Workshop 1: Protecting Intellectual Capital

GES 2015 in Nairobi

Workshop 1: Protecting Intellectual Capital

Saturday, July 25

Moderator: Antony Cook, Microsoft

-    Tamarind Nott, Mbiri Skincare
-    Isaac Rutenberg, Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), Strathmore University Law School
-    Ituze Ndutiye Colombe, INCO Icyusa
-    Victor Nzomo, Intellectual Property Assets Consulting

Estimated number of attendees:  Approximately 20


Terminologies that emerged during discussion:
•    Intellectual Property (IP): A registered right over a brand or product
•    Intellectual Capital: The value (monetary) of a protected property/product
•    Patent: Exclusive right to an innovation/invention/idea
•    Copyright: Legal term to define patent
•    Trademark: Identity/name/business idea

Emphasis: So many entrepreneurial ideas are emerging throughout the world in the 21st Century. When developing and an idea/product, an entrepreneur needs to take into consideration the following:

•    Various national/regional global legal regimes governing the registration and enforcement of compliance with IP rights in frontier markets,
•    Understanding the sector so as to know who else has registered a closely related idea/brand/product. A case of the Nairobi Java House was cited when the same name could not be registered in Uganda since a close identity/name already existed.
•    Analysis of the cost of protecting the entrepreneurial idea. 
•    Protection and promotion of the source/raw materials or those involved in the thought process – look at protecting the value-chain. 
•    Be in control of and/or protect the platform upon which the idea will be promoted.  Having a protected domain will save one from penalties on violating various policies governing the use of social media. It may also prevent adversaries and staff from postings that may undermine your product/idea. 

Q & A: 

Q. Is it worth registering IPs in Africa given weak regulatory frameworks? What are tax implications of doing so? 
A. There a few countries in Africa with strong legal regimes in managing IPs. It is important to know and take advantage of existing regional mechanisms that govern IPs in French and English speaking countries in Africa. This would lower the cost of registering IPs in every country and may also assist in ensuring compliance to patents in countries where legal regimes and enforcement are weak. In addition, we need to map IP threats levels and categorize them whether emanating from small vendors or big corporations.   

On taxes, entrepreneurs are encouraged to negotiate tax incentives and share with their governments possible benefits when IPs are domiciled in their countries. 

Q. How do we ensure the interests of entrepreneurs taken on board when they are involved in the co-design with big corporations? 

A. Although business-process patenting is allowed in some legal regimes, it is not easy when big corporations are involved.  They tend to focus on product patenting rather than business/ideas/thought-process patenting. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to go beyond ideas when dealing with big companies and negotiate for flexibility from big corporations to ensure acknowledgment and protection of the entire value chain. 

Q. How do we protect content -- such are comic/TV stories -- from being developed/produced without consent. How do we ensure copyrights are protected?

A. We need to look at special incentives that may be extended to producers and distributors, while at the same time allowing the product to achieve its objectives. Emphasis should be on acknowledgement of the author of the script, when and for what purpose. This would make the producers and distributors more receptive and share the proceeds since their value-addition is also recognized.