Justice Kavuma wants review on Intellectual Property law

By Vision Reporter

ACTING Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma has asked Parliament to review the existing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) law to easily protect the rights' owners

By Jeff Andrew Lule

ACTING Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma has asked Parliament to review the existing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) law to easily protect the rights’ owners.

Kavuma made the call yesterday at Kampala Serena hotel , at a Judges’ Training workshop on IPR protection.

He said there is need to consider the fast-trending technological advancements and other platforms to easily curb the vice.

“Government is already coming up with new laws on IPR but they must consider the new social changes and developments,” he said.

The event was organised by Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) in collaboration with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB).

Kavuma said by virtue of Uganda being a signatory to World Trade Organisation (WTO), and other treaties; it has the obligation to make laws to protect the rights of innovators and consumers.

He said the level of infringement on IPR has remained high due to new technologies, poor enforcement, and lack of awareness.

“There is need for massive sensitization on IPR among consumers, rights owners and enforcers. We might have good laws but without sensitisation, it is a wastage,” he noted.

Kavuma said IPR protection needs a concerted effort by all stakeholders. He cited the lapses in the music industry that has failed the essence of IPR. “We get very few cases in court despite the disputes we hear in public. Courts are always open to any aggrieved party,” he added.

Kavuma, however, said they cannot protect IPR if owners can’t protect their own rights.

Louise Van Greunen, Director, Building Respect for IP at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) , said government must balance the IP system while coming up with laws to  promote sustainable development.

“With stringent laws and other mechanisms in place, it can help curb the importation of counterfeit and pirated goods to Uganda. It also promotes quality and sustainable development,” he said.Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.

The director IP at URSB, Juliet Kasirye said they have 30,000 trademarks, 300 patents and 120 copyrights in the registry.

She said they have already started a sensitization program to educate rights owners and consumers on the importance of IPR protection. 

Phillip Luswata, a renown local movie star, said the move can develop individual artists and the industry at large. “We are ready to pay taxes if this law is enforced genuinely. They should invite us for consultations. We want government to appreciate our work. We should do it as a partnership for all of us to benefit,” he noted.

Desire Luzinda, a local female artist, is skeptical whether the law can work in Uganda without frustrating upcoming artists. “It is a good idea in developing all artists in different categories and the industry, but the problem, this is likely to push out upcoming artists especially in music. Many musicians use vendors of music CDs to market their music,” she said.

The proprietor Metro FM station, Captain Francis Babu said IPR is very important to the rights owners. “There are many advantages and disadvantages and it needs a wider study because it might affect others,” he said.

Former Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson, Ibin Ssenkumbi said many artists have always frustrated Police operations to enforce IPR. “They believe that giving their music CD vendors and discotheques easily promotes them. There is still need for sensitization among the rights owners and consumers,” he added.

Justice Kavuma wants review on Intellectual Property law