impact investing in Kenya and East Africa

Intellectual Property in Kenya: Do startups have access to the info they need?

A few months ago, iHub Research published this great infograph on Innovation Spaces in Kenya. The infographic shows that there has been an increase in the number of places where entrepreneurs can get nurtured and really improve their ideas. It is also impressive to see the diversity in terms of sectors that are addressed and also the participants in the industry. Involvement of public institutions is especially impressive and it will be interesting to see what comes of the university incubators.

While this warrants excitement, I am left wondering what is being done to develop the entire ecosystem. For instance, what has the government done to ensure that the legal system is covering this new field? The patent application process requires the inventor to disclose all the aspects of the innovation. This is however useless if the people this is explained to do not understand the technology. The process will often be long, and unfruitful. So, to what extent has Kenya Industrial Property Institute educated itself on the different new technologies to ensure that intellectual property is protected? Do the entrepreneurs know of the resources available to them in these matters?

To patent or not to patent…..that is the question.

Strathmore University’s Law School has taken up this challenge with the opening of the institution’s Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT).  The training institute

“Provides practical courses and seminars initially targeting lawyers, business professionals, venture capitalists, media houses, and start-up incubators in areas of IP law, with a particular focus on issues unique to ICT. Example training topics include IP portfolio management, IP valuation, patent drafting and filing, and effective IP licensing.”

They also run a free IP Clinic for entrepreneurs, individual inventors, and start-up companies. To find out more about the IP Clinic, please contact the center.

It is great to see such progress and I hope there will be more of such centers and a greater involvement from the legal field, the government, innovation hubs, startups and other relevant stakeholders.


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