They are creations of the human mind such as literary and scientific works, music, sound recordings, broadcasts, photographs and audiovisuals etc.

Intellectual property rights are legal devices used by inventors and creators to protect use of their intellectual property from unauthorized use by third parties. They include copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial designs.


They are signs used to distinguish goods and services belonging to one entity from its competitors. They include words such as OPTIVEN, devices such as the Optiven Logo and slogans such as Inspiring Possibilities and a combination of words and letters.


They protect literary, musical or artistic work, audio-visual works and photographs, sound recordings and broadcasts. In Kenya, they are registrable by KECOBO.

The duration varies with the category or type of work and falls into the public domain once the periods expire:

  1. Literary, musical or artistic work other than photographs – period of the life of the author plus fifty years.
  2. Audio-visual works, photographs, sound recordings and broadcasts – fifty years after the end of the year they were made.


It offers inventors monopolies on their creations for specific periods. They protect inventions in health, agriculture, chemistry, textiles, mechanical, heating and lighting. It is important to note that discoveries that man did not participate in their creation, scientific and mathematical methods and theories and inventions that are contrary to public order, health, safety and the environment are excluded from patent protection. In Kenya, they are registered at KIPI and offer protection for 20 years.

Industrial design

They are concerned with the outward appearance of objects as defined by their shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation. In Kenya they are registrable under KIPI and offer protection for 5 years and can be renewed two more times.

What does Intellectual Property mean for brands?

Intellectual property should be regarded as an intangible asset for brands as it will assist them to:

  1. Protect their brand names, logos and slogans by use of trademarks.
  2. Protect the use of their inventions and creations by competitors.
  3. Protecting customers against confusion and deception thus maximizing on profits by the use of industrial designs
  4. Acts as collateral when seeking financial assistance
  5. Acts as a source of income through transfer by sale and licenses.
  6. Provide an opportunity for business expansion in a foreign country. Since intellectual property rights are territorial, they only offer protection in the country they are registered and should be registered again in the foreign country.

Relevance of intellectual property to real estate

  • Companies have a unique identity from their competitors in their names, logos and slogans by use of trademarks.
  • Real estate companies are also able to access credit facilities by using intellectual property as collateral.
  • They are also able to protect inventions such as mobile applications by the use of patents.
  • Real estate companies can also use copyrights for their audio and visual works used for marketing to prevent unauthorized use of the same.
  • Real estate companies can also use copyrights to protect architectural drawings from unauthorized replication and use.
  • If the companies would like to expand to a different country, they would have to register their intellectual property rights of choice in the foreign country since intellectual property rights are territorial i.e they only offer protection in the country they are registered.

What happens when you infringe Intellectual Property Rights?

  • Infringement occurs when someone exercises the rights reserved for the owner without their consent.
  • For trademarks, utility models and industrial designs, the complainant shall file the matter at the Industrial Tribunal and can further appeal to the High Court. The reliefs include an injunction to prevent infringement as well as compensation.
  • For copyrights, the complainant will file a complaint with KECOBO with KECOBO. If there is an appeal, the same is handled by the Copyright Tribunal. If there is a further appeal, the same is directed to court. The infringing party may be liable in civil law either by an injunction to stop the infringing action, providing damages for losses suffered or account of profits or seizure of infringing copies by way of an Anton Pillar orders. They may also be liable in criminal law by having to pay a fine of a maximum of Kshs. 800,000/- or an imprisonment term not exceeding 10 years or both.

Succession of Intellectual Property rights

Companies have perpetual succession in that its existence continues despite any occurrence such as death since it is regarded as a separate entity from its shareholders. If the intellectual property right was registered by the company, then all the company needs to do is to renew the same at the expiry of the aforesaid periods.