Online IP registration system launched for Kenyan innovators

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The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) in collaboration with Microsoft 4Afrika has developed an online system allowing innovators, developers, and all other creators of intellectual property (IP) to register it online.

The online IP registration system is now available for user testing and review, and replaces the current manual process of registering IP in Kenya, which involves downloading registration forms, paying a fee via M-Pesa and submitting the forms at the KECOBO offices.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), between 2009 and 2012 only 123 patents were filed in Kenya, compared to 268,000 in the United States (US). Microsoft 4Afrika previously launched an online IP Hub in June 2014, looking to educate innovators about all aspects of IP.

“We have been working closely with the Microsoft 4Afrika IP Hub to develop an online system that makes registering IP faster and more accessible,” said Dr Marisella Ouma, executive director of KECOBO.

“In our efforts to invest in and scale up the system, we are encouraging innovators of all works to test the new online system and provide email feedback on their user experience.”

Ouma said the new system simplifies the process of registering IP in the hope of promoting a stronger culture of IP protection in Kenya.

“The goal with the IP Hub is to provide a learning resource for innovators, where they can learn all the ins and outs of copyright, trademarks, patents and general IP protection,” said Louis Otieno, director of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft 4Afrika.

“Together with KECOBO, we’re now moving to the next step to create a system where users, after learning about how to protect their IP, can easily go online, register their work and receive the necessary legal documents.”

Following the review and feedback phase, the system will be finalised and made available to all Kenyans through the country-wide Huduma Centres, with the registration process requiring a fee of around KES1,000 (US$10).

“KECOBO seeks, among other things, to protect and promote creativity in Kenya. We want to ensure all creators of IP have exclusive rights to their works and the correct compensations, so that they will continue to be inspired to invent, develop and create,” said Ouma.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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