Kenya: High Costs Deny Students Ability to Patent Innovations

Reproduced from Beyond the First World with kind permission.

[Editor’s Note: While this article is focused upon the situation in Kenya, the principles are applicable to any developing country.]

Youths could be losing out on having their innovations patented due to financial limitations and lacking knowledge on protecting creations from unauthorised use.

Some students claim patenting costs were high, a challenge that prompted them to prefer sharing their innovations with people or organisations who show interest in financing the process.

They are, however, saying the promises come to nought when the benefactors start “taking us in circles.”

“Unfortunately, some of them own our ideas and keep taking us in circles immediately they discover it can boost their career. One told me my work was not original only to realise later that he had modified it and presented it as his own,” said Geoffrey Kyalo, an engineering student at a college in Eldoret Town.

The students said the Sh5,000 application fee charged when embarking on the patenting process was out of reach for many who cannot afford to jostle between studies and following up on registration.

Mr Kyalo said some students preferred to sell their innovations to institutions or researchers at lower rates and return to the drawing board to develop others instead of moving around to have them patented.

Read the Full and Original Article – – Dennis Ogunda – November 2, 2010


  1. I wrote a short blog article a year ago on the subject of patents. It is short so I’ll paste it here.

    Counterintuitive Thought: Patents are a Mostly a Waste of Money

    My idea is, therefore I patent (apologies to Descartes).

    Patents protect inventions and ideas and, increasingly, processes. But is a patent — or even a copyright — always necessary and always a wise use of funds?

    Patents are costly and are unenforceable in many parts of the world. The initial legal bills run into tens of thousands of dollars and, once established, patents must be maintained, at a further cost. And to what end? To make effective use of a patent — to stop those seen as infringing — requires legal work, which generates legal fees, again tens of thousands of dollars. The guilty party might cease and desist but more likely it would tweak, altering its infringing behavior by a hair’s-breadth to move from the narrow shadow of your patent.

    My sense is that patents can be valuable when you have a game changer, an idea or invention so revolutionary that it spits out gobs and gobs of money. Some of these gobs might be well used to legally deter competition through patent activity. Short of this — for the vast majority of businesses and applications — I’d skip past patents and spend the money on speed, on building market share. An insurmountable lead is the best protection against copycats (and it involves no legal fees).

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