dimensional form. Usually the process to obtain a Trade Mark certificate is 6 months and once issued, the protection lasts for 10 years and covers the Trade Mark owner within the territory of Kenya. Read more.

The costs associated with the registration and protection of these various types of IP vary but much work has been done in making it affordable for the creatives to invest in this process.

The contact details for the organizations that have been referenced above re as follows:

Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI)
The Managing Director
Kenya Industrial Property Institute
Popo Rd. off Mombasa Rd. South “C”
Weights and Measures Complex
P.O. Box 51648 00200

TEL: +254-20-6002210/11
FAX: +254-20-6006312

Kenya Copyright Board
NHIF Building, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 34670-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel No: +254 20 2533869; Fax: +254 20 221 1082
E mail: /
Twitter: @kenyacopyright

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