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How to safeguard intellectual property

There is a thin line between flattery and outright ‘theft‘. [File, Standard]

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say. But some other time this would land one in trouble for uplifting another person’s work without proper consent.

There is a thin line between flattery and outright ‘theft‘, but most creative do not know the legal steps one can take. 

A fortnight ago, a Nigerian photographer and designer faulted a newly opened mall in Nairobi for allegedly copying his work. He, however, obliterated he did not mind artistes who were inspired by his works and opted to borrow from his style.

“My agency will be looking into this with their lawyers, but honestly I do not know if there is anything that can be done. It is hard having IP on all the work I do. I create too often for that to even be a thing. This is wild, but I guess,” he shared his thoughts on Twitter.

This is not a stand-alone case as earlier on in the year, author Sakwa Ongoma blasted some media personalities for using his content without acknowledging the source. His frustrations, however, were laid to rest when the renowned media personalities organised a sit-down and aired out the concerns.

Such scenarios happen over and again and creatives are always advised to know what laws protect them or always engage legal minds.

“Intellectual Property (IP) are intangible assets and IP Law is the body of law that helps convert the creations of the mind into intangible assets. This can be done through identifying the nature of creation and how best IP law can protect the creation,” says Liz Lenjo, founder of MyIP Legal Studio.

“Registration of IP work is like a title deed. It is evident that you have a stake or right in the work. And acts as proof. Though it can be challenged depending on the circumstances it is advised to register one’s copyright,” she added.

Registration of such patents come in different categories and one should be fully aware of what suits them best. Be it through Patent Registration, Utility Model Registration, Industrial Designs Registration and Trademark registration. These are otherwise referred to as Industrial Property.

The other form of protection is copyright, which is less technical as it protects the expressions of ideas and not business models or concepts or facts. It applies to artistic, literary, musical and architectural works as well as sculptures and software. This can be done through Kenya Copyright Board.

“Registration of a Copyright is prudent because it enables one to assert their rights in the work and if someone infringes on your IP in general, retain the services of a lawyer. One stands to lose a lot when they try to resolve it themselves because they lack knowledge and strategy,” says Liz.