Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) is ideas, designs, and creative works and represents the legal rights of their rightful owner. Proof of ownership can be supported in courts with official registrations as patents, industrial designs, copyrights and trade-marks.

What is the role RFIP?

RFIP is a registered IP Agent to practice or represent owners and applicant of patents, trade-marks, industrial designs and copyrights in registration in Kenya and ARIPO.

What is a patent?

Patents are government grants that give inventors exclusive rights to their inventions.

What is a trade-mark?

A trade-mark is a word (or words), a design, or a combination of these, used to identify the goods or services of one person or organization and to distinguish these goods or services from those of others in the marketplace.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right to copy a creative work or allow someone else to do so.

What is an industrial design?

An industrial design is the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament (or any combination of these) applied to a finished article.

What is an integrated circuit topography?

An integrated circuit topography refers to the three-dimensional configuration of the electronic circuits used in microchips and semiconductor chips.

1.0          Trademark

1.1          Unregistered Trademarks

Qn:  I own a hardware shop “SUPERFIX HARDWARE” I have recently moved my store to another neighborhood with many hardware stores and in order to compete I have designed flyers with the shop name captioned:

 “SUPERFIX HARDWARE ®- Registered Trademark ”

I am yet to register the trade name at KIPI I however plan to. Is it wrong to use the symbol ®- Registered Trademark?

ANS: For a trademark to be legally protected it must be registered at KIPI. One can use a mark for a certain length of time and establish his/her ownership through common law. However, It is advisable to register your trade mark since the system of establishing ownership through common law involves; lengthy, expensive legal process.

It is the practice at KIPI to deny registration to marks which incorporate symbols to the like effect of ® and ©, denoting copyright and registered respectively.

Further, anyone who falsely represents that an unregistered mark is in fact registered is guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment, or both.

1.2          Registration Requirements

Qn: I have been using several words slogan and logos to advertise and distinguish my products from that of my competitors, can I register any of the words slogan or logo as a trademark?

ANS: A trade mark may consist of any distinctive words, pictoral designs or a slogan. These elements are referred to as a word mark, device mark and tag line respectively. Therefore any distinctive Numeral word, letter, combination of words forming a phrase, Heading, label, signature, or any combination whether in two or 3 dimensional form may registered separately or as a composite.

A “composite mark” consists of two or more different elements which may be registered individually, however an applicant choses to combine and register  the various element and  when looked at as a whole it becomes distinctive enough.

Qn: I am an Armenian national married to a Kenyan. I have been living in Kenya for more than 15years and just opened a sole proprietorship.Do I need to have a company to register a trademark and can a foreigner register a trademark in Kenya?

ANS:     Any person claiming to be the owner of a mark may apply for its registration provided that he is either using the mark already or has a true intention to use it in Kenya. Citizens of states which are a party to the Paris Convention just as Kenya may register a trademark in the country, since they are treated as if they were Kenyan nationals, STRICTLY for purpose of registration.

However if the foreigner is not a citizen of a country party to the Paris Convention he may only register a trademark in Kenya if He/She ordinarily resides in Kenya or has a real and effective Industrial or commercial establishment in Kenya or any other Country party to the Paris Convention.

NOTE: It is important to note that any person residing outside Kenya or has a principal place o business outside Kenya must be represented by an IP Agent and once appointed that agent will act on his behalf in any matter proceeding before the registry.

Any person applying for a trademark at KIPI, may be a natural person who is a sole proprietor; or a  juristic person which include all bodies capable of suing or being sued in law, such as a company, a society, an association, Partnerships, Government departments and municipalities.

1.3          Refusal of Registration

Qn: Can I register “KAMAU’S CARPENTRY AND FUNITURE” represented on a brown schemed circular design as a trademark.  When I create my furniture I always deep the wood I use in concentrated sandal wood fragrance to give it a distinct smell. I want to prevent other carpenters from using the word “Kamau”, the “colour brown” and “sandal wood fragrance” to sell and market their furniture. Can I trademark all these aspects as well as this smell?

ANS: The definition of a mark as per Kenyan law does not allow for registration of sounds, motion or smells. For a trademark to be registered in Kenya it must be visible in use.

Secondly, a mark considered immoral, already registered to a different owner, descriptive or deceptive as to the type quality or nature of the goods, The name of  person, a protected representation such as: Red Cross Emblems flags of foreign states may not be registered.