Microsoft Online Portal Aims At Increased Innovation, IPR Use In Africa 22/07/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Microsoft, a strong advocate of intellectual property protection, has launched an online IP portal in Kenya with the aim of helping innovators better understand different means of protecting their software and reap the economic benefits of their innovations. The initiative is planned to spread to other African countries. The portal, called 4Afrika IP Hub, launched at the end of June in Nairobi, is expected to offer developers and independent software vendors the “skills and tools necessary to develop, protect, and monetize their innovation,” according to a company press release. “Most African innovators believe that the idea is theirs until someone else takes it to market, or duplicates it” – Microsoft’s Louis Otieno Standard IP protection, such as copyright, trademarks, trade names and utility models, is not being used by small businesses in Africa, which rely mostly on secrecy, according to Microsoft, citing the low number of patent applications in Kenya through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), or at the national patent office. According to statistics [pdf] published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, which administers the PCT, in 2012 Africa represented 0.6 percent of global patent filings, 0.01 percent of utility models, 2.3 percent of trademarks, and 1 percent of industrial design filings. “Most African innovators believe that the idea is theirs until someone else takes it to market, or duplicates it,” said Louis Otieno, director for legal & corporate affairs for Microsoft 4Africa, quoted in the release. Innovators must secure proof of ownership to market their products, according to the release. “Many do not know this, and for those that do, the process of registering for IP protection can be long, manual and intimidating.” The IP hub has been a pilot project for two years in Kenya, says the release, before being “handed over to the local government with similar pilots being rolled out to other African countries.” The hub is set to “educate young innovators about the importance of IP protection, and assisting them to enforce their ownership against third parties.” According to the 4Afrika IP Hub website, “there is an increasing number of young individuals and Small and Medium Enterprises (collectively “Developers”) creating useful software applications in Kenya and in Africa.” However, says the website, only a few of those developers commercialise their applications, while most are unable to generate economic gains from their innovative skills. “The 4Afrika IP Hub is an online portal that will assist developers through education about their rights, registration (including financial support), enforcement, and commercialization, including connecting them with sources of funding,” according to a Microsoft source. The initial legal partner of the IP hub will be Coulson Harney, a Nairobi-based Kenyan law firm, “but after the pilot the IP Hub will be handed over to the Kenyan government. Microsoft is also seeking additional relevant IP partners in academia, the legal community and government agencies, amongst others,” the source said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Microsoft Online Portal Aims At Increased Innovation, IPR Use In Africa" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.