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Protecting Your Intellectual Property


Technological change remains one of the most important advancements affecting businesses both negatively and positively. It enables entrepreneurs to run their operations effectively and efficiently while leveraging on the challenges brought about by the same advancements that render some technologies obsolete.  

As such, most startups are actively engaged toward improving their brand, business names, technologies and inventions aimed at improving the efficiencies of running their business.  Different types of intellectual property mechanisms can be applied to safeguard these different aspects. 

1. Trademarks

Basically, a trademark is a word or a combination of words, letters, signs, designs, expressions, numbers, symbols or logos.  

They protect such word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies with the source of a product. It can be use by startups to ensure the business name, its design and word combinations in the preferred name is protected from use by other businesses. Ideally, it safeguards against confusing the consumers of a particular brand from other products seeking to use the same brand to advance themselves while also ensuring the owner fully benefits from their ingenuity. 

Registering a trademark confers exclusive ownership and safeguards the owner from infringement through use of the mark by third parties. The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) is mandated with the registration of trademarks in Kenya. 

2. Copyright

This is an exclusive right to distribute, reproduce or perform in public an original, artistic or literary works. 

It is aimed at protecting the creative or intellectual work of the owner. Copyrights are applied for photographs, music, forms of art hence ensuring the authors or owners rights over their use is protected. To use such works, one has to seek permission of the owner and is usually expected to proffer royalty payments in return. 

The statutory noy in charge of enforcing copyright in Kenya is the Kenya Copyright Board – KECOBO. It organizes the collection of royalties for copyright holders and fines persons and businesses that infringe on copyright. A copyright owner can transfer ownership of their copyright to another via assignment which is only valid when registered with KECOBO. 

3. Patents

A patent features the exclusive right to use or sell an invention. It can be a new product or process that offers a new way of doing something or a solution to a problem.  

It prevents anyone from making, using or selling the patented invention hence ensuring that the patent owner benefits directly from the use of their invention by third parties. 

Patent rights belong to the inventor(s) and can be registered under one or more individuals jointly where two or more individuals have jointly contributed to an invention. They are registered by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) either personally or with the assistance of a licensed patent agent who advises and assists inventors with patent applications. 

4. Industrial Design

This is the right to the exclusive use of the outward appearance of a product. 

It enables a producer to have special designs of their product to distinguish them form products of competitors. 

Primarily, an industrial design is only registerable if it is novel, has not been disclosed to the public prior to its application for registration and the design does not offend public order or morality. Registration is done at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) personally by the applicant or represented by an agent. If applicant is not the creator, the application should be accompanied with a statement justifying their right to registration of the design. 


While intellectual property is divided into industrial property, copyrights and plant breeder’s rights, its protection generally prevents or blocks competitors from duplications, helps one acquire transfer rights such as licensing and ensures protection of standards. 

For assistance on your intellectual property registrations, disputes and general advisory reach out to Netsheria International LLP at info@netsheria.com or call us on 0741296087 and we will guide you in making informed decisions, maximizing returns on your works and effecting and timely registrations to ensure compliance with your IP obligations. 

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