Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are Trademarks more fun?

Maybe that question sounds a bit geeky odd? What does it matter? Well plenty! 

I realise the last time I had a good laugh with matters IP (apart from SOPA and PIPA being kicked to the proverbial curb) is when Chanel issued a 'note of information' regarding its brand.

Why does it seem that the Senior Counsel in Trade-Mark Law (Junior Counsel/Pupils/Legal Assistants are nothing but minions trust me) have more fun? 

Perhaps, their line of work being more 'hands on', 'market oriented' and having to rather than choosing to work with the marketers, fashion editors, advertisers and copy writers is actually a far walk away from the dreary dull benched courtrooms- hence more fun.  Should Patent Counsel then be viewed as Science Based Post Graduates with a thing for white lab coats and Ammeters? 

I am and have always been a copyright girl, maybe because I love the written word, the world of fiction and the literary arts; that over fancy logos and slogans any day! 

What matters though is that, through such humourous cease and desist letters and information notes from the new generation of intellectual property practitioners, the public are beginning to understand the importance of intellectual property in the practical aspects of their everyday lives. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

IP Check In  

Date:                14th July  2012 
Time:               10.45am for 11am- 1pm, at the iHub 
Topic:               Software Patents, The Current Status -VS- The Ideal Status.
Main Issue:      Should software patents be allowed?

The debate on software patents still rages on. Even where software patents have long since been adopted the scope of protection differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. What applies in the US, the European Union and China vary!

Software innovation being a field that is constantly in flux and patents being a rigid form of protection begs the question as to whether the two ever be in seamless sync.  Or rather, is it a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water; are software patents really the problem or the lack of understanding or knowledge for implementation of the same?

What do you believe should be the next step for the Kenyan Perspective? Are software patents a nightmare that have so far been well avoided or should the same be implemented within our borders.


Monday, October 24, 2011

IP Workshop at the KIFFT: A Round Up.

The 6th Edition of the Kenya Film Festival (KIFF) is currently underway at various venues around Nairobi as well as other cities around the country. Included as part of KIFF are a number of workshops tailored generally at the film making industry. One of these workshops held on the 24th of October 2011 was the IP Rights and Exploitation Workshop coordinated by the Nigerian firm dtalkshop through one of its platforms 'Wetin Lawyers Dey Do...Sef?' used to bridge the gap between lawyers other professionals and the film industry players. The program of the day (picture on the left) included discussions on the relationships in the film industry and the role of other professionals in the industry; structuring contracts, licensing agreements ; identifying IP rights and tackling infringement as well as exploiting the finished products in the film industry. The workshop was attended by IP industry players who acted as resource persons and included Dr Marisella Ouma Executive Director of the Kenya Copyright Board ,Mr. Emeka Mba Director General of the Nigerian National Film and Video Censors Board, Mr. Dayo Ogunemi of Cinemax, producers and film makers Mr. Bob Nyanja, Mr. Jimmy Shamoon and Mr. Yahya Chavanga, Advocate Gerry Gitonga of Azania Legal Consultants as well as your writer. The coordinator and moderator of the event was Counsel Efere Ozako the principal of Efere Ozako & Associates Nigeria. The audience engaged the discussants on the topical issues where it became clear that the Kenyan Entertainment industry including film although a potential huge resource earner for the economy (last pegged as having the capacity to bring in Kshs. 40 billion) is still yet to have formal structures installed both for the development of film and further for the exploitation of film once completed. It was highlighted that there is a Draft Film Policy 2011 that is yet to pass in parliament but which attempts to create formal structures for the film industry. Distributors are required in the market to cater to the high demand of film products. There was an indication that there would be an increase in the number of theaters available in the country that would not only carry foreign film content but would also carry local and other African film content. Emphasis was put on local film makers to produce films that would appeal to the local market first and foremost. It was acknowledged that IP plays a major role in the film industry pre production (clearances, licences, sorting out ownership of rights, ip as means of finance for project, work for hire and commissioning contracts) and post production phases (character merchandising, infringement, protection) and the attendees were made aware of the various clearances and licenses that they would require and how they would go about obtaining the same (a follow up post on this in detail will follow in due course). Film makers were encouraged to approach lawyers to enable them to frame their needs in contracts and agreements that would better protect them and enable smooth exploitation of their products. The Nigerian perspective was canvassed by the Nigerian participants who gave lively ancedotes of the situation in Nollywood and compared with the Riverwood experience. Young film makers were encouraged to practice their craft as practice made perfect. Its difficult to canvass a topic about IP and films and not have a debate about piracy. It was clearly pointed out that the advent of pirates was a phenomenon that affected both Nollywood and Riverwood. The difficulty in succesfully prosecuting pirates was highlighted. I was glad to hear that section 36 of the Copyright Act 2001 had been challenged by constitutional reference although I do not fully agree with there being a contradiction between the Bill of Rights and the section per se it does need to be restructured and the fact that this was going on was encouraging (this is a whole other blog post altogether :) ). In conclusion, the IP Workshop was a great starting point for liasions between professionals in the film industry as well as lawyers. A platform was set up for further deliberation between individuals with the networking that went on after the event as well as the prospects for a similar event next year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dilution & Chanel

This letter from Chanel, short and sweet explains it all about brand dilution and (edit) genericization (yes its a real word) of trademarks (end edit) and why trademark owners ought to fiercely protect their brands. Though some may think it a mark of success that their brand is used as the 'SI-Unit' of a certain field it definitely does no favours for their IP portfolio!

Picture Source: http://blackfashion.tumblr.com/post/5838192564/even-though-this-tumblr-isnt-chanel-affiliated

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm with Cinderella.

"Copyright is the Cinderella of the law. Her rich older sisters, franchises and patents, long crowded her into the chimney-corner. Suddenly fairy godmother Invention endowed her with mechanical and electrical devices as magical as the pumpkin coach and the mice footmen. Now she swirls through the mad mazes of a glamourous ball." Zechariah Chafee (Jr.)

I remember first coming across this quote rushing through an assignment for my IP lecture. It struck me and stuck with me. I hadn't even seen the full quotation rushing as I was to beat deadlines.

Zechariah Chafee Jnr (1898-1957) was an American judicial philosopher and civil libertarian who was known to publish from time to time articles with provocative titles. An alumni of Brown and Harvard universities he would later lecture as a Professor of Law at his latter Alma Malter. Read more about Z. Chafee here

Now many summers and winters later it seems that his quote is now coming to be reality in Kenya. Look at the uproar that the MCSK and KECOBO are causing now. What about the advent of copyright trolls and dare I add the very existence of this blog?

It seems that the Kenyan legal and creative industry is now alive to the beauty of copyright and all that it entails. It should, the younger generation are the creatives are they not? They write, they make music, they create magazines, they are the copyright generation. Already bloggers are taking the first steps to sensitize themselves on what copyright really is and what it entails, look at this article here.

Credits: The photo of Z. Chafee is Public domain work (photograph 1907). Original photographer / copyright owner unknown and is sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChafeeJrZechariah-1907-BrownArchives.jpg.