Ugandans Urged to Pick Interest in Intellectual Property Rights

2209 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Gilbert Agaba, the URSB's Director for Intellectual Property, said despite so many innovations, inventions and businesses many Ugandans are yet to appreciate the importance of registering their intellectual property.

Despite the importance of intellectual property rights in development, many Ugandans are not yet taking them seriously, according to Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB).

 
URSB is mandated by law to, among others, register intellectual property like trademarks, patents, copyrights, utility models and designs. This is in addition to registering business names, companies, business documents, births, deaths, marriages and adoption orders.
 
The World Trade Organisation defines intellectual property rights as "the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his or her creation for a certain period of time."
 
Intellectual property include copyrights for creations like songs and books, patents for inventions and trademarks for names, logos, phrases, slogans etc. that individuals, businesses or organisations use.
 
Gilbert Agaba, the URSB's Director for Intellectual Property, said despite so many innovations, inventions and businesses many Ugandans are yet to appreciate the importance of registering their intellectual property.
 
Agaba said the trend is beginning to change with notable registration of intellectual property rights beginning to increase.
 
He said the bureau registers at least five patents per year, up from zero a few years ago. The figures for copyrights and trademarks are also going up, although Agaba never gave specifics.
 
//Cue in: We used to …
Cue out: … yes for patents.
 
According to Agaba, many Ugandans are not aware that they can register copyrights, patents and trademarks cheaply at URSB.
 
//Cue in: People are surprised …
Cue out: … an expensive thing.
 
On copyrights, Agaba said things like songs and writings are automatically protected under the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006 as soon as what was created is fixed in material form.
 
Agaba, however, advised that the owner may need to register the work as proof of ownership.
 
On trademarks, Agaba appealed to businesses and organisations to register them to avoid being double-crossed by rivals or speculators. He gave the example of Mekako beauty soap whose trademark was not registered creating loopholes for unscrupulous business people to import products with Mekako labels at the expense of the producers.
 
Agaba said a similar situation was when some people imported toothbrushes with the Nice label but consignment was impounded by Uganda Revenue Authority after Nice House of Plastics proved that they were the registered owners of the Nice trademark.
 
He said the Ugandan economy left open for foreigners, Ugandans should be proactive and register their products to avoid being outfoxed. He said it is also important that the public know when a patent expires because then it paves way for others to use or create similar inventions.

 

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."