Patent your ideas, forum tells public

Mr Kipchumba Murkomen, director Anti-Counterfeit Agency addresses a World Intellectual Property Organisation Day at Eldoret Municipal hall on Monday. The two-day event that ended on April 27, 2010 was aimed at sensitising the public on property rights, counterfeit goods and ways of fighting the menace. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Entrepreneurs should seek patents for their innovations before disclosing what they entail to the public, a meeting has been told.

During an Intellectual Property Awareness exhibition organised by Moi University’s School of Law in Eldoret, it was noted that Kenya risks having some of its inventions copied if it does not intensify sensitisation campaigns.

Participants cited ownership of the traditional hand woven sisal basket commonly referred to as kiondo, noting that Japan laid claim on its trademark as some of the outcomes of taking too long to patent unique products.

“We lost the kiondo trademark and the debate over the ownership of kikoi fabric is still enmeshed in our minds. It’s high time we streamlined our operations to save this country from losing its cultural designs,” said Mr Thomas Okello, a student from Eldoret Polytechnic.

Anti-Counterfeit Agency director Onesmus Kipchumba said once the application for patent is granted, one will enjoy monopoly over the production and marketing of the products.

He said that to own the rights, one must have registered with relevant institutions locally or where Kenya is a member, in order to qualify for protection.

Kenya Industrial Property Institute is mandated to administer industrial property rights and provide information to the public.

Whole country

Others include Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, World Intellectual Property Organisation and African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation.

Mr Kipchumba warned that the agency could resort to traversing the whole country as from June 1, this year to check on those abusing the rights as they create awareness about the need to protect their products.

He said that non-compliance had resulted to influx of sub-standard products in the market some of which, he noted, posed health risks to consumers.

Mr Kipchumba appealed to wananchi to be wary of cheap products saying some of them could be counterfeits with far reaching detrimental effects.