Makerere University Registers Name, Main Building to Prevent Abuse

4862 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Makerere University obtained the trademarks and copyrights in November 2014 from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) following a resolution by the University Council to reduce the rampant abuse of the university's symbols.

Makerere University, Uganda's oldest and most prestigious higher institution of learning has registered the university name and Mak acronym as trademarks that cannot be used without prior permission.

The university has also registered its emblem, anthem and the iconic main building as copyrights that cannot be copied for commercial and other purposes. A trademark is a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.
A copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. 

Makerere University obtained the trademarks and copyrights in November 2014 from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) following a resolution by the University Council to reduce the rampant abuse of the university's symbols.
Agaba Issa Mugabo, Makerere University's Brand and Marketing Manager, told Uganda Radio Network that the decision was taken because the university's name, acronym, emblem and pictures of the main building are being used and abused at will by unscrupulous people.
Mugabo said whenever an individual, organization or company is talking about university education in Uganda and East Africa, like in advertisements; it is common to see Makerere University name, symbols and buildings used and in most cases without permission.
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On the 3rd of November 2014, the University obtained the trademark for the name "Makerere University" and the acronym "Mak". The copyright will run for an initial period of seven years after which it will be renewed every 10 years.
Mugabo said many people have abused the name "Makerere University" that is why the University felt it important to protect it because it is such a powerful name in academia and the world. On the acronym Mak, Mugabo said Makerere University rushed to register it to prevent anyone from doing so and in the process take advantage of the university.
The acronym for Makerere University used to be "MUK" for Makerere University College Kampala to differentiate it from Makerere University College branches in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. But when Moi University, which younger compared to Makerere, was created in the 1980s, they rushed to register the acronym MUK to mean Moi University in Kenya. 

They immediately wrote a warning letter to Makerere University to desist from using the acronym, to the furore and bitterness of Makerereans who had for long associated themselves with the acronym. Mugabo said Makerereans should proudly use the Mak acronym because it actually stands for Makerere University.
On November 26, 2014, the University Council obtained the copyright for the iconic white and blue main building with its ivory tower. Mugabo said by obtaining a copyright for the main building, it means the architectural design, shape and the exact manner in which it has been painted or anything close to it is prohibited from use for commercial or any other purpose without the express permission from the University.
Still on 3rd of November 2014, the University obtained the copyright for the "We Build for the Future Anthem", which was written by Grace Igaga Mutekanga, adding that they paid the composer huge sums of money for it. The University again obtained the copyright for the emblem with two crested cranes with raised wings standing on one leg each, with the other legs on a shield-like object. 

The emblem was designed by Prof. Todel of the then Department of Industrial and Fine Arts in 1975. Mugabo said people who want to use the name, acronym, emblem, anthem and image of the main building have to seek permission and depending on the purpose they may be allowed to use them either freely or at a fee.
He said by registering the name, acronym, emblem, anthem and the main building, the University can now create consistency in their standardization, application and communication and reinforce its brand visibility and recognition. On how they will enforce compliance, Mugabo admitted that the registrations are not foolproof for those hell bent on abusing the symbols. 
He added that culprits who will be got will be dealt with under the law. Several students Uganda Radio Network talked to expressed ignorance about the development. One Caroline Auma said if the symbols have been registered then it will entrench Makerere University's image as a leader in education.
Agnes Makoha, a longtime newspaper vendor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences said registration of the symbols is important because, as she put it, "Makerere is Makerere".
Gilbert Agaba, the URSB's Director for International Property, recently appealed to Ugandans to get trademarks, copyrights and patents for their products, businesses and organizations in order to safeguard their abuse by unscrupulous members of society.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."