08 January, 2009

Need for new IP Laws?

Writing for the Standard Newspaper, Harold Ayodo is of the opinion that Parliament should enact new intellectual property “laws to enable citizens reap maximum benefits from innovation.”

He also believes that such laws are necessary to “protect ideas and information of commercial value” in order to stop “reproduction of works without permission from innovators.”

The writer further contends such laws would protect the public universities who are “victims of foreign institutions” who take credit for breakthroughs in joint research studies. This is perhaps in reference to the dispute in 2000 between the University of Nairobi and Oxford University over patent ownership and omission of Kenyan scientist as inventors in a patent application.

Whereas it is true as the writer says that the economy loses billions of shillings due to infringement of IP rights, it is debatable whether the causal agent is lack of IP laws, as he seems to suggest or weakness in existing laws.

As this blog has argued, the problem is not lack of IP laws but general weakness in the various existing laws, and more so to do with the thorny issue of enforcement. Such weaknesses in existing laws should be addressed through suitable amendments rather than enactment of other pieces of legislation, which seems to be the preferred thinking.

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