A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It's how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors. Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) a parastatal under the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development is responsible for Trademark registration in Kenyarademarks in Kenya are categorized in accordance with the International Classification of Goods and Services as provided for under the NICE protocol.
Kenya is one of the members of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO). ARIPO is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Kenya is also empowered by the Harare protocol on patents and industrial designs to grant patents and register industrial designs on behalf of states also signatory to this protocol. The country is a signatory to a number of key international IP (Intellectual Property) agreements, one of such being the TRIPS agreement of the WTO. TRIPS stand for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Procedure for registering a Trademark in Kenya
1. Trademark Search in Kenya
This is a preliminary search conducted to ensure a trademark is registrable in Kenya. This search is not mandatory but will help an applicant know their chance of success upon application also if their desired trademark already exists in the market.
2. Application for registration of Trademark
After carrying out a trademark search, an application is officially submitted to the Registrar by the proprietor of the trademark. This application is made on Form TM 2 and should be accompanied by representations of the mark.
Three phases of examinations will be carried out during the trademark registration process. First there will be a formality examination to ensure the general legibility of application forms. This is followed by a search carried out by the Registrar to ensure the trademark is not similar to any other mark on the Registry. And lastly there will be a substantive examination to make certain the distinctiveness of the mark.
The trademark is then advertised in the KIPI Journal to allow any interested parties raise objections. This process will be carried out for a period 60 days.
Once the registrar is satisfied with the outcome of the examination, and no objections have been raised after 60 days following publication in the journal, the trademark is approved and registration proceedings officially begin.
The trademark should be certified as registered as at the date of application for registration.
Trademark Registration Fees in Kenya
The fees for the process of trademark registration is broken down by KIPI here
Significance of trademark registration in Kenya
Registration of a trademark is direct evidence of exclusive ownership in Kenya and helps keep off potential infringers who would be attempted to ride on the goodwill of your mark. It enables you to protect your rights easily from infringement by third parties, while also enabling you to recover in such event. Trademark registration gives you the power to permit use by others.
Intellectual Property Protection in Kenya
Intellectual Property is a general term used to refer to intangible assets an entity or individual possesses and can shield from external use without the owners' consent. This simply means the owner of such property has exclusive rights over who is permitted to use their inventions, creations or methods. Use is usually allowed after a payment of royalties or special fees as agreed between parties involved. Trademark is a form of Intellectual property however, there are a few others.
A patent is granted by a designated government agency on property/invention of the inventor. A patent can be for a physical invention, an improvement to an existing design, a new design entirely or even a novel process. Patents give the holders exclusive rights to who can use their inventions and can grant the holders a competitive market advantage.
Copyright protects the rights of a creator of literary or artistic works. This will generally include books, paintings & drawings, and other pieces of literature/art. It is commonly known as the author's right or the artist's right. The Kenya Copyright Board oversees copyrights in Kenya.
3. Industrial Design
Industrial design simply refers to the outward appearance of a product. The special designs of some products may give them an edge in the market based on visual appeal. This form of IP protection seeks to protect the unique design patterns of some products.
4. Utility Models
Utility model refers to any form or configuration of an appliance, tool or other object allowing a different (and often better) use or manufacture of the appliance or object, that gives some utility, advantage, environmental benefit or technical effect not available in Kenya before.
The Kenyan Government's Intellectual Property Bill 2020 is a new outlook on intellectual property protection in the nation. The Bill seeks to tighten policy control around Intellectual Property enforcement. This bill will cause a combination of IP related Acts, thereby resulting in the combination of all related IP agencies, namely; the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), Kenya Intellectual Property Institute (KIPI) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Agency (ACA), to form one Intellectual Property Office of Kenya (IPOK).
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.