Liz Lenjo Kags discussed IP Law in webinar hosted by the Division of Legal Services

By Beryl Kamusinga

Intellectual Property or IP law is an essential facet of the law. Unfortunately, many people, particularly creatives, don’t have much background information on the subject. Protecting your work and ensuring that you get the recognition you deserve is an important factor in every creative’s mind and yet a large number of them are unaware of the steps that need to be taken in protecting their work.

On Thursday, June 30, USIU-Africa through its Division of Legal Services held a webinar on IP Law in regards to Fashion, Animation, and Music in collaboration with Liz Lenjo Kags, Advocate of the High Court. Participants were enlightened on what on intellectual property is and what it protects.

Intellectual property law comes in two types, Copyright, and Industrial property. Liz Lenjo broadly talked about Industrial property, pointing out that it is divided into different types; Patents, Utility models, Industry designs, and Trademarks.

Patents: are granted to any expression of ideas, IP patents don’t protect ideas they protect the expression of ideas. They last 20 years and are only applicable to new and novel ideas; this means that once an individual post their idea online, they cannot patent it. This, she pointed out, was one of the ways many creatives have destroyed the novelty of their work.

Utility models (petty patents): which gives an individual the right to place a patent on an already patented work, however one cannot commercialize it as long as the original patent is still in effect. This patent lasts for ten years and one has to be honest with the fact that they are not the original owner of the work, but they are improving on the product.

Industrial designs: which protect the aesthetics of a design. These include colors, shapes, combinations of textures, and aesthetically pleasing elements. It lasts up to fifteen years, but reservations can be made to lengthen it.
Trademarks: project the names and brands of businesses. Getting your business trademarked comes with a couple of rules; the name should not be descriptive and should be uniquely used; trademarks are renewed every ten years. The smell of an individual’s perfume can be trademarked but is done mainly in the UK. Hair products too can be trademarked.
On Copyright, Liz Lenjo said that Copyright Law covers any idea that is drawn, painted, or written down. Copyright lasts for an author’s lifetime and an additional fifty years after death, with some exceptions, such as photographs, which are protected for fifty years from the dates they were published which applies to both broadcast and audio-video work.

On photography, permission has to be sought before publishing, or using a person’s image, whether in animated form, or using it, any other medium of communication, or advertisement that can be interpreted as gaining financially.

In regards to music, Liz Lenjo pointed out that three people own the song; the author, composer, and arranger, this also includes the distributor and the company. They own the copyright to the song. The performer and track producer have what is known as related rights.

In reference to Sauti Sol and the issue, they had with their music being played without permission at a political rally, Liz Lenjo advised that it is up to the individual or the band to police their work emphasizing that before a band/individual performs, they need to seek license.

She also mentioned that when using anything that can be attributed to any particular community, due recognition must be given (Creative Commons). Liz Lenjo concluded by encouraged participants to take care of their work and creative ideas.

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