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Uganda Signs in New Intellectual Property Law

In August 2013, Uganda passed the Industrial Property Bill. Over a year and a half later, the Bill has become the Industrial Property Act of 2014 and is now in force.

The New Act is significant in that it represents the first formalized law relating to industrial property in the country. Some of the notable features of the new law relate to patents and industrial designs and ‘technovations.”

The Act excludes pharmaceutical products and test data from patentability until 2033. This, in effect, extends the grace period for Uganda to lawfully import generic pharmaceuticals under the Doha Declaration of 2001. It is also now no longer possible to extend the 20 year patent term.

In terms of Industrial Designs, the Act makes provision for the protection of notional designs. Concerningly for owners of designs in the UK, registered designs from the UK no longer extend to Uganda and separate applications will now have to be made in the country. Applicants can file two or more designs in the same class, which are registered for 5 years and can be renewed twice for an additional 5 years each time.

Technovations are now protected under the Act. A technovation is a solution to a problem in the area of technology. In order to be protected as a technovation, the solution must have been arrived at by an employee or enterprise and must relate to the activities of that enterprise. On the date of the proposal, the solution must not have been used or actively considered by that enterprise. The nature and enforcement of this statutory protection, however, remains to be seen.

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