Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights: Kenyan experience
Dr John E. K. Muchae, Deputy Director, Legal Department, Kenyan Industrial Property Office, Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, presented this paper.
Intellectual property system in Kenya.
Kenya has the requisite legislation providing for protection of intellectual property rights. The relevant Acts of Parliament are:
• The Industrial Property Act, cap. 509.
• The Trade Marks Act, cap. 506
• The Copyright Act, cap. 130, and
• The Seeds and Plant Varieties Act, cap. 326.
Intellectual property legislation is being revised in order to make it TRIPS compliant. New bills such as the Geographical Indications and Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits Bills have been drafted.
The Industrial Property Act contains provision for protection of pharmaceutical products and processes and in addition, it has provision for protection of herbal medicine under the utility models provisions.
Kenya strongly supports the WIPO initiative on traditional and indigenous knowledge
As a member of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO), Kenya supports the unanimous decision of the ARIPO Council of Ministers and the decision of the Administrative Council of ARIPO to link ARIPO’s initiatives with those undertaken by WIPO on matters relating to indigenous knowledge, and to pursue vigorously issues relating to the same.
Study on herbalists
A study, carried out by Paul M. Chege, a patent examiner attached to the Kenya Industrial Property Office, found that local and regional herbalists hold a substantial amount of knowledge on medicinal properties of biological resources in their environment. The study also found out that although herbalists are required to submit samples of their herbal medicines to the Kenya Medical Research Institute before they are registered and issued with recognition certificates by the Ministry of Culture, there is no effective communication between them, the Ministry of Culture and Social Services and the Kenya Medical Research Institute. As a result, the herbalists feel that they have, so far, been given a raw deal.
• Owing to the fact that indigenous knowledge and innovations in herbal medicine play a very important role in health care delivery, there is an urgent need to formulate legislation that would provide for protection of indigenous knowledge.
• Public awareness campaign should be intensified in order to make Kenyans aware of the importance of legislation, and exploitation of indigenous knowledge in Kenya. Holders of protected indigenous knowledge should be encouraged to register their trademarks and use such marks to aggressively market their products.